I’m back! It’s been a while…

Hey all.

It’s been a while, I know…but I had some stuff going on and work’s been busy. Doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped paying attention all-together, so here’s my take on some of the things that’ve been going on, and some of the articles that I’ve read, since I last posted.

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Well, for starters, the Orlando Magic blew up their roster, sending ‘Shard to Washington for Gil, then flipping VC, Pietrus, Gortat and a future-first rounder for J-Rich, Turkoglu and Earl Clark. Personally, I liked the deal for the Magic, and the early results have been positive. After dropping the first two games after the deal, the Magic have won 5 straight. And as John Schuhmann of NBA.com notes, the Magic can still get better. All the figures are in the article, but the Magic are better both offensively and defensively since the trade.

It was definitely a brave move by general manager Otis Smith, but Rashard Lewis was not helping the Magic at all this season, while if there’s any chance that Gilbert can recapture his form of a couple seasons ago, then this Orlando team is extremely dangerous. That’s without even mentioning the swap of VC for J-Rich, which is a major, major upgrade at the 2. VC was really showing his age this season, while Richardson is fresh off leading the Suns in scoring as they faced the Lakers in the conference finals just 7 months ago. And Turkoglu has looked completely rejuvenated slotting right back into the Magic offense that earned him his big payday in the first place. Also, getting Earl Clark is a proper bonus; he’s definitely got first-round talent and perhaps just needed a change of scenery. I’m sure the Magic are very comfortable sending that first-rounder for Earl.

The Wizards would surely be happy with the deal too, as they’d been trying desperately to move Gil ever since being lucky enough to select John Wall first overall in the draft. Additionally, ‘Shard’s deal runs for one less season than Gil’s, so there’s the monetary savings as well.

For Phoenix, I initially like it for them too, as Gortat gives them a legit big that can split time with Lopez and really help this team defensively. Carter slots straight into Richardson’s spot, and benefits from Steve Nash’s passing (and really, who doesn’t?). So far, the results have been fairly inconsistent, and guys have gotten frustrated – Steve Nash vented against the referees, while Gortat got stuck into his own team-mates, wondering just how the Suns could be so bad on the defensive end. We’ll see how this shakes out, because the Suns definitely have the talent to make it to the playoffs.

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After the trade, and the much smaller deal a couple of days before (where Terrence Williams was shipped to Houston), I couldn’t help but notice that both the Louisville guys that were selected in the 2009 NBA draft (and at pick 11 for Williams, and 14 for Earl Clark, lottery selections) had been traded. It’s pretty rare that teams give up on lottery picks, but for two separate teams to deal their lottery guys, within 4 days, that played together on the same college team…well, I doubt that’ll happen very often. Both these guys have immense talent though, and I’m optimistic that they’ll both benefit from the change in scenery.

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I read this article about a week ago, and while I most definitely encourage advanced statistics, this look at Adjusted +/- is ridiculous. The author started to lose me with his first insight, where he suggests that Mike Bibby is more responsible for the Hawks success this season than Al Horford. Yeah, sure. He goes on to suggest that Dorell Wright could be blamed for the Warriors slump through late-November/early-December. Um, ok then. Not Steph Curry’s injured ankles; David Lee’s messed up elbow or Andris Biedrins’ absence, or anything like that could be blamed. Whatever. But where the author really lost me completely, to the point where I got angry, was when he brushed off the sheer statistical dominance of both A’mare and Blake Griffin and suggested that the Knicks’ MVP and the league’s ROY is Landry Fields. Pfffft. No. Just…no. Let’s move on before I rage completely.

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Here’s another article I came across, and it’s hilarious. Check the link, watch the video, and laugh. Trust me.

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Tyreke Evans’ half-court game-winner, if you haven’t already seen it. Shot of the season.

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I was watching the Orlando-New York game the other night, and I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Brandon Bass and Paul Millsap. I know I heard about it last season, from a couple of the guys, for saying I wouldn’t vote SVG Coach of the Year, based on the fact that he didn’t play Bass enough – but he definitely should have been playing Brandon Bass. And this season, Bass is actually getting the opportunity to show everyone what I knew he was capable of.

But back to the Millsap-Bass similarities, I decided to jump on Basketball Reference and do a player comparison. And here’s what I came up with. Turns out, these guys are even more alike than I thought. Cool.

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Of all the high-scoring performances this season, DeMar DeRozan’s 37 against Houston surprised me the most. I really like DeRozan, he has awesome athleticism and probably the coolest name in the NBA, but I wasn’t sure he was capable of that kind of scoring. But as my mate, a Rockets fan, pointed out, Houston struggles to stop guards. And it turns out yes, yes they do. Check it. Monta with a couple of 40-point efforts, D-Wade with 45, a couple of 30-point games from D-Rose, and DeRozan’s 37, which is a lot of points.

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So, I headed over to Blake Griffin’s player page on Yahoo! Sports, as you do, and as I read ‘Born: Mar 16, 1989 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; College: Oklahoma’, I started to wonder just how good the Oklahoma City Thunder would be if they’d won the top pick in the 2009 draft and been able to select Blake Griffin. I mean, Westbrook-Sefolosha-Durant-Griffin-Krstic with Jeff Green excelling in a do-it-all bench role, leading a second unit that includes Maynor, Daequan Cook, Serge Iblocka and Nick Collison? With Serge becoming the starting center once Nenad’s contract expires? That is a phenomenal team. Like, there’s ridiculous potential there. I don’t think you’d need to worry about egos either, with Durant, Westbrook and Griffin being some of the most humble and down-to-earth stars ever to step on the court. It’d also be a stupidly athletic team; imagine the dunks you would see nightly with Russell and Blake on the same team…

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As I was watching the Milwaukee-Chicago game a few nights ago, I got a reminder about how good a player Luc Mbah a Moute is. Picked in the second-round, he’s really carved out a role as a tenacious defender and opportunistic rebounder, keeping the Bucks in the game early with a series of offensive rebounds and put-backs to make up for Milwaukee’s awful shooting. I was pretty sure he went to UCLA with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, and sure enough, he did. I can’t help but think what an outstanding rebounding team that must have been, and that UCLA really does an excellent job getting these guys reading for the pros. I mean, even in this small sample of guys from the same team, Westbrook and Love have become genuine stars this season, while it’s not often that second-round guys become valuable role-players like Mbah a Moute. Milwaukee ended up losing that game, 77-90, but Mbah a Moute ended up with a double-double.

***

Ok guys, here’s a question to finish things up: Do you trade Jonny Flynn?

There are definitely a couple of reasons why Minny may want to part with the second-year playmaker out of Syracuse. First of all, Luke Ridnour has played pretty damn well in Flynn’s absence as he recovered from a hip injury, averaging 11 points and 5 assists while giving the young Wolves a steady veteran presence. Secondly, Flynn never really found his place in Kurt Rambis’ up-tempo quasi-triangle mish-mash offense in his rookie campaign, averaging just 13 points and 4 assists as the Timberwolves won just 15 games. Lastly, the time is quickly approaching for when Ricky Rubio can opt out of his European (Barcelona) deal and become a member of the Timberwolves, the option becoming available after this season with a buyout of just $1.4 million, much more reasonable than the $6 million-plus buyout in his old contract (Joventut).

Minnesota will do everything they possibly can to get Rubio to the NBA, with his outstanding passing and unselfishness being major positives for a team already having guys like Love and Beasley who can score and need their shots. With a lock-out looming, it will certainly be a big challenge for David Kahn and the rest of the T-Wolves management to convince Rubio that a move to the U.S. is best, but Ricky Rubio in Minnesota would really give the Wolves fan-base energy and excitement, and make the team much more marketable. The Rubio-Johnson-Beasley-Love core could really develop into something special, too.

So what would it take to get a deal done? I narrowed it down to a couple of teams that may be interested in Flynn, namely Sacramento and Detroit. Both teams are rebuilding, and both teams could use a young, legitimate point guard; enabling them to move their own talented ‘point’ guards to their true 2-guard spot – those guys being Tyreke Evans and Rodney Stuckey, respectively.

Here are the deals I came up with. Both times, I had the Wolves moving Flynn and Brewer for an expiring contract, Samuel Dalembert in the Kings trade, Tayshaun Prince in the Pistons deal. The Wolves have the cap room available to absorb either of the deals, while both Sacramento and Detroit get solid value for their expiring, acquiring two lottery guys. The post-trade line-up for Minny after a Kings deal would be Ridnour-Johnson-Beasley-Love-Milicic with Telfair-Webster-Dalembert of the pine, while if a deal with the Pistons were to go ahead, it would look something like Ridnour-Johnson-Beasley-Love-Milicic with Telfair-Webster-Prince off the bench. While neither deal makes the Wolves significantly better in the short-term, Minnesota management would be looking ahead to the possibility of luring Rubio. Furthermore, like OKC, Minnesota would be wise to keep some room under the cap so that they can extend Love and Beasley, just like the Thunder have the money they need to keep Durant and Westbrook around.

So, do you?

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Ok, that was fun. If you stayed with it, then thanks for reading. Until next time.

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