Bill Simmons: NBA's think, know and prove
Great read in general that had some little nuggets that I found interesting: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...6&sportCat=nba
I think Larry Brown could absolutely outcoach his first and second round opponents this spring. Stan Van Gundy in Round 1, Mike Woodson in Round 2 ... and Mike Brown looming in Round 3. I'm just sayin'.
I know Hedo Turkoglu was the 2009-10 LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Emeka Okafor (No. 2) deserves his own paragraph. His career arc looks like something you'd see from a guy in his mid-30's. His contract ($10.6 million this year, $38 million over the next three) is a salary cap tsunami for a small market team. He's a horrible match for a Hornets team that once loved having its big guys set picks for its point guards, then roll to the hoop for alley-oops. (Okafor can't do it. Not in his skill set.) Since he can't post up or shoot free throws, he's useless for them offensively. (According to hoopdata.com, he was a 38% shooter inside 10 feet.) Defensively, his shotblocking/rebounding numbers dipped and his athleticism made you think, "Wait, is that Theo Ratliff?" Maybe Okafor hasn't been a bust on the Pervis/Darko/Bowie/LaRue/Kwame/Oden (sorry, he has to be thrown in at least for now) level, but at the very least, he's been profoundly disappointing. I'm just glad I never wrote that Orlando should have taken him over Dwight Howard. (What?) (I did?!?!?!?!?) (Expunge that from my archives, ESPN.com editors! DO IT RIGHT NOW! I MEAN IT!)
NBA PLAYOFF PICKS
Cavs over Bulls in 4
Magic over Bobcats in 7
Hawks over Bucks in 5
Heat over Celtics in 7
Lakers over OKC in 6
Mavs over Spurs in 6
Suns over Blazers in 5
Jazz over Nuggets in 7
I can prove that you can't win four straight playoff series by relying on Vince Carter. You know why? Because he's Vince Carter! Ask the Nets fans about him. Ask the Raptors fans about him. They know.
I can prove that Magic fans just muttered to themselves, "We don't need to rely on Vince to win four straight series -- we had a +12.2 point differential after the All-Star Break, you jackass."
My counter to your muttering: Where are you going in the last three minutes of a tight game? Last spring, you cleared out for Hedo and let him create shots for himself or someone else. Worked all the way to the Finals. What about this spring? Dwight Howard takes ten shots a game and disappears down the stretch. According to 82games.com, Howard averaged 16.0 crunch-time points per 48 minutes, such a staggeringly low number that Al Horford (17.0) and Udonis Haslem (23.9) topped him, Andrew Bogut (16.0) tied him and Joakim Noah (15.6) nearly tied him. And that's fine. He was still the third-most valuable player in the league. (At least in my opinion.) But you can't win in the playoffs without someone creating quality shots in the last four minutes.
So where's it coming from? Jameer Nelson has slipped since his shoulder injury last season. Lewis's numbers have fallen off without Turkoglu. That leaves Vince. (See the sidebar to the right.) Is anyone buying this? What happens the first time someone gives him a hard playoff foul on a drive? What happens if he tweaks his ankle and has to play through pain? What happens if he has menstrual cramps? (Jokes! I'm joking. Stop it. Settle down.) What happens (hypothetically) in a Game 6 in Charlotte or Atlanta, with Orlando trailing 3 games to 2 and facing a giant upset, tie game, two minutes to play, win or go home? Who gets the ball? Who takes over? Who is everyone looking at and saying, "Save us?" That's right … Vince Carter. The most disappointing superstar of his generation.
I am a pessimist. At least when Vince is involved. Even playing for his most talented team ever, I can prove that he will destroy them in the end. Why? Because he's Vince Carter. Did you miss the last 12 years or something? Why do you think Orlando got him for 20 cents on the dollar? Why do you think Toronto fans still jeer him lustily even though he left six years ago? Why do you think Kidd pushed for a trade to Dallas? Orlando fans, remember we had this conversation when there's a big playoff game in a few weeks and Vince is rolling around on the floor like he's been shot as you're screaming, "Get up! GET UP VINCE! HE BARELY FOULED YOU! IT'S GAME SEVEN! GET THE EFF UP!!!!!!!!!!!!"