Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge
by Bryan Harvey

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by Bryan Harvey

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To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

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Breakfast with Berndon: 25 Large

April 11, 2010

Berndon is back with "BBE," giving you his list of the twenty-five most important players in the NBA while wrapping up a season of aimlessness for the Chicago Bulls.

25 Large
Instead of trying to rank teams that are extremely equal, especially out West, I’m going to rank my top 25 most valuable players. I’ve tried to use the term valuable literally, so, while some people on this list aren’t going to the playoffs, they still have shown repeatedly that they are valuable to their various teams; and, with that said, their teams would be much worse without them.


25. Manu Ginobli- 16.6 pts, 4.9 assts, 38 % 3’s
Manu wouldn’t have made the list two months ago, but he’s been the lead actor in the “We’re Not Quite Dead Yet” production in San Antonio. Parker’s been out, Duncan’s been picking his spots, but Manu has been the main cog in San Antonio’s 21-12 record since mid-January.

24. David Lee- 20.1 pts, 11.8 rbs, 0.5 blks
Imagine how good Lee could be if he played for a contender. If he was the 3rd or 4th best player instead of the only All-Star, he’d be infinitely valuable. Instead, his intensity and rebounding, which put him 2nd in the league in rebounds and 9th in double doubles, have helped the Knicks not have to battle it out with the New Jersey’s and Minnesota’s of the world with wins in the 10-19 range.

23. Brandon Roy- 21.8 pts, 4.8 assts, 33 % 3’s
Roy would more than likely be higher on the list if he hadn’t gotten injured. He’s still mostly back to normal, but in certain games I’ve seen he still doesn’t look quite right. That being said, he’s still the best player on a team heading for the playoffs, averaging 22 a night in the process.

22. Vince Carter- 16.7 pts, 3.1 assts, 37 % 3’s
Carter is never going to be the player he was in Toronto, both athletically and in alpha dog status. While still much maligned for quitting on different teams and alienating various fan bases along the way, he’s developed a reliable jumper, as evidenced by his percentage from distance. Carter is a significant upgrade from Hedu Turkoglu on a team that looks to be slightly better than the squad that lost to L.A. in the finals last season.

21. Joe Johnson- 21.2 pts, 4.9 rbs, 36% 3’s
Johnson will never be a superstar, and he shrank a little bit in the pressure-packed playoff situations last season. He’s definitely an above average player at the 2 on a 50 win team however, as he’s not really outstanding at anything, but does everything pretty well.

20. Zach Randolph- 20.9 pts, 11.8 rbs, 0.4 blks
I’ve said numerous times that Memphis will be in the playoffs next year, as I see them being maybe a year behind Oklahoma City with similar young talent. Randolph can be included in this because even though he seems like he’s been around forever, he’s only 27. He’s also a rebounding machine, as he’s 3rd in the league in boards and 2nd in double doubles. Memphis doesn’t have a .500 record without him.

19. Stephen Jackson- 20.8 pts, 3.8 assts, 33% 3’s
Everyone in the world thinks Stephen Jackson is crazy. I think he’s insane. I also think that people tend to overlook the fact that he’s also a really good basketball player. Jackson is 9th in the league in steals, and has led the Bobcats’ transformation from perennial lottery team, to making the postseason for the first time in their history.

18. Derrick Rose- 20.4 pts, 6.0 assts, 0.7 stls
Personally, having watched a lot of Bulls games lately, I still think Rose needs to be more aggressive and less deferential to his teammates. He can get to the basket at will, and has improved his passing on a team that would be around 25-55 without him.

17. Chauncey Billups- 19.6 pts, 5.7 assts, 1.1 stls
Mr. Big Shot has been a steadying force on a team that would make Stephen Jackson look normal. Aside from putting up stellar stats for a 33 year old point guard, what might make Denver more dangerous is his mentoring of rookie Ty Lawson. This could just be old UNC biases seeping in once again, but I think Lawson, if used correctly, could be a huge difference maker in the postseason. And if he is, he can thank a mentor who is a model of consistency for a team still fighting for the 2nd spot out West.

16. Jason Kidd- 10.2 pts, 9.0 assts, 1.8 stls
Jason Kidd is 10th in the league in 3-pointers. Yes, you read that statement correctly. Seemingly one of the worst shooting point guards ever in the beginning of his career, Kidd has willed himself into being able to drain from deep. Combine this with being 5th in the league in both assists and steals, and the Mavs record, and you get someone who could arguably be ranked higher on this list.

15. Carlos Boozer- 19.7 pts, 11.3 rbs, 0.5 blks
Boozer and Deron Williams' rankings might seem a little bit high, but I’m basing it off of the fact that I really can’t figure out why the hell Utah is 52-28. So I have to think that their elevated play has to have a lot to do with it. Boozer is 5th in the league in boards, and tied for second in double doubles. He still has trouble scoring over taller 4’s, but still has the brute force to rebound against anybody.

14. Josh Smith- 15.8 pts, 8.8 rbs, 2.1 blks
One thing I’ve taken away from doing the “Man of the Match” stuff since January is that its allowed me to see things I didn’t previously know about certain players. The biggest example I can think of is just how good Josh Smith is. I always thought that Joe Johnson was their best player, but Smith, while he doesn’t put up comparable scoring outputs, does everything else. Arguably the best defensive player in the league not named Dwight Howard, Smith, not Johnson, is the key to Atlanta’s playoff advancement.

13. Chris Bosh- 24.0 pts, 10.8 rbs, 1.0 blks
Bosh also gets bumped a bit because he really doesn’t have much talent around him. He’s 9th in the league in scoring, 6th in rebounds, and 5th in double doubles. He’s also injured until the playoffs start, meaning that Toronto probably won’t be involved, allowing the Bulls to limp their way in.

12. Andrew Bogut- 15.9 pts, 10.2 rbs, 2.5 blks
Bogut has been another revelation that I only know about through the box scores. He’s 2nd in blocks, and 9th in rebounds. He also has combined with John Salmons to lead another lottery team without much talent elsewhere into the playoffs.

11. Pau Gasol- 18.1 pts, 11.2 rbs, 1.7 blks
While this is still Kobe’s team, it seems as though its becoming more and more of an equal partnership as this season plays out. Gasol has piggybacked off of an outstanding playoff campaign last season to a season where he’s 8th in blocks, also averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds. He becomes more and more respected with each passing moment, starting to shed the dreaded “soft” label along the way.

10. Rajon Rondo- 13.7 pts, 9.8 asst, 2.4 stls
With the Celtics more than likely making their last run at relevancy with their aging core, they still will be in great shape at the point position for years to come. Rondo is 4th in the league in assists, and the league leader in steals. He plays like a defensive back, jumping in passing lanes with ease. While he still can’t shoot, he’s gotten better. He’s also become more of leader as the elders start to lose it, emerging from someone who was probably the 4th most valuable player on his own team, to their unquestioned best player.

9. Amar'e Stoudemire- 23.0 pts, 8.9 rbs, 1.0 blks
Consistency is still a concern with Amare, but this looks to have become less and less of a problem this season. There have been stretches where he’s been simply unstoppable. He’s 10th in the league in scoring, and although he should hit the boards a little harder and block more shots, his numbers here have gone up, with the Suns emerging from being 1st-round fodder, to a team with a decent chance to make it as far as the conference finals.

8. Deron Williams- 18.7 pts, 10. 6 assts, 1.3 stls
I know Chris Paul is injured, so this statement really isn’t fair. But Williams has smashed Paul through a table and figure four leg-locked the best point guard in the NBA title belt away. He’s averaging a double double, can carry the Jazz with his shooting, and like Boozer, has helped the Jazz to a record that one might shake their head at upon first glance.

7. Dirk Nowitzki- 24.9 pts, 7.7 rbs, 1.0 blks
Dirk is 7th in the league in scoring, 1st in snarls, and the best German basketball player ever. On arguably a team that’s better than the one that lost to Miami in the finals, he’s unstoppable when he’s making his shots. He also rebounds and while he’ll never make an All-Defensive team, can guard a lot better than he used to.

6. Kobe Bryant- 27.1 pts, 5.0 assts, 33% 3’s
Age looks like it’s starting to catch up with Kobe a little bit. He’s down a little bit statistically, and he doesn’t crack the top 5 because the Lakers have been a bit too bipolar for my liking. He’s still the best player on the defending champs however, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds an extra couple of mph on his fastball come playoff time.

5. Carmelo Anthony- 28.4 pts, 6.7 rbs, 3.3 assts
Melo has been described as the best pure scorer in the game, as he can beat defenders with a multitude of shots. He’s also shown that with Kenyon Martin out, he can hit the boards if he needs to. Now the question is, is he good enough of a superstar to carry his team to a title?

4. Kevin Durant- 30.0 pts, 7.6 rbs, 2.8 assts
Durant has bested his career averages across the board, and could win his first scoring title. Now that the playoffs are here, I can actually watch him on TV. Oklahoma City would be nothing without him, and it will be interesting to see how his first foray into postseason ball will play out.

3. Dwight Howard- 18.4 pts, 13.2 rbs, 2.7 blks
Howard is currently leading the league in rebounds and blocks. He’s practically unstoppable, much like a young Shaq when his team actually gets him the ball. The question remains, is he mean enough to survive the rigors of the playoffs? Even if he proves he’s not ready yet, he’s still 3rd best on my list.

2. Dwyane Wade- 26.4 pts, 6.6 assts, 30% 3’s
If not for Lebron’s phenomenal season, Wade would have a great case for being most valuable. I mean, the third best player on his team is a washed up Jermaine O’Neal. For a non-point guard to be 10th in the league in assists, combined with the 5th spot in points, and the 4th in pilfers, shows how statistically great he really is. But then you factor in his toughness, and will to win, and you get the 2nd best player in the game, and one who could carry his under matched team into the conference finals if he gets hot.

1. Lebron James- 29.7 pts, 7.3 rbs, 8.6 assts
 So obvious.


The Annual Ranting of the Bulls
The following rant was inspired by my used to be beloved Chicago Bulls, who with their playoff lives hanging by a thread, decided to lose in double overtime to the worst team in the NBA. Their best big man is on a minutes quota because of injuries, their coach is going to get fired in a matter of 3 weeks, and they can't figure out that despite the fact that their point guard can get to the basket at any time and score at will, they still routinely think that having Brad Miller heave 25 footers is their best shooting option. Enjoy.

 As I compose this, my Chicago Bulls are struggling to beat the New Jersey Nets. Yes, the" our win total would stink even if we were a college team" Nets. The same team that, save for them rallying and playing at the level slightly above dog shit, narrowly avoided setting the NBA’s all-time record for futility. The Bulls season has played out much like they are the NBA version of North Carolina. They’ve been crippled by injuries, but still have the talent to play much better than they have. They at times botch seemingly simple aspects of basketball like defensive rotations and boxing out, yet when they decide to show up, can hang with pretty much everybody. I remember when I first moved to NW Indiana in mid January, when they beat the likes of Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans in a row, all on the road. They then proceeded to lose their next two against the Clippers and Philly, both at home. Nothing sums up how erratic they are better than that. They''re probably only going to make the playoffs because Chris Bosh broke his face. Tonight, they were up 1 with 3.7 seconds left, allowed Courtney Lee to get a good look, and then decided not to box out Brook Lopez, allowing him to get the tip in, putting a must game win into overtime.

To sum it all up, I expected this team to take a big leap after almost taking down the Celtics last spring. They have almost regressed in a way, having a similar record and similar low seed, while the likes of Milwaukee, Miami, and Charlotte have outplayed them. I still think they have it in them to scare the hell out of Cleveland in the first round, but I expect more. They almost lost to Cleveland without Lebron last night, and now this. It seems like one or two key players have a bad game each night. Derrick Rose is unstoppable at times, as he’s a physical freak at the point guard position much like James is at the 3. Joakim Noah has quickly and quietly become one of the best Centers in the East. Taj Gibson was a steal in the middle of the first round. Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng aren’t superstars by any stretch, but there are a lot worse starters on other squads.

We ended up losing to the Nets, and now are tied with Toronto for the final playoff spot. Closing out the year with Toronto, Boston, and Charlotte. Who knows what’s going to happen? It’s hard for me to get overly excited about being Bron Bron’s first victim in the postseason. Not after nights like tonight. At least I get to watch the Cubs bullpen piss away 75 games this year. I love Chicago sports.

Photo Source: 1, 2

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where is Andray Blatche??

April 13, 2010 at 2:06 PM
berndon4 said...

haha...he just missed the cut...blatche is good though...interesting to see if he's good enough for the wizards to build around him

April 13, 2010 at 5:03 PM

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