Wednesday, January 17, 2007

C-Webb is Back

I don't give a shit what anyone says, Chris Webber can still play this game. Everyone loves to hate C-Webb.....just about as much as they love to hate Allen I. In that way they were perfect together in Philly. I love Chris Webber. I'm about the biggest University of Michigan fan there is, and I was a university student during the Fab Five era. I'll go to my grave loving that group of players and their cocky, arrogant, flashy, illegal booster money taking game. I don't care if they took money. I don't care if they were too arrogant. I don't care about any of it.

You should call me out as a hypocrite because I also tend to believe that honesty and righteousness are virtues we should all adhere to. Yes, I'm a hypocrite and I don't care.

Chris Webber is one of the best power forwards to play the game. He is bright, strong, and has the kind of court vision that only point guards usually possess. His hands are like giant mitts and you can throw him just about any kind of pass and he'll catch it. He's slow now. He isn't explosive for the most part. He isn't going to do the kind of 360 he threw down in the rookie/sophmore challenge all those years ago. He can still ball better than most. There are too many people out there that want to shit on Webber for his time out in the NCAAs against Carolina, and his marijuana run-ins at Washington, or his feud with Nellie about playing center, and on and on....

I don't give a shit about any of it. It means nothing. It just puts a chip on the shoulder of a lot of holier-than-thou people who want to shovel dirt on his grave and write him off as a scrub. To those people I say, "Fuck you." Take for example Marty Burns of He writes a piece which mentions how poor Webber is on defense about 300 times and he goes out of his way to distort quotes attributed to coaches and players that seem to mock Webber. He uses disconnected statements about Popovich's tenure as a Don Nelson assistant during the rough days of the mid-90s to indirectly associate his intended Webber bashing to Pop. That's hack journalism at its worst.

Here's my take. Webber had 38 double-doubles in 2005-06. He had 7 games of 30+ points scored and two 20+ rebound games. He had 3 or more steals 10 times last year, and as recently as April 2nd, 2006 against the Knicks had 7 in one game. Yeah, his shooting percentage has been bad in recent years. He can't attack the rim as he once did. Yeah, his man may beat him off the dribble and guys may abuse him on the pick and roll sometimes, but it's supremely unfair to ridicule and write-off a guy that is still quite capable of winning games on his own. Take this for example:

On December 23rd of THIS YEAR, Webber put up 18 points on 9 of 13 shooting, 9 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks in a lopsided victory over the Knicks. Okay, it's the Knicks. That's the Eastern Conference though. There are a lot of shit ballclubs like the Knicks out there that Webber can and will dominate. Need a tougher opponent? In a 2 point loss to the Orlando Magic on December 9th of THIS YEAR, Webber put up 19 points on 8 of 15 shooting, 11 boards, 8 assists, a steal, and 2 blocks. How can he not succeed on the Pistons? If he can still produce those kind of games with the defense keyed on stopping him and Allen I, how will he not have some big games when surrounded by Billups, Rip, Prince, and Sheed? If for nothing other than passing, the Pistons will be a better club.

Last thing on this, Burns and others like him want to stick it to C-Webb and call him washed up. They mock the Pistons' acquisition and point to some odd notion that he's replacing Ben Wallace. No. He's replacing Nazr Mohammed and/or Antonio McDyess. How many double-doubles does Nazr have in 2006-07? Two (out of 36 games played). McDyess? Two (out of 36 games played). Webber? Six (out of 18 games played). Nothing against Mohammed or McDyess, but Nazr has never sniffed Webber's talent in his life, and McDyess is even less athletic than Webber post-microfracture surgery. To all the Webber haters out there, get ready. He's not done. He may be less than what he was, but he's still good enough to beat your sorry ass.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Iverson Crystal Ball

So, Mr. East ... what us nerdy blog fans want to know is this: will Iverson make the Nuggets a better team? Will they win more games because of him? Will they go further in the playoffs?

So far, the Nuggets stand at 16-13 and are 2-4 with him on the team including an embarrassing home loss to the 76ers (yes, Seventy Sixers!). Granted, Melo and JR Smith are still suspended but that record sucks.

The Iverson Crystal Ball, Mr. West Version:

A) What will the Nuggets record be with AI in the line-up now? 32-27.
B) Will the Nuggets land in the playoffs? Yes, around a 6 or 7 seed.
C) How far will they go in the playoffs? Likely lose in 1st round.
D) Will Iverson be on the Nuggets next year? Yes though not in 2008-2009.
E) How many teammates of Iverson want him on the team? Zero.
F) How will Coach Karl and Iverson get along? Not well but well enough.

Summary: Iverson will act like the good boy scout for the remainder of
the year, a la Sprewell on the Knicks after the choking incident. The
Nuggets don't get better in the Win-Loss column, though. And Carmelo is
pissed because his career year is now part of the AI traveling circus.
Typical NBA team bullshit will be spewed ("we needed time to get used to
each other" or "with a year of practice as a unit we will be ready next
year to compete for the championship" etc.) all summer. Iverson will
overtly hog the ball next season and someone (Carmelo or Iverson) will
be traded.

The Iverson Crystal Ball, Mr. East Version:

A) What will the Nuggets record be with AI in the line-up now? 35-24.
B) Will the Nuggets land in the playoffs? Yes, they'll be a 6 seed.
C) How far will they go in the playoffs? They'll lose in 1st round, but if they do advance, they'll go deep into the playoffs.
D) Will Iverson be on the Nuggets next year? Yes.
E) How many teammates of Iverson want him on the team? Now? One or two. In a few months, almost everyone.
F) How will Coach Karl and Iverson get along? A sucessful Love/Hate relationship.

Summary: Iverson is trying to fit in early on by sharing the ball, and shooting less. He'll continue most of the time, even when Carmelo gets back. The thing is, at the end of the game who takes the shot. I believe it's Iverson every time, unless he kicks to an open Anthony. That's just me though and there are plenty of arguments the other way. As I see it, the worst case scenario here is that the entourage situation that is rarely discussed by the mainstream media could blow up. Iverson's entourage and Carmelo's entourage will either coexist, or they won't. If they don't the locker room will be forever divided, and things will turn ugly. On the court issues are not a problem. The rest of the Nuggets don't need the ball to be effective. Camby is a brilliant off the ball guy. Smith can shoot from the perimeter and will get plenty of open looks. Reggie Evans and the rest of the cast are all great role players.

I think this team has a shot at a title. They could surprise a lot of people if it's all peace and harmony in Denver. If the pieces find a way to mesh, it could be one of those 1999 playoff runs that Camby and the Knicks made. The problem is that they play in the strong West. A lot of things would have to fall their way to beat out Dallas, San Antonio, and Phoenix. I think they are potentially better than the rest of the Western Conference and could find themselves in the Finals this year or next if the Big Three knock each other off. Stranger things have happened. My prediction, no titles, but a lot of exciting basketball.