Monday, November 20, 2006

NBA Top 7: Did anyone expect...

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There have been a few early surprises this 2006-07 NBA season. I ask you, did anyone expect...
1. Grant Hill to be this good again?
Yes, Grant Hill drinks Sprite. He's back to his entertaining best so far this season. He leads the Magic with 16.3ppg and 1.3spg, whilst also contributing 3.2rpg, 2.1apg and shooting at 55% from the field. What's better is he has played 9 of the Magic's 10 games so far. Keep it up Grant -- we missed you.
2. Utah to be leading the league?
Tonight the Jazz could become the first team this season to get 10 wins. They are currently 9-1. Yes, this is the same Salt Lake City team featuring a second year point guard in Deron Williams, an injured starting SG in Gordon Giricek, an injured star player in Andrei Kirilenko and being led by the exploits of the erstwhile disappointing Dukie, Carlos Boozer. Boozer has been nothing short of jaw-dropping with his 20.5ppg, 13.0rpg and 3.7apg whilst shooting 55.5 FG%. Who needs John and Karl anyway?
3. Chris Webber to be sitting?
Not him apparently. After recently scoring 6 points in 23 minutes against the Sonics, Webber said, "I'm not going to keep playing like this... I don't like this role. So you can take that however you want." I think we know how to take that, C-Webb. Webber is only averaging 10.3ppg on the season and is only being given just over 30 minutes per game by coach Maurice Cheeks.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge to be starting?
Aldridge came into this season injured and in a very tight position in the Portland Trail Blazers frontcourt having to fight for minutes behind Joel Przybilla, Zach Randolph, Raef LaFrentz and Jamaal Magloire. Well, Przybilla and LaFrentz have been injured and Magloire has been just plain disappointing, thus meaning not long after Aldridge's return he has seen a starting C position as his. He has been proving deserving so far with his initial rookie minutes proving very promising and worthy of his selection so high in the draft.
5. Gerald Wallace to be this ordinary?
After a stellar 2005-06 NBA season for the Bobcats, which saw many Fantasy league owners wringing their hands with glee, Wallace has come into this season well below his previous averages -- especially on the defensive end. His 1.6spg (05-06: 2.5spg) and 0.6bpg (05-06: 2.1bpg) have been disappointing, as have his 5.4 ppg drop in scoring and 3.3rpg decrease. Gerald has provided the excuse of hitting his head during the season opener -- us FNBA owners hope he will be back to full form very soon.
6. Kevin Martin to be such a star?
Martin was given major minutes last season due to a Bonzi Wells injury. He took that opportunity with both hands and has now proven himself a regular NBA star. Martin is averaging 23.7ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.2apg, 1.9spg, 1.8 treys per game and impeccable shooting percentages across the board. Sacramento have got themselves a keeper at the two guard.
7. Chicago to be so bad?
The addition of Ben Wallace was meant to make Chicago title-town again. However the joke going around at the moment is that they are changing the name of the city to C-H-I-C-A-G. There's no "O" in the windy city. The Bulls are averaging 93.7ppg -- good for 5th last in the league this season (sadly the Blazers are one spot behind them). The Bulls are 3-7 to date this season. Big Ben has not been as advertised so far this season -- his averages of 5.5ppg, 9.7rpg and 1.6bpg are all his lowest since 1999-00 with Orlando (the year before he broke out as the freak we knew and feared in Detroit). It's not all doom and gloom in Chi-Town however. Opponents of the Bulls are scoring 0.1ppg less than them and are only marginally better in rebounds and assists. Maybe it's just that da Bulls have been unlucky so far. They've played San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Indiana, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Miami and Sacramento in 8 of those 10, none of them easy-beats. Things should improve with the lineup the Bulls have.

Zach Randolph is underrated!

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I was saying here back in the off-season about how hard Zach Randolph had been working in the Summer and that people were vastly underrating the impact that he would make this season as they were blinded by his off-court "issues".

The mistake? People were finding it too easy to bundle him with Darius Miles and the whole "Jail Blazers" identity. The thing is, Z-Bo makes some knucklehead, immature decisions from time to time off the court. Sure he does, he's a millionaire in his early 20s. Many of us would do the same.

However, he works like crazy on the training court and has clearly come back this season with a vengance. Even better than he has been before.

Check the numbers this season: 26.0ppg (12th in NBA), 10.9ppg (7th), 47.4% FG, 83.3% FT.

Offensively he is a powerhouse. He is shooting a fantastic percentage given the pressure he has on him and the lack of supporting cast on offense. His two key supporting offensive players, Brandon Roy (temporarily) and Darius Miles (long-term) have not been able to go due to injury, making Z-Bo's performance even more impressive.

Two things he definitely needs to work on: his ability to pass out of a double team (they are plentiful) and his turnovers. But hopefully these things will come. I was just reading this great post at True Hoop, analysing Zach's game. A good read if you haven't already.

I don't think so many people are sleeping on Z-Bo any more.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

LaMarcus Aldridge is back from injury!

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Good news all around for the Blazers with news that LaMarcus Aldridge is back into full-contact scrimmaging and could be back into the rotation (slowly, slowly) by Tuesday and that Brandon Roy's injury wasn't as bad as first expected.
Roy had an MRI which showed no damage and he'll simply need a shoe insert. He'll miss the next game against the Lakers -- where Nate McMillan said Martell Webster and Ime Udoka will guard KB24 -- but should be back for the following game.
The Lakers go into tonight's game with a strong chance to out-do Portland, given the injury woes for Joel Przybilla, Raef LaFrentz, Roy, Aldridge and Darius Miles. However strong play so far from Zach Randolph, Jarrett Jack and surprising performances by Udoka and Travis Outlaw could pull it out for the Blazers.
RGB Prediction: Lakers by 8 behind strong interior play by Andrew Bynum (with no resistance from the Blazers) and an eventual breakout game by Kobe Bryant.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The friendly Clipper-Blazer bet at True Hoop

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I feel for Henry at True Hoop. Looks like he's going to have to "pay up" on his little wager with Kevin from ClipperBlog.

And it couldn't have happened under closer circumstances -- only 1 point. I guess those sports betting line-makers know their stuff.

Elton Brand cares about Fantasy NBA!

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Sadly, the Blazers went down to the Clippers last night 102-89 -- a not too unexpected result.
Elton Brand was not a particular force in the game. It was a balanced Clipper attack which won it for them. Corey Maggette (20), Cutino Mobley (17), Sam Cassell (16), Chris Kaman (15) and Quinton Ross (13) all picked up the scoring slack which allowed the best team in Los Angeles to beat the Blazers despite only 8 points and 4 rebounds from Mr Brand.
"I feel bad for the people who have fantasy teams, but that's about it," Brand said after taking just eight shots. "We're winning the ball game. Tonight I didn't hit much, but before tonight I was shooting over 56 percent from the field, so when I did touch it, it's going in."
I love the fact that Brand made reference to us Fantasy owners out there. How often have you been wishing you could ask a player to get you an extra steal or block to win your head-to-head matchup for the week? Or wished you could ask the coach to give Earl Watson more minutes than Luke Ridnour?
Well, the Clippers certainly won the game with defence. Brand blocked 5 shots, Mobley and Tim Thomas also chimed in with 2 blocks each. Every active player on the Clippers also garnered at least 1 steal.
Zach Randolph was the star for Portland with 35 points (11/17 and 13/15), 13 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks. Unfortunately Brandon Roy was the major loss of the night. He only played 14 minutes and scored 3 points before asking to come out of the game.

"I didnt get hurt tonight," Roy said. "I have been having some difficulty lately. A bone next to my Achilles' is bothering me.
"It just hurt too much to play. The doctor said I needed to rest and get it looked at. I
am going to have an MRI tomorrow when I get back to Portland."

With Joel Przybilla and LaMarcus Aldridge already out, this is a major loss for the team. Let's hope that Roy will be back in action soon to continue the promising form he has been showing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Portland Trail Blazers links for today

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Ime Udoka: great Oregonian article on his emotional story here.

Joel Przybilla and Raef LaFrentz out with injuries.

Preview of the Clippers game tonight.

Another recap of the 88-86 victory over the TWolves -- from -- including podcasts.

Google Video & NBA : Not so FAN-tastic

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Having a look at Google Video the other day, I noticed that all of the NBA games have been removed from the site. And it sounds like this is the case, with the NHL taking their place.
It looks like the NBA is trying to crack down on external sources of its coverage and the ability to illegally distribute their content (as is the case with Google Video, which allows downloads in MP4 format). Now they have also taken action against YouTube to remove NBA-copyrighted content from their site.
The NBA is clearly trying to push its NBA TV subscriptions, along with League Pass and to improve the popularity of the game coverage it provides through ESPN/TNT/ABC. I just hope that they continue to sell game DVDs through

Shawn Kemp : "Don't be surprised"

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The ReignMan is at it again -- talking about a comeback to the NBA.
Sunday night was a special night in Seattle, as the SuperSonics honoured their 40th Anniversary Team, of which Shawn Kemp was a part. Kemp will play in Roma, Italy next month and still hopes that a return to the L for a ring is a possibility.
I hope for Shawn's sake that he actually makes it to the workouts this time.
There must have been a strange feeling in the air as the 40th Anniversary Team was announced, whilst the fear of the team moving to Oklahoma City is imminent. Almost like a last chance to pay respects to the SEATTLE Sonics. The Save Our Sonics campaign continues...
Meanwhile the Sonics have added some European flavour to the team, adding Greek 7'1" centre Andreas Glyniadakis. Kareem Rush was waived to make room for the big man. The centre position is the one of most concern for the Sonics, with Robert Swift incurring a season-ending injury and raw rookie Mouhamed Sene and Frenchman Johan Petro (irregular heartbeat) not having smooth starts to the season.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wolves beaten by a bunch of Roaches

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Ricky "Buckets" Davis' comment that the Blazers were a bunch of "roaches" the other night was not lost on the team, as the insult pushed the Blazers to victory.

Anyone remember when Ricky manufactured his own triple double (or tried to anyway) by shooting at the wrong basket to get the rebound? That's a roach if you ask me...

Portland is .667 -- and loving it!!

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In case you missed it, the Blazers are now 2-1. That's right, we've beaten more teams than have beaten us -- who woulda thunk it?
Last night's victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves was particularly sweet. It showed the poise which the Blazers need to pull games out -- poise beyond the years of a young team such as this. 88-86 was the final score and it was as tight a finish as what it sounds. It took two late three-pointers by Martell Webster (4-5 3PT) and a trey by Juan Dixon with 6.2 seconds left to seal it, despite the best efforts of Kevin Garnett, Ricky Davis and Mike James.
Here's a full breakdown of the finish.
I for one have been sceptical about the role that Dixon would play on the team, but it was his veteran savvy which was the final piece in this win and it would appear that he will often be called upon to fill that role -- that of scorer when the younger players are inconsistent.
Travis Outlaw was the story of this game. His 18 points and career-high 15 rebounds led the Blazers. Rookie sensation Brandon Roy was once again impressive with 16 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds in 41 minutes. Although we are only 3 games into the season, Roy's consistency is uncharacteristic of a rookie. He is averaging 18.3ppg, 5.0apg and 4.3rpg to date.
It will be interesting to see what our friends at the TwolvesBlog have to say about the game. Their big three (Garnett, Davis and James) performed well and it was a tight game, which just came down to the final shot. KG must really get frustrated with losing games like this -- the big hurdle in his career is beating the teams they should be beating and being regarded as a top force in the league, rather than an 'also-ran'.

ROSE Garden Blog says hello to...

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... the Jalen ROSE blog.

"The Rose That Grew From Concrete"

Check out Jalen's Blog here. He gives a great rundown of his career to date.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Portland Trail Blazers v Seattle SuperSonics :: Preview

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In Brief:

Portland comes in with a completely new lineup. Questions appear everywhere, including:
1. How will Brandon Roy handle the pressure of leading the team at the point when asked?
2. Has Zach Randolph really worked that hard in the off-season?
3. Who will get the majority of the minutes alongside Z-Bo -- LaFrentz, Magloire or Przybilla?
4. What effect will Darius Miles' injury have on the team -- good or bad?
5. Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw and Jarrett Jack: ready or still developing?

Seattle on the other hand, still will be relying on the existing keys to their success in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. The questions in Seattle revolve around the supporting cast:
1. Luke Ridnour or Earl Watson at the point?
2. Chris Wilcox or Nick Collison at power forward?
3. With Robert Swift's injury, how will rookie Mouhamed Sene and Frenchman Johan Petro perform?
Portland Trail Blazers

PG Jarrett Jack
SG Brandon Roy
SF Travis Outlaw
PF Zach Randolph
C Joel Przybilla

Key Bench
PG Dan Dickau
SG/SF Martell Webster
PF/C Jamaal Magloire
PF/C Raef LaFrentz

Seattle SuperSonics

PG Luke Ridnour
SG Ray Allen
SF Rashard Lewis
PF Chris Wilcox
C Johan Petro

Key Bench
PG Earl Watson
SG/SF Damien Wilkins
PF Nick Collison
C Mouhamed Sene