Top 5 Fantasy Basketball Team Names

The quickly approaching basketball season and a temporary lull in my midterm schedule have afforded me the perfect opportunity to help the readers prepare for the upcoming fantasy basketball season. I will address the most important element of any team. The team name. Provided are my top five suggestions for team names and accompanying logos. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I have no basketball knowledge whatsoever. If you are in my league I have already claimed the name Duran Durant. Deal with it.

5. 50 Wades of Grey

fifty shades of wade

4. James and the Giant Peach

jamesandthegiantpeach

3. Bosh Spice

boshspice

2. Admiral General Hardeen

admiralgeneralhardeen

1. Duran Durant

DuranDurant

Daniel “Leonardo da” Dicce has no formal training in Photoshop. 

Point Guard Power Part 2- Guest Contribution

Welcome back as we begin to break down the sixteen starting point guards from the 2013 NBA Playoffs and the differences among various styles of play. Please note, these groupings reflect the sixteen teams starting point guard, regardless of injury. For example, Derrick Rose missed the entire 2012-2013 season but is considered Chicago’s starting point guard when healthy. (Player’s in each group are in no special order)

The “If I had 5 picks to build a team, my 5th pick would be a Point Guard” Group:

Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets, 3rd Season:

Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin

 

Remember when Lin was known for this? That seems almost like a lifetime ago. Since Lin moved to the Houston Rockets at the beginning of the season, he has fallen out of cloud nine and into more of a supporting role. No longer do you see Lin holding the ball with the clock ticking down. That role was handed off to James Harden. Lin’s strengths are his ability to attack the rim, absorb contact, and finish. He’s an average mid-range shooter who likes to shoot from the elbow and foul line if the drive isn’t there. Lin’s weakness may be his sustainability. During the opening round series versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, Lin received an upper-body injury that limited his play and forced him out of Games 2 and 3. Ironically, Games 2 and 3 are the only two games the Rockets won against the Thunder, eventually falling in game six. When Lin managed to get into the game, his impact was minimal, averaging a measly 4.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 2.0 APG. While Lin may not be an attack first type of player, his mindset is similar to Tony Parker in that he is always looking for ways to create opportunities for his teammates.

  • Biggest Question: Can Lin be a reliable, consistent point guard?

Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks, 4th Season:

In a rather guard heavy draft in 2009, Jeff Teague started just 10 games combined in his first two seasons in the league. Other notable guards picked before Teague, who went 19th; Stephen Curry, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson, and Jrue Holiday. Teague began to show signs of a worthy draft pick late in the 2012 playoffs, where he averaged 14.0 PPG and 4.0 APG respectively. This year’s NBA Playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks had an early exit, but Teague finished with 14.0 PPG and 5.0 APG. Teague’s game flourishes when he is able to create turnovers with his quick and speedy defense. Along with his defense, the turnovers he creates led to fast break and transition points which only help buffer his stats. Between his second and third year in the league, Teague’s stat line jumped from 5.2/2.0/1.5 (PPG/APG/RPG) to 12.6/4.9/2.4. After the Hawks early exit in this year’s NBA Playoffs, Teague finished the season averaging 14.6/7.2/2.3 and continued to show improvement in all areas of his game. During his third year Teague also was top ten in the league in steals and steals per game. Potential is one of the top characteristics an NBA looks for when evaluating players. Now every player will not end up being like Michael Jordan, Teague’s consistent improvement year after year shows the coaching staff and fans that he can be an extremely talented point guard in this league.

  • Biggest Question: Can Teague show the league how much he continues to improve?

The “On the Rise” Group:

Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets, 4th Season:

There’s no doubt that if you need to win a footrace, Ty Lawson will be your pick. Easily one of the fastest point guard’s in the league, Lawson’s ability to change his pace and stop on a dime, explode to the rim, and shoot the ball well from the perimeter make him a matchup nightmare for opponents. Not many defenders can run with Lawson all game and one of the reasons why the Denver Nuggets averaged the most points per game in the regular season is due to Lawson’s ability to move quickly. Representing a new breed of point guards, Lawson’s agility is easily one of his best qualities. He has missed multiple games due to nagging leg injuries, which are usually resolved by a day or two of rest. Look for Lawson to remain a consistent competitor throughout his career and in the years to come.

  • Biggest question: Can Lawson step up and become the face of the team?

Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat, 5th Season:

One of the most interesting point guards over the past couple years is Mario Chalmers. Famously known for his buzzer beating shot to help Kansas knock off Memphis in the 2008 NCAA Basketball Finals, Chalmers has had opportunities that many other players haven’t had. Chalmers has been lucky enough to have played in the NBA Finals three out of his five seasons. If that wasn’t enough, he’s had the privilege to play alongside two of the top ten players in the league, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Besides not having a true center, the biggest criticism of the Miami Heat is their lack of a true point guard. Chalmers has a knack for disappearing during stretches of games. Whether he is shooting the ball well or not, he is going to average heavy minutes as he’s averaged 8.0 points per game in the NBA Finals while logging an average of 27.6 minutes per game. His strengths rely on his ability to hit shots early in the game to spark the Heat offense and spread the floor more. He’s a streaky shooter who can hit from deep but what is a little concerning is that in twenty-one playoff games this season, he’s only managed to eclipse five assists 3 times.

  • Biggest question: Can Chalmers prove that he doesn’t need James or Wade to produce big numbers?

George Hill, Indiana Pacers, 5th Season:

Coming out of the 2008 draft class, which featured the likes of Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, and Russell Westbrook, George Hill is someone to keep your eye on. Originally drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, Hill moved to Indiana to start the 2011-2012 season. Hill is an extremely strong player, capable of shooting from distance and also driving hard in the lane. Coming off his first season in Indiana, Hill averaged 9.6/2.9/3.0 during the regular season. Although it was in a losing effort, Hill averaged 14.2/4.7/3.7 against the Miami Heat in NBA playoffs. What is promising from a point guard standpoint is the increase in assists from 2.9 to 4.7. Hill has the ability, similar to Tony Parker, to control the tempo of the game. His confidence with the ball is promising for someone who still has many years left in the league. Hill creates efficient offense for the Pacers but there is always room for improvement. He also has long, lanky arms that can pester whomever he defends. If Hill can commit to the defensive side of the ball and allow his defense to create offense, the Pacers may finally break through and finally defeat the Heat.

  • Biggest question: Can Hill compliment the breakout of Paul George to become the next big duo? (Other big duos: Durant-Westbrook, James-Wade, Duncan-Parker)

Mike Conley Jr., Memphis Grizzlies, 6th Season:

For those that want to see one of the new studs at the point guard position, Mike Conley Jr. is a sight to see. Over the past four seasons and possible 303 games played, not including playoffs, Conley has started in 302 of them. Conley has made an immediate impact on the Memphis Grizzles and his play reflects the characteristics of his team. A defensive-minded, team-oriented, grinding type style of play has led to the emergence of the Grizzles as a new contender in the Western Conference and Conley has a lot to do with that. His decision making ability is his best asset. In the regular season, Conley finished averaging, 14.6/6.1/2.8. In the playoffs, his numbers grew to 17.0/7.1/4.7. What more can you ask for? Conley loves high pick-and-roll situations where he uses his basketball IQ to read defenses. Depending on the positioning of his defender, he knows when it’s time to attack the basket, spot up for a jump shot, or dish the ball to a teammate. I like to call Conley a Steve Nash 2.0 (More on this later).

  • Biggest question: Can Conley continue to help spear the resurgence of the Grizzlies?

Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks, 4th Season:

Finally, we begin to tap into what the new breed of point guards is all about. Brandon Jennings may be one of the finest examples. After reading last week’s piece, you can see there has been a change in the way the point guard position has been played. There is very few pass-first point guards left in the league and more are sprouting up like Brandon Jennings. Simply put, Jennings likes to shoot. What gets Jennings into trouble is that he has become the player that his team depends upon to score. This is a huge change in perspective from a few years ago. Usually your point guard would run a play for your go to player, but when your go to player is also the point guard, things get tricky. Jennings has yet to harness the ability to understand when it is right or wrong to take a shot. There is no question that he embraces the role and pressure of hitting the big shot, but sometimes his play can hurt his team. When a point guard begins to think that he must make the basket or that he must make the play, sometimes selfish play results and this is what hurts Jennings. He is a phenomenal shooter when he heats up and an extremely good ball handler, but his defense and decision-making must improve.

  • Biggest question: Does Jennings have what it takes to become dependable in crunch time?

The “I Have My Own Style” Group:

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls, 4th Season:

What makes Derrick Rose so special? Every step on the court is explosive and with purpose. His will to carry a team earned him MVP honors in 2011 and this past season was a goose egg on an otherwise astounding resume. Rose may not have played a game since 2012, but there is no question he is among the NBA’s elite players. Rose has so much explosiveness, yet so much control. This is what makes him so dangerous and terrifying to guard. This is where we see another new breed of point guard style. A style based on hardnosed driving and shot creation. Shot creation essentially is a player’s ability to turn a poor shot attempt into high percentage shot attempt. Rose provides this exceptionally well because of his ability to pivot, cut, or drive through the lane with ease. Spectators of the game are always looking for ways in which players improve their game. Rose did just that when he started to focus on shooting the three-point shot more effectively. This is what makes Rose so important to the Bulls. He leads by example, never afraid to play hard and physical, which is something that most point guards shy away from. Rose has averaged 36.8 minutes per game during his four year spell in the NBA. This is impressive considering the physical toll his body takes from colliding with bodies on a nightly basis. The biggest question for Rose is whether or not his ACL injury will hinder his ability to play with the same explosiveness and intensity from previous years.

  • Biggest question: Does D-Rose come back playing like the old D-Rose?

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets, 8th Season:

There are a select few players in the league who have a big impact during their rookie season. Deron Williams is one of those players. After finishing his rookie season averaging 10.8/4.5/2.4, he jumped to 16.2/9.3/3.3 in his sophomore campaign. In eight seasons, Williams has averaged double digit assists in four of them. Don’t let the assists catch you off guard, Williams can get hot and it doesn’t take long. This past season he hit eleven three-pointers in one game. He’s extremely quick off the dribble and his ball handling is second to none. There aren’t many negative aspects with his game but there wasvsomething that plagued him at times this past season. He just disappeared for games. Numerous times during the season he’d have a strong 20 point, 10 assist night and follow that up with a measly 6 point, 5 assist night. When Williams starts to settle for long-range jumpers instead of slashing in the lane and dishing the ball out to teammates, you know it may be an off night. While Williams’s talent level is extremely high, he has the same problem that Mario Chalmers occasionally has. They both will play 25-30 minutes but barely contribute on the offensive end. Chalmers has an excuse because he is falls down the pecking order behind James, Wade, and Bosh but Williams is the leader of the team and no team can win with their best player underperforming.

  • Biggest question: Is Williams capable of delivering an MVP-caliber season?

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics, 7th Season:

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo

 

There may not be a nickname for Rajon Rondo, but he might as well be called a walking double-double. Dating back to the 2011-2012 season and a portion of the 2012-2013 season, Rondo had a streak of 37 games with 10 or more assists; the second longest streak of all time behind Magic Johnson. He’s lead the league in assists and triple-doubles the past two years. Unfortunately, Rondo’s biggest enemy is himself. He demands so much of himself and sometimes that hurts him and the team. Mentally the game escapes him sometimes and there seems to a correlation between how he plays and the type of television broadcast. It’s safe to say that in playoff time, where most games are nationally televised, Rondo becomes more of an attacker and less of a distributor. Take your pick.

In games that are NOT nationally televised:

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BPG

FGA

TO

13.0

5.3

11.6

1.8

.2

11.6

4.1

In games that ARE nationally televised:

PPG

RPG

APG

STL

BPG

FGA

TO

16.1

6.8

10.2

2.3

.5

13.7

3.6

  • Biggest question: Can Rondo carry the load as the Celtics begin to rebuild?

The “New Wave” Group:

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, 4th Season:

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

 

What makes Russell Westbrook part of the new wave? He likes to shoot…a lot. When he does, it’s a flip of the coin. Either he is going to make most of them and have a good night or he is going to miss nearly every shot and it turns into a long night. Westbrook is an extremely fast paced guard. You can say he likes to control the tempo, but the tempo is always fast. He pushes the ball and doesn’t give the defense a chance to get set up. When he does start to push the ball, he developed two lethal moves. The first is a pure explosive drive to the hoop. Derrick Rose and he have a lot in common when it comes to driving at the basket because both generate tremendous power. The second move is a magnificent looking and perfectly timed pull up jump shot. These two moves are his claim to fame and it’s near impossible to stop. The only downfall to Westbrook, other than poor shooting performances, is how important of a player he thinks he is. There are times when the Thunder are under stress and those are the times where Kevin Durant must save the team, but Westbrook thinks anything Durant can do, he can do as well.

  • Biggest question: Can Westbrook accept that he is #2 behind Durant?

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, 3rd Season:

There used to be a battle between who was a better pure-shooter, Ray Allen or Reggie Miller? After the Golden State Warriors made some noise in this year’s playoff run, Stephen Curry may get to enter the debate. Calling his past year a breakout year may be an understatement because Curry has been on many team’s radars for a long time now. There is no question he can shoot but a big theme with some of the other point guards is their improvement. Can Curry take the playoff experience he’s gained and add another weapon to his arsenal? Such has looking to get his team involved and driving harder to the basket. He had some circus drives in the first round of the NBA Playoffs but eventually he will need to build some more muscle to absorb the contact. Clearly the theme of the new wave is the point guard’s mentality to shoot more often. Curry is the prime example. Curry’s main concern is his weak ankles. Staying healthy has a direct impact on Curry’s potential success in the league.

  • Biggest question: Can Curry stay healthy?

The “Old-Fashioned” Group:

Raymond Felton, New York Knicks, 8th Season:

It seems odd to mention Raymond Felton alongside these other great guards but remember this piece isn’t measuring the best sixteen guards, just their styles. That being said, Felton is a treat to watch. He isn’t the fastest guard or the guard you’re going to rely on to take the last shot, but he’s a floor general. He runs the offense efficiently and really is Mike Woodson’s voice on the court. He plays surprisingly tough defense, but his decision making and court sense put him in this group. He excels when he gets a high pick and is able to read and react to the defense. Felton has never failed to average more than 5.5 assists in a season and never failed to average more than 10 points in a season. He is a quintessential cog to the Knicks team and his style of play defines the style in which the Knicks play. Felton never shies away from the spotlight, he embraces it and better than that, he plays within himself. Felton is the kind of player who will sacrifice the numbers to get the result, and that’s something that is harder to come by in the league today.

  • Biggest question: Can Felton help Carmelo Anthony challenge the Heat in the Eastern Conference?

Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers, 16th Season:

What an honor it has been watching Steve Nash play year after year. There may not be a better guard in a pick and roll situation than Nash. His passing is spectacular, his free throw shooting is above average, and his basketball IQ is off the charts. Nash has led the league in assists five times during his career as well as adding two consecutive MVP trophies in 2005 and 2006. While he may be older now, Nash relies more on the mental aspect of his game rather than the physical. He isn’t going to break you down off the dribble or blow by you with speed. He’s going to methodically pick your defense apart. He’ll make the extra pass, stretch the defense and before you know it the balls sinking through the hoop. (This is where Mike Conley is the Steve Nash 2.0…Conley is capable of doing all of these things because he pays attention to detail but what separates him from Nash, and why he’s the “2.0” version, is his ability to have the extra explosive step Nash never had. This makes Conley a lethal passer and driver). While his offensive execution is second to none, where his weakness lies comes on the other side of the ball. Maybe considered an average defender, he doesn’t have the speed to keep up with the likes of Russell Westbrook for a full game. As Nash becomes older, the nagging injuries become bigger obstacles for him. As an NBA fan, appreciate the way Nash plays because he’s one-of-a-kind and he’ll be gone before you know it. Nash also would rank high on the list of best players to NOT win an NBA Championship.

  • Biggest question: How many more seasons does Nash have left in the tank?

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, 8th Season:

For the past few years, Chris Paul’s name has been the answer to this question by almost everyone, “Who is the best point guard in the NBA?” and rightfully so. Paul has consistently been the most productive point guard in the league. Paul has averaged an impressive 18.6 PPG and 9.8 APG over eight seasons in the league. Paul won Rookie of the Year in 2006, has led the league in assists twice (2008,2009) and led the league in steals five times (2008,2009,2011,2012,2013). Unfortunately, Paul’s biggest enemy may be the playoffs. While posting similar numbers in the playoffs (20.9 PPG and 9.5 APG), he has never managed to reach the Conference finals in five post-season trips (three with the then-New Orleans Hornets and two with the Los Angeles Clippers). Paul embodies very different styles and mentalities in a point guard. He has the ability to create his own shot, which means he is the one his team looks for in crunch time. His best trait may be his composure with the ball. His ball handling is elegant; his passing is unparalleled; and more importantly his commercials are entertaining.

  • Biggest question: Can Paul reach the NBA Finals at some point during his career?

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs, 12th Season:

For a more in depth analysis of Tony Parker, refer to Part I.

The “Honorable Mention” Group:

While these sixteen point guards mentioned above are all talented players, there are always some that get snubbed from the playoffs. Here are other guards to look out for.

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers:

He’s sort of fast. So don’t blink.

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves:

Great handling. Even better passing.

Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers:

Don’t give him space or he’ll blow by you.

While point guards are an important part of the game, their styles are always changing. This has led to new promising talent and even more exciting games. As speed and explosiveness become more popular in a point guard, the more polished guards know that one upping someone isn’t about beating your defender on a nice lay-up, it’s about winning games when it matters most. This is why the style of your team’s point guard can define how successful your team is. I think we can all agree the San Antonio Spurs are glad that Tony Parker is theirs.

Joe Meola

Dojo Sparring- 6/17-6/21

Greg to Joe

Game 6 of the NBA Finals was easily the best NBA game I have ever watched, but I have not watched a lot of NBA basketball before this year. I just thought LeBron took off in the 4th quarter and Twitter BLEW UP over the lost headband.

LeBron James with and without the headband

LeBron James with and without the headband

Then, after his ridiculous turnover, everyone was calling for LeBron’s head. He was easily the main reason the Heat do not lose that game. I don’t really think you can question it. The Spurs did, however, blow the last ten seconds of the game by not calling a timeout. My only reasoning for that is that Parker tore his hammy or hurt it significantly more. Popovich is too smart to not call a timeout there. What were your thoughts, and how do you think Game 7 goes?

Quick fantasy note, how do you think your team is looking the rest of the way? We made a good deal, I think, of Dom Brown and Tom Wilhelmsen for James Shields and Norichika Aoki. Do you think your team has a good chance to win this thing? I really think my team is by far the best if Tulo and Harper aren’t hurt the rest of the way. But there is a long way to go and we are playing each other this week by the way.

Domonic Brown

Domonic Brown

Joe to Greg

The Heat live and die by the play of LeBron, there’s no doubting that. My problem with the Heat’s strategy was too many consecutive iso’s for James. More than five times Lebron was guarded by Kawhi Leonard and Mario Chalmers, being guarded by Tony Parker, would come set a pick and cause a switch that resulted in Parker guarding James one-on-one. In the NBA, its all about matchups but James didn’t take advantage of the smaller Parker, or maybe he took advantage of him but not as much as he could. The reason the Spurs lost this game falls back on the blown timeout call with ten seconds left in OT with Parker on the bench and also FREE THROWS. Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Leonard all went to the charity stripe with under three minutes to play. Each of them went 1 for 2 on their free throws, essentially giving up 3 free points that could have sealed the deal. I think Parker was pulled from the game because of the hammy issues and also because Popovich didn’t like when Parker had to switch and defend James. The other HUGE play was as the time ran down, I believe it was James who took the shot to tie the game, misses it, Chris Bosh comes up with the biggest play he’s made in a Heat uniform and grabs the rebound, who dishes it to Ray Allen and the rest is history. My question is, why isn’t Tim Duncan on the floor? You trust Boris Diaw in the last ten seconds of the game to guard Bosh when Duncan finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds? I think the momentum carries the Heat to Game 7 win. My heart says the Heat win but my pick is the Spurs 95, Heat 91. Your prediction?

On the flip side, I really like my fantasy team. I think one of the biggest factors in a successful fantasy team is balance across the board, but more specifically balance between power hitters (such as Prince Fielder/Nelson Cruz for me and Robinson Cano/Tulo for you) and your strong role players (someone like a Daniel Nava/Carlos Gomez for me and Omar Infante/Norichika Aoki for you). Also balance between your starting pitchers and closers. Too many starters may result in higher ERA and WHIP, too many closers and you don’t have enough wins and K’s. Since you and I have been 1-2 in our division the whole way, I think whoever wins the league comes from our division, between either your team, my team, or Grant’s team.

Greg to Joe

You’re right, the Spurs were ONE rebound or ONE free throw from an NBA Title. Duncan not being in at the end of the 4th quarter was a bit confusing too. I have no explanation for that. I really don’t understand the no timeout and then no Parker, in the last 10 seconds, on offense at least. I really think the only explanation for this is a hurt hamstring. I really do not see any other reason. Pop is honestly way too smart for that. I can’t question Pop, he is a genius and if he does something, he definitely has a reason for it. Much smarter basketball mind than both of us. With regards to Miami’s offense revolving around LeBron, its just how the team is designed. The team is not designed to beat a top NBA team without a LeBron scoring 30 points and getting 10 boards and 10 assists. And yes, LeBron missed the game tying shot, but he willed his team back into the game after being down 10 points going into the 4th quarter.

For Game 7, I wrote this yesterday… Game 6 winner will be the NBA champion. So, I’m sticking to it.

Jay Pharoah impression of Stephen A. Smith

Jay Pharoah impression of Stephen A. Smith

There is NO WAY (Stephen A. Smith voice) the Heat lose this game. LeBron finally had a good quarter and he is going to carry that into a MONSTER game 7. I’m talking 40 points, 15 assists and at least 10 boards. I also think Parker is done. He might have a good 1st half in Game 7, but he won’t be able to have a good 2nd half. His hamstring is bothering him too much; he has not had 2 good halves in a game since Game 1. Heat will be repeat champions with a 98-89 win. And I think when everyone looks back at this series, people will think Game 6 decided the series and that’s the game everyone remembers.

So I think you’re wrong about the ERA and WHIP thing. I agree that with too many closers, you don’t win K’s for the week. But closers, and relievers in general, can DESTROY an ERA. If they give up 5 runs in 2 innings pitched for the week, you get tattooed with a 22.50 ERA from them for the week. Also, this is why I think our league format is dumb. Head to Head leagues for fantasy baseball is the dumbest thing in fantasy sports. I can’t say that enough. EXAMPLE: Say you had Mike Trout and Stephen Strasburg last year. They carry your team all year. Then come playoff time, Trout cools down, and Strasburg is shut down. ALL OF THEIR STATS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR JUST GO OUT THE WINDOW!!!! 140 or so games… GONE! Next year, it should be a roto league. Count stats from all year and be ranked based on those stats. Baseball and football are totally different sports. Baseball is a marathon and football is a sprint. Baseball should count stats for all year and football can be week to week because it is such a matchup league and that’s part of fantasy football, exploiting the matchups.

But this year, I might be able to take advantage of our league format. My team will make the playoffs regardless and come playoff time, I think Harper and Tulo will be back to form and it should help carry me through the postseason. I really think it is going to come down to us 3. Thats about it. Sorry Chris…

Joe to Greg

It pains me to say that my gut says the Heat win Game 7 even though I really really really really don’t want them to. Talk about some legacy’s at stake for this game now:

Scenario 1: Spurs win…Tim Duncan goes 5-0 in NBA Finals series and 2-0 versus LeBron, for some bragging rights. He wins 3 championships in 3… 3 different decades, which is one of the biggest achievements you can hope for as a professional athlete. Duncan gets a bump into the conversation of top five players EVER with his 5th ring and easily regarded as either the number 1 or 2 power-forward to ever play the game. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili each get their 4th ring, essentially locking up Hall of Fame honors for them. The flip side, Lebron drops to 1-3 in NBA Finals series (Losing 1 with Cleveland and 2 with Miami). The Heat Big 3 are going to receive loads of criticism for their performance. Mainly Wade for pulling a Houdini and showing up every other game and Bosh for doing “Bosh-like things”.

Chris Bosh & Dinosaur

Chris Bosh & Dinosaur

Scenario 2: Heat win…Tim Duncan still has an incredible resume, but this one will be remembered as the one that got away from him. Ginobili regardless of winning a title probably retires since he isn’t the same Manu anymore. James grabs his 2nd ring, Wade his 3rd, and Bosh his 2nd. The LeBron train keeps on chugging as more people question whether or not the Heat can be stopped even though after every Heat loss, the media act as though the Heat have hit rock bottom.

Lets put it this way, If the Heat win, then the media goes crazy covering them and their success. If the Spurs win, then the media goes crazy covering the Heat as James, Bosh, and Wade enter the final years of their contracts for the upcoming season. Meaning that next summer, we will have another “Decision” to worry about.

I’m siding with you on the baseball aspect in terms of the proper format to use. While its hard for me to comment on the varying styles of the format, I can see flaws using Head-to-Head. The case with any fantasy team, whether that be baseball, football, basketball, or hockey, is whose team is hot come playoff time and whose team has less injuries. Two prime examples, Sidney Crosby getting hurt and missing the last 13 games of the regular season ended up costing someone’s team a chance to advance to the championship. The other example is football, when Adrian Peterson, who always performs well, started going off towards the tail end of the season, the person who had him on their team rode his performances straight to a championship. Baseball is very interesting though because of what you mentioned about Strasburg. When a pitcher of his caliber gets shut down, it hurts your team more than you think. In your opinion is it more detrimental to your team to have a pitcher get shut down/hurt or a batter shut down/hurt?

Greg to Joe

I can’t wait for the summer of 2014 for the next LeBron decision. I hope he goes back to Cleveland, but I am not so sure he does. I also think legacy talk is ridiculous. Championships are won by teams. If people are measuring players about the amount of championships they win, they are basically saying that basketball is an individual’s sport. And you can tell, if your watching these NBA Finals, it is clearly a team sport. The better team wins the game. LeBron carried his team, but if Bosh doesn’t get that rebound and Allen doesn’t hit that three, LeBron’s effort does not matter.

It depends on the make-up of your team for the most part when it comes to players getting hurt at the end of the year on your fantasy team. If all things being equal, I would say pitcher if we are talking top 5 pitcher, but otherwise hitter. With a top pitcher, like Clayton Kershaw, you are almost guaranteed to win 3 categories (ERA, WHIP, & K’s) in a two start week. You are pretty much always given at least one win as well. So if you lose a two start week in the postseason, you’re done. You cannot make that up, unless you stream starters insanely well in his place. Otherwise, a hitter hurts more because they play everyday and it costs valuable counting stats (RBI’s, runs, home runs, stolen bases).

Joe to Greg

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James

For the fun of it, I say LeBron joins Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, Alonzo Gee, and their #1 pick this year (side note: It must SUCK to be a Charlotte Bobcats fan since they missed out on the #1 pick in back to back years). D-Wade and Bosh stay with the Heat. Other noticeable free agents for the summer of 2014: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, Rudy Gay, Paul George, Zach Randolph, and John Wall. I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to be in for a treat next summer. One of these names won’t be with their team come the 2014-2015 season.

I think losing an ace on your fantasy staff hurts you in the long run because pitchers are harder to come by once the draft goes by. Especially in a 10 team league, you really have find the diamond in the rough among the free agents. Like any fantasy team, you have to draft well in the later rounds; luckily for me, I picked R.A. Dickey extremely late last year and I think that was a good pick to say the least. On a week-to-week basis, missing a hitter, like you missing Bryce Harper, hurts you because of his power and his ability to get on base.

Greg quick Bobcats response:

Maybe it’s a good thing because they will suck again and get the # 1 pick next year and get to draft Andrew Wiggins (the next NBA superstar).

Greg Danchik & Joe Meola

 

Who is LeBron James? – Guest Contribution

Great players and their careers are defined by great moments. It’s the walk-off homeruns, the fourth quarter touchdowns, the buzzerbeaters. It’s Jordan draining over Ehlo. It’s Eli Manning to David Tyree. It’s Joey Chestnut going America on our asses and eating 68 hot dogs. When their team needs it most, the best become the best, obliterating anyone and everyone impeding their path to the pinnacle of the sports world. An interesting case, however, is that of a player with superhuman skills, strength, and speed.The most dominant force of nature among all athletes: LeBron James.

LeBron James at the Miami Heat welcome party

LeBron James at the Miami Heat welcome party

His well-documented career has had moments both high and low, not to mention moments where you wonder how he graduated high school. That being said, no moment means more to LeBron’s career than tonight’s Game 6 and the Game 7 that, for the sake of his legacy, simply has to happen. So, LeBron, please, please make it happen.

No career of any athlete has EVER resembled that of LeBron’s (Bryce Harper‘s might). A high school prodigy, LeBron was long labeled the next MJ. On the cover of Sports Illustrated as a teenager, the hype and expectations that followed James was exponential. They skyrocketed even higher when he was drafted by his hometown Cavaliers, destined to save the perennial bottom feeder. But, we all know what happens next. The self-proclaimed “King James” transitioned seamlessly into the NBA, winning Rookie of the Year, a couple of MVPs, and becoming the new face of the league. While he was with Cleveland, they were the class of the Eastern Conference, but, for some reason, they never made it over the hump in the playoffs. Year after year, LeBron’s Cavs were the title favorites. Year after year, LeBron’s Cavs faltered. Why? I have no idea. All I can say is LeBron seemed to shrink from the moment.

LeBron never saw an NBA Title with the Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron never saw an NBA Title with the Cleveland Cavaliers

That all changed last year. In his second year in Miami, LeBron shined in the NBA Finals, finally becoming the dominant and clutch player we all wanted him to be. And that’s the kicker, we all wanted LeBron to get there. Here’s a guy with limitless talent, unmatched potential; he could end up being the best ever. Everyone, whether they knew it or not, was rooting for LeBron, if for nothing else than to see a transcendent player reach his peak. Last year, he finally reached that peak.

But here we are,the 2013 NBA Finals, and his Heat are down 3-2. Along the way, James has been dominant, but he has also turned in some pretty pedestrian performances, looking a lot like 2010 Cleveland LeBron rather than the 2012 Miami LeBron, the one we all expect him to be. Sure, D-Wade hasn’t consistently been himself and Chris Bosh has done little more than provide comic relief. However, it is not like LeBron has been lacking support (that argument alone brings me back to his Cleveland days). The smaller two of the big three have turned in some quality games, but, ultimately, everything rides on James. Everything. I cannot stress that enough. If he turns into the alien beast capable of dropping a 30-10-10 with his eyes closed, there is no way that Miami loses. Those performances transcend basketball, and he just makes it look so easy when he does it.

So, alright Lebron, it’s time to do this. You set the standard. You want to be remembered with Jordan? With Magic? With Bird? With Russell?

3 NBA Greats: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan

3 NBA Greats: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan

You want to be the best ever? Well, okay then, this is your moment.

 Will Garrett

Point Guard Power Part 1- Guest Contribution

 

Tony Parker Jump shot in Game 1 of the NBA Finals

Tony Parker Jump shot in Game 1 of the NBA Finals

Tony Parker started at the top of the key, drove right, bounced out to underneath the three point line, fell down, kept his dribble with his back to the basket, undercut LeBron James’ stifling defense, double clutched a shot from 15 feet away while in midair right before the shot clock buzzed, banked high off the back board, bounced on the front of the rim for a split second, and fell through the hoop. That shot gave the Spurs a four-point lead with less than six seconds remaining and with that, clinched Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Parker turned towards his bench, gave a huge fist bump and screamed as his teammates swarmed him during the timeout. Was everyone in Miami shocked at what had taken place? Yes. Was Tony Parker shocked at what had taken place? No.

While at the age of 31, Tony Parker continues to prove to the NBA world why he has no signs of slowing down. With Jason Kidd stepping down from the game of basketball last week, the NBA community said good-bye to one of the last pure point guards to play the game. Kidd finished second all-time in assists (12,091), third all-time in three point shots made (1988), and second all-time in steals (2684). In the 1,391 games, spread throughout Kidd’s 19-season career, Kidd led the league in assists five times. More importantly, he managed to win one NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. Kidd knows how to play through adversity and understands the mental toughness of winning on the NBA’s biggest stage, which is something that Tony Parker knows a little about as well.

Parker entered the league as the 28th pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. He was the last pick of the first round behind guys like Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, who were in the top 5 picks. He has enjoyed any basketball player’s dream by winning not one, but three championships along the way and has exemplified what teams look for in a potential player: loyalty, modesty, and heart. He has performed at the highest level for over ten years and every game we see something new from him. Such as his late game heroics in Game 1 of the finals. As the shot trickled through the rim, his reaction wasn’t surprise or shock, it was confidence and poise. Something that is extremely valued at this point in the season. Tony Parker’s game has evolved over the past four years and as he’s gotten older, his numbers continue to improve.

Year

MPG

PPG

APG

RPG

3pt%

FT%

2009-2010

30.9

16.0

5.7

2.4

.294

.756

2010-2011

32.4

17.5

6.6

3.1

.357

.769

2011-2012

32.0

18.3

7.7

2.9

.230

.799

2012-2013

32.9

20.3

7.6

3.0

.353

.845

At this point in Parker’s career, he is approaching the end of his prime. He knows his chances to capture another championship becomes harder and harder. The competitiveness of the league is growing stronger and knowing full well that this could end up being Parker’s last time on the big stage; he isn’t going to let it go to waste. While every team and player aspires for the chance to play in the NBA Finals, the harsh reality is that only one team can win. Tony Parker knows this situation all too well. He’s taken the passenger seat when the Spurs won it all behind Tim Duncan in 2003 and 2005 but he also knows when to take control, earning himself the NBA Finals MVP following his third championship in 2007. It’s been a longer time in between finals appearances but the time away from the big stage hasn’t changed Parker’s mindset. Like Jason Kidd, Parker resembles some of the old-school basketball that seems to be disappearing in today’s game. Whether this lack of old-school basketball is for better or worse remains to be seen but as the game changes, Parker only gets better.

Tony Parker’s play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals showed us something. He makes every possession count, evidence by an impressive zero turnover night. In the fourth quarter alone, Parker scored ten of his twenty-one points and started pushing the ball in transition. When there was a missed shot, he ran to the ball, pushed the ball up the court, and executed the offense. The quick transition from defense to offense forced the Heat to be mentally focused at all times, which is one of the reasons that the Spurs were able to stay in the game and eventually take the lead. Eventually, as more and more attention is directed towards Parker, the floor becomes easier to read for him. With roughly 2:20 left in the game, the Spurs were leading 85-81. Gregg Popovich started hollering out orders for the offensive set, making sure players were in the correct spots. This is usually the time where the team with the lead starts to soak up the clock and waste time. Parker noticed Miami lackadaisically coming back on defense and upon receiving the ball, rushed up the left side, passes the ball to Manu Ginobili who finds Danny Green for a three, making the game 88-81 Spurs, with 2:10 left.

The NBA Finals are always full of defining moments that go down in history and become part of NBA folklore. While Danny Green’s three may not be one of those moments, the play speaks the style of Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs. They aren’t looking for the open shot on offense; they’re looking for the right shot. This is what Tony Parker creates with his tempo at the point guard position. Knowing the difference between when to slow down and when to speed up is crucial in crunch time and was the difference in Game 1. If Parker were to slow the game down and hold till the last moments of the shot clock on the Danny Green possession, Danny Green never gets to take that shot and you’re now looking at a rushed shot to beat the shot clock. The Heat are now only down five with two minutes remaining, as opposed to down eight with 2 minutes remaining. As a point guard in the NBA, controlling the tempo of a game is imperative to winning. Seeing Jason Kidd leave the NBA is difficult in that respect because he was always a pass-first, team-oriented player. He stepped up in games when he had to and controlled the tempo, just as Parker was able to do in Game 1. Parker now becomes one of very few point guards to have this style of play. While it’s hard to depict what Parker embodies as a point guard, there is a clear change in the way the position has been played and managed in the last ten years. Has that changed Parker’s game though? I’m obliged to say no.

Stay tuned for Part II. Discussing the ways the point guard position has changed over the last ten years as we break down each starting point-guard from the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

Joe Meola