Monday, November 2, 2009

NBA Power Rankings

NBA Power Rankings

I thought about writing up some basketball power rankings before the season started, but a lack of interest and time kept me from finishing the task. I tried to write a wonderfully comprehensive season preview for the Pistons, but was kept from finishing it by frustration and despair. I even thought about writing some Fantasy Basketball stuff during the slower moments at work, but found myself preferring to actually … work. Suffice it to say, I am losing interest in the NBA.

For whatever reason. Maybe it’s the cheating refs. Or the whiny players. Or the thug attitudes. Maybe it’s the LeBron-mania or the superstar adulation or the fact that half the so-called superstars aren’t even that good (i.e. Iverson, Carter, McGrady, Arenas). Perhaps it’s due to the decline of the Pistons or the rise of selfish basketball. I miss Jordan and Magic and the true superstars. I miss the teal jerseys and the days of Grant Hill. Heck, I even miss Tim Duncan and the age of the Big Fundamental. Nowadays, it’s all about which band of thugs can plead their case to the guys in the striped shirts most convincingly, and then wear a doo-rag and talk gibberish in the locker-room. I don’t mean to sound racist; it’s not about skin color at all. I’m as big an NFL fan as anybody, and the percent of black players in the NFL is just as high as in the NBA. But it’s a different kind of sport, and a different kind of athlete. The NBA has slowly transformed into a very ghetto, me-first game which appeals to a different kind of fan. Not me.

I still love the Pistons. I still live and die by their every win and loss. I still love players like Chauncey and Nash, and Kobe and Garnett, and all the guys who make the league a better league. But there are so many players, guys like Carmelo and Pierce and Wade and the list goes on and on, who play for themselves, who want to score more than they want to win, and they irritate the heck out of me. There is so much hype about LeBron’s every activity, and everything he touches gets christened with some stupid nickname about his kingliness. He’s not the King, or the Chosen One, or even an NBA Champion. He’s just a super talented kid who can’t even beat the Orlando Magic in the playoffs. The NBA is just so overloaded with baggage and legal issues, predictability and disingenuousness, and the influence of too many angry, violent rappers. There’s a lack of effort and heart. It seems the whole league is just going through the motions. Simply put, there is no more Michael Jordan.

That all being said, I still have hope for the NBA. A breed of selfish stars (Shaq, Iverson, Kidd) is on its way out, and a new breed of magnanimous youngsters (Paul, Howard, Durant, Rose) is climbing the ladder to greatness. The league is full of entertaining internationals like Yao, Dirk and Walter Herrmann, and pure hustle players who actually earn their paychecks. There are still a few coaches in the league who demand teamwork and effort, and keep the league from being dominated by the crybabies. (God Bless you, Rick Carlisle and Greg Poppovich!) A few teams are still committed to playing team-basketball, and one of those teams used to be the Detroit Pistons. Now, I don’t know what they’re committed to. Competing in the first half of games? Losing to crappy teams? Drafting in the top ten in the 2010 draft?

Sigh …

So we are now almost a week into the 2009-2010 season. A handful of teams stand elite, and a few others are the scum of the NBA. Here are my NBA Power Rankings:

1. Boston Celtics – 4-0
The best starting lineup in basketball has integrated Sheed pretty effectively; Rosco has 9 threes through four games. Rondo is also averaging almost 12 assists.

2. Los Angeles Lakers – 2-1
Kobe is playing like Kobe (31 ppg), Bynum is playing rejuvenated and healthy (20 and 8, 58% fg), allowing Gasol and Odom to play limited minutes. And Crazy Ron Artest is playing terrific defense. Things are looking good for the defending champs.

3. Orlando Magic – 3-0
The Magic are getting contributions from everybody and kicking some serious butt. Even JJ Reddick is looking like a bonafide NBA player. Dwight Howard is a man possessed. Orlando is proving that last year was no fluke. I’m still not sold on Vince Carter being an improvement from Turkoglu, but so far, so good.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers – 2-2
Despite losing their first two games, Cleveland still has LeBron James and shouldn’t be ranked outside of the top 5 as long as he’s healthy.

5. Denver Nuggets – 3-0
Picking up where they left off last year, the Nuggets are playing as a team, led by Billups and the hot-hand of Carmelo Anthony, who is leading the NBA in ppg.

6. Phoenix Suns -
Nash has a lot of assists.

7. dallas
They are pretty good …

8. utah
Pretty good too

On second though, I don’t really care….

Back to the NFL!

How about we talk about week 8! A lot of exciting action took place, some upsets and some classic battles. Favre vs. Rodgers! McNabb vs. Eli! We’ve got Brees-Ryan tonight!

I was only 6-6 on my Sunday picks, with Monday night still to come. Given my track record on night games, I’m expecting to be 6-7, my first sub .500 week since week two. But it’s okay. This was a weird week. Lot of upsets. Two winless teams picked up their first W (more on that later). The Panthers and Texans won their third in a row. Denver finally lost. The Jets lost their fourth out of the last five. (Remember when they started 3-0 and everyone had them in the Super Bowl??) Philly whooped the Giants. And of course, Brett Favre went into Lambeau and threw 4 TDs while giving everyone the middle finger.

Week Eight Recap.

Weird fact #1: Every team in the NFC West lost, except the St. Louis Rams.

Weird fact #2: A quarterback in the Cardinals-Panthers committed six turnovers, and it wasn’t Jake Delhomme.

Weird fact #3: Rams kicker Josh Brown and Colts running back Joseph Addai both threw TD passes; Peyton Manning did not.

Weird fact #4: Despite playing a horrific F-minus game at quarterback, Matt Stafford was continuously praised by the commentating team of John Lynch and Ron Pitts, who miraculously did not say one bad word about Stafford. Matt’s stats: 14/33, 42% completions, 168 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, and two of the worst two-minute drills I’ve ever seen to conclude both halves. Also several INTs were dropped. This is the part where you say: “Yeah, but all those passes were dropped…” True, there were three or four catchable balls that were dropped. But this is the part where I remind you: “We were playing the RAMS FOR GODS SAKE, THE RAMS!!! The Colts put up 42 against them last week! Their best defender is Paris Lenin! How do you only score 10 points (2 of which came on a safety) against the RAMS!!???!?!?!?!?

Weird fact #5: Tampa Bay is the only remaining winless team. Not really a weird fact, but important as far as the NFL draft goes. Will they draft a QB, even though they took Josh Freeman at the end of the first round last year? Probably not. But they should. Maybe the Lions will draft Colt McCoy! Wait … oh crap, we already wasted $72 million on our “franchise quarterback.” Dammit.

Weird fact #6: Ted Ginn Jr. returned two kicks for TDs (both over 100 yards) against the Jets, allowing Miami to win despite gaining just 164 yards of offense – compared to 392 yards for the Jets. Also the Jets sacked Chad Henne six times for negative 60 yards, which is more yards than Miami registered running the ball all game. And somehow Miami won the game.

Relevant fact #1: By losing, the Jets basically dashed their playoff hopes against the rocks. They are now 4-4, after starting 3-0.

Relevant fact #2: The only remaining undefeated teams are quarterbacked by Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. Coincidence? I think no.

Relevant fact #3: The Jags effectively killed their playoff hopes by losing to 0-6 Tennessee, even though Maurice Jones-Drew had TD runs of 79 and 80 yards. I’m think Jacksonville could be interested in a new QB of the future after Garrard put up a big ugly stinker against the worst pass defense in the league.

Relevant fact #4: Two divisions have three five-win teams: the NFC East (Dallas and Philly are 5-2, NY is 5-3) and the AFC North (Pittsburgh and Cincy are 5-2, Baltimore is 5-3). That’s bad news for wildcard hopefuls like Atlanta, Green Bay, Houston and San Diego.

Relevant fact #5: The best team in the AFC West got crushed by the third best team in the AFC North.

Meaningless fact #1: LaDanian Tomlinson has run for 3 TDs this year – all against the Raiders.

Meaningless fact #2: Both LT and the Raiders suck.

Meaningless fact #3: The Rams and Lions played a football game on Sunday.

Contentious fact #1: Brett Favre is a top five QB in the NFL this year. (Manning, Brees, Brady, Roethlisberger, Favre). …followed by Ryan, Palmer, Flacco, Rodgers, Romo, Warner, Schaub, Eli, Rivers, McNabb, Hasslebeck, Cutler, Garrard, Orton and Cassel. In that order. Which means that by my count, twelve starting QBs don’t even register.

Contentious fact #2: Adrian Peterson is not only the best running back in the NFL, but the best running back since Barry Sanders.

Contentious fact #3: I still like my Super Bowl pick of Eagles-Patriots.

On my way to Boston's to watch MNF! Go Falcons!

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