Sharone Wright was an All-state performer at Macon's Southwest high school as a McDonald's All-American. He played basketball for 3 years in the prestigious ACC conference at Clemson University where he is one of it's top 10 all-time players. Sharone was drafted 6th overall by Philadelphia in 1994 and also played for the Toronto Raptors. After 5 years in the NBA, he went to Europe as a player for 7 years and now coaches.
In the last 2 years of NBA play there has been sort of a changing of the guards.
Gone are the days of the West total dominance over the East. The Eastern Conference today is heads over the West and It seems that the talent pool of NBA players want to either be on teams with an abundance of talent or they want the warm weather climates like Miami.
I dunno if that will change in the near future but it sure does make the parity one sided. What you're seeing now in the West are older and slower teams than 5 years ago.
Its a natural thing though and that's why I love free agency. With free agency you can rebuild in one summer and go from a slow lethargic team to a team of thoroughbreds. Its like Demi Moore being a cougar and snagging Ashton Kutcher.
Like what would a player like Amar'e have done to rejuvenate the older Spurs? I think teams are always looking to add younger and more athletic players but your base talent is always the older more experienced players. I look for the Lakers to decline in that regard sooner than later and you can already see the once dominate Spurs looking more and more vulnerable.
Lets see how the west will be won.
Why are all the stars loving them. Sorry guys I just interupted a dream of a Laker Hater. Wake up and smell the coffee guys because the Lake show doesn't stop and it never will. They've been sucessful for over 50 years . They are the equal to the Dallas Cowboys in terms of being hated and loved at the same time all over the country. Its like Buck Nasty of the Dave Chappelle show. Hate Hate Hate!!
But when you hate you are we just driving guys like the Immortal Kobe Bryant to go harder to bite you like his nickname says. The Black Mamba.
You know, that snake that bites you 20 times before you can even move. Kobe Bean Bryant is one of the best players that I've ever seen. In a world where the question is always who's better, Manning or Brady, Lincecum or Halladay?
It's now Kobe Or Lebron or the one question that barbershops cant shut up about, Kobe or Jordan. Ok let me tell you this about Bryant. No one will ever outwork him, He has a me against the world attitude and his competitive nature is second to NONE. With the game on the line and with 3 minutes on the clock, I'd rather have Bryant on my team over anyone who has ever played.
So let this be a warning to all that hate him, don't do it because he just gets stronger. I for one loved how he extended his play and focused on the playoffs last year with a lot of nagging injuries. That Phoenix series served notice that there is only one KB24. There's always talk about what he doesn't do. But listening to his coaches and teammates, they will tell you how hes the best teammate ever!!
He just has a unique ability to score over, around and through anyone. Lamar Odom has long been one of my favs. When I had my kids, I swore that I wanted my sons to be as silky smooth as Odom is. L-O has a knack for the ball and is a great rebounder. For this team to 3 peat It'll be Odom doing even more than he previously has been asked to do.
At his age, Fish is starting to be a liability on D. He has always hit big shots and had steady play. I look for him to make the transition into the triangle offense an easy one for new guard Steve Blake. I liked this pickup because Blake will provide almost the same leadership and moxy that Fisher brings.
Matt Barnes should add alot to this scheme. He can score the ball on the drive and he still shoots the mid range very well. But what he brings to the team the most is his defensive attitude and his toughness. Compare that to Artest's Jason Bourne attitude. These Lakers need to continue with their great play off the bench.
Will we ever see Luke Walton for more than 20 games in a season? we see him more on the T-Mobile commercials bruh!! Walton, Shannon Brown (can I get that new Monica CD bruh?), Sasha Vujacic, Rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter will battle for minutes. In my household, I have to watch the Lakers or my wife Brandi (Laker4 life) will kill me, so Its always party time when they are on the tube. I'd say it's like that in some of those hater residences too. I look for the Lakers to steamroll their way through the west and serve notice that they are ready to go for 3 in a row. Lakers to the window and to the wall (not John) and to the finals....
Mark Cuban's failed bid to buy the Cubs made me think that maybe he isn't as enthusiastic as he once was for the Mavs. But then I quickly woke up. Cube knows that every year the Mavs will be contenders because he doesn't mind spending the money that it takes to get there.
Trouble is, they've only gotten there once in his career as owner. You can never underestimate the importance of Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki. He's the straw that stirs the drink for Dallas. You have to understand that him flirting with leaving the Mavs was just a flirt indeed. See Dirk Needs Dallas and Dallas needs Dirk. He has remained steady and completely loyal to that city. His play has been as consistent as Mariano Rivera in the 9 inning.
Dirk has blended in with soo many players and yet his play has carried this team year after year.
This year will be the same.
When I was a high schooler there weren't many sure things . Maybe a cool Hi-five record, Roger Clemons Cy Youngs, George Micheal getting arrested each week and The Kidd being a star. For 16 seasons Jason Kidd has been a force at the point guard spot. I remember seeing him for the first time at Nike ABCD camp as a freshman. He was just amazing. He's found the fountain of youth because to me his jump shot has actually gotten better. How about the fact that Kidd averaged 10 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds last year!!! Forget gettin' old and slowing down.
His understudy Roddy Beaubois is ready and able. I coached against him two years ago when he was in the French league. He didn't even start and was scoreless until the 3rd quarter. He ended the game with 30 points in just 17 minutes. That's just sick!!
Jason Terry scared me with his horrible orbital bone injury. He's back on the prowl and ready to continue his assault on the league from the 6th man spot. He brings savvy, toughness and he can heat up the stove and score in bunches. This Mav team is going to be a force and they hope to go hard at the Lakers for western supremacy.
Rick Carlisle has done a good job even after the exit from the playoffs last year. One of my buddy's told me that he gets just about everything he can out of his players and the players respect him because he lets them play.
Well unless you've been on Saturn for the past 2 years , we've all bared witness to the evolution of our next mega star. Kevin Durant is a sure bet. He has everything except a bigger market to promote his amazing skill.
This summer we also witnessed him as a showstopper and leader of team USA. He will have to bring it again this year because he will never sneak up on a defender again. This is why its so important to have a Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook.
These cats made it easy for Durant last year. Especially Green because of his defensive ability. He guarded a lot of the opposing teams better offensive forwards. Jeff Green has impressed me so much that he's one of MY GUYS.
He can score in a variety of ways. I thought coming out of Georgetown that he wasn't strong enough and lacked quickness to score. I was wrong because he has answered every bell so far in his career. He'll need to have a breakout year to push this team to the third playoff spot.
Westbrook was also on Team USA this summer and he too provided a glimpse of things to come for the Thunder. He kinda has that Swagg, like P-Diddy. Everytime he does something spectacular its like he's laughing at you going"take that take that".
Seriously the beat goes on for this team. They have more kids than Brad and Angelina. The youth movement is only good if you blend it with great coaching and some older guys. Morris Mo Pete Peterson adds that and more. He's still a very good shooter and he may be the glue guy that they need. Eric Maynor is now a guy known as a very good back up PG.
Up front they play forward and center by committee. Nenad Kristic won't be going to Greece anytime soon but he can be found patrolling the paint for the Thunder. He will share the load with the improving Serge Ibaka and rookie center from Kansas, Cole Aldrich.
Can Scott Brooks team hang on down the stretch like they did last year? Will they sneak up on teams again this year?
Probably not but I think they have the core and coaching to duplicate last year. Plus it doesn't hurt to have Durant either.
It's like being in Vegas with these guys . They have the best hand in the poker game yet they wash out each time due to strange situations. Case in point the last couple of years with Greg Oden. The first year that he came he was injured and missed the entire year much like Blake Griffin last year. Oden has basically been what I thought he was in college. He's not a scorer yet and he blocks just about everything on the court. He has great timing but hasn't developed much offensively.
I wish I could work out with a guy like that. He's got a lot of upside . BTW Greg, make sure we don't have to hear about you taking explicit photos again. Disgusting Playboy!!.
He has the uncanny knack for finding the rim and he can go by anyone with that quick first step. Him coming back from injury to play was magical for me because today's players just don't do that kinda stuff. Roy leads this team a lot by example which is kinda like Dirk Nowitzki does.
Make no mistake about who's team this is. They have also made some very good drafts and moves in the past years. Getting Rudy Fernandez was one of them. He has a dramatic flair to him and loves to compete.
I just didnt like how he tried to force a trade so that he may get back to Spain. Listen Chico, If you dont want to play in Portland, then forfeit your salary for this year and opt to leave.
You know that you want to play for Real Madrid anyway. Jus Saying Bruh Bruh!!
Make no bones about it this is still Roy's team and to a certain point its Lamarcus Aldridge's team also. I love Aldridge too. He's one of my favorite players. Silky smooth turn around jumper and he loves to shoot the Jimmy.
I saw him last year spin off Reggie Evans last year and dunk on another player coming to help. He has great moves and has a scorer's mentality.
Marcus Camby, Joel Przybilla and Oden will make a nice front court that can have bad days and good days.
I happen to root for all of my former teammates so good luck Marcus Camby! I want front row seats when you play the Lakers and Clippers buddy or I'm gonna stick it to you on my blog.(I'm abusing my power huh?).
The Blazers have a deep team. The one thing about them is that they make a lot of young mistakes that seems to be driving Nate McMillan crazy!!
His personal beefs with Fernandez and his patience with Oden must be really wearing thin. Having a billionaire owner makes some tough days a little easier though. So does signing the very talented Wesley Matthews away from Utah.
Let's hope they can put it all together because you'll see a fire sale at mid season if things don't, maybe we'll also see them grow up and realize their potential. They are 4th for a reason though. That's because they can really ball when they want to. A team to watch for shizzle!!!!
From the health issues of their faithful leader to the legal issues of J.R. Smith. They had more drama than Mary J Blige. If you want to have a playoff team each year with consistancy, you must eliminate the players and things that cause confusion and chaos. The only constant thing that stands tall with these Nuggets is the play of Carmelo Anthony the Baltimore Beast!!!!
Don't ever bet against this guy when it comes to Bball. He's done it at every level . This summer's media wedding and now contract situation is the talk of the NBA. I think that although he has done a lot in Denver, there's still much he can do to build on that legacy.
Try winning a chip there. See that's the only thing I hated about the LeBron fiasco.
If you are branded with a team like Micheal and the Bulls, Magic and the Lakers, Larry and The Celtics, Duncan and the Spurs, then you cement your name on that franchise and you try to win with that team to prove something. At that time it's not about the money because with the current bargaining agreement, you can get the most money with your current team. And we know the Nuggets have already offered Anthony 65 million.
Denver has sent away what they called a lot of the problems on their team. Camby, Iverson etc etc. But with doing that they leave a lot of work to Kenyon Martin and JR Smith. Knowing these two, they will for sure answer the bell but at what cost to the teams image?
Martin is really a tough guard when he's healthy. He's one of those guys that I would pay to watch. And let's not talk about images when you have the Birdman on your team.
But holding all of this together is the steady play and leadership of my ex teammate Mr. Bigshot Chauncey Billups. Did you see he US team become his team this summer? He makes things flow soo much smoother. No one gets it done like CB.
It's particularly bad because he has soo much upside. He can drive you, he's very athletic and that long three ball has gotten better and better. He always displays the heart and cockiness that makes his teammates love him. I just wish he would calm down and leave the Tupac-ness at home.
I love the way Arron Afflalo has grown. He's one of those guys that did it the hard way out of UCLA. Respect that. Maybe he's the heir apparrant to Melo's team? He certainly has the game.
Up front for the Nuggs is the ever present NENE, mean spirited Kenyon Martin, The Birdman and great free agent pickup Al Harrington. This to me was one of the best free agent signings.
If not, then the only NENE that Im gonna watch in playoff time will be that Chick on the Housewives of Atlanta named NENE. Trust me, I'd rather watch the Nuggets than her.
The Nuggets need to get back to George Karl Basketball, Get Kenyon Martin healthy, And find out quickly if Melo really wants to be there. All big tasks.
What time is it? Game time Woooo!!
How goes it in Alamo land? Well it starting to look like a M.A.S.H unit. They Continue to plug players and keep the core together and win games yet its getting harder and harder for Popp, Duncan and crew. It's like I said in opening this preview. You have to make a considerable effort to stay young because every other team in the NBA is doing it.
Maybe adding younger and more athletic players last year like George Hill, Dejuan Blair from Pitt and the long awaited coming out party for Argentinian big man Tiago Splitter. The Spurs have been waiting for years for Splitter to make his way to the Alamo. He was hailed as the piece of the puzzle that they truly needed.
If this happens then they move up on this list and they silence some of the too old complaints. Watching Splitter for years in the ACB Spanish league, I can tell you that he is really a solid player. Trust me, they really need this kid to come in ready. Blair had some bright moments last year but they weren't consistant.
He will need to play with more energy.
Tony Parker is the same. Remember him going coast to coast in the finals against the Cavs some years ago? Doesn't that seem like it was 10 years ago with the way he has played in the last 2 years with injuries?
That's the one thing that I feel will hamper them. In order for the Spurs to regain their position of power in the west, they have to stay healthy. Aren't they glad Tim Duncan hasn't had any major ailments in the past couple of years.
The Big Fundamental is back at it. He hasn't slowed down a lot but you can see that he isnt the TD of old.
The might wanna call up Lil John and invest in some Crunk Juice for this season though. It'll take either that yucky stuff or the young guns to help jump start the vets each night for Los Spurs...
Was that a truck that just hit me? Did that woman from the movie "Precious" just sit on my neck? That's how the Suns must have felt after Kobe Bryant and the Lakers spanked them.
Kobe Bryant's super 37 points in game 6 just flattened the Suns. Steve Nash and the Suns put up a valiant effort in what we now know was Amare's last game as a Phoenix Sun. It's hard to imagine the Suns without Amare but I think they knew it was coming.
It's important to now move on and figure a way to add more scoring for a running team. As long as Nash is a SUN, they'll always be competitive and exciting. But what happens when your horse leaves and trots over to New York? My guess is it's a long hot time in the desert.
So bring on Hedo Turkoglu. The Turkish delight will have to be just that. He will shoulder a huge load this year with scoring. No more distractions brother!!
But then again, it's very easy to get on the same page with Nash. I'm going out on a limb for this pick because its really not a strong case for them, being my 7th place playoff team.
I just can't bet against Nash though. He makes everyone better and that now includes Hedo.
They say you never know how good something is until its gone.
Ask Cleveland and Toronto after this season is over. So losing out on Amar'e will be felt long after this season or until they get someone who can actually command a double team on the box.
Grabbing Childress from Greece was a plus sign though. He brings defense and steady play. Just don't let your kids see his jumpshot. It's as ugly as Flava Flav in green pajamas.
Jason Richardson and the ageless Grant Hill did a great job last year. It's just that they spent too much energy defending that they had no room for offense.
In the west you have to defend some of the best shooting gaurds and small forwards in the business. That's why they'll need Turkoglu to score in bunches. Don't count on that working against the better teams in the west though.
If Robin Lopez doesnt get a low post game and get it soon, the sun will set often and soon . It's just one of those things you have to have in order to win In the NBA. I look for Alvin Gentry's team to hang on to this spot or sink all the way to like 12th.
It's that simple.
Hakim Warrick is the sleeper pick to do major work this year.
With Yao Ming back I expected big things for the Rockets this year. That's because I was including Trevor Ariza in that package. Then the Rockets shipped Ariza off.
Damn there goes my NBA2k11 team.
Seems like no one sticks with one team these days. Yao will make an instant impact though and if you thought that he was good then, wait until now.
He's put in on record that he's coming back with a vengeance. Ok Yao, then get more aggresive and dominate some of these centers then!
I know you're saying yeah he's done that but I want more from Yao and I'm sorry if it comes to this. He's got a lot to give. I know they are a talented bunch but this is a crucial spot and basically the 8th spot could go to 4 or 5 teams.
Look for Chase Budinger to continue to blossom and claim his spot. Kyle Lowery, rookie Patrick Patterson and Aaron Brooks will have a heavy burden if the Rocks hope to challenge anyone in this league.
I put extra pressure on their front court this season with Luis Scola and Chuck Hayes to help Yao. Get this though,Yao averages 20ppg, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in his career. When you take that away from a team that rightfully depended on those states heavy, you're actually devastating a team.
That's why this is a pivotal year for the Rockets. He should tell Aaron Brooks to consider how good they could be and let the contract talks take care of itself. If there are any problems within the structure of this team, they too could sink to the bottom of the NBA sea.
I'm really glad theres only 8 playoff spots per conference.
How can you go public and say you don't expect to make the playoffs? Well probably because you know your team and you really don't want to mislead the NBA.
Well if it were me I would have done the same thing.
No need to play with fan's minds. You trade your best player to Utah, bring in Micheal Beasley to be your centerpiece for scoring, and hope your young guns grow up before Ricky Rubio turns 45 years old.
That would probably be the best bet.
Trading Al Jefferson wasn't a good idea in my book but the Wolves did what they thought was right.
The question for them is how much will Kevin Love grow up? Can Beasley give them what they want? And again, how long before Rubio stops leading them on into thinking that he's coming?
Oh well there's always Prince In Minnesota.
Golden State Warriors
So Don Nelson is gone and Keith Smart takes over. Great move. Now let's get him to talk to Monta Ellis and Stephon Curry so they can play together.
Lord knows Nelson couldn't make that happen. Conventional wisdom says that this will be a better team if Smart can get these two on the same page.
If not then Continental has a special price for flights to Hawaii during playoff time.
What's the problem with this team? When they make a good move, it backfires for a year or two. They sign Baron Davis, then Elton Brand bolts to Philly. They draft Blake Griffin then he tears his kneecap.
It's one thing after another. Well I predict they will at least carry some hardware after the season is over. Rookie of the year will go where it should have gone last season.
Blake Griffin has arrived and he's at least one reason to watch the Clips this year. Baron promises to be better this year and I wouldn't bet against him. He already swears by Eric Gordon. I can't deny that Gordon is better than I thought coming out of Indiana.
He has a chance to be a special player.
Chris Kaman is very solid and has been for a long time. New coach Vinny del Negro has challenges but I think he's got alot of pieces that can turn out to be good. They are young and experienced at the same time. How far will they go depends on their young players Griffin, Gordon, Aminu from Wake Forest and Bledsoe from Kentucky. Defensively they have to play better.
Normally with this type of talent on one team I'd have them higher but there are soo many other factors as to why this bunch is out of the picture. Team Paul has a lot to be nervous about this summer.
It was like he was hi-jacking this team and threatening to leave at the worst time. New coach Monty Williams has his work cut out for him though. Will someone please find Peja Stojakovic because he's on the back of a milk carton right now.
New Orleans already knows that if the season gets off to a bad start, the trades will come looking for Paul and he may even welcome them with open arms. That will for sure put pressure on the players that they have in tact.
I for one want to see how the silky smooth Trevor Ariza will mesh with CP3, David West and Emeka Okafor.
That playoff spot that I gave to Houston could be theirs if Williams can steer this boat. The management promised Paul that they were moving in the right direction .
That means they told him they will make some moves. They better move quick because Paul's Super friends Bosh, James,Wade and Anthony are all positioning themselves for complete league domination.
Its your move New Orleans.
You're on the clock Playas!!
Some rookie of the year winners make a case for their team rising out of the ashes for years to come. Tyreke Evans will need to do this for sure. The Kings seem to be headed in the right direction with their drafts. When you've been a doormat for a couple of years, you only have your drafts to look forward to because free agents won't even look your way.
DeMarcus Cousins is part of that formula. He might not wow you in track meet, but in the paint and as a low post big man, he's pretty special.
Or at least he has a chance to be special. It depends on who you ask, if you wanna know what kinda team they have. Is it a speedy, athletic team that wants to outscore you, or is it a patient throw it into the paint or pick and roll team?
I think they can probably play both ways because of the versatility of Evans at point guard. He has incredible strength and size. He also has an uncanny ability to make his teammates better and there aren't a lot of rookies that can come in and average 20 ppg with 5 assists and 5 boards.
That's Penny Hardaway-ish.
Omri Casspi came into the NBA with his eyes wide open but now seems to be settling in nicely. They'll need his unique skill set to go along with Cousins and Jason Thompson who I like very much.
I don't expect great things from this team because defensively they can't guard anyone. Let's hope for better defensive games and maybe the talented individual play will catch up.
I know what you're saying. Jerry Sloan has always made the playoffs right? Well I'm not saying that they can't steal a spot. I just think they lost too much in Boozer and didn't replace his caliber. Again your saying what about Al Jefferson right playa? Well Jefferson although very good, is not on Boozers level. Jefferson also is still slowed by his knee injuries.
They lost Wesley Mathews, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer. That's a little too much to lose in one summer. You're asking too much from Williams, Okur and AK47.
Boozer brought much more to their team than maybe the Jazz are ready to admit. This is the one team that I thought was ready to be very very good. But then Boozer checked out of Salt Lake.
I predict they will make runs throughout the long season. Let's find out exactly how good Paul Millsap is. He's one of MY GUYS.
Jerry Sloan will love he challenge to get this team to mesh. It's one of the reasons he's one of the greatest coaches ever.
Last but not least. The Grizz figure to be sorta the same this year as they were last.
I know that they resigned Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo didn't get his Heisman taken by USC? (I got Jokes huh?), but all in all they are the same bunch.
Marc Gasol will continue to get stronger and better, Mike Conley will be mad because the Grizz didn't pick up his option and Tony Allen will get what he asked for with more playing time.
I think Boston spoiled him actually and he's suitable for just the role that Doc Rivers gave him.
Memphis has a lot of pieces but seriously they don't all fit. Memphis will be a lot like Indiana will be.
Winning games that honestly you didn't think they could win. But losing games that they should win.
The Key Is Mayo continuing to get better with his silky game and will Hasheem Thabeet fare better than what he's shown so far. It's pretty embarressing to be sent down to the D-League in your rookie year but sources tell me that it was good for him.
He's another that I'd love to work out with. Beale street awaits you fellas if you can't find a groove and stick to it.
So there's hope in the Blues and BBQ city.
So there ya have it.
The Western Conference figures to be as tough as ever. Already we've seen the Lakers win Two World titles in a row.
Can anyone dethrone them out west? Only time will tell. One thing for sure though,
Whoever wins the west will have a whale of a time with that Eastern winner.
Now let's check out My 10 Man NBA WRIGHT SQUAD
My All NBA 1st Team
My All NBA 2nd Team
NBA Coach of the year
NBA Rookie of the year
NBA 6th Man award
Los Angelas Lakers Over the Boston Celtics 4-2
See ya later this week for more fun filled info.
Plus you get it straight No chaser!
Make sure you subscribe to my blog .