Wednesday, November 28, 2012

League Pass Diaries: 11/28/12

NC State vs. Michigan: I needed another look at this Michigan squad, and I was not disappointed.  It turns out Michigan may have 5 pros on this team, and I didn't even catch the most intriguing one on my first look.  First, I already touched on Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III.  Hardaway is an undersized 2-guard and a volume shooter.  He will get his chance in the league, but the odds are against him, because he's not a consistent shooter, he is undersized, and he's not freakishly athletic.  For now, Robinson III just looks like an NBA player.  He plays like a freshman by deferring to others and fading for long stretches.  He will need a year or two to get his game ready for the league.  I got to see more of Trey Burke.  He will be a fringe NBA player.  If put in the right situation he could stick around for a few years.  He's got a three-ball, quick with the ball, changes pace well and can get in the lane and dish.  I was actually most impressed with two freshman who came off the bench.  First, Nik Stauskas is a 6'6" shooting guard who can light it up from outside, put it on the floor and get to the rim, and get out and run.  He's Canadian, but plays like an inner city youth.  I won't violate race comparison laws, so I'll compare him to Brent Barry.  He will make his money from the three point line, but he is more than capable of doing some other things.  I was also impressed with Mitch McGary.  McGary has every bit of the motor scouts said he had, but he is also a massive human being.  When you combine his motor with his size, there is no way he doesn't find a niche in the league.  As for NC State, as I've stated before, I'm most impressed with TJ "Pro Game" Warren.  He showed how efficient he was last night again by scoring around 20 off of 10 or so shots. 

Maryland vs Northwestern: I'm following Maryland because I'm a fan, but they deserve plenty of mentions because of Alex Len.  He is the best big man in college.  He affects every shot in the paint.  He can score in the post.  He can shoot the set shot out to 17 feet.  With all these skills he is a legit 7'2".  He's already shot up draft boards through the early season, but I don't think he's finished.  By the end of the season, he will be a lock for a top 5 pick.  He along with Otto Porter and Cody Zeller are the best players I've seen in college this year. 

UNC vs Indiana: Zeller is just a basketball player.  He's not dominant like Len.  He will never be Shaq, but he just knows how to play ball and does everything out there on the court.  I would compare him to a 7'0" Nick Collison.  He will take nothing off the table.  He can guard most 4s and 5s.  He can step out and help guards on picks.  Offensively, he does everything good, but not great.  James McAdoo is overrated.  Look out for him to fall down draft boards.  He should have stole money last year and left when nobody knew what he could do.  He's got NBA small forward size, but a power forward skill set.  He's not doing anything particularly well.  He's a solid player, and could end up cracking an NBA rotation one day, but I wouldn't say he is a lock for top 5 pick. 

Indiana vs LA Lakers: The Lakers scored 77 points and Kobe had 40.  That sentence speaks for itself.  Knowing me and the Lakers, you should know what I have to say about this.  Dwight Howard is a designated screen setter.  Pau is clearly not a D'Antoni player and isn't even playing over Jamison when it matters (really sad, because Jamison still is the worst player in the league).  It was tough to watch the 4th quarter and see all those other all stars just defer to Kobe without question.  And all Kobe was getting was contested threes or very long twos.  We're still suppose to reserve judgement until Nash is healthy, but this is a real bad sign. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

League Pass Diaries: 11/27/12

New York vs Brooklyn: Brooklyn is looking better and better each day and they're still not playing well individually.  Right now they're an above average defensive team with plenty of options on offense.  Carmelo was able to go off in this game, but that will rarely ever not happen in the course of a night, because the Knick offense is built 100% around him.  Even if he's cold for a quarter, he can come back the next quarter and get hot.  Brooklyn was able to weather those moments when he got hot, while they consistently put up points through a balanced attack.  Kidd sat out today, and instead of staying small, New York started Kurt Thomas.  This may have been the reason the Knicks didn't get off to their usual hot shooting start.  Things were a little more crowded in the lane, there weren't as many shooters, and the ball movement was not crisp. 
OKC vs Charlotte: I only tuned into this game because I saw the score was 85 to 35 in the early 3rd.  This was atroicious.  I turned it on and saw Bismack Biyombo shoot a 17 footer.  I turned it off, because that was all I needed to see. I been slacking since the holidays started, but I should get back to lots of games soon. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

League Pass Diaries 11/24/12

LIU vs. Kentucky: I only checked in on this game, however I did see Archie Goodwin is running the point now for UK.  This should do wonders for his draft stock, because he is a tad undersized for an NBA 2-guard.  He is still pretty dynamic as far as getting to the cup at this level.  Nerlens Noel looks a little bit better.  I keep missing Poythress going off.  I watch UK and I never see him score, but than I check the box score and I see 20 points and a rack of rebounds.  What I see is a player who lets the game come to him.  He is not going to be a star, but he can play the small forward at 6'8" and very strong. 

Kansas State vs. Michigan: Michigan has two obvious pros that I will need to look more at.  Glenn Robinson III is a freshman but has the NBA profile.  He's a 6'6" hyper athletic wing with basic guard skills.  Tim Hardaway Jr. is about 6'5" with above average athleticism.  He looks like he can be a combo in the NBA if his jumper became consistent.  Trey Burke may have an outside shot, but we'll see later. 

New York vs. Houston: New York struggled to defend.  They scored the way they been scoring all season.  They established Melo early, and than other guys went off, but they could not stop Harden from getting in the paint.  Also, Chandler Parsons was on fire.  New York really isn't starting a 2-guard, because you have 2 point guards and 2 small forwards.  Harden-like players could pose a problem in the future.  Perhaps, New York was too consumed with shutting down Jeremy Lin?

LA Clippers vs. Brooklyn:  Brooklyn could be a problem.  Right now Deron Williams isn't playing well and they're still putting together wins.  Brook Lopez looked real good today.  He was a good help side defender and proved capable of having an offense run through him.  Despite being ridiculously slow, he has a real good pump fake and good moves in the post.  Joe Johnson has been quiet all season, but maybe this is what he needs.  When he does decide to score, he catches the defense off guard.  He's been doing a great job of using his size advantage over just about every 2-guard in the league to get buckets.  The Clippers front court is getting better every day.  Despite Brook having a good day, you can tell that Deandre and Blake are improving on the defensive end.  Blake is setting up his isolation game further from the basket.  He is very comfortable handling the ball like a guard and he's getting a lot of plays where he gets a whole side of the floor isolated and he takes his man off the dribble from the 3point arc.  Blake is also shooting the open 17 footer, which he hesitated at in previous years. 

Memphis vs. LA Lakers:  Dwight Howard looks terrible and he's looked bad for a minute.  He's not getting the ball much, but even when he does he quickly just passes it out.  Defensively the Lakers don't know what is going on.  They're not really playing D'Antoni ball yet, and they're not defending.  This is a bad combination  The Grizzlies are the hottest team in the NBA anyway.  Marc and Zach have tremendous chemistry.  Zach is now starting to pass the ball like Marc and it's making Memphis very dangerous.  They're the best interior passing team in a long time.  Rudy Gay is turning into a very good defensive player. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

League Pass Diaries: 11/21/12

North Carolina vs. Butler: Not as impressed with McAdoo as I expected to be.  He's like Blake Griffin without the explosion.  I have a hard time seeing him as anything more than an NBA role player.  He also resembles Thomas Robinson, for better and worse.  UNC has a ton of fringe NBA talent.  Any one of their wings might stick for a few years in the NBA, if the situation is right.  It's going to be a very weak draft. 

Georgetown vs. Indiana: Zeller wasn't as dominant as I assumed he would be based off his draft projection.  However, he is a very solid and fundamental 7 footer.  He doesn't really have a hole in his game, however there just isn't a skill set there that would lend him to be anything more than a fluid version of Marcin Gortat.  Victor Oladipo somewhat impressed me.  He's really quick with a nice bounce.  He's be an undersized wing, but plays bigger than his height.  He's like a cross between Avery Bradley and Leandro Barbosa.  He's very quick and athletic at 6'4".  Once his 3 point shot is consistent, he will find his way into an NBA rotation.  Georgetown has two prototypical NBA small forwards.  Otto Porter is perhaps the best player I've seen in college so far.  He's 6'8", but plays everywhere.  He can handle and shoot, but also rebound and block.  Greg Whittington is also about 6'8" and he's got lockdown defender written all over him.  His feet are ridiculously quick for his size and he's got a sick wingspan.  His offense is pretty much limited to catch and shoot 3's and one-dribble drives to the hoop.

New York vs. New Orleans: I wonder if this Anthony Davis hurt thing is going to be a pattern? Carmelo was sensational.  The Knicks have a very simple strategy to win ball games.  The early part of the game is about getting Carmelo going.  After Carmelo is hot, they keep going to him, until you are forced to double.  By the way Carmelo is setting up shop much closer to the basket than he ever has in his career.  For a good portion of the first half he was putting on a post up clinic.  After you are forced to double, New York starts to rain three pointers on you from Kidd, Novak, Felton, Smith, etc.  The only team that beat them this year, made the Carmelo play defense against a real big man (Memphis).  Rasheed Wallace is at least 80% of his 2008 self.  He's seriously the Knicks second best option for isolation.  Sheed is more willing to post than he has his whole career.  You're also getting great defense with Wallace.  In all, Sheed may be the cheapest most underrated free agent pick up of the season.  He will be really valuable come playoff time. 

Brooklyn vs Los Angeles: Kobe looks younger this year.  I think I said the same last year at the start of the season.  He is shooting the ball really well.  The Lakers struggled to defend in this game.  As you might have guessed the problem was largely,  Deron Williams vs. Darius Morris (or any Laker pg).  The Lakers are still not running any plays.  They're definitely making a point to set ball screens, but after that I don't see any structure.  HOwever, they still look better than they did under Brown.  I would assume it takes a month or two to get D'antoni's system humming.  Nash won't hurt either.

Monday, November 19, 2012

League Pass Diaries: 11/19/12

Indiana vs. New York: Two teams going in opposite directions.  Indiana may have peaked last year.  With each game Indiana looks more and more lost.  You would think that Indiana would be able to take advantage of the David West/Carmelo match up as much as New York would be able to, but no dice.  I didn't even see Indiana make a concerted effort to get it down low.  The guard play for Indiana is really suspect.  I'm questioning Indiana's decision to ride with George Hill long term over Darren Collison.  One bright spot for Indiana is it looks like Lance Stephenson is going to be a player.  He's been getting more and more minutes as this season has progressed.  It has a lot to do with his improved jumpshot.  He wasn't hitting today, but it's something I noticed over the last week and his percentages are real good.  I've spoken on how well the starting unit for NY has been playing together, but over ther last week New York has had another surprise revelation.  Rasheed Wallace is still Rasheed Wallace.  He's still an above average defender down low.  He still has a lethal arsenal in the post, that he seems more inclined to use at this age.  Two nights ago I watched Sheed carry New York offensively during a stretch that Carmelo and Tyson we're in foul trouble.   
Philadelphia vs. Cleveland: The Sixers have been struggling, but they have a favorable matchup against Cleveland.  Jrue Holiday made it his personal job to keep Kyrie in check the entire game, and that is pretty much the only thing necessary to beat Cleveland.  This forced the intrepid Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson to step up in have big games, and that is not a formula to win in the NBA.  Evan Turner was aggresive today and was hitting his jumper.  This isn't a bad idea, because Bynum reaggrivated his knee injury by bowling.
Golden State vs. Oklahoma City: The Thunder didn't really play well.  They haven't all season.  However, at times Durant and Westbrook have played well, and those two guys will win you 45-50 games by themself.  This was one of those 45-50 games.  OKC was unimpressive, but they were just more talented than a really crappy Warriors team.  All the Warriors got going for them is Steph Curry gunning and David Lee picking and popping.  They're not a hard team to plan for.  Bogut has made his cameo already for the season.....he should be back sometime next year for a spell. 
NC State vs. Oklahoma State: Sneaky good game full of future pros.  At the top of the list is TJ Warren.  TJ is legit 6'7" and is all perimeter.  He's got a sweet jumper (although the form is rough), and a decent handle.  He reminds me a lot of Joe Johnson.  Marcus Smart starts at the PG for OSU, but he's just a basketball player.  He makes shots, plays defense, blocks shots, and rebounds.  He seems to be a vocal leader already as a freshman.  He's also already built like an NFL running back at 6'3".  Lebryan Nash is still a pretty raw wing at 6'6".  He needs to work on shooting, and might have to find a niche in the NBA as a defensive stopper.  He is also build like a football player.  Rodney Purvis was highly touted coming out of high school, but even watching him in AAU, I wondered whether his skills would translate over to the next level.  His game is a lot like Dwayne Wade, but that's tough to do as you step up our competition level.  He looks like he is going to have to change his game some, before he steps to the next level. 
Houston vs. Los Angeles: The Lakers aren't running any offense, they're just keeping things simple.  Pick and roll with Kobe and Dwight.  Post up Dwight.  Post up Pau.  Pick and Pop with Kobe and Pau.  This isn't rocket science here.  It's simple and it's great players executing it.  It's scary to think what the Lakers offense will look like once Nash and D'antoni get rolling. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

League Pass Diaries: 11/15/12

Pistons vs. Sixers: 7 o'clock games usually suck, and you don't have much choice for games.  I'm not going to front, after 10 minutes I turned on Wisconsin vs. Florida, because this game is ridiculously bad.  I noticed a few games ago that the Sixers are digressing.  They're truly bad at this point.  I gave Greg Monroe a second chance.  I wasn't a big fan of his coming out of college, and I haven't tried to watch Piston games much recently, but all accounts said he was a piece to build around, and that he was one of the most underrated big men in the league.  Well after watching 4 or 5 too many Piston games, I can still strongly disagree with the notion that Greg Monroe is a good player.  My biggest issue is he can't finish.  He looks strong and coordinated, but when he is trying to score in traffic, he might as well be 6'2. 
Jazz vs. Celtics: I've gone on long enough about the crowded Jazz front court.   I came to an epiphany last night when it comes to the best PG in the league debate.  I've always copped out on this question, by saying - it depends on the other 4 guys on the floor, but the question posed to me was - who would you start a team with.  Well, my answer is Rondo.  Rondo impacts the game every single possible way, and the missing piece to his game - shooting, looks like it's not so much a weakness this year. 

New Orleans vs. Houston: The beard looked like he had his swagger back today.  James was definitely in a funk for a few games, maybe getting used to the new system, but he was great again last night.  However, they were playing the Hornets, and most of those points came on Austin Rivers, who still doesn't have a strength to his game yet.  Austin is struggling to shoot, defend, create, you name it.  He's having a rough year, and I haven't even seen a flash of brilliance, unlike Brad Beal or Dion Waiters.  He's been given every bit of the opportunity, but the man who has seized upon it is Grievas Vasquez, perhaps better known as the best player on the New Orleans Hornets. 
Memphis vs. OKC: There are a few teams in this league who are beginning to separate themselves from the pack.  We all assumed OKC would be this team, but's Memphis.  Along with the Clippers, Heat, and Knicks, those four teams are a head above the rest of the league right now.  I really think OKC has taken a step back this year, because of the trade.  Kevin Martin has been decent, although not in this game, but what OKC really misses is another creator.  Westbrook can create, but more for himself and he's a little wacky.  Durant is mostly creating for himself, if he can even get himself open (to me his biggest weakness).  Memphis on the other hand just kills teams with Gasol and Randolph.  Those two make the game easier for everyone else, because they command so much attention close to the basket.  This team just needs some better floor spacers. 
Miami vs LA Clippers: I only stayed up for the first half, which is pathetic, because these two teams have shown the most through the early part of the season.  Because, I didn't see the 2nd half I can only comment on how good Eric Bledsoe looks when he gets minutes, and I will introduce the thought that perhaps Miami needs to not be married to small ball.  They still do have Joel Anthony, fat boy, and Haslem.  They could match up to bigger teams if they wanted to, but maybe that's not their concern this early in the season. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

League Pass Diaries: 11/14/12

New York vs. Orlando: Orlando is finally starting to play to the current level of talent, which is not good enough.  They play admirable basketball, and I can tell Jacque Vaughn knows what he is doing, but there is just not enough talent on this roster to compete with the big boys night in and night out.  The offense from Orlando mostly comes from Arron Afflalo and JJ Redick coming off screens, or Big Baby Davis posting up on someone with a longer wingspan.  New York has yet to be really tested, so I'm not going to go overboard with their start (like saying they're a top 3 NBA team).  They did play Miami, but Miami dedicated that game to Sandy.  Carmelo looked sharp early on and Orlando had no way of stopping him.  You knew early on that no matter how the game progressed towards the end, that NY could score when they want, and they could stop Orlando from scoring when they wanted. 
Cleveland vs. Brooklyn: This was a fun matchup because of the game within the game (deron vs. kyrie).  Deron won, but than again, he has more help.  Cleveland made this game about Andy Varajeo.  I've never seen him used so much on the offensive end.  He essentially played point-center.  He was involved in every play from setting screens and rolling, to getting the ball in the high post while other guys ran off him.  What ensued, was Brooklyn ignoring Andy when he had the ball, so screw it Andy scored 35 points.  He got his usual 15-20 off of hustle, but a lot of times he found himself with the ball at the top of the key and nobody guarding him because his man was helping out on all the guards running around.  Cleveland lost this game on defense.  The Nets had a mismatch at just about every position on the floor.  Deron can score on Kyrie.  Joe is too big for Waiters or Alonzo Gee.  Brook Lopez, Humphries, and Blatche had their way in the paint.  Andy can only do so much down there, but you're not getting any help from Tristan Thompson, or (gulp) Jon Leuer down low.  
Kentucky vs. Duke: The only pro I see on Duke is Mason Plumlee, and you know what you're getting out of him.  He can rebound and defend, and his offense is improving, although I don't ever think he will make his money with his offense.  For Kentucky, I'm still only completely sold on Poythress.  Alex showed more flashes today, and I expect that to increase as the season goes on.  He's a tweener forward in a good way.  He's got legit size of a 4, but he has the ball skills and athleticism of a 3.  He'll be gold once he develops a consistent jumper.  He does not shy from shooting 3's, so it will come.  Noel played decent, but he's another year away from dominating at this level, because he's kind of weak.   Archie is also too weak for the NBA right now.  He's got game, but his drives are often thwarted by his lack of strength.  He ends up taking a few crazy shots a game.