Greetings everyone!! Welcome to the most exciting basketball blog ever written!
The NBA Breakdown has graciously given me the keys to this wonderful new car called Blogging. Originally, I felt I would just bore you with facts and tidbits, but I said “Nawww. Let me make it fun and exciting.”
Let me introduce myself. I'm Sharone Wright from Macon,Georgia. I was an All-state performer at Macon's Southwest high school as a McDonald's All-American. I played basketball for 3 years in the prestigious ACC conference at Clemson University where I am one of its top 10 all-time players. I was drafted 6th overall by Philadelphia. I've played also for the Toronto Raptors. After 5 years in the NBA, I then went to Europe as a player for 7 years. After my playing career ended I turned to the bench as a coach in Europe and today I stand as one heckava coach. In my spare time I run a Program called Power Forward. It's a training program for Forwards and Centers. It's really intense and it's earned raves all over Europe. I hope you love my blog because to me there’s nothing about this game that I either don’t know or can't find out. The NBA is a dream league with soo much excitement. Since I was a little boy I dreamed of playing in the show. Now after years of playing and now coaching, I can again talk and share my knowledge and insight about our wonderful game.
Let's get down to business. I wanna start off with my predictions and preview for the NBA starting with the Eastern Conference. After the Eastern Conference, I will preview the Western Conference followed by my picks for MVP, Rookie of the Year, 6th Man, Comeback Player of the Year and also my all NBA team, All Rookie and Coach of the Year. Here we go......
1. Boston Celtics
It would be really hard for me to think Boston does not have fire in their bellies after the seven game Finals against the Lakers this past June. They had the series right where they wanted it. In the off-season, they scored big with key additions in the O'Neal boys, Jermaine and Shaq, to add already depth to their great front court. I think Shaq will be hungry and he will force defenses to take notice . With Kendrick Perkins and Glen “Big Baby” Davis, I don’t think teams focused soo much on their front court or center scoring other than “The Big Ticket” Kevin Garnett. Garnett gives you just about everything on the post, high post and, for sure, the baseline. He played very Garnett-like in the playoffs and served notice he hasn’t slowed down THAT much, but now Eastern teams will have to guard Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal and that’s more attention than Perkins ever was.
Paul Pierce to me is still a bonafide player and the captain who continues to make strides even now after already winning a championship. I think he will take losing in the finals very personally and so will Ray Allen and Doc Rivers. One thing is for sure, with the beef on this team , no one is gonna miss any meals(well, lets hope Shaq and Big Baby skip a couple).
In the back court, it's crazy to imagine how far Rajon Rondo has come since being basically overlooked at Kentucky. If there is a better uptempo big point guard out there then I beg to differ. This summer's Team USA issue won't stop the maturation process of this speed demon. Now if I can stop my 14-year old daughter from yapping about how good he is then I can get some sleep.
Rookie, Luke Harangody from Notre Dame, figures not to play alot, but we will see. But, look for help off the bench from the sometimes electric Nate Robinson and newly re-signed, Delonte West. Let's hope West can stay out of other teammates' homes and also out of the media (that was a joke).
All in all Boston is as mentally tough as they come. To top that off they have a chip on their shoulders. Boston over Miami to go to the finals.
2. Miami Heat
Depending on how old you are, you probably can remember the word “Mania”. Backstreetboys-mania, NSYNC-mania, Beatle-mania, Hammertime (please Hammer don’t hurt me!!), Britney-mania, etc. “Mania” is the word for the Miami Heat this season and all seasons from here on. With the additions of “The King” LeBron James and the silky smooth Chris Bosh, one can imagine there is gonna be an electric presence every time they hit the floor. The NBA has not seen this kind of off-season for one team since the 1971-72 L.A Lakers with three of the NBAs top 20 all-time players on its roster. The difference is Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor were each super heroes. There was no Robin to anyone’s Batman on this team. Secondly, they had a wonderful bench with my good friend and current Lakers assistant, Jim Cleamons, Heat GM Pat Riley and also Flynn Robinson. Let's not forget the team's leading scorer that year in Gail Goodrich.
I kinda compare these Miami Heat to a less heralded version of that Laker team. Let me be honest, I hated the way LeBron actually announced his decision on ESPN. Ultimately, it was his to make. I can't hate on that but your legacy is what you make it and he made it. If I was that caliber of player I would have gone to New York knowing they were also getting Amare. LeBron stated he wanted to be a global icon in basketball. No offense to Miami but “Ummm, NYC is the capital of icons.” Can't be an icon in Miami and on Wade's team. Otherwise, you're a King in someone elses court. Just saying...
There will for sure need to be some front court help and, to me, that falls really heavily on the shoulders of CB4. Playing lots of minutes hasn’t lately been his thing and you can imagine the beef that Boston has assembled will be a big issue. The road to the Finals for Miami is a harder one than say the Lakers. See Miami will need to beat in long hard series, two of the top 5 teams in the East, so Miami take your pick. CB4 will need help and they hope that help comes from Juwan Howard (my buddy. hey chump call me!!), Jamal Magloire, rookie Dexter Pittman, Joel Anthony or “Big Z”, Zydrunas Ilgauskas. I think style wins games and it will be interesting to see the style that Erik Spoelstra imposes. You can always have a running team, but in the playoffs you have to have a half court game. That means you have to be able to have players that can get their own shots and run sets that create for others. In that respect, Dwyane Wade and LeBron are the best in the business. James is a terrific passer and, at times, so is Wade. I think last year, Wade answered every question about his knees and his game. He really had a tremendous season. You can bet that his Boo, Gabrielle Union, will be basking in the “Mania” as well.
The addition of Mike Miller will only help with the double teaming that teams will do to get the ball out of Wade and James' hands . This is a team that initially will come out strong, but down the stretch it won't be soo much about the SUPER FREINDS but the friends of the SUPER FRIENDS. You have to have a supporting cast and a hellava scheme to off set what defensive opponents will try. I love Udonis Haslem and his workforce attitude. He turned down at least 10 million to stay with the Heat. Wow, talk about a team guy? I dunno, but you can't argue with his grit and toughness. He figures to be very prominent again on this Heat team. They surely will need his toughness when battling the Celtics, Hawks and Magic.
Mario Chalmers is steady. James Jones will need to do more and Eddie House was a great off-season signing, but how will that mesh? My question is who will be Paul McCartney, who will be John Lennon, who will be Ringo Starr and who will be George Harrison? If these questions aren’t answered then it's Hammertime for the Heat. Gone Fishing.
3. Orlando Magic
Florida is a hot vacation spot. Disney, Tampa, South beach... take your pick. But, when you have 2 of the top 5 teams in one state, you gotta ask how any team will keep its players when free agency comes around. Who wouldn’t want to live where it's sunny all year round? For the last 3 years, Orlando Magic fans have been teased like at a strip club. They have labored with bad performances when it really counts the most. Most of my friends love to watch the NBA Finals as opposed to the regular season. They think the playoffs is when it's more exciting. I agree, but to really get a feel on where the Magic have been for the last 3 years, you'd have to watch the regular season. If you had told me they wouldn't have a championship with the players they've had for the last 3 years, I would slap you! It's been a big disappointment to say the least.
In our league, some say that your team is only as good as its main player or star. If that is true then Dwight Howard has delivered, but there are some who say he hasn't. It's hard to argue with his work though. I have this conversation with some of my ex NBA teammates all the time about why he doesn't have any offensive moves for a guy in his sixth year. I always argue he didnt go to college, but hell he's had six years to get it down . Don't get me wrong I love Howard, but to me, you have to have at least five post moves that you can go to if you want to be considered a bonafide center. Not many of those in the NBA these days. Lolol. I think Howard will be fine, but he has to go farther and be way more agressive offensively. It's his time to take over in certain situations.
I'm actually not and have never been impressed with the bevy of forwards they have on Orlando. To me, they are a bunch of guys that all do certain things well. None of them have eye-dropping skills to win you over. Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson and/or Marcin Gortat. None of these guys will be difference makers when playoff time comes and they have to match up against O'Neal Mountain and Big Baby Canyon. I'm not sold on their roster as a whole. I just love the way Stan Van Gundy coaches though. My insiders tell me that his players absolutely love him!!
The two keys to this roster are also dependant on Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson. These are the two cogs in the machine that have to be running right. You could make a case that Nelson, although often injured, has done well and last year had a very solid year, but Lewis, in some circles, has been a big disappointment. His contract, being one of the reasons, that I think people think this way. I'm not saying that in the regular season he hasn't done well, but in the playoffs, he's been sick, low production and basically he's gone fishing while they've been in the playoffs. Lolol. This year's team will need Lewis even more to be That GUY. For them to compete with the loaded Eastern conference, he will need to be dynamic. I don't see that coming.
Vince Carter, to me, is like a large Slush Puppy Slurpie from the AM/PM. You love it and you keep drinking, but it comes to an end yet there's still that little bit in the corner of the bottom that you can't get. Vince has, in my opinion, started to age, but he still has the skills to be a 16 ppg guy for Orlando. Last year, he was inconsistent. He also has fought off alot of injuries. A good VC means a good season for Orlando. Mickael Pietrus has made great strides and so has JJ Redick. They both will have to go hard this year.
Growing up in Georgia, I really hated the Hawks because they never won consistently and then there's the dreaded Jon Koncak contract. Uhhhhhhhhh (im getting sick). I guess I have to give credit to the current group because for the last 4 years they have been very consistent. If you poll fifty GMs in our league and ask them what's the one thing you strive for in the NBA? They will say being consistent. I know many were down on Joe Johnson last year as he sunk lower and lower down the stretch, but one thing most insiders will tell you is that everybody wanted him on their team this summer. He is a very special player and has been for all of his career. His problem was basically mental last year in the playoffs and the last two months. Then the fans bashed him hard. It was for this reason that I asked myself. I said "Self, would I have gone back to the Atlanta Hawks judging how the end of the season went and over eight other teams wanted me?” The truth is that Atlanta is the only team that could pay him 119 million for 6 years. So, this is another case of Wu-TANG. Cash rules everything around me CREAM get the money dollar dollar Bill Yalllllllll.
Beyond that, the Hawks pretty much have the same team that in some years has taken Boston to the brink and also like last year, stunk up the playoffs. So, one might think this is the pivotal year for this club. Riddle me this though, what doesn't Atlanta have? It's a question that Ive asked myself a million times since I was 13 years old. Why don't they get the big free agents? I think Atlanta has what it takes to go further, but not win the East. I feel they actually have over achieved in the past two years. If not for the play of one of my favorite players, Jamal Crawford, they would have been back further than Jermaine Dupri's hairline was. So, that begs of the existence of the best players.
I love Josh Smith's game let me start with that, but I think his ceiling has already been reached. Other than him developing a better jump shot, he's already where he will most likely be at for the remainder of his career. He's a crazy athlete and in that regard he's one of the best, but you look for him to do more. Sometimes he's not the aggressor that you want with your second best player and doesn't it seem like you have to piss him off in order for him to dominate? The Hawks will need more J-Smooth if they are goin to push the Magic this year. Crawford continues to impress and further pushes the notion that if he is in a system year after year, he can put up awesome numbers. Mike Bibby continues to drive the ship and do it very well. It's basically when he plays the bigger guards he has trouble defending. It's for this reason the Hawks have to have a backup that's reliable. If not then you're asking Johnson and Crawford to come out of their element and run the team when they play the bigger guard teams. Maybe rookie Jordan Crawford can come in handy or second year player Jeff Teague.
Up front for the Hawks, Horford and Pachulia have been stellar. They will need to continue that in order to compete with the bigger Eastern bigs. Newly signed hometown boy, Josh Powell and the ever developing Marvin Williams will provide help upfront. New Coach, Larry Drew has his hands full with this bunch, but it's a great luxury to have. Not every rookie head coach would inherit this type of talent in his first year. His task is to get this team to the Eastern finals. Doing that is the only way to justify firing Mike Woodson. That's a task that won't happen. See ya at the Velvet room when the Finals are on fellas...
To be honest, I kinda wanted to put Chicago as high as three, but I'm still not sold on their bench and there's also the rookie head coach factor. I do agree with their off-season moves. Some would even say that outside of the SUPERFRIENDS in Miami, the Bulls made the biggest impact in free agency. Anytime you can add Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, you're doing really good on the market. I think you'll see these pieces come together a little too late to start off good. I do believe they are capable, but it's too soon to tell how far. I absolutely love Derrick Rose. He's as smooth and explosive as they come. Big, strong and soo athletic. He seems to get better every year and you hear all of the talk about the other point gaurds, but quietly he is right there or even higher in my rankings. There's really nothing that he doesn't do for the Bulls. This summer's team USA time really helped him as well. Ronnie Brewer is a good solid big guard, but is he the answer? I think not because he is just good and not consistent enough to make waves at the big guard spot. Can he compliment Rose or stand out? One of the younger guards on their roster will have to step up. Will it be CJ Watson, Kyle Weaver, Keith Bogans? Who knows, but it's one of the reasons I dropped them down from the top three in the East.
Every year I select a couple of guys that I just completely love to watch and then I label them as MY GUYS. Well, Luol Deng is one of MY GUYS. If your name is constantly being mentioned in trade talk as much as Deng's is, you'd never have the right mind to go out and play hard and still produce. Well, Deng does just that. He's heard it all and he still gives you all he has at a nice clip. He seems to have this chip on his shoulder as if to say, “trade me and I'll beat you up!” That's the kinda guy that I want on my team. Plus they will need him in the tougher games to guard LeBron and Pierce as well. I played against the Bulls best teams of the 90s. The one constant about those Pippen /Jordan Teams is that they always had great role players that knew their roles -- Kerr, Wennington, Dele(r.i.p), Judd Buechler. They made those teams special. That's why there's always a place in our league for guys like Taj Gibson. BE honest, did anyone think he would play as much as he did last year? He was truly awesome for the Bulls.
Up front, it seems the Bulls got better as well with Boozer to go along with the ever improving Noah. Lets just hope the meshing together starts now because if it doesn't, there will be more apologies than R. Kelly. Tom Thibodeau was one of my coaches in my NBA career. He's a master of defense and he also is one of those guys that pushes you hard. I really learned alot from him. You could see his tactics when he was the driving force behind Boston's defense for the past three years. Don't get it twisted bruh. He knows his stuff. There will be all kinds of traps, double teams on LeBron and Wade, and tons of schemes .My thing with the Bulls is time. Time will not wait for all these things to mesh together. In other words, get your gear and bait because fishing is where the Bulls are going. Sorry Obama.
My last three playoff spots are really crazy because I really had a hard time with these. It's like choosing between Layla Hathaway or Anita Baker. I mean, we didn't want Anita to stay away for soo long to be a mom, but who knew? OK lets goooo..
OK Ok Ok I admit it gosh darn!!! I was one of those guys against a kid not attending college and going to Europe to play professional ball. I was one that actually said publicly that Brandon Jennings would fail. I was the hater. Ok, are you happy?!!!!!!! And when I saw him play on my TV with Lottomattica Roma in the very tough Italian League, I was sure I had did the right thing in hating. I thought I was The madd rapper!!. But then something changed. He worked out so well the Bucks took him and he blossomed into a hellava player and the rest is Hater History. I for one truly like this kid's game now and I'm man enough to admit it. He has very good vision and maybe just maybe he was over looked. His deep three ball is tops in the league and he is afraid of no one!! The ups and downs of his first year were not as bad as the cold weather or the nothing-to-do-ness of Milwaukee.
Their back court is young and old at the same time. Delfino is back and healthy and John Salmons is that guard that every coach wants on their team. One of MY GUYS on this team is Chris Douglas-Roberts. I love his game and his toughness. He adds scoring and a lot of swagg to this boring team and maybe just maybe they will have the attitude that carries them through. Its a long 82 game season so you have to have insurance in this league. I think that's why you see so many bigs on the teams that want to make a dent in the playoff picture. The Bucks have good depth at the front court. The very fundamentally sound Bogut keeps on producing. Everytime I see the video of his elbow, I want to run away. Their front court will be very good with Drew Gooden, Ersan Illyasova (great name bruh).
Can my former teammate, Scott Skiles work his magic again? He better kick it into overdrive very soon or things will go sour quicker than Antoine Dodson's fame.
Got to admit I'm a little biased with this pick and with good reason. My best friend and former college teammamte, Chris Whitney is a coach for the Bobcats, so I'm going to give them wayyy more credit than probably they deserve. If you don't like that then skip this pick and go to 8th. But, one could argue that any Larry Brown team that makes the playoffs one year will surely do it the following year. So I will go with conventional wisdom. Also as a basketball fan and a guy who has played against him many times, you never bet against Michael Jordan. How's that for ya? Unlike the Wizards fiasco years ago, Jordan has done a good job with his team in Charlotte. Adding Stephen Jackson is by far the best thing they did . He is the official MY GUY on this team. I love his toughness and he is really an under-rated scorer.
A team of journeymen is what I call them, but they have the ability through hard work and good coaching to beat anyone. Match the toughness of Jackson with the quickness of DJ Augustin, with the swagg of Tyrus Thomas and Gerald Wallace. It will be interesting to see if the comeback of Shaun Livingston will continue or end with this team. One thing for sure is they will always be ready to play and they will never be out coached. This is a team that is thirsty for more of the playoff juice. It's also something that Jordan will always insist on. The people on Tobacco Road are hungrier than Kirstie Alley at a Krispy Kreme counter....
My 8th spot is tricky because there are soo many sneaky teams that could snag this spot. We could go with New York, Washington, Detroit, Philadelphia or Toronto. And the winner of the stay out of the Draft lottery sweepstakes is(drum roll).......................... the New York Knicks.
I felt even at the end of last year that finally the Mike D'Antoni express has taken form. Lord knows it's been long enough!! Not just the Amare pickup, but just the overall moves they made will make them a force this year. By force I mean winning more games than losing BTW. New York maybe now has the inside track on landing Carmelo Anthony . And we all know what that could do for the East .We all know what Amare brings to the table, but just in case you forgot let me throw a couple of stats at you. He is a career 21ppg and 9 rebound per game guy. In the playoffs, he's even better at 24ppg. So, the Knicks, for starters, have a center piece and someone that they can count on. But, it doesn't stop there because Danilo Gallinari is a budding star who has never met a shot that he didn't like. He's the one guy that D'Antoni will want to pair with Amare. Wilson Chandler is one of those glue guys that makes a team good. I like the Knicks also because of the addition of Raymond Felton. He will bring a sense of direction to this club that it didn't have in the past four years. With Roger Mason, my sleeper of the year, Anthony Randolph and Rony Turiaf, the Knicks have a very solid team and now they can hope and pray for the Carmelo Anthony trade. Lets hope that we can make Spike Lee happy again.
Too many holes in their lineup and unanswered problems in the off-season. A classy organization, but after CB4, where does the bulk of the scoring come from? Andrea Bargnani, hey, pick up the phone, it's me ....Opportunity to raise your game. I'm calling, so pick up!!!! His quote each day should be Carpe Diem.
I'm really down and on this team because I cannot seem to understand where they are going and why can't they compete with the big boys anymore. If you look at their roster you'd think they are a factor in the East then you double back and look at their record for the last two years and you say holy crap!! Detroit may very well be the best team on paper that won't win. Well, at least The Housewives of Atlanta are on, so I don't have to take the chance that I'll be teased with how good the Pistons can be.
The team that drafted me is coming out of one of those soap opera comas that lasted for a couple of years. I guess they thought signing Elton Brand would equal the low post and grit that it takes to win games in the East, but Brand is still not the same since his achilles injury and also knee problems. I know we all love Iguodala and Williams and now the Turner kid from Ohio State, but the fact is that Philly is like Bokeem Woodbine's character in the movie "Life". Remember what his name was? It was Cant Get Right. Philly can't get right. For all purposes though, they seem to be trying hard to right the ship. Lets clap for umm clap for umm.
Remember in the movie, “The Color Purple” when that lady told Danny Glover "until you do right by me, everything you do gonna fail"? Doesn't it seem like Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert and the Cavs fans are shaking their little skinny fingers and putting a spell on LeBron James for leaving Cleveland? The only consolation that I can give you Cleveland fans is that you're getting a great coach in Byron Scott and in a couple of years or maybe even this year, you will be back to winning games on a consistent level. Until then I would hold off on the talk. The pieces that were put in place to help LeBron are mostly still there and now they have Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams and JJ Hickson as their go-to guys. You would come out better trying to find Osama Bin Laden. Go fishing right now and then you can save on good fish bait. The King is gone!!
Read My Lips. Leave Arenas alone!! He's made mistakes. Ok, moving along . Welcome to the NBA, John Wall. The Wizards are actually moving right along and moving at a snails pace at that. It's gonna take a great year from Andray Blatche and also Kirk Hinrich to offset the lack of defense and offense that stares the Wiz right in their face. But hey there's one consolation as well. Go across town to borrow money from Albert Haynesworth and add players. This is another year of lottery for Washington.
The Pacers will test alot of teams and even win some games that you'd think they shouldn't. But ultimately they are a bottom tier team that will have to find some identity. Who doesn't love the ability of Danny Granger and the heart of Tyler Hansbrough, Or how about how much Mike Dunleavy Jr has teased us since coming out of Duke, but to never put it all together? I like the move to get Darren Collison, but it makes no sense if he's not the starter ahead of the 8 million dollar a year TJ Ford. He's proven when with the Hornets and CP3 were out that he can be a starting point guard in the NBA. It won't matter though because there will be some long nights and long flights back to INDY for this team.
New Jersey Nets
Ok, so we know this now. The owner of the Nets is a multi Billionaire. We also Know that they plan to move the team to Brooklyn I'm told. The Lebron to the Nets scene died down as soon as it took off. If it weren't for the fact that Avery Johnson will be leading this team, I would be more critical but I love Johnson and his coaching style. Having Jay-Z as a part owner is a good thing and it goes without saying that he will bring in players and show them a good time, but the bottom line is that they have to prove some things on the court. Their team is not as bad as others would think and it's a team that I think Johnson can convince to strive hard to gain wins. They have time and I'm sure the new owner is giving them alot of time to right this ship. You can't argue with the career that Devin Harris is having. Yet still he is being talked about in trade rumors all the time. That can only mean that you're either very good or that you are very bad, In his case it;s because he's a great point guard. Can he lead this band of no names and the heralded rookie Derrick Favors? Did Favors work on his offensive game this summer? Because At Georgia Tech I didn't see a lot of moves. Just put backs. Sorry man. It takes more than that to score in the NBA. Will we look back at the first year of Johnson with the Nets and say this was the start of a playoff team? Soo many questions and soo much time for this team.
So there you have it Playboys and Playgirls. Straight no chaser!!. I will be updating my blog this week with the Western Conference preview and at least twice a week this season with regular bball talk. I'm talking about all that jazz, rumors, trash talk and all of the stuff others want to talk about the NBA, but cant say it like me. I'll have insider information from my former teammates, coaches, GMs and friends. You'll get it all and alot of flavor with it . Shout out to Audley Stephenson, Dave Mendonca and The NBA Breakdown family. Whats up guys and thanks.