Posts Tagged ‘NBA’

In the words of college basketball color commentator Clark Kellogg, “Watching these two teams shoot is like watching paint dry”.

I believe we can all agree, especially Greg Anthony, that this was one of the worst NCAA championships of all time. 53 to 41 points. 34% versus 18% field goal percentage. UConn’s winning mark was the lowest scoring win since World War II era with Wisconsin’s 39-34 win over Wazzu in’41.

Rather than bash the atrocious scoring efforts of both teams, watching this game helped make a comparison, aside from the title game, that the 2010-11 Huskies resemble the roster make up of the 2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers.

2011 NCAA Champions

Of course, the most notable, yet most controversial comparison lies between junior guard Kemba Walker and shooting guard Kobe Bryant. Naturally there are physical differences (Walker stands at a mere 6’1” while Bryant towers over him at 6’6”), playing level, experience, and team composition.

However, both have one common, “umbrella” characteristic that branch out into other minor feats: they both know how to control the game. Walker’s 23.7 ppg in the regular season, with an incredible 26.3 ppg within the Big East/NCAA tournament resonates to Bryant’s 27.0 ppg last season accompanied by a 29.2 ppg average in the post season, both roughly a 7% increase.

Next up, Walker’s stellar performance through out the entire March Madness earned him the “Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four” while Bryant’s magician-like showing during the 2010 post season earned an “NBA Finals MVP” accolade. Not enough? Let’s move on.

Incorporating teammates is another critical component to the two play makers’ style of play. Dishing out around five assists a game and an above 1.5 assist to turnover ratio reflects that the two sharp shooters aren’t all about the stats.

Speaking of teammates, there are some uncanny comparison in some UConn to LA players. Freshman forward Jeremy Lamb’s clutch 2nd half against Butler and hard-nose defense resembled Lakers’ forward Ron Artest and some of his 4th quarter heroics. Sophomore big man Alex Oriakhi’s near double-double season average and capability of shutting down Butler’s paint play echoed center Pau Gasol’s wall-like presence down low against the Celtic’s Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.

2010 NBA Champions

Not only do their rosters show commonalities, but their coaches seem to share some redeeming qualities as well. Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun became the oldest coach to win a NCAA basketball collegiate title at age 68, making it his 3rd title overall. On the flip side, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson isn’t drinking from the fountain of youth either- at age 65 was able to win his 11th NBA title. Yes, the numbers are a bit skewed, but the only NCAA coach to come close to that number is UCLA legend John Wooden with 10.

Digging further in the two teams’ alikeness, both have had a roughly the same roller coaster of a history the past 10 years. UConn’s 2004 winning year with Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon parallels the Lakers 1999-04 Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal era. The two teams both have had down falls and with a few rebuilding seasons, returned to national glory.

Who knows if Walker will replicate Bryant’s NBA career of any sort or will share even remotely the same impact #24 has had on the Lakers, or if UConn will be a collegiate powerhouse as the Lakers are to the NBA. However, if one thing is for certain, Walker’s leadership and performance of the Huskies tournament run shows at least a glimpse of what the guard has in store for the basketball world to see.

guard Kemba Walker

So as the first week of the National Basketball Association kicks off, I thought it would go hand-in-hand if I threw out some [upset] predictions that’ll be sure to scare you (I need to stop with these Halloween references…)

Courtesy of Associated Press

Will the trio be smiling for that much longer?

Upset Pick #1: The Nets and Cavaliers walk away with winning records. Now I know I’m a Jersey boy but I really do like what Avery Johnson is doing in Newark, especially with Prokhorov, the other Russian Federation, at the helm of the organization. Johnson’s really disciplining the team in a way Lawrence Frank didn’t and I think that will show through their bench players as well as Devin Harris finally showing up to play. Even with their close marginal win against an aging and worn out Pistons team, Harris was able to distribute the ball well, Brooks Lopez acted like the big man he’s always been if not a bit better, and Jordan Farmar and Terrence Williams (my vote for Most Improved) both played key roles off the bench. I definitely believe this team is changing for the better.

Now for the Cavaliers, this might be just as bold of a call if not bolder. With the town having Lebron James on their “Most Wanted: Dead or Alive” list, it still faces a demise as a whole. There is no true play maker on the team, no real star to provide a solid fan base, steady revenue, and wins against perennial teams. That’s where I think analysts and the public will be wrong. After an impressive upset over Boston, power forward JJ Hickson took the role as the scoring leader, I think it’ll be like that for the remainder of the season with Daniel Gibson coming off the bench feeding him the ball and big man Anderson Varejao posting up down low snagging rebound after rebound.

Upset Pick #2: The New York Knicks make the playoffs. I’m serious, I really am not that bias to New York-New Jersey teams…for the most part. With that key off season acquisition of Amare Stoudemire, the only place for the Knickerbockers to go is up. Mike D’Antoni is a coach that consistently made the playoffs with a stocked Phoenix Suns team, and I believe Donny Walsh is using that as a template to build his own empire. Danillo Gallinari is turning himself into a nice ball player coming from Italy, watching his ppg increase from 6.1 to 15.1 in a year, with Wilson Chandler being dual-threat, scoring and rebounding machine off the bench and a matured Raymond Felton heading the front court of this team.
Which leads to my last pick…

Upset Pick #3 The Miami Heat will choke…badly. Now I know badly is up for interpretation but I just don’t see this Super Friend trio working out. We’ve heard this scheme that Lebron will take the lead with Dwayne Wade being his sidekick and Chris Bosh maintaining the paint, but it’s as if right before the game they sit down and say, “Am I going for 30 points tonight or is it you?” “No it was you last night let me!”. This so called “unstoppable force” was not meant to be. Three soon-to-be Hall of Famers playing in South Beach with only one of them having won a  ring in their entire careers. It was a horrible loss against the Celtics the other night, in which they had 17 turnovers, 15 by the trio, and barely cut the lead down in the 4th quarter but watched 3-point king Ray Allen perform what he does best.

I know they beat Philadelphia, but only by 10! A Philly team that was led by rookie Evan Turner (supposed leaders Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand barely showed up to play). We’re going to constantly here that it’ll take “time to gel” or “we need more game time to get used to each other” and all that other jazz, which is relatively true. And they will win games . A lot. But a more experienced Celtics team or the Orlando Magic will wipe them out in the Conference finals or semi-finals.

Now with these bold predictions, we can only wait and see how they pan out. I may go 3-0 or 0-3. Either or I think it’s going to be a verrry interesting NBA season. So soak it in while you can because with a potential 2011-2012 lockout, I’m pretty sure the saying goes “you never know what you got till it’s gone