Friday, November 14, 2008

NBA All-Division Teams: The Leastern Conference

Heyo! Welcome to part two of the first annual preseason (even though we’re two weeks into the season) NBA All-division teams. Today it’s the Leastern Conference, and despite the strength at the top of the conference, I’m still not buying that the talent gap has lessened much between conferences this season. Just look at the teams below, and tell me any of them are as strong or stronger than what I gave you out West. Especially the second teams (except, surprisingly the Southeast): the second teams are terrible. Anyway, on with it!

G Allen Iverson, Pistons
G Rip Hamilton, Pistons
F Lebron James, Cavaliers
F Danny Granger, Pacers
C Raweed Wallace, Pistons

G Mo Williams, Cavaliers
G Michael Redd, Bucks
F Richard Jefferson, Bucks
F Tayshaun Prince, Pistons
C Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cavaliers
Solid, but not outstanding first team. The second group? Ugh. Could argue that Rodney Stuckey belongs here instead of Mo Williams or Tayshaun or even Michael Redd. I also did not include Derrick Rose here (or any rookie on any of these teams. Not yet), but that could change as soon as mid-season. These teams are for right here, right now to start the season, so Rose just misses the cut, but if we’re talking potential, the only other guy in this division I would take over Rose is Bronbron. That’s it. Also notice the complete lack of Bulls. And some are calling them a playoff team? I don’t think so.

G Jose Calderon, Craptors
G Vince Carter, Nets
F Paul Pierce, Celtics
F Kevin Garnett, Celtics
C Chris Bosh, Craptors

G Andre Miller, Sixers
G Andre Igoudala, Sixers
F David Lee, Knicks
F Zach Randolph, Knicks
F Elton Brand, Sixers
And welcome to the NBA’s worst division! The Atlantic everybody! That’s a decent starting lineup, but the second string is the worst of the six. Yes, even worse than the Northwest’s. When Zach Randolph is the 10th best player in your division, it’s bad. Honestly, who replaces him? Ray Allen? He’s a shell of a shell of his former self. Jermaine O’Neal is half of what he used to be. Nate Robinson? Samuel Dalembert? Maybe Rajon Rondo. Maybe. It’s the worst division and yet you’ll hear more about four of these five teams than just about anyone else. Don’t you just love an East Coast bias?

G Gilbert Arenas, Wizards
G Dwyane Wade, Heat
G Joe Johnson, Hawks
F Caron Butler, Wizards
C Dwight Howard, Magic

G Mike Bibby, Hawks
F Rashard Lewis, Magic
F Shawn Marion, Heat
F Antawn Jamison, Wizards
F Al Hortford, Hawks
I don’t know about you, but I was surprised at the depth and quality in this division. There’s not an elite team among the five, and at least three of them probably won’t make the playoffs, and yet they put together two of the most solid groups of any division. DWade, Hibachi, Joe Johnson AND Dwight Howard on one team? It’s definitely the most unconventional of the starting 5’s, but with those four guys around Superman, they’d also win the award for the most fun team to watch. People from Kazakhstan would say “that’s nice! High five!” about them. The second unit isn’t too shabby either.

So there you have it. Again, no rookies to start, but that could change by midseason. Enjoy the weekend everybody!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NBA All-Division Teams

One of the many things I love about college sports is the idea of All-Conference teams. So I thought, why not apply this to the NBA with not just the Western and Eastern conferences, but with All-Division teams? You're right, it IS a great idea! And why stop with just a first team all division when you can add a SECOND team all division? Again, brilliant, I know. Even though we’re a couple of weeks into the season, this is going to count as a “preseason” All-Division team, and we’ll do another at the All-Star Break and then at season’s end. This is not only more fun than should be allowed, it's an interesting way to look at not only the strength of a division, but the teams within that division. Basically if your team can't get a few players on a 1st or 2nd all-division squad that's made up of just 5 teams, then let me just say I don't like your teams' playoff chances this year (a certain team that resides at 600 First Avenue in Minneapolis might want to pay attention here).

A couple of things I should mention about naming the teams: I'm not going to mandate that we have the traditional 5 positions in a starting five (PG, SG, SF, PF, C) because so few teams actually use that anymore. However, I do require each team to have at least one "ball handler" (Joel that one's just for you) and one "post player". A ball handler can be a true, pure, pass-first point guard, or a combo guard like Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson or Brandon Roy. A post player can be a power forward or center, but it's generally a guy who spends his time, as Hubie Brown would say, "in the painted area." The other 3 spots can be whatever, but as long as you've got somebody who can handle the ball and a low post presence, then you're good to go.

Today we’ll start with the Western Conference.

G Deron Williams, Jazz
G Chauncey Billups, Nuggets
F Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
F Carlos Boozer, Jazz
F Al Jefferson, Timberpups

G Brandon Roy, Blazers
F Kevin Durant, Bandits
F Andre Kirilenko, Jazz
F Lamar Aldridge, Blazers
C Memet Okur, Jazz
Pretty solid first team right there. With Billups joining the division, he replaces Roy on the first team. The second team here is the weakest in the Western Conference, and looking at how the teams were expected to be, that’s not much of a surprise. And for the Wolves fans out there, no I didn’t even consider Mike Miller. Or Randy Foye. Now if we had a spot for “most overpaid white guy” then it would have been a toss-up between Mark Madsen (paying Madsen anything to be on an NBA roster, even in McDonald’s cheeseburgers, would be overpaying him) and Brian Cardinal. So the Wolves have that going for them, which is nice.

G Steve Nash, Suns
G Kobe Bryant, Lakers
F Pau Gasol, Lakers
F Amare Stoudamire, Suns
C Marcus Camby, Clippers- that just doesn't look right either

G Baron Davis, Warriors- I mean Clippers
G Kevin Martin, Kings
F Lamar Odom, Lakers
F Corey Maggette, Clippers- I mean Warriors
C Andrew Bynum, Lakers
Maybe you couldn’t play the three big guys on the first team together, but I couldn’t leave Stoudamire or Camby out of the starting lineup, and for the fifth spot, Gasol made the most sense. Kind of weird to see only two Suns on either team, but that’s where I didn’t feel Shaq, Grant Hill, or anyone else but Nash and Amare deserved consideration. How about four Lakers in the top 10? I may have overthought them having too many issues to go back to the Finals.

G Chris Paul, Hornets
G Manu Ginobili, Spurs
F Dirk Nowitzki, Mavs
F Tim Duncan, Spurs
C Yao Ming, Rockets

G Tony Parker, Spurs
G Tracy McGrady, Rockets
F Ron Artest, Rockets
F David West, Hornets
C Tyson Chandler, Hornets
Best starting lineup of any of the six divisions right here. As much as I hate him, it kills me to leave Parker out of the starting lineup, but it came down to him, GI-NO-BI-LEEEEE!!!!, and Yao, Tony P got left out. Mostly because there’s no one else for the second team who could be considered a ball-handler. In crunch-time though, there’s no doubt Parker’s in for Yao. Just a scary, scary, scary good division. No Memphis Grizzlies, but that could change by midseason depending on what Gay and Mayo do, and when the Rockets’ inevitable injuries strike.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Miller/Love for Mayo Trade

Before I can say "I told you so" I guess I should first probably tell you. I swore that I had weighed in over the summer on the Timberwolves trade with Memphis. The Wolves dealt rookie OJ Mayo and the horrible contracts of Marko Jaric (3 years and $21 million) and Greg Buckner (3 years and $12 million), and the expiring contract of Antoine Walker (technically has 3 years and almost $40 million left but there's a team option after this year). They got back rookie Kevin Love, sharpshooter Mike Miller (2 years for 18.75 million), the awful contract of Brian Cardinal (2 years-$13 million. For Brian Cardinal. Seriously) and the expiring contract of Jason Collins ($6.2 mill this season. Not to be confused with his twin brother Jarron. By the way, what's up with Stanford and twin semi-useless tall brothers? First it was the Collins twins, then Jessica and Stacy Lopez. Does Stanford give discounts if you're tall and twins and also productive pro players with marginal to no NBA value?).

Let's just get the cap ramifications out of the way first. Dumping two awful three year contracts (almost $12 million a year for the next three years) for two years of Brian Cardinal makes sense. Instead of being at the cap through 2011, the Wolves will be at about $46 million (close to $10 mill under) next summer, and puts go WAY under (roughly $20 million in salary- giving them roughly $35 million to spend) for what should be the free agent bonanza of 2010. Of course, they're going to need all of that cap room because you won't just have to overpay, you'll have to REALLY overpay to get players to sign as free agents in Minnesota.

Ok, so financially this makes a lot of sense, but that's only one part of this. Now, a lot of folks are going to judge this deal based on Love vs. Mayo, which is unfair because this deal was not Love for Mayo straight up, but instead Love, Mike Miller and getting out of salary cap purgatory a year early for OJ Mayo. I'm also going to remind you we cannot judge what kind of players Mayo and Love will be for about three seasons. I know Mayo is playing lights out right now (scoring 31 and 33 his past two outings), and so far looks every bit the all-star that some projected him to be. But we're only 8 games into the season, which is a REALLY small sample size. We also need to remember that young bigs in this league take at least three years to develop. Look no further than the Wolves own Al Jefferson, who took 3-4 years to develop into the All-star post he is today.

Judgements made too hastily on deals can look foolish as time goes on. The best example is the Mark Prior vs Joe Mauer debate. I was strongly in the "draft Mark Prior" camp, and for the first few years Prior took the league by storm, looking like the next Roger Clemens, which made the Twins look bad for taking Mauer. Now? Prior's career has been completely derailed by injuries while Mauer just won his second batting title (which is two more than any other catcher in history), and could enter into the "best catcher of all-time" talk before all is said and done. I was wrong on that one and the Twins were right.

So while we can't judge how well this trade works, we can look at where the Wolves are at philosophically. A few weeks ago Wolves asst GM Fred "The Mayor" Hoiberg was on KFAN with Paul Allen (one of the things I enjoy about PA is that because he's able to ask people difficult questions or address difficult topics honestly and openly because he keeps things positive). PA asked Hoiberg about the Mayo deal and why it was made, and Hoiberg's response was something to the effect that while McHale loved Love, they didn't consider dealing OJ Mayo until the Grizzlies included Mike Miller. That right there tells me the Wolves ideals and philosophy for rebuilding the franchise is badly flawed. Whether the plan was to trade for Miller and keep him or to deal him for more picks/young players/cap space, this is not a trade Minnesota should have made.

On a championship team, Mike Miller is a third or fourth option. Great outside shooter (career 41% 3 point) and an excellent defensive rebounder for a 2 guard, but he's not a go-to guy, and he's not a good defender. At all. Having Miller on the Timberwolves would be like putting some phat 18" rims on my Chevy Cavalier. It might enhance the value, but only slightly, and it's still a Cavalier. It's the same thing with the Wolves. This is a 30 win team- at best this year, and I can't see them being much better next year. Miller has two years left on his deal, and they'd have to be extremely fortunate to be even a playoff contender before he's a free agent.

Sure Miller is a nice piece to have, but he's not going to put the Wolves over the hump into a championship contender, or even a playoff contender. The problem here (or one of them) is that McHale and Hoiberg and company believe this should be a contender, and that Miller IS that missing piece. McHale said around the draft he thought the Wolves would win 40 games this year. Um, really? How's that?

Look at the core of this team (pre Mayo trade) and tell me how they're a playoff team. Here's what we know:
Al Jefferson is an all-star- on offense. He is atrocious defensively, and thus far in his career has shown zero ability or desire to play D. If he's going to be your franchise cornerstone (and Glen Taylor locking him up to a long-term extension before the season tells me he is), you MUST compliment him with a Samuel Dalembert-type center or post player that can defend the paint. What you should absolutely positively not do is team him with an equally bad defensive player, no matter how much you think they’ll compliment each other offensively. More on this in a minute.
Ryan Gomes- probably your best all-around player, but on a good team, he'd be a 6th man.
Craig Smith- your most consistent post player other than Al, and on a good team, he'd be 9th or 10th in the rotation.
Bassy Telfair- a backup point guard- on this team, or any other. If he's your starter, you're in trouble.
Corey Brewer- excellent perimeter defender and a real high flyer, but can't dribble or shoot.
The jury remains out on Randy Foye and Rashad McCants, and this is a pivotal year for both to prove they deserve new contracts when their rookie deals expire soon.

Call me crazy, but even with breakout seasons from Foye and McCants this is not a playoff team with the additions of Mike Miller and Kevin Love. Feel free to disagree with me, but please some kind of argument that revolves around facts or stats instead of just “well we feel like this could work.” basketball stats guru John Hollinger is one of my favorite basketball scribes, and I love that he uses progressive stats and explanations that make him the Bill James of basketball stats. While I usually agree with Professor Hollinger, I did not when it came to the Wolves. Hollinger argued that preseason results in the NBA DO matter (the Wolves had one of the league’s best records in the pre-season), and that this was a good indicator of what the Wolves could do. He believed that adding an excellent outside shooter in Miller and a good mid-range shooter in Love would make the Wolves a formidable offensive unit that could run and gun their way to be a borderline playoff team.

The problem with this thinking is that if the aim there is to be a run-and-gun team like Phoenix was pre-Shaq or Golden State was a few years ago, the Wolves don’t have anywhere near the firepower of those teams, or even an adequate defense. I just don’t think enough people understand how bad defensively the Jefferson/Love combo is defensively and how difficult that would be to overcome. If a decent post player (and last I checked there’s a few of those in the West) will come in and score pretty much at will against the T-Pups, that means less defensive boards and less chances for outlets and fast-breaks. If your whole idea is to run-and-gun, isn’t that kind of an issue? So whether you think the Wolves were, or were not, contenders will Mike Miller, I’m not sure how Kevin Love made any sense as the guy to team with Jefferson.

IF you thought this made the Wolves contenders, it was a bad trade. And if you believe they could grab Miller and deal him for picks or prospects, I have a hard time seeing how that could be more valuable than what OJ Mayo could have been. Mayo looked to be a supreme talent at off-guard, and there was word circulating around the draft he could be better than Michael Beasley. Wolves fans seemed pumped on draft night when he fell in their lap, and yet McHale and Co. still believed a better idea was to deal a player who people would actually pay to see.

It’s also illogical to argue that “Minnesota shouldn’t take Mayo because they have too many combo guards already.” This would only be true if the Wolves had too many GOOD combo guards. As mentioned, the two guards they had, like Foye, McCants, and Brewer, are still unproven at best. In the NBA one player can make more of a difference than any other professional sport, so why on earth would you give up the best player, and potential all-star, in a deal for a good 4th or 5th wheel, cap space, and rookie post player who at best could be a 6’9 Brad Miller and who doesn’t compliment your best player defensively at all? Personally, I roll the dice with Mayo, and if Foye and McCants prove they can play, you figure out playing time or trades when it happens. The Wolves went another direction, and so far it doesn’t look good. I hope, like with the Prior/Mauer debate, I’m wrong, but I have a feeling I’m going to be hoping I’m wrong on a lot of moves the Wolves will make in order for them to be successful.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Better Late Than Never Timberwolves Preview: Part I

I was going to include a Timberwolves musing in my Random Rambling NBA preview, but I had so much to say about it, I felt it deserved its own post. Now that I'm back in the Twin Cities (and it really is good to be back. I love Minnesota) I'm going to be seeing and reading and hearing a lot about the Wolves. I'm more positive about this team than I've been since they acquired Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell as they're young, and will at the very least be entertaining. Before we get to expectations for the season, I need to discuss two things: one is the Kevin Love trade and how it will effect this season and beyond, which I'll do in another post. Today, I want to talk about Kevin McHale for one last time.

Last week I heard McHale on The Fan with Paul Allen. He gushed for 20 minutes about summer league ball he had watched, his team, other teams, his players, other players, and everything in between. I've always painted McHale as never putting as much time as he should into the job, yet after listening to him, I realize there's nothing he loves more than basketball. He also loves his job, is genuinely frustrated things haven't turned out well, and really, truly, madly, deeply wants to get things turned around and give the fans of Minnesota a winner. He really does.

Of course, as he's proven over the past dozen years, he won't because he can't. For all his love of basketball, the man has proven over and over and over again that he cannot properly evaluate talent or build a legitimate NBA contender. He just can't. You know his history, but here's just a few of his blunders over the years (for a full list check out an excellent summation here from that will make you throw up in your mouth either a little or a lot):

Corey Brewer instead of about 12 other guys, Randy Foye over Brandon Roy, Rashad McCants instead of Danny Granger, Wally Szczerbiak's Expiring Contract over, well, a lot of people, Ndi Edi over the three guys who went right after him (Kendrick Perkins, Leandrihno Barbosa, or Josh Howard), taking Paul Grant and Will Avery over anybody with a pulse, losing FOUR 1st round picks from the Joe Smith "signing", the first trade with Boston, and the single worst moment in the history of the franchise, when he traded Sam Cassell- WHO ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS PLAYS WELL IN A CONTRACT YEAR!?!?!?!?- AND A FIRST ROUND PICK to the Clippers for Marko Jaric, who he then signed to a 7 year deal.

I'll give you a moment to throw up a little bit after reading that. Just put your head between your knees, breathe slowly, and try not to pass out.

The point of all of that, besides making you a little nauscious, is that if you're going to cheer for the Timberwolves (and judging by their TV numbers, as well as all the empty blue seats at 601 First Avenue, there aren't many) you have to accept the fact that McHale is running the show, and will be for the foreseeable ever. You have to accept that he's going to make more bad draft picks, trades, and signings, because he's doing it for well over a decade, and there's no reason to think he's suddenly going to change. It'd be like watching a Keanu Reeves moving and complaining that he's a bad actor. We know this. Everybody knows this. But if the script is good enough (like the first Matrix movie. And maybe even the second one. After absolutely hating it at first, I've seen it on cable a few times, and it's not as bad I remembered. The third one? Still abhorrently, inexcusably awful), and/or they put enough good actors around him, then it can be decent. Keanu Reeves movies aren't for everybody, but for those who take him for what he is, they can be enjoyable.

I'm saying all of this because I'm not going to be bringing up McHale's past anymore, or keep calling for his head, because neither do any good. He is what he is and he's continue to be what he's going to be until he doesn't want the job anymore because Glen Taylor refuses to fire him. That's not to say I'm not going to disagree, and loudly, with any moves he makes from here on out, because I will. But I'm done chanting "Fire McHale!" because no matter how much he deserves it, it's not going to happen.

So if you can accept all of that, and understand that the Minnesota Timberwolves are basically going to have to build a winner in spite of the guy running the team, then welcome aboard the Timberwolves Bandwagon! Plenty of good seats still available, especially in blue.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

NFL at the Halfway Point

Well we're now officially past the halfway point of the NFL season, so I thought it'd be a good time to review my preseason picks. Long story short is I got a few right, but a lot wrong. Welcome to the NFL in the Age of Parity.

Here's what I predicted in September:
East- New England (including best overall record)
North- Pittsburgh (1st rd bye)
South- Indianapolis
West- Denver
Wildcards- Houston, Baltimore

East- Dallas (best record)
North- Green Bay
South- New Orleans (1st rd bye)
West- Arizona
Wildcards- Philly and Washington

Here's how things stack up through 9 weeks:
East- NY Giants (7-1)
North- Chicago (5-3)
South- Carolina (6-2)
West- Arizona (5-3)
Wildcards- Tampa Bay (6-3), Washington (6-3)

East- New England (5-3)
North- Pittsburgh (6-2)
South- Tennessee (8-0)
West- Denver (4-4)
Wildcards- NY Jets, Buffalo, Baltimore (all 5-3)
(Division tie-breakers: 1. Head-to-Head 2. Division win % 3. Common games
(Wildcard tie-breakers: 1. H2h 2. Conference win %)

Arizona, New England, Pittsburgh, and Denver winning their divisions
Baltimore and Washington as wild cards

Allow me to gloat about targeting Kurt Warner in the latter rounds of both of my fantasy drafts, and getting him. He was awesome down the stretch last year, and he's been MVP caliber so far. Whether he can stay healthy for the whole seasons remains to be seen, but that offense is awesome, and the defense has been good enough in a really bad division that the Cards have a good chance to get the second best record in the NFC. New England has been worse than advertised and the Broncos are winning the AFC West by default. Pittsburgh has been a top 5 team, but if they don't do a better job of protecting Roethlisberger (I HATE how every talking head calls him "Ben." How long has he been in the league? You should be able to pronounce Roth-Less-bur-ger by now. Not that hard), they're in trouble.

I also correctly predicted the struggles of San Diego, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Minnesota, as well as Washnigton and Baltimore (although I did not see Flacco being this consistent this early) being playoff contenders.

Um, how much time do you have? Because there's a lot to talk about here. Dallas, New Orleans and Indy have been decimated by injuries. The two most unexplainable results so far have been Indy's performace and Jacksonville's complete inability to run the football. Yeah, Manning was without his O-line early in the year, but now that everybody's back, they're still average at best. What gives? Is Manning playing hurt? Have some of the guys around him (on both sides of the ball) just in a simple decline? And Jacksonville can't use the injury excuse. It's the same guys that bowled over the league last year, and this year it just hasn't happened. Not even close. If anybody has an explantion for either of these, I'd love to hear it.

I could not have been more wrong about the Bears, Giants, and Titans. I had the Bears pegged for the worst team in the league, but the defense has returned to an elite level, Forte has been the back the Bears had with Thomas Jones and were hoping to get with Cedric Benson, and Kyle Orton has morphed into a real deal legit QB. Who knew? Not me. Not anyone. Based on their 2007 season The Giants were, according to the Football Outsiders guys, the flukiest/luckiest/worst team to win a Super Bowl. They're proving this year that they just got a late start on things, and that the end of 2007 was much more indicative of the team they are than the beginning of 07. They've shown incredible depth (especially on the D-line. They lost Strahan AND Imoymura and are still #1 in the league in sacks. Wow!), and Eli has proven to be a legit top 10 (maybe top 5? I can't quite go there yet) QB.

I figured the Titans were screwed with Vince Young. Well VY got hurt...and Kerry Collins' mistake-free football has helped them to an 8-0 record. Again, nobody saw this one coming either. The defense has been all-world, the Chris Johnson/Lendale White running back combo is the best in football, and they haven't been turning it over. In a season with no super power, that's been good enough.

I was also wrong pretty much the entire NFC South, as well as Houston, who just haven't gotten it together on either side of the ball. Whoopsy daisy!

Green Bay, Philly, Buffalo, NY Jets, Denver, San Diego
All these teams are in playoff contention, and while Denver has been better and San Diego worse than people expected, the Chargers could very well put it together and take a horrible, horrible division.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Welcome Back Joe Dumars

Looks like Allen Iverson is on the move again. According to numerous sources, a deal is all but done that would send AI to the Detroit Pistons for guard and Colorado native Chauncey Billups, F/C Antonio McDyess and somebody named Cheik Samb. IF/when this deal goes down, it looks like a brilliant move for Pistons GM Joe Dumars, and makes absolutely positively no sense for Denver. None whatsoever.

I owe Dumars an apology. After building a surprising champion around other people's castoffs, Dumars looked like an up-and-coming Genius GM. Then he wiffed badly on the Darko pick, screwed up the Ben Wallace resigning, and then stood around and did nothing while his team fell from Title Contender Status to "Only good enough to win a round or two." I gave Dumars crap last week about talking big all summer about blowing up the team, and yet he did nothing. Until now. Well I'd say this move would count as doing a really, really big something.

AI is in a contract year, and while he always plays hard, he should be extra motivated to not only take advantage of his first real chance at an NBA title in years, but also to prove he's worth one more big contract. If things go well, the Pistons are back in the title mix. If they don't, AI's $21 million comes off the books, and along with Raweed Wallace's contract coming off this summer as well, the Pistons will now, if they choose, be far enough under the cap to make a run at the 2010 free agent class of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and more. The Pistons are now major players for one of those guys since they're going to have a good young nucleus (While Dumars should get ripped for the Darko pick, he's drafted very well with his mid to late first rounders in the past few years), and cap room to spare. The Pistons are suddenly looking at the kind of flexibility most teams can only dream about.

For the Nuggets, I cannot seem to find a way to make this make sense. Give them credit for rolling the dice on AI, but things obviously didn't work out. With him, they're a borderline playoff team. With this trade they would be...a borderline playoff team. Granted, their salary cap space is screwed until at least 2012. Melo has four years and $65.7 million left, Nene has four years and $43 million, and Kenyon Martin has three years and $45.9 million. Oh and all three of those guys have player options in the final years of their contracts, where they COULD make $18.5M, $16.5M, and $11.6M respectively in the final year of their deals. It's a stone cold solid LOCK that Nene and KMart won't be opting out early, and I doubt Melo could get more than $18.5 a year, so you're going to have those three guys for the duration of their deals. And this doesn't even include the extension that's coming for JR Smith.

WITHOUT AI's $21 million, the team is still right at the cap for the next four years. Now add Chancey at four years for $50.4 million and McDyess at 2 years and $13.6 mill and the Nuggets are in luxury tax land for through 2012. And for what? Is that nucleus a top 4 team in the West? No way! So you're capped out with immovable contracts where you're going to be in "Timberwolves Territory" (at least during the KG years) where you're just good enough to be a borderline playoff team but not bad enough to get any high draft picks or the cap room to sign free agents. Things are not looking up in the Mile High City.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NBA Win Total Over/Unders 2008-09

Heyo! Had so much fun doing with this with the NFL when the season started, why not throw out predictions for the NBA as well? Feel free to play along at home.

Atlanta Hawks 39.5 Over
Boston Celtics 56.5 Over
Charlotte Bobcats 34.5 Under
Chicago Bulls 41.5 Under
Cleveland Cavaliers 48.5 OVER
Dallas Mavericks 48.5 Under
Detroit Pistons 51.5 Under
Denver Nuggets 45.5 Under
Golden State Warriors 39.5 Under
Houston Rockets 53.5 Under
Indiana Pacers 34.5 Over
Los Angeles Clippers 33.5 Over
Los Angeles Lakers 56.5 Over
Memphis Grizzlies 23.5 Over
Miami Heat 33.5 Over
Milwaukee Bucks 32.5 Over
Minnesota Timberwolves 30.5 Over
New Jersey Nets 33.5 Under
New Orleans Hornets 52.5 Over
New York Knicks 29.5 Over
Oklahoma City Thunder 26.5 Under
Orlando Magic 50.5 Under
Philadelphia 76ers 46.5 Under
Phoenix Suns 51.5 UNDER
Portland Trail Blazers 42.5 Over
Sacramento Kings 31.5 Under
San Antonio Spurs 52.5 Under
Toronto Raptors 47.5 Under
Utah Jazz 51.5 Over
Washington Wizards 38.5 Over

My Five Confidence picks LOCKS
1. New Orleans Hornets 52.5 OVER
2. San Antonio Spurs 52.5 UNDER
3. Miami Heat 33.5 OVER
4. Phoenix Suns 51.5 UNDER
5. Utah Jazz 51.5 OVER