Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Simply the West

It is really hard to believe how much better than the Eastern Conference the West has become. I don't understand how the balance of power could shift so violently, for so long. In a league with a salary cap and a myriad of administrative and gameplay rules designed to encourage parity, there has been a clear difference between the conferences for, by my count, a decade.

Of course, we are entering 2007-2008, the tenth anniversary of Jordan's last championship. Many have argued that Jordan's individual excellence masked what was a declining East for years, and I think there's some truth to that. Certainly, 1997-98 was a rough year for the conference - the Atlantic division only had one team with more than 45 wins, and while the Central had four 50 win teams, two were paper tigers (the old Hawks teams that lost in the second round every year and a Hornets team that was an afterthought). In contrast, the West had 55 and 60 win teams in the Midwest Division (along with the only year of KG/Stephon excellence in Minnesota at 45-37) and two 61 win teams and a 56 win team in the Pacific. These teams included: the Payton/Kemp Supersonics; a Lakers team featuring Shaq, Kobe, Eddie Jones, and Nick Van Exel; a Suns team with Antonio McDyess (a rising star with a 40-inch vertical leap at the time), Cliff Robinson (also good), and Jason Kidd (and Steve Nash); the best Jazz team ever; and a Spurs team that had David Robinson and Tim Duncan both averaging 21 points a game. Wow.

The East still had some non-Bulls talent. On the Heat, 'Zo was playing a very high level that led to some top-5 finishes in MVP voting and was complimented Jamal Mashburn and Tim Hardaway in their respective primes. The Knicks were still a physical, beat-you-up team (with Ewing averaging 20 and 10). The Pacers played exceptional team basketball and came through in the clutch. These guys were probably not as good as the above-mentioned teams on the West, but they still had character and on any given night could give any good Western team a very hard time. Today, that is not the case.

This all brings me to the final entry of my Western preview, which, by my count, has seen me discuss only one team that I really think is terrible (the Grizzlies). That changes today. Let's get right to it:

The Northwest

Denver Nuggets

This is the most interesting team in the West. Unfortunately, "most interesting" doesn't often lead to "NBA championship".

The big problem here is that there is no point guard. Last year, Steve Blake provided some pretty decent play at the 1 despite negligible statistical contribution, but now it appears that the only point guards on the roster are Anthony Carter and Chucky Atkins. Of course, this could lead to the "let's use Allen Iverson as a point guard" line of thinking, which is always tantalizing, but using AI at point probably has small probability of success. I don't think using Allen Iverson as a point guard will work in the playoffs, but he certainly does provide options, because he is a good defender and passer. Perhaps they can use him as an early season stopgap and try to swing a midseason deal to land another Steve Blake-ish guy to run the show. They should have signed Brevin Knight.

Every other position for the 'Nugs is seriously good. JR Smith and AI are two exceptional shooting guards who compliment each other well. (They also have two of the best-named backups in the league, Yakhouba Diawara and Von Wafer.) Carmelo Anthony and Eduardo Najera are great SFs who also compliment each other perfectly. (Carmelo looked really, really good in summer league, by the way - even better than last year.) Nene Hilario and Kenyon Martin (if he can return at even 75%) provide athleticism and muscle at power forward. Marcus Camby is the best defensive center in the league, bar none.

I don't understand why this team doesn't get itself a good point guard, because they really have too much talent to put on the floor at once. There are bad teams in need of talent with good point guards (like the Grizzlies, who have three good PGs) that the Nuggets could easily trade with. I hope this happens and that George Karl can continue his coaching resurgence. (Remember, he is the same guy who screwed up a team with Sam Cassell, Ray Allen, and Glenn Robinson. Not many people realize this, but that core had more than 42 wins only once under Karl.)

There's a part of me that thinks this team is so ripe for chemistry issues that a very deep Western Conference will sink them. However, they have the third-best player in the league with a good frontcourt, and that in itself should get them to the playoffs with a 7 seed. If they can make it work, they could beat the Spurs in a playoff series. If they can't, they might not even win 40 games.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Here is a team with a lot of problems. Let's try to think about the good, first.

Randy Foye will be a solid point guard and he has good backups in Telfair and Jaric. (Okay, in Telfair.) Gerald Green (or Rashad McCants, for that matter) is a good, young, athletic guy with an excellent jumper that seems to have unlimited potential. Corey Brewer should be a pretty decent small forward, and if he's not good right away, Ryan Gomes should be able to fill in. Al Jefferson will be the stud of the team but is probably not good for more than 18 and 12 (a qualifier you don't hear every day) and Theo Ratliff, if he can stay healthy, actually looked decent in preseason and is a good defensive center.

This team isn't going to make the plyaoffs, but I don't think they're going to be the worst team in the league, either. They are filled with young players and Randy Wittman (a terrible coach, I think) will be able to give guys a lot of playing time and figure out who can flourish and in what situations. In some ways being a very bad team and losing Kevin Garnett may be a sort of cathartic experience for these guys - for years, they were a disappointment, and now the burden of expectation is lifted. They will surely pick up another good draft pick this year, and if Randy Foye or Corey Brewer turns out to be better-than-expected, they'll be better than more than a couple of teams in the East. Also, as a bonus, any team with this many young guys will provide some exciting highlights and be pretty fun to watch for both their successes and failures. [For the sake of the fans of the Timberwolves, I chose not to mention Antoine Walker. I doubt he'll see floor time.]

Portland Trail Blazers

Here's a team that gets lots of publicity for doing a good rebuilding job, but for my money, they're not that much better than Minnesota. They have an above-average young point guard in Jarrett Jack (backed up by the affable Steve Blake), they have a very good but not nearly dominant shooting guard in Brandon Roy, and then they have a bunch of guys that are completely inconsistent and screwed up. Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, Joel Przybilla....these guys are supposed to get it done? I know Greg Oden's injury was a stroke of bad luck but even if he had been on this team, Jack/Roye/Oden doesn't sound that much better to me than Foye/Brewer/Jefferson.

This looks like the worst team other than the Grizzlies, and perhaps the 'Wolves. If LaMarcus Aldridge can get it together (and I think that will take another year), there's a chance of some sparks flying here, but they're still a team that is completely lacking in personnel. Also, they have Raef LaFrentz, who is unbelievably still on his contract and will earn $12,440,787.00 this year. That's 12 million, in case you think i mixed up the decimals. I once insulted Raef LaFrentz while sitting behind his wife at a Boston Celtics game and, though I felt bad at the time, I think that in retrospect it was well-deserved. Sorry, Raef, and sorry, Trailblazers. You suck.

Seattle Supersonics

I am not a big believer in big-time college scorers coming to the NBA and helping right away. There are notable examples of success but in the bigger picture it seems that even if they can score, it's hard for them to do it on teams with winning dynamics. (Glenn Robinson is a good example of this.)

It's for this reason that I don't think Kevin Durant will affect the Sonics in any meaningful way. He's kind of a mix of the two players he's replacing (Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis), except they score 50 points a game, and he'll score 25 a game at best.

The thing is, Seattle does have a decent team. Luke Ridnour is an effective point guard with an accurate jump shot. Either Damien Wilkins or Jeff Green should provide hustle, defense, and scoring acumen at small forward. Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison are both very good power forwards, and Robert Swift and Kurt Thomas are not that bad at playing center. (Okay, Robert Swift sucks, but if you've seen him recently, you can't help but think he might be sort of good. He looks even cooler than Cherokee Parks!)

There's some decent bench depth with Szczerbiak, Delonte West and Earl Watson, and the prerequisite BAC (Big African Center), Mouhamed Sene, is supposed to be a superb shotblocker.

The team could threaten for a playoff spot if it wasn't for the problems ownership is creating with its fans. I think there's a legitimate chance this team could find themselves without a homecourt advantage, just like the last-years-in-Charlotte Hornets. Can a bunch of young players with a suspect coach (my least favorite person in the NBA, PJ Carlesimo) and a depleted fan base get a playoff spot in the West?

Frankly, no. Not even close. But I think they'll be better than they should.

Utah Jazz

Jerry Sloan. Defense. Teamwork. Mormons. These things have been a staple of ironically-named Jazz basketball for almost 20 years and I don't see them changing soon. The only major change will be the emergence of a shooting guard to fill Derek Fisher's role. The early starter is Ronnie Brewer, but Gordan Giricek and CJ Miles should also be in the mix. Brewer is one of those shooting guards who is athletic and a decent mid-ranger but who can't hit threes or shoot foul shots (kind of like DeShawn Stevenson, who got run out of town). Considering the Jazz lack much of a threat from the three point line, this seems dangerous, as it will allow opposing teams to drop down and double-team the horse of this team, Carlos Boozer.

Andrei Kirilenko might be able to fix that situation, but it's anyone's guess where his head is at. (Probably in Russia, frankly.) You would think a Russian would enjoy playing for an the NBA's most authoritarian regime. Time will tell how that works out, and it's impossible to predict.

I think the Jazz should get in with the fifth seed and get knocked out in boring fashion. They just don't have the weapons, and I think Deron Williams will have an off year this year now that people know he is talented.

As always, e-mail me at dontgiveupthebasketballblog@gmail.com

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A little rusty...

Well, I got more than a couple of responses about my blog last night, and they had a common theme: it seems a five month layover and a complete ignorance of last year's finals has made me a bit...rusty. For that, I'm sorry, but as one of of the greatest drivers of our lifetimes (pictured above) can attest, being rusty isn't always such a bad thing. Either way, I'll try to tighten the screws a little (and maybe check my grammar a little more fastidiously). Thanks for tolerating me. (And if that little pun still isn't hitting home, the driver above is the great Rusty Wallace. Sweet sunglasses, Rusty!)

I discussed the Pacific conference yesterday and as I intend to move West to East, today it's The Southwest.

New Orleans Hornets

Turn on that sleeper alert. This is going to be a much-improved team this year, as long as they can keep all of their guns loaded. Point guard is the most important position in basketball (aside from Center in certain cases) and starting point guard Chris Paul will be the best point guard in the league when the Nash/Kidd generation loses its fastball. Which may be this year. (Deron Williams, for all of his merits, doesn't quite stack up to Paul. [If you ask me, at least.])

Shooting guard will be an issue for the Hornets, as it will be split between Mo Pete, Rasual Butler, and maybe Jannero Pargo. This is kind of pathetic considering the glut of good shooting guards in the NBA, but it is not a very big problem because New Orleans' Small Forward, Peja Stojakovic, is essentially the best shooting-guard-styled 3 man in the league and will demand the ball. Hopefully he can be more effective this year than he was last year. Considering his prowess as a shooter, that should be possible. I think the probability is high because the Hornets' frontcourt, comprised of David West and Tyson Chandler, is among the best in the league. They are not the most talented, but they represent a perfect combination of big men - one can create offense on the block and the other is the best garbage man in the league. Both guys can run the floor, have significant size and/or athletic advantages over most of their opponents, and Tyson Chandler is one of the only players in the league who might be able to give Tim Duncan a hard time if he can stay out of foul trouble. I think this will win them a lot of games, and it presents a stark contrast to the Knicks' philosophy of building frontcourt. That's always a good thing.

Julian Wright was New Orleans' pick in the draft this year, and I think it would be cool if he could find away to steal some time at 2-guard. He might be a little bit too big and rangy but with him and Peja on the floor, they could almost reverse positions on offense. (Defense: no comment.)

In a loaded West, it's hard to predict a team like this making the playoffs, but I'm going to do it anyway. The red flag for this team is defense, because every team has a shooting guard or a small forward that can penetrate or shoot against Peja and Mo Pete/Butler. The thing is, with Tyson Chandler giving weak side help, this may not be as much of a problem as it would be for most teams, so I'm letting it go.

Dallas Mavericks

I enjoyed watching the Mavs lose last year, like most people. Avery Johnson is just so hateable, and though I personally like Mark Cuban, I can see many people feeling differently.

Josh Howard hurt himself last night, and he's going to have an MRI today. I'm going to assume that he will be okay and back to normal at some point for the purposes of this discussion.

The Mavericks are essentially Spurs-B. They have great players, they're well-coached, and no one enjoys watching them play. Old favorite Eddie Jones will not help that, though I did a little research on new backup point guard Jose/JJ/Jose Juan Barrea (not sure which one is proper [I like JJ]), and found this video that seems to suggest that he is dope. He isn't playing much in preseason though, and since he probably can't play defense or yell loudly about the bible, I doubt Avery Johnson will do much to get him on the floor.

There really haven't been many other changes to this roster (for the first time in a while). The addition of Brandon Bass (from NO) gives them maybe the most powerful two-handed dunker in the league, but unfortunately Brandon Bass's skill set pretty much consists of the two-handed dunk and the blocked shot.

This year's team will be sent out on the premise that what happened last year (or the year before, and so on...) won't happen again. And as stupid as that sounds, you know what? I think it makes sense. Dallas is too good and too New York Yankee-like for my blood, which means it's inevitable they will win. I think this year is the year, if only because of the law of averages seems to dictate it. Devin Harris and Josh Howard are two of the best players in the league and that Nowitzki guy will probably put them over the top. Throw in a solid bench and a young, hungry squad and the only thing holding them down is Dampier. Guys like him didn't stop the Spurs from winning, and they won't stop the Mavs, either. I hate to say it, but for my money, the chip goes to Dallas this year.

(By the way, if you're interested in seeing new Mav Eddie Jones in his absolute prime, check this out. Give it time. Trust me. Let's just say dunking-wise, Kobe ain't got shit on Eddie, well maybe just a little bit.)

Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets were my [very poorly thought-out] pick to win it all last year, and then they fired Jeff Van Gundy. Teams that do things like that are teams I tend to dislike, and as much as I'd like to write this team off, it's hard because they have great personnel. Steve Francis will have a resurgent year at point guard playing with Tracy McGrady (remember how well he did with Cuttino), Shane Battier is the best role-player in the league, and Yao Ming is probably, at this point, the best center in the league (shudders).

The new starting PF is going to be Luis Scola, which in my opinion is stupid considering the rebounding acuity of "Fuckin" Chuck Hayes. As near as I can tell, Scola is a soft, silly South American guy who is a Euroleague dunking machine. If I'm trying to find a good power forward, "Euroleague dunking machine" is not what I'd look for. (And, for the record and for any Milwaukee Bucks fans out there, I would also avoid any "Chinese dunking machine".) If Scola can shoot, maybe it will work, but I'm just perplexed why the Rockets would want to change their character from a strong defensive team to a half defense/half offense squad. Wherever they go, it won't be good, and improving offensive personnel is pointless because Francis, McGrady, and Yao will occupy the ball more often than not. (And that's a good thing.) Despite all that, I'm putting them at 7th in the West strictly by virtue of personnel. Stevie!

San Antonio Spurs

Roster changes: Picked up Ime Udoka.
Odds of winning: About 7 to 5.
Likeable players: 0 with the possible exception of Ime Udoka.

I hate watching this team. I've seen enough of Tim Duncan's excellent footwork to last me a lifetime. I know they Spurs are good, I know Tony Parker is quick (and I hear he's married to some Hollywood actress), I know Popovic is a good coach, blah, blah, blah. What else can you say? I'm just waiting for this era to end. Oh for the days of MJ.

Memphis Grizzlies

Uh, are you serious? They have a logjam of point guards that I don't know what to make of (Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley Jr., Damon Stoudamire), the best white shooting guard in the league (Mike Miller) in front of a very good Tarance Kinsey, the chronically overrated Rudy Gay (backed up by the chronically overrated Casey Jacobsen), Pau Gasol being backed up by Stro Show/Hakim Warrick (same player), and Darko.

Unless Mike Conley can get in and start running things to a serious degre, this is BY FAR the worst team in the league. I mean, they just have no hope. Thank god they posthumously awarded Hubie Brown coach of the year for even making the playoffs with a team that involved some of these terrible players. (Yes, I know that was more than a couple of years ago. The point is still worth making.) You couldn't get that far with this year's team if you hired the pope to coach it. The best way to make this work would be to hire Jeff Van Gundy and try to slow everything down up and down the court and play 71-69 style basketball, but as that is not en vogue, I don't see it happening. David Stern would probably change the rules on them for it anyway.

See you tomorrow.

As always, e-mail me at dontgiveupthebasketballblog@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm Back.

Let me tell you a little story about a boat.

A couple of years ago, I got an idea from a friend of mine who, with some ingenuity and a little hard work, built a raft that he and his friends could party and camp on. I heard about the idea in the Spring of my junior year in college, and I was understandably enthusiastic. True to form, I stole the idea and planned on building my own luxury liner, capable of supporting a campfire and possibly some sort of ballistic device (a potato cannon). It was an ambitious idea, for sure, but I thought it would pay off in the end.

Needless to say, I was strapped for cash at the time. I called up the lumber company and a company that made barrels (to hold the raft afloat) and priced the whole thing out. I was looking at a best-case scenario of at least $600, which I immediately realized could buy a lot (a boatload!) of beer. ($600 would buy four Keystone Lights every day...on leap year). I scouted locations to put my boat, which were surprisingly difficult to find (apparently in New Jersey, home of my alma mater, lakeside privacy is a little more important than in my home state of Vermont). The process was disquieting and frankly, useless. My enthusiasm waned. Eventually, I gave up.

Why am I telling you about my crappy raft idea that never got off the ground? Because I don't want this blog to become another failed raft. I'm going to built this blog and sail it and enjoy it and party on it and no one can stop me. Now let's get on with the show. Don't ever give up.

The season is here.

I'm excited. It's been quite an off-season in terms of player movement and league-wide issues. I'll spare you the summary, because everything has been covered pretty exhaustively by the major sports media. What I hope to do in this space is take care of the stuff everyone always forgets - the smaller player movements and stupid issues that make you think "oh yeah, I forgot insert athletic sixth man went to insert crappy team last year..." Even though the moves are kind of unimportant in the broad scope of off-season coverage, they often become important come playoff time.

To get everything and avoid being too long-winded, I'm going to go from East to West division by division, day by day, and try to get a little perspective on what will be new this year in the National Basketball Association.

Today: The Pacific.

Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors are kind of like a west-coast version of the Knicks. They have no true power forwards, their centers are big, stiff, white guys, and they have about 21 guards.

The difference is, the Warriors have one of the NBA's treasures, beer-swigging, small-ball- playing Don Nelson. Lineup inconsistency is not a problem for a man who once made Manute Bol his designated three-point threat.

This year, the Warriors come back with largely the same lineup. As a matter of fact, the only interesting players not seen on last year's squad look to be Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli (who is apparently referred to by some opponents as Bellini...like the drink). I think one of these people might make an impact and if I had to choose, I'd take Wright since SF/PF is probably a better position at which to gain playing time.

One interesting situation is how and where the hell everyone is going to play. Baron is clearly the PG and Biedrins is clearly the center, but everything in between is all screwed up. Despite having a million G/F, the only true shooting guard on this team is probably Belinelli. He sucks, so it's going to come down to PG/SG Monta Ellis and SG/SFs Kelenna Azubuike (underrated and having a great preseason), Matt Barnes (playoff hero), Stephen Jackson (toughest), and Michael Pietrus (best defender). All of those guys can make a good argument why they should start at shooting guard or small forward, but only two will. One of them will be Stephen Jackson, who was named captain in the least-important but most-covered move of the last two weeks. That leaves five good players fighting for time and I don't see how that will end well. But if anyone can make it work, it would be Old Nellie.

The fighting doesn't stop in the middle of the lineup, because it's hard to see who will start at PF. Will it be Al Harrington, who looks terrible? Austin Croshere, who is a tool? Brandan Wright? Kosta Perovic? (I've never heard of him, but he's listed as a 7-2, 240 pound forward....the kind of player Nelson would love to use if he could, I think.) Hard to say but it will be important in the Western Conference, which continues to be the home of many good power forwards despite the loss of KG and Zack Randolph.

Despite my respect for Don Nelson and the plethora of talented shooting guard/small forwards on this team, I don't see them making the playoffs. Baron Davis is still only 28 but I don't think his body will last the season, and he is the only guy who can carry them. Also, though no one will say it, he's probably the best point guard in the league (if only because he can play defense when healthy). It's a shame he's not on a better team.

Los Angeles Clippers

The LA Clippers made my favorite move of the season when they acquired an excellent point guard: Brevin Knight. This will work well for them as Sam Cassell is old and injury-prone and Shaun Livingston looks to be hurting (it was recently reported that he is now able to shoot around for 45 minutes at a time...not good).

Player wise, the Clippers may have the most balanced team in the Western conference. Sam and Brevin make a good point guard duo (and third stringer Guillermo Diaz is a scoring machine...a great player to watch back when Miami was in the BIG EAST). Cuttino Mobley and Quinton Ross are a good offensive/defensive combination shooting guard unit. Corey Maggette seems to be a bit of an asshole, but he gets to the line better than anyone since Jerry Stackhouse (oh wait, he still plays) and Al Thornton and/or Ruben Patterson will be good backups. Center is solid with Chris Kaman and Aaron Williams both providing good hustle and a high ugliness/talent ratio.

Obviously, power forward will be a big problem if Elton Brand can't come back soon, and that will be a bigger problem because any team that starts Tim Thomas (the JD Drew of basketball) sucks (not including the Phoenix Suns who could plug anyone from Jim Jackson to Marcus Banks in and get good production). Brand should be back by the end of the season, though, and I don't forsee him being a problem.

The Clippers underperformed so badly last year, I don't think anybody is anticipating much from them. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake considering the roster. With Houston losing Van Gundy, I think the Clippers are the fourth best team in the West behind SA, Dallas and Phoenix. They are as good as Utah and Denver and if they can play together with a little good coaching and a point guard with a pulse, they will be a force to be reckoned with. I'm slapping the second round tag on these boys, with the conference finals if they have a good matchup.

Lost Angeles Lakers (har, har)

Other than Kobe, this team is more awful than a turd covered in Velveeta. Derek Fisher starts at point guard. He sucks at everything but hitting open threes, which he won't get as much of because of the Lack of Shaq. Luke Walton is okay but not on a team where can never touch the ball and make plays with it. Lamar Odom, last year nonwithstanding, is not consistently good and also needs the ball to get people involved. Kwame...Bynum...nothing useful on this team whatsoever.

Can Kobe take them to the playoffs? Honestly, who cares? People keep asking this question, but it's clear they're not going to the finals, so who gives a fuck? Even Kobe knows that, and that's why he wants out. This space would be better-used to campaign for an LA-based football team than to even talk about this mess.

Phoenix Suns

My second favorite acquisition this off-season happened when the Suns picked up DJ Strawberry. I can only pray he sees the floor, as his lineage dictates athletic perfection.

The Suns also added a guy named Grant Hill, and like the Randy Moss trade to the Pats this year, it almost seems too logical to work. The Randy Moss example makes me tend to think that the chances of lightning striking twice are not good, but who knows - everyone wants Grant to do well and he'll be in an offense that is very well-suited to his strengths (doing everything well and being a good team player).

Phoenix has pretty good talent at shooting guard with Raja Bell and everyone knows Marion and Stoudemire are excellent frontcourt players. Diaw and Barbosa will continue to be good subs, but beyond them, there are few good players on this bench...Marcus Banks, Sean Marks, Alando Tucker....Eric Piatowski....for a team that likes to run, these guys certainly aren't going to be going ten deep. As a matter of fact, due to salary constraints (I presume) they only carry 12 players.

The Suns have been almost like the Red Sox to the Spurs' Yankees in the playoffs these past three years. They fight hard, everyone roots for them, but they seem to have terrible luck, get no calls, or get outplayed at precisely the wrong time. For the past three years Steve Nash has been taking beating after beating (both physical and emotional) and he has kept coming back with a competitive drive and his usual good skills and personality. Will he keep it up? If he can, maybe this will be the year...

Sacramento Kings

This is definitely the strangest team in the West. They have a very good offensive backcourt that can't play a lick of defense in Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin. They have the best defensive player in the league at small forward. They have an older muslim power forward that holds the ball for a long time and can be quite streaky. They have a center that has been on more Olympic teams than I care to think about.

The bench is crap. Orien Greene, John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, Kenny Thomas, Mikki Moore....they're all at about the same skill level - they all have given either college or pro fans glimmers of hope with good nights in their careers, but deep down, we know they are crappy. I do like the new guys on the team (Quincy Douby and Mustafa Shakur), but they probably won't get any burn unless the Sacramento charter plane crashes.

This team will certainly have nights where they're fun to watch, but in my mind, it's just too much mismatched talent with a coach (Reggie Theus) who doesn't have the tools to make it all work. If Kevin Martin becomes a truly elite scorer this year, there's a chance they could sneak into the playoffs if they develop some semblance of chemistry, but as always, in the West, you have to have your shit together and these guys most certainly did not last year.

That's the pacific conference. Look forward to continued discussion on a semi-daily basis.

E-mail me at dontgiveupthebasketballblog@gmail.com