It has been one of the more fun regular seasons in a long time but it’s safe to say that we are all ready for the playoffs. This year’s playoffs look particularly interesting because there is no prohibitive favorite. Sure, the Bulls are the best team on paper but even numbers crunchers are given some pause about the fact that the team is relatively green playoff-wise. The Heat are obviously good but they haven’t looked like the super dominant force some expected. It’s also tough to figure out what exactly the Lakers or Celtics will bring. Can older teams really turn it off and then on again for the playoffs again? Basically, legitimate holes can be poked on any of their runs for the playoffs. But that only makes things more fun. With all those facts in mind, here’s our playoff preview:
1. Bulls v. Pacers: Really not a ton to say here. The Bulls should have little to no trouble with the Pacers, who are the worst team in the playoffs by far. At 37-45, the Pacers really don’t belong in the playoffs but someone had to make it in the East. In fact, the last team to make the playoffs with 37 wins was the 2007-08 Hawks and the last time a team made the playoffs with a worse record was Boston back in 2003-04 when they went 36-46. Expect Derrick Rose to run amok on Darren Collison and for the relentless front court to clamp down on Danny Granger. At least Indiana has ended its four-year playoff drought. Prediction: Bulls in 5.
When They Last Met: The last time the Bulls played the Pacers in the playoffs, they put together a classic battle in the 1997-98 Eastern Conference Finals, which included Reggie Miller hitting a game winner over (actually pushing off) Michael Jordan and the Bulls persevering in a Game 7 in Chicago where they couldn’t shoot (29-76 from the field) but won the game on the boards (outrebounding the Pacers 50-34 overall and 22-4 on the offensive glass). I don’t expect the current series to match this kind of excitement. Continue reading NBA Playoff Preview 2010-11…
For the past few weeks, we have gone through each of the major college conferences and ranked each college hoops programs based upon its NBA production post-1980. Today, we finally reach the not the Final Four but the Final Six….the rankings of the best teams of the each of the six major college conferences against each other. Obviously, this is still a subjective endeavor and is not still not meant to be the gospel truth. Still, in reviewing each conference, we’ve been relatively satisfied with the results and have had very few cases where we left the past rankings with many pangs of doubt.
The only issue that gets me here is that the best six college teams are not necessarily the best from each conference. For example, Michigan and Kentucky didn’t win their hypothetical conference tourneys but arguably stack with almost any other college program. The reason to keep them out, however, is because we know they can’t top the best of their conference, so they have no chance of being number one. As such, we limit to conference winners only, with the understanding that it is possible that these are not the six best teams overall. With that disclaimer, let’s rank the top six:
6. Kansas: PG: Kirk Hinrich, SG: Paul Pierce, SF: Danny Manning, PF: Drew Gooden, C: Raef LaFrentz
5. Alabama: PG: Mo Williams, SG: Latrell Sprewell, SF: Gerald Wallace, PF: Derrick McKey, C: Antonio McDyess
4. UCLA: PG: Baron Davis, SG: Reggie Miller, SF: Kiki Vandeweghe, PF: Kevin Love, C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
3. Georgetown: PG: Sleepy Floyd, SG: Allen Iverson, SF: Jeff Green, PF: Alonzo Mourning, C: Patrick Ewing
2. Michigan State: PG: Magic Johnson, SG: Steve Smith, SF: Jason Richardson, PF: Zach Randolph, C: Kevin Willis
1. North Carolina: PG: Raymond Felton, SG: Michael Jordan, SF: Vince Carter, PF: Rasheed Wallace, C: Brad Daugherty
-Kansas has a nice team but against the best they conspicuously lack stars, which puts them clearly in the rear.
-Bama is a fun team too, but they actually have fewer stars then Kansas. Their overall balance/depth puts them ahead of the Kansas but it isn’t enough to match anyone else.
-Arguably, we have UCLA too low. The only reasons to do so are because Love’s career is still very young and we are only using Kareem post-1980, when he was a Hall of Famer but not other worldy.
-I hate putting Georgetown ahead of UCLA but a Zo/Ewing front line seems like it would overrun UCLA. Let’s just say UCLA vs. Georgetown is practically a push.
-To rank Michigan State so high, you have to do so on Magic’s ability. The rest of the squad is okay but you have to assume no one can match up at point, which is ostensibly true with the other give teams. They could lose to UCLA or G’Town but Magic is likely the difference maker.
-As for UNC, MJ and four scrubs might still be the best team in our tourney. It turns out, however, that the Tar Heels are totally stacked. They have the best small forward and possibly the best power forward in Rasheed. Even if Wallace isn’t the best, he can guard everyone. Daugherty couldn’t stop Ewing or Kareem but he should be able to score enough with MJ and the crew to make this team clearly the best of the bunch.
Next time…we’ll return to the present NBA and preview the NBA playoffs…
For the past two weeks, we’ve been working our westward, and reviewing the best NBA players since 1980 from each of the six major NCAA conferences. Today, we reach the last leg of our NCAA tour, the PAC 10. Without having reviewed the rosters yet, we do know that UCLA and Arizona should have the most formidable line ups. Of course, may not be so simple. Let’s take a look and see how the PAC shakes out:
10. Washington State: PG: Craig Ehlo, SG: Don Collins, SF: Brian Quinnett, PF: Kyle Weaver, C: James Donaldson
9. Oregon: PG: Terrell Brandon, SG: Luke Ridnour, SF: Fred Jones, PF: Greg Ballard, C: Blair Rasmussen
8. Stanford: PG: Brevin Knight, SG: Landry Fields, SF: Josh Childress, PF: Adam Keefe, C: Brook Lopez
7. Arizona State: PG: Fat Lever, SG: Byron Scott, SF: James Harden, PF: Ike Austin, C: Alton Lister
6. Oregon State: PG: Gary Payton, SG: Brent Barry, SF: A.C. Green, PF: Lonnie Shelton, C: Steve Johnson
5. Washington: PG: Nate Robinson, SG: Brandon Roy, SF: Detlef Schrempf, PF: Spencer Hawes, C: James Edwards
4. USC: PG: Robert Pack, SG: Gus Williams, SF: O.J. Mayo, PF: Taj Gibson, C: Cliff Robinson
3. Cal: PG: Jason Kidd, SG: Kevin Johnson, SF: Lamond Murray, PF: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, C: Ryan Anderson
2. Arizona: PG: Mike Bibby, SG: Jason Terry, SF: Richard Jefferson, PF: Andre Iguodala, C: Bison Dele
1. UCLA: PG: Baron Davis, SG: Reggie Miller, SF: Kiki Vandeweghe, PF: Kevin Love, C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
-What to say about Washington State? It’s a really bad sign when you are starting Brian Quinnett.
-Oregon isn’t bad per se but they are near the rear because they have no real two guard and they are forced to start Fred Jones at small forward. Without Brandon they would be pretty horrible though.
-Stanford has a decent squad but the holes are evident. Lopez is their best player in modern times and the rest is pretty tepid. Keefe at power forward was better than he looked. Without Fields, however, their two guard situation would be sad (Todd Lichti or Casey Jacobsen).
-Arizona State’s best backcourt is still their actual backcourt from the early 1980s. Lever was a very underrated player and we all remember Scott. They have some size too, though it’s not particularly skilled size.
-Oregon State hasn’t produced a new pro since 1999 (fringer Corey Benjamin). They only produced really two players in the 1990s (Payton and Barry) but they have enough for a solid starting five (if no bench).
-Washington is the team that I least expected to have a good pro team. I had forgotten they’ve spliced in a few very good players over the years, not to mention respectable pros like Eldridge Recasner, Todd MacCulloch and Steve Hawes. The team isn’t incredible but has an argument to pass USC on the list.
-That’s the other Cliff Robinson on USC, a nice scorer from the 1980s (not the head banded shooter on Portland). The backcourt is solid too but they don’t have a real power forward or center, as both Robinson and Gibson are really stretched as power forwards, let alone playing center but I refuse to put Brian Scalabrine at power forward. Paul Westphal might be the best USC player since Bill Sharman but he was done by the early 1980s.
-Cal has a very good team, with a great backcourt but also lack a true center. The options were Mark McNamara, Michael Stewart, or Francisco Elson so we took none of the above and settled on Anderson. But for the center, Cal can compete with any team in the conference.
-Arizona has been a factory of guards and small forwards. We had to leave some very good players off the roster too: Gilbert Arenas (too crazy, and too much of a chucker), Damon Stoudamire (good but not great), and Sean Elliott (kidney issues knocked down his numbers a little). We went with two small forwards up front because the power forward alternatives aren’t nearly as talented (Channing Frye?). A good power might put them ahead of UCLA.
-Even post-John Wooden, UCLA has a ton of pros. The difference with the glory years is that the Bruins don’t have a ton of stars since 1980. Obviously, Kareem’s twilight years were good enough to make it at center and Miller is a Hall of Famer. Of UCLA players post-1980 besides Miller, however, we don’t really see any potentially great players until Baron Davis (though that ship has sailed) and, more recently, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.
Next time, we’ll aggregate our NCAA rankings and see who the best of the best is…