Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yo, Vegas! Mr. East picks them ALL right!

OK, so all of the first games of the NBA playoffs happened. And Mr. East corectly picked every single one of them. So I'm flying him over from Japan to hit Vegas, mortgaging my house, selling my Simpsons goodies, and putting it all on whoever he picks next. "oh, big fucking deal!" I can hear you saying. "Anyone can pick the Pistons, Suns, Cavs and maybe the Nets to win in an upset!" Yeah, well, he also picked the Nuggets, Bulls, Rockets and the amazing Warriors.

Granted, it was only game #1. If his picks hold up, everyone better kiss his ass.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

2007 Playoffs Picks! Bulls, Warriors, Crack, Freebasers!

Stephen Jackson- Hero to Some, Dapper to Others

The 2007 NBA Playoffs are in effect! We gaze into our crsytal ball and see ... nothing. We don;t own a crystal ball. We own a Spalding "never flat" which is, duh, flat. The pix:

Mr. West's picks...

Pistons over Magic in 4. Detroit has it all and the shallow Magic aren't in any position to expose the weaknesses. Dwight Howard might get in some highlights but this series looks done before it started. Maybe Detroit gets lazy for a game but that's it.

Cleveland over Washington in 4. LeBron gets the best break of his career so far when Agent Zero and Caron Butler miss this series. Coulda been a good revenge series from last year. Much as I don't trust Larry Hughes, Eric Snow and Sideshow Verajeo, no group led by Jarvis Hayes and Antonio Daniels is gonna pounce.

Nets over Raptors in 6. The NBA playoffs do not reward teams who have underperformed all season. Nets are pretty much the only underperfomers of this season who can turn it on and thrive bu only because they facee Toronto. The Nets Big 3 are overrated but no one on Toronto can even spell "playoffs."

Chicago over Miami in 7. Many predict the Heat to fall this year. I say it starts early. The Bulls earned some respect last year in the playoffs and their tough, balanced approach is more than an older Shaq and damaged Wade can handle. You think old bastards like Payton, Posey and 'Toine are gonna make the difference in a seven games series? Uh, no.

Dallas over Golden State in 6. Why can the Warriors cause the Mavs some stress? They are a bunch of crazy fuckers who don't even know any better from the top on down. I'm gonna rely on Dirk and Jason Terry before I rely on Stephen Jackson and Jason Richardson & Co. I could see some great, fun games developing, though.

San Antonio over Denver in 6. The Spurs are back in form as the dark, evil empire. The Nuggets have recently gotten Iverson in the mix properly but is it enough to take the Spurs? Bad bet. If Nene and Camby deliver solid D and a little O, watcch out. Spurs have a habit of losing early round playoff games.

Houston over Utah in 7. T-Mac is overrated and a slacker. What's worse for the Rockets is that they are thin and Utah will match their desire to make each possession count. I see Utah trying to beat up McGrady and Yao- and failing. AK-47 regressed this year, so expect McGrady to go off and earn some respect.

Phoenix over Lakers in 6. Kobe can do what he wants but it won't be enough. Nash will do his thing, and the star of the game will rotate each game from Amare to Marion to Bell as they get hold and cold. But the constant of Nash will not relent in this series.

Round 2 will go as follows:
Cleveland over Nets in 7.
Detroit over Chicago in 6.
San Antonio over Dallas in 7.
Phoenix over Houston in 6.

Conference Finals:
Detroit over Cleveland in 6.
San Antonio over Phoenix in 6.

San Antonio over Detroit in 6.

Mr. East pix ...

Pistons over Magic in 5. This could be a surprise in the making. Dwight Howard might be the best
player in the series, but he won't quite be enough. The Magic have a puncher's chance against the might Pistons, but Chauncey Billups is too much for anyone trying to defend him.

Cavs over Wizards in 4. The Wizards have no chance, right? No Arenas. No Butler. It's over. I agree. I would have picked the Bullets if Mr. Hibachi was around, but he isn't.

Nets ovr Raptors in 6. The Raptors had a nice little season. They won their first (watered-down) division title and found a nice mix of players to help them compete for years to come. The Nets are a better team. Watch. Yes, Chris Bosh is great. Anthony Parker has translated his EuroLeague success to the NBA. Bargnani is good. You still have to figure out how to stop Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson. In the end, I think the Nets will win this one, despite a very strong showing by Bosh. T.J. Ford is NOT the man.

Bulls over Heat in 6. The Heat are the defending champs. They have Shaq and Wade. Well, they have a 90 year old Shaq, and a one armed Wade. You can tell me that Eddie Jones, Antoine Walker, Jason Kapono, Alonzo Mourning, Jason Williams, Udonis
Haslem, and James Posey are enough to make up for the crippled stars. No way.

Golden State over Dallas in 7. This will be a fun series. I actually give the Warriors a puncher's chance in this one too. Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Anthony Biedrins. Sounds good to me. I know the Mavs are great, and I know that Nowitzki should be the MVP, but I just don't know. I like the Warriors post-All Star break edition and they are very hot. I'm going upset.

Suns over Lakers in 6. Kobe is a machine. Cyborg. Terminator. Odom is very good. That's about it. It's a testament to Kobe's greatness that they are even in the playoffs. Not for long. Kobe will win two games by himself.

Nuggets over Spurs in 6. Marcus Camby gave Tim Duncan fits in the 1999 Finals. He will do it again here. I hate the Spurs. They are just horribly uninteresting and while they play basketball very very well, I don't think they will be able to stop
Allen Iverson. Iverson fit in very well with the Nuggets other players, but this is killing time or it's dying time and he's an assasin. I'm going with The Answer.

Rockets over Jazz in 4. I don't like the Rockets to go far in these playoffs, if only because I think T-Mac is made of paper mache. They will easily handle Utah though. Utah is undersized to play against Houston and while they will use their quickness to counter Yao, he will eat them alive in the end. Utah has zero chance.

Round 2 will go as follows:
Nets over Cleveland in 6.
Detroit over Chicago in 6.
Nuggets over Golden State in 5.
Phoenix over Houston in 4.

Conference Finals:
Detroit over Nets in 5.
Suns over Nuggets in 7.

Suns over Detroit in 6.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mr. West on ... the Sun is Shining

As Mr. East has noted below, the NBA season has ended. Which means the Lottery teams are set. Using a couple of the NBA ping-pong ball simulators, here is a combined tally of the 40 scenarios we ran (Mr. East's 20 are also listed below in his posting).

Out of the 40 scenarios we ran, this is who got #1:
- Celtics (13 times)
- Sonics (10 times)
- Milwaukee (6 times)
- Memphis (6 times)
- Atlanta (2 times)
- Chicago (1 time)
- LA Clippers (1 time)
- Charlotte (1 time)

So, according to East vs. West, somehow the Sonics will sneak in to grab a top #1 or #2 spot. God bless them. And Portland seems fucked.

We'll do a full draft analysis later.

Now, concerning Phoenix. They own Atlanta's pick if it falls between #4-#6. According to our scenarios, there is a 40% chance it will happen. But it sure would be fun if it did.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sun is Shining

The NBA Draft Lottery is still a ways away, but I started thinking of something interesting. The top pick is a matter that everyone interested in the NBA will be focused on in the coming weeks, but that's not the intriguing thing to me. I charted some possibilities for that pick using the ESPN.com Mock Lottery generator, as well as the Real GM version. The top pick was, of course, something I kept track of as I clicked refresh, but I wanted to see how likely it is that the Suns will grab the Hawks pick in the top tier of the lottery. A lot of crappy teams will be praying night and day that they fall 1 or 2 in this draft, but with a deep crop of incoming players a team like the Suns stands to really cash in. Let's look at what I found.

I clicked the ESPN and Real GM lotteries 10 times each. Of the 20 clicks, I got the following results:

The Top Pick

6/20 Seattle Supersonics
5/20 Boston Celtics
3/20 Memphis Grizzlies
3/20 Milwaukee Bucks
2/20 Atlanta Hawks
1/20 Los Angeles Clippers

The Suns

9/20 Picks 4-6
11/20 No Pick

It would seem that the Sonics and Celtics are going to be excited about either Oden or Durant come draft day, but a few sneaky surprises always make this thing interesting. The point of this was the Suns, so I find it interesting that my very small sample size has given the Phoenix boys a 45% chance of scoring a pick between 4 and 6. If I clicked a billion times, the results may vary a bit, but generally speaking you have to like their chances. ESPN gives users the benefit of a pick prediction with their lottery, while Real GM is more no frills. ESPN predicts in each of the instances where the Suns get Atlanta's pick that they will use it on Brandan Wright, freshman power forward from UNC.

Wright is a 6'10", 210 pound force that reminds many people of Chris Bosh. That hardly seems fair, does it? Phoenix adding Chris Bosh to the cast of characters they already play is potentially insane. Nash, Bell, Marion, Wright, and Stoudemire with a bench featuring Diaw and Barbosa! You know I'm going to be there cheering on the Suns on Draft Lottery day. I could care less about anything else as a Knicks fan....except maybe the Bulls pick from the Eddy Curry trade coming near the end of the dealings.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Go to Hell Ping Pong Balls

I'm not really a big Bill Simmons fan. Usually, I think his ESPN column is more geared for the fan who likes juggling monkeys during time outs, and Justin Timberlake at the Super Bowl. You know, he's the cotton candy of sports journalism. His column is full of pop culture references like the ones I used above, and the actual sports analysis is generally a bit on the thin side. Not too much to gloss over the eyes of the less inquisitive fan. He's not altogether bad, as long as you know what you're getting yourself into when you make that decision to read his work. The latest piece had a few interesting points that I wanted to highlight here.

To provide you with a little background on the piece, in case you don't want to read the whole thing on your own, he says that the NBA is suffering because teams are now inclined to tank the season to get a top pick. He tells us that the lottery was originally designed to prevent "tanking" and preserve the integrity of all the games late in the season, even involving teams long since eliminated from the playoffs. Simmons suggests that the return of this "tanking" mentality came when the Magic won back to back lotteries, snagging Shaq and Penny in successive offseasons. The league weighted the lottery, foolishly returning the incentive to "tank" to the game.

Here we are in 2007 with the big stars at home with their feet up, fantasy GMs left scratching their heads during championship week with their best players missing a boatload of games to "injuries", and fans paying premium ticket prices to watch D-League performers trip over themselves on a nightly basis. (Yes, I'm talking to you Boston.) Kevin Garnett is home again this season, and has never had a real chance at anything thanks to the excellence in mediocrity that Kevin McHale has achieved in Minny. That in and of itself is one of the biggest crimes against the sport in its long history.

Now that you know what this is all about, here are two of Simmons' three suggestions:

1. Contract the league to 27 teams and dump Memphis, Charlotte and Atlanta, three cities that can't support NBA basketball and never could. Then we'll have a league-wide lottery to determine positioning for the dispersal draft of players from those three teams. (Note: We've already sedated Chad Ford just in case this happens.) And if a contender like Chicago happens to end up with Pau Gasol ... I think we'll manage.

Mr. West and I have been talking about a piece along these lines since before the season even tipped. Unfortunately, we (I) never got around to putting it together, but we'll do something on this soon. I want to contract all the major sports leagues, the NBA being most desperately in need of the move. More soon.....

2. Change the lottery back to that of the late '80s: one envelope per team, same odds for everybody, top three draft spots only. Boom! We've solved the tanking problem. If a half-decent team happens to land a franchise player, like the Wolves getting Oden and pairing him with KG ... I think we'll manage.

I like this idea a lot. Half of the contraction philosophy that I subscribe to is the notion that we need more star players paired with other star players. It's much better for the league to achieve parity via a more competitive field of teams. Diluting the field with so many franchises only guarantees that you get parity via mediocrity. Fewer teams, with more combinations of star players, achieves parity via quality. It's the classic example of quality over quantity, I suppose. It's not a problem to see Orlando win back-to-back lotteries, in my opinion (and Simmons' as well). Great. Congratulations. Shaq and Penny get to play together and one of your floundering teams is rescued. They are now likely to avoid the lottery altogether for a generation, and you can hope that another of your hard luck franchises can win 2 or even 3 times in a row.

In a perfect world, the worst team, which needs the most help, should have a greater chance at the top pick. That's how welfare works. Screw welfare. The object of the NBA is to put the most exciting product on the court, and if that means occasionally seeing one of the good teams become great, even while the bad teams still struggle a bit, so be it. It's just as likely that the worst team in the league will win the lottery two or three times in a row, as it is the team that is on the bubble. I'd love to see New Orleans, for example, get the top pick this year and add Greg Oden or Kevin Durant to a roster already rich with Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler, David West, and the player formerly known as Peja Stojakovic. That would mean a lot of big men, but it would also free the team to trade David West for a swingman or two guard of some quality.

I'd love to see the Sixers win the lottery in back to back years and score Oden and O.J. Mayo to go along with Iguodala, Dalembert, Andre Miller, and company. Just an example, but I think you see where I'm going with this. It would be good for the NBA to put one envelope per team in a hat and forgo the weighted lottery altogether. It's more exciting for the fans, and it's better for the sport. So, give those ping pong balls to Shawn Kemp and start a Beer Pong D-League.