Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rose Is The MVP? Who Cares?

This isn't meant to pick on Derrick Rose.

I actually happen to be a big fan.

But when I hear him say he wants to be the MVP and hear others say he is the MVP, the only thing I can think is, who cares?

Or to quote Derrick Coleman, "Whoop de damn doo!"

You play basketball for one reason and one reason only, and it's not to win the MVP.

Herman Edwards best described why you play.

At the end of the day, the only thing which counts is whether or not this is happening in Chicago at the end of the season because it is the only thing that matters.

Do you think the city of Chicago will throw Derrick Rose a parade for winning the MVP?

I don't either.

Rose didn't grow up in Chicago rooting for the Bulls because Michael Jordan won six MVPs.

The six other things Jordan and the Bulls won probably had a little more to do with it.

I couldn't tell you who won the MVP in 1989 or most other years. But I can tell you who won every championship from 1957-2010.

And I don't know and don't care how many MVPs Bill Russell won. But I know he won 11 championships.

Robert Horry won 7, Jordan and Scottie Pippen 6, Magic, Dennis Rodman and Kobe Bryant 5; Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal 4, Larry Bird 3, Isiah Thomas and Hakeem Olajuwon 2 and Doctor J, Moses Malone, Ben Wallace, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo 1.

Derrick Rose has 0, along with LeBron James, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, Vince Carter, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins, Karl Malone and John Stockton.

Everyone has somehow gotten off track and lost sight of what is really important.

You establish your legacy in the NBA by winning championships, not MVPs or anything else.

MVPs, All-Star appearances, scoring titles, rebounding titles, assist titles, double-double streaks and all of those other things are nice; but to tell you the truth, they really don't matter.

Winning is the only thing that matters.

So Derrick Rose wants to be MVP, and he may win it.

Ten years from now, some people will remember.

When he brings a championship home to Chicago, no one will ever forget (:55).

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Odds And Ends From Around The NBA

The Dallas Mavericks have changed their rotation since I wrote that they were a contender back in January.

At the time, the lineup was to be Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler starting with JJ Barea, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood coming off the bench.

Since that time, Rodrigue Beaubois has returned from injury and been inserted into the starting lineup by Rick Carlisle.

I can't support Dallas as a contender with Beaubois higher in the rotation than the nine players mention above without seeing them beat some legitimate competition first, which they haven't done at this point.

Stevenson doesn't give them the matchup nightmares Beaubois does, and Dallas was it its best when Stevenson was starting and getting consistent minutes along with the rotation mentioned above.

It looks like he lost his offensive rhythm by not playing regularly with Beaubois back, but he is still a good all-around player.

It sure looks like Rajon Rondo is hurt to me.

Doc Rivers denied it last night after the loss to Houston, but something isn't right.

It's not about statistics.

Rondo doesn't look as fast or as explosive as he normally does.

There is nothing more frustrating than knowing a team should do something before the team knows it should do it.

The Indiana Pacers moved Paul George and Tyler Hansbrough into the starting lineup recently.

They should have done that three months ago!

I wrote about the impact Hansbrough was having after the third game of the season.

In there, you'll see the name TJ Ford.

It has become more and more obvious that TJ Ford is the best point guard on the team. Ford has played 10 minutes in two months.

More frustration.

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Redd Hot: Can Michael Redd Lead Milwaukee To The Playoffs?

Sharp-shooter Michael Redd returned to the Milwaukee Bucks and is expected to make his debut with the team in the next several days.

This is a story HBIQ has been following since June.

It is the end of a year-long process of grueling rehab and loneliness for Redd. One of the most explosive scorers in the NBA, he was robbed of his ability to play the game he loves when a knee injury in the first month of 2010 ended his season.

He worked hard to get himself back and is in position to try and help the only team he has ever played for get to the playoffs, where it is guaranteed that no one will want to face them.

Milwaukee has been destroyed by injuries this year, so their record in no way indicates what type of team they are. A relatively healthy Bucks team would have already qualified for the playoffs.

Brandon Jennings, Redd and Andrew Bogut give Milwuakee one of the most dangerous inside-outside combinations in the NBA. And they have Corey Maggette and several complementary co-stars.

The additional depth and scoring threat Redd represents will do wonders for the entire team. For the worst-shooting team in the NBA, seeing Redd do this had to be exciting.

Drew Gooden and Ersan Ilyasova are expected back shortly as well, giving Scott Skiles everything he needs to get to the playoffs and make some noise once he's there.

The addition of Michael Redd makes Milwaukee capable of beating anybody, although that may not show this season due to the limited amount of time the team has played together.

But for next season and beyond, Milwaukee is as close to championship contention as almost anyone.

There is no reason why Milwaukee shouldn't do everything it can to re-sign Redd and let him retire a Buck.

By all accounts, he is an all-around great guy, a hard worker and represents everything the organization stands for.

Most importantly, he would make the Chicago Bulls and instant contender.

And unless Skiles and general manager John Hammond want to live their worst nightmare watching Redd hang banners with a division rival, they better put their thinking caps on and figure out a way to keep Redd in Milwaukee for the foreseeable future.

But all of that can wait for the summer. For now, Milwaukee has a playoff run to make.

Michael Redd articles: Redd to return in February; still determined; Redd looks better than before; Skiles wants Redd to help.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Swishing And Dishing

Is there a such thing as the team-player award?

Because if there is, I want to nominate Andrew Bynum.

Bynum recently talked about how the team is better when they are moving the ball instead of featuring him as a scorer inside and willingly put his dream of being a dominant center on hold in order to make the team better.

That's beautiful.

What's even more beautiful is how much better Bynum will be when he does become the featured scorer for the Lakers.

Once he masters reading defenses and passing from the post and elsewhere, he will be even more unstoppable because he will be able to carve defenses up with his passing and burn them with his powerful low-post moves.

It's like The Karate Kid (1984), where Mr. Miyagi had him doing all of these things which looked like they had nothing to do with fighting, until he actually got onto the mat.

Bynum being unselfish and passing the ball to open teammates doesn't look like it is helping him, but in actuality it is.

This Denver team is fun to watch!

Speedy Ty Lawson has a great feel for the game and the point guard position, and I never knew Kenyon Martin was so versatile with all of the passes he can make.

George Karl is in a great position because he has a deep bench, which allows him to play guys the right amount of minutes to keep them fresh and give his team an energy advantage almost every single night.

Games can be and are often won on energy alone.

And improving and using the bench is the key capitalizing on this edge.

Someone who is great playing 40 minutes will be even better playing 36 and even better than that playing 32.

That is the advantage Denver has over many teams.

These guys in Denver may not be household names yet, but all of that will change if they keep winning and playing like they do.


The Portland Trail Blazers look like they have found their footing again.

I had them as a contender before the season started, but that was before they traded backup point guard Jerryd Bayless, before Brandon Roy had surgery on both knees and before Greg Oden had surgery and was lost for the season.

You wouldn't believe how badly Portland struggled to replace Bayless before Patrick Mills was moved in and got comfortable. It took a good six weeks, and Mills still is merely a barely-adequate replacement.

Gerald Wallace is fitting in nicely, and LaMarcus Aldridge has been lighting up everything in his path for about two months.

And Portland wisely signed Nate McMillan to an extension this week.

They have some nice things going on, but Portland isn't nearly as threatening as they appeared before the season.

A couple of more pieces and a return to full health would go a long way in changing that though.


When I wrote my conference previews before the season started, I noted some of the things which make seasons so unpredictable: injuries, trades, coaching decisions and team chemistry.

Individual improvement is another thing which makes predictions so hard to make.

There have been so many players who came out of nowhere to have better seasons this year.

A good way to get yourself slapped would have been to tell someone before the season (hell, a month into the season) that DeAndre Jordan would turn himself into even a decent NBA player. But that is exactly what he has done, and Los Angeles is much better for it.

His teammate Eric Gordon got better too. Gordon averaged as much as 24 points when he was healthy and the team rolling.

Derrick Rose made the leap into the one of the best players in the NBA and took Chicago with him.

Who saw the season Elton Brand is having?

Will Bynum is a much better point guard than he was in November. He runs Detroit's offense like a pro and is making the transition from someone who loves to take a shot to someone who loves to dish a pass to a teammate.

I already talked about Richard Jefferson and the season he is having.

Marcin Gortat has been playing in Phoenix like he should have been the starter at center in Orlando.

Kris Humphries is someone else getting minutes for the first time and showing he deserves the longer look, and Earl Clark makes plays whenever Stan Van Gundy decides to give him playing time.

These are some of the few who came out of nowhere to have better seasons, and there are many others.

And they all deserve credit for stepping up their games and making themselves and the game better.


Not to be confused with Mike Lowery from the movie Bad Boys but Kyle Lowry is a bad boy himself, or as Mark Jackson might put it, a "bad man!"

An early sign came over the summer when Cleveland and coach Byron Scott signed Lowry to an offer sheet.

When Byron Scott got his first job with the New Jersey Nets, one of the first things New Jersey did was trade for Jason Kidd.

When Scott got his next job in New Orleans, one of the first things New Orleans did was draft Chris Paul.

Scott went on to have great successes (and great failures but let's not talk about that now) with both players.

And Scott played with Magic Johnson, one of the greatest point guards of all time.

Byron Scott knows point guards.

So when he handpicked Kyle Lowry to be his point guard of the future in Cleveland, it was a strong indicator that Lowry was for real.

Houston wisely matched the offer and kept Lowry even though he was little more than a backup to Aaron Brooks at the time.

When Brooks went down with an injury early in the season, Lowry took control of the team and hasn't let go. He is carrying this Houston team and has them fighting for a playoff spot.

Not known as a shooter, Lowry has improved his three-point shooting percentage from .272 last season to a sizzling .380 this year and can beat a team any way imaginable anywhere on the court.

Houston is 7-2 in its last nine games, and Lowry's play in the last five games has been staggering (22.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8 assists, 1.4 steals, shooting .547 from the field and .488 from three).

When franchises look to win big, they try to find pieces to build around; and Lowry is one of those pieces.

He probably won't lead Houston to the playoffs this year, but he has them in the conversation.

And the way he has played recently, he is close to making himself part of another conversation: the one naming the best point guards in the NBA.

Note Update, 2/26/2012, 12:22 AM: Some of Lowry's March statistics first posted by Tom Martin.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Week In Basketball

The Miami Heat signed point guard Mike Bibby this week after he was let go by the Washington Wizards.

It was a great signing by Miami, and they should definitely look to make it long term by keeping Bibby beyond this season.

Although he should have known way better than to go double-team and leave Gilbert Arenas open behind the three-point line, reports of Bibby's defensive demise have been greatly exaggerated.

And we all know what he brings on the offensive end with his execution and big-shot making.

Contrary to reported expectations, Bibby has been an upgrade on both ends of the court for Miami and significantly increases their chances of going all the way this season.

Last week I wrote that Boston was the "clear" favorite in the East.

Boston would still be considered the favorite, but the addition of Mike Bibby by the Miami Heat brings it a lot closer to 50/50 and makes it not nearly as clear as it was just seven days ago.

Before the season, I was one of the very few not on the Oklahoma City bandwagon. It was noted that while the bandwagon was huge and had many guests and visitors, I was not one of them.

Now that they have traded for Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed and are playing the right players at the right positions (you know, no more small forwards at power forward), Oklahoma City has moved itself into the conversation as a legitimate contender.

Russell Westbrook is the key to this whole thing.

He can't go charging into the crowded paint at 200 miles per hour or commit other costly turnovers in the closing minutes of close games. Westbrook has to learn to play the game at different speeds and not play with reckless abandon at all times, particularly when a good play call is what is needed.

Westbrook mastering the fast game (open court) and the slow game (half court) gives Oklahoma City its best chance of being a serious threat to the other top teams in the NBA.

I'm still not buying Thabo Sefolosha as a starter on a championship team, but Nate Robinson, James Harden or Daequan Cook may be able to provide them with what they need from the shooting guard position.


The story of Chauncey Billups is one of the most amazing stories ever.

Born out of the ashes of Boston's failed attempt to land Tim Duncan and fortified on one of the most unsung championship teams in recent memory, Chauncey Billups has probably seen it all in his career.

And over the course of his career, he has earned his respect as one of the best point guards in the NBA.

Even 10 years into his career, you would have found me among his harshest critics. Chauncey Billups just didn't play point guard the way I had come to expect it to be played.

I grew up on Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Rod Strickland, Tim Hardaway and Kevin Johnson.

And Billups just didn't fit the mold.

He didn't push the tempo. He didn't have eyes in the back of his head. He didn't make passes which made you wonder how he saw the guy open. He didn't cross people up and make them look silly with his dribbling skills. And he didn't drive into the paint and finish over bigger players with an infinite variety of highly-creative layups.

How is this guy even a point guard? And why is he in the NBA?

Rick Pitino must have wondered the same thing because 51 games into Billups' rookie season, Pitino shipped him off to Toronto in a trade.

That trade kicked off a sequence which would see Billups traded three times in two years and eventually end up in Minnesota, where he signed as a free agent in 2000.

While he started to put things together in Minnesota, it wasn't until his next stop in Detroit that Billups' career really took off.

Playing with an unheralded group that it seemed no one else wanted, Billups won a championship with Detroit in 2004.

He led Detroit to the conference finals every season, but after losing there three years in a row, he was traded once again and ended up in Denver, where it looked like he would finish his career playing for his hometown team, that is, until the Knicks called and wanted to include Billups in a deal to send Carmelo Anthony to New York.

Now a Knick, Billups continues his journey through the NBA and has taken on the role of mentor to some of the younger point guards in the league, as described by Mike Breen during Billups' debut with New York against Milwuakee.

He has much to share because over the years, Billups has picked up the attributes which make a great point guard and managed to add at least one of his own.

He had his ups and downs early, but numerous big shots and big wins later, Billups is still going strong.

He may not be Tim Duncan, but he is Chauncey Billups.

And he has shown repeatedly that is more than good enough.


Is it just me, or do big guys seem to play better after they have gotten a few touches?

Andrew Bynum is much better after he gets a few touches, and I swear it looks like there are two Andris Biedrinses out there after he gets the ball a few times.

The same could be said of defensive players.

Dennis Rodman retired years ago, and Joel Anthony is only allowed to play for the Miami Heat. They are two of the few players who don't mind playing without someone passing them the basketball.

Without one of them, a team is going to have to share the ball with its big man in order to get the most out of him.

In a way, you can understand where they are coming from.

Who wants to run around all day and never touch the basketball? And for a big man who works hard to establish good post position, only to be ignored again and again, this can be even more frustrating.

A point can be made that if big men want touches they should hustle for loose balls and offensive rebounds and get them that way, and that is a good point.

At the same time, what would it hurt passing the ball to the big guy every now and then, even if it's only once every five possessions or so, especially when you know it is going to energize him?

It may be inconvenient, and yes, most of them can't do anything with it once they get it; but every once in a while you have to throw these guys a bone just to keep them involved and let them know they are part of the team.

And to make sure they protect the paint when someone drives down the lane.

When teams look out for their big men, their big men look out for them.


I have to give credit here to someone I've been reading who has really helped me see the game better.

Jonathan Tjarks and his material have gone a long way in keeping me sharp and on top of things.

I may not agree with everything he writes, or even a majority of it; but it is interesting and often insightful.

Here is the breakdown of what I've been reading and thinking over:

(1.) Colin Cowherd was the first person I heard do this when he went over Kobe Bryant's career in between Shaquille O'Neal leaving and Pau Gasol arriving. It wasn't a pretty sight. So Tjarks' emphasis on outstanding big men and their importance to winning championships was more food for thought on the subject.

(2.) I always watch defense, but Tjarks using the phrase "defend his position" or "defend a position" made me look more closely at how someone specifically matches up at the position he plays and focus more on particular matchups.

(3.) While I don't agree with his overall argument about Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash and why their careers took off after they were separated, it does make me pay close attention when two or more poor defenders are on the floor at the same time and what impact it has on the game.

(4.) And his take on big men who can pass and little men who can rebound was something else to think about (see 4 and 5 in the five-tool player), just an interesting way to see things that I have never really thought about.

Note: I first discovered Tjarks on a link posted by Zach Lowe at SI.

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