Vinsanity Joins the Light Show

26 06 2009

Are you ready for a light show that will eclipse Disney’s?

The New Jersey Nets’ Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson have been traded to the Orlando Magic for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee.

You knew the Magic were going to move Rafer.  One: Jameer Nelson, their injured All-Star point guard, will be 100% healthy on opening day.  Two: if the tail-end of the Finals were any indication, Rafer would have gotten absolutely no burn next season had they kept him.  Three: Rafer’s a solid veteran rotation player with an expiring contract.  But I did not expect they would get Vince-freakin’-Carter.

If the Magic are able to lock Hedo Turkoglu, can you imagine how much firepower their starting five will have?

Nelson will be running the offense.  Vince and Rashard Lewis will be near the wings. And Dwight Howard would lock down the paint.  This is a recipe for success especially if Dwight Howard develops some semblance of a post-game or at least a countermove.

A major acquisition by a team fresh off a Finals berth bucks the recent trend.  It is a bold move by Magic GM Otis Smith but I think it’s ingenious.

Generally, Finals teams sit on their rosters during the next summer.  They may pick up a player with a mid-level contract but they have not made any huge splashes. After their recent Finals appearances, the Heat, Mavericks, Spurs, Cavs, Celtics and Lakers all sat on their hands during the summer.  With the exception of the Lakers, none of the other teams really had enough potential to get better with their transactional inertia.

Losing Courtney Lee is a marginal loss because Mickael Pietrus is still around to provide solid defense and can hit system-created 3-pointers.  Losing Tony Battie is also a marginal loss because of Marcin Gortat’s wonderfully-adequate defense and rebounding.

It’s a huge win for everyone on the Magic and it finally gives Vince Carter a real opportunity to silence his doubters.  He can follow in the footsteps of Kevin Garnett and shed the erroneous “loser” label like a Jonas Brother stepping into a middle school.  I’ve got my Mickey Mouse ears on and I’m ready to go.


A Skip Away From Disney

27 02 2009
Skip to my Lou

Skip to my Lou

Orlando has acquired Rafer Alston, who has been given the keys to the Orlando offense in wake of Jameer Nelson’s season-ending injury.

I like this move for Orlando.  Supposedly, the Magic asked about Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley prior to the trade deadline.  But pulling the trigger to get Alston was a better move because of his familiarity with the coach.

Alston played for Stan Van Gundy in Miami five years ago.  Plus, Alston was coached by SVG’s brother Jeff.  I’m sure Skip has been invited to more than his fair share of Van Gundy Astro Jump-enchanced barbeques.

The Magic offense is really constructed around dumping the ball into Dwight Howard.  Other than that, the point really just does drive-and-kicks out to Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.  It can definitely play to the strengths of Alston.

Although Alston’s averaging 2.75 turnovers a game since joining the Magic, I would expect that number to drop to 2 which is right around his career average.  He just needs to get accustomed to the Magic’s sets, calls and what not. 

It seems as though Alston is playing the passing lanes a little more.  You can afford to gamble more on defense with Howard around to erase any mistakes or lapses.  Alston’s stealing the ball 2.25 times a game since joining his new squad compared to his career average of 1.2.

Alston’s game is predicated on him doing some good things but also making a few mistakes along the way.  So while the turnover/steal ratio isn’t too surprising, the rate at which he’s doing it is.  Maybe the trade has made him a little hyperactive.  Only time will tell.

I would have been excited had the Magic acquired Stephon Marbury.  Clearly, losing an All-star in Jameer Nelson is a big loss but I think Orlando would have seen a better reprieve in Starbury.  He would have been custom-made to jump in and contribute on a PG-less team.

NBA Playoffs West – First Round Thoughts

18 04 2008

1. Los Angeles Lakers vs. 8. Denver Nuggets

Match-up to Watch: Ronny Turiaf and Ed Najera

Enough talk about Pau Gasol and Marcus Camby. Wanna see what happens when two balls of hustle and energy slam into each other? When they’re on the court together, Turiaf and Najera are going to meet at every loose ball and rebound. I give the edge to Najera because he’s been around the block and back. Turiaf’s probably just happy to be here. He’ll be wigging out like he did when Kobe “jumped” that Astin Martin.

The Lakers need to slow it down

LA can try to run with the Nuggets. The Lakers are averaging 108.6 points on the season compared to the Nuggets’ 110.7, so they can get their share of buckets. But they went out and got Pau Gasol so use him. After all this hype about Gasol bolstering their half court sets, it’d be plain stupid not to use him now.

Anyway, the Lakers’ second unit loves to run. Phil Jax likes to put Jordan Farmar, Sashsa Vujacic and Vlade Radmanovic out there and run them. So loosen the reins on the second unit for a change-up. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll piss George Karl off even more.

The Nuggets need to feed Carmelo early

Carmelo Anthony needs a good game out of the blocks. Melo needs to get his mind off his legal trouble and focus on the game. This man needs to establish himself as the go-to guy on the Nuggets early. There are lots of questions swirling about who their go-to guy is. Melo needs to come out and ball because otherwise Allen Iverson will need/try to do too much.

Pick: Lakers in 6

2. New Orleans Hornets vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks

Match-up to Watch: Peja Stojakovic and Josh Howard

Even though Dirk Nowitzki isn’t quite 100%, his return takes a lot of offensive pressure away from Josh Howard. It will be interesting to see how Howard D’s up Peja. Given that Peja’s reputation of pulling a Chris Webber and choking in the playoffs may be a little harsh, he isn’t exactly Michael Jordan either.

Chris Paul’s orchestration will give him enough looks, especially in transition. Does Howard step down to help Jason Kidd on penetration? Or does he glue himself to the sharpshooting Serbian?

The Hornets need to work inside-out

Erick Dampier, Bulls cast-off Malik Allen and Dirk Nowitzki need to be taken down low and challenged. This is when Bryon Scott tells David West to make a name for himself. West needs to get his confidence up before a potential second-round match-up against Timmy Duncan or Amare Stoudamire. We’ll find out if West’s 20 points per game is due to Chris Paul’s inflation.

The Mavericks need to get back on D

Stopping penetration and fast-breaks are key here. As soon as the ball hits the rim, Mavericks defenders need to sprint back to get on D. You look up and down the Hornets roster and each person shoots a respectable percentage. Absolutely no one on that team is an established jump shooter. So how are they getting their points? Chris Paul? Of course. Easy run-outs and outlet passes behind the defense? Hell yes.

Pick: Hornets in 5

3. San Antonio Spurs vs. 6. Phoenix Suns

Match-up to Watch: Fabricio Oberto/Kurt Thomas and Amare Stoudemire

I am guessing that they’ll put Tim Duncan on Shaquille O’Neal. This will leave Oberto and the Big Dirty on Amare. Dirt’s always been a good defender and Oberto has that Argentinian awareness so you can never count them out. Has Amare matured enough to realize he shouldn’t rely on his athleticism against the Spurs?

The Spurs need to be quick with rotations

San Antonio’s going to challenge the outside shot. They have to; the Suns are shooting 39.3% from outside. Where they’ll get into trouble is if their bigs slide too late in the paint. Because you know Joey Crawford’s going to call blocking any time there’s contact.

The Suns need to keep Amare out of foul trouble

I can hear Mike D’antoni now: “Damn boy, quit reaching!” Amare Stoudemire owns a 3.7 foul average for the year. This is rivaled only by Shaq’s 3.4 with the Suns. What’s it with big men and reaching? Compare that number with Timmy D’s 2.4 fouls, Dirty’s 2 and Oberto’s 2.5. Just stop reaching, man. Don’t do it.

Pick: Spurs in 7

4. Utah Jazz vs. 5. Houston Rockets

Match-up to Watch: Carlos Boozer and Dikembe Mutombo

Boozer is a beast. Deke eats beasts. It’ll just be funny to see Boozer’s rainbow shot over Dikembe’s out-stretched arms. I think the Rockets will start Luis Scola on Mehmet Okur. They may have Chuck Hayes stick Okur but that’s probably an adjustment for the second or third game. Tracy McGrady needs quality minutes out of Dikembe in order to advance.

The Jazz need to run, run and then run again

Houston shoots 44.8% from the field as a team. The Jazz shoot 49.7%. If the Jazz push the ball and turn this into a track meet, they’ll have a chance. This is important especially because Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko aren’t exactly marksmen from outside.

The Rockets need to get a good floor game out of Rafer Alston

Deron Williams is bigger, better and tougher than Rafer Alston. Skip to my Lou has no chance against Williams on the defensive end. So he needs to play extremely well offensively to off-set this. Otherwise, T-Mac’s going home crying again.

Pick: Rockets in 7

Where Streaks Happen

17 03 2008


Wins in a row by a now surprising Houston Rockets team. They have 10 straight wins since Yao Ming got injured. It was a delight watching this team close out the Lakers especially since my alternative was the Big Ten tournament. Shane Battier played some stifling defense on Kobe throughout the game and especially during the last five minutes. Rafer Alston had a huge game with a career-high 31 points. Bobby Jackson only missed two shots all game. Although Tracy McGrady’s line doesn’t look great, he did play well to close out the Lakers. These guys are playing with so much confidence right now. They’re so high that Dikembe Mutombo was as giddy as a 4-year-old on the sidelines.