A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Archive for November 2010

Post-November NBA Awards Watch

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My top picks for the various NBA Awards after one month of play.  Expect to see this updated each month with my picks for ROY, DPOY, MIP, 6MOY, COY, and All-NBA teams.

MVP:  See Monday’s post.  This gets updated weekly.

Rookie of the Year

1. Blake Griffin

2. John Wall

3. Landry Fields

Well, we see that both of the last 2 #1 picks are legit, future stars.  Fantastic to see, fantastic to watch.  Still following the rookie trend of not seeming to help their teams win, but what can you do.

 

Defensive Player of the Year

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2011 POY Watch 11/29

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My version of the NBA MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Dirk Nowitzki (3)

We had two really strong candidates leading the way before this week.  They fell off.  Dirk is still going strong.  His team is a force to be reckoned with that shows no sign of going away.  And when the team does lose, it’s basically a given that Dirk will have turned in a heroic performance that just comes up short.

2. Chris Paul (1)

Ah man, the Hornets are plummeting back down to earth.  3 losses:  1 a blowout, 1 a choke, and 1 against the worst team in the league.  And Paul didn’t look like a hero in these losses.  He only drops one place for now, but it won’t take much for him to fall further.

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Written by Matt Johnson

November 29, 2010 at 2:59 am

Federer vs Nadal Debates, after 2010

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We’ve reached the end of the 2010 ATP tennis season, but it doesn’t make sense to actually talk too much about it because there’s not much to argue about.  Rafael Nadal is clearly the Player of the Year, Roger Federer is clearly #2.  Then Djokovic, Murray, and Soderling.  I do think though that it’s an appropriate time to talk about Nadal’s career year, and the Federer-Nadal rivalry.

My opinions:

1)      Nadal was great this year, but his peak still hasn’t match Federer, and possibly not John McEnroe either.

2)      Nadal’s edge in the rivalry over Federer remains far smaller than most people think.

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You Damn Well Better Give Cam Newton the Heisman

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Okay, first things first.  Cam Newton still has to play the SEC Championship game there – so this post is in some ways premature.  I write it because:

1) Newton’s so far out in front of everyone else now, it’s hard to imagine anything could possibly justify considering him other than the most outstanding player in the country.

2)  People are actually, and ridiculously, telling voters to NOT vote for Newton.

Cam Newton is Very Good

First, a refresher on point (1)…

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Thoughts on other sites’ NBA MVP Watch-es

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As is probably clear, I’m a bit of a ranking junkie, hence the weekly top 10 list for NBA POY *cough* MVP.  Over at RealGM, we always end up with an on-going thread on the subject.  In fact, I believe we started using the phrase “MVP Watch” before Maurice Brooks.

There are two MVP watch lists I’m aware of at major sites that are reliably updated each week, and so I check them out regularly.  Both are bugging me right now though, so I feel the need to spout.

nba.com’s Race to the MVP

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Written by Matt Johnson

November 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm

2011 POY Watch 11/22

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My version of the MVP list. Updated weekly.

Player (Last Week’s Rank)

1. Chris Paul (1)

Still the obvious choice. I’m hearing some people get confused because of Paul’s modest stats. Make no mistake, he’s dominating like an MVP – the Hornets have just been good enough to not need maximum doses of him.

2. Pau Gasol (2)

Caps the week with a ridiculously dominant performance against Golden State. It’s amazing how against how many teams in this league he is literally unstoppable. Also worth noting for all the talk about why exactly Gasol has so much more respect now than he did against Memphis – that the gap between his current performance and what he did in LA initially is pretty clearly bigger than between the first couple years in LA and Memphis.

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Oden’s Day was full of woe

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So, Greg Oden.  Out for the year.  Again.

A million pundits have chimed in about this, giving their own eulogy for Oden.  Zach Harper called it a “Basketball Tragedy”, distinguishing it from it from “real life tragedies” because no one died, and I think that’s a good description, but it does it get at the crux of what I feel for Oden.

It’s one thing to have one big, bad thing happen, and then have to deal with your dream just not being a real possibility any more.  Personally, I think what Oden’s gone through is far tougher.  He’s essentially the modern Charlie Brown, having the football yanked away from him just before he’s about to kick it, again and again.  I think about how it would be for me in that situation.  Surgery is not fun.  Months of rehab is not fun.  And the added negative vibes that comes down on Oden each time there’s a setback for  him despite him doing nothing wrong…man.  This is a recipe for some serious depression issues.

Sports fans tend not to see it from that angle, and tend not to take the idea of millionaire athletes getting depressed seriously, but they should.  We saw in September Denver Bronco Kenny McKinley take his life after incurring a career-threatening injury.  Often times, doing well in their respective sport is the primary source of identity for an athlete, and when that gets taken away, look out.  With that said, people seem to be on their best behavior right about now.  While Oden’s often been butt of jokes these past few years, he’s mostly getting sympathy now.

What’s bugging me right now, is the idea that there’s a lesson to be learned here.  To be fair, the people I’ve heard debating this in the recent aftermath haven’t been that bad, and I doubt I’d feel the need to rant on this if it weren’t for what came before.  Because the 2007 draft had 2 superstar prospects in it, Oden and Kevin Durant, and because Oden has struggled while Durant’s become a superstar, it’s presented a natural opportunity for hacks to say “I told you so”.

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Written by Matt Johnson

November 19, 2010 at 2:28 am