Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NBA All-Underachieving Team

Tracy McGrady needs to change the energy around him, or something.

I, too, may have become enamored with hockey. Alex Ovechkin is poetry on skates. *snaps out of it* Sorry. To the list...

This roster, developed with input from my sports braintrust, consists of players that have evident immense talent; but, for whatever reason, hasn't fulfilled that potential. Some have started strong then faded. Others just didn't amount to the college/high school pre-Draft hype. This is different from being a bust, because these players have decent careers; so that means you're spared, Kwame...for now. The criteria: A first-round pick; at least 5 years in the league; never been an all-star (so no Steve Francis); career not shortened by injuries (so no Brent Barry/Bob Sura); and evidence of superstar talent. Let's introduce the starting five.

At guard. 6'6" from DePaul. Quentin....Riiicharrrrdsoonnnnn...
Let me start by saying Quentin Richardson was on this list as the sixth man based on what I previously knew about his basketball career. That is until I researched his college career and stumbled across these insane numbers. With that said, plus what he used to do for the Clippers off the bench; there's no reason for Q to have become a fat, standstill shooter. His post game for a guard was to be desired by most big men; and we all know he can shoot the three. I don't know if Brandy had anything to do with him slacking off, but he hasn't been the same since getting with and separating from her. I almost forgot he did this to people. Now he does a lot of this. I hate love the Knicks.

At the other guard. 6'4" from Bowling Green. Antonio...Danielllllllllllsss.
I know. To some of you, this looks like an absurd pick. I mean, if you look at Antonio Daniels' career, you would think he was a hard-working, 2nd-round pick--certainly not grounds to make this list. Howeva, the info I'm about to place on you is sure to persuade you. Daniels was the fourth overall pick in 1997 draft; after having a ridiculous senior season at Bowling Green. In the NBA, AD has settled nicely into whatever team he's been with--either San Antonio, Seattle, or Washington. Even so, he has only averaged double figures in points once in his NBA career; which, if you clicked the previous link, you would know that's below what it should be. So while he's carved out a niche as "veteran backup point guard for contending teams," he's far from the career he should've had based on his Top 5 pick status. Well, at least he's not Ron Mercer.

At forward. 6'10" from Rhode Island. Lamar....Oooooooooddommmmm.
Lamar Odom is one of my favorite players. His versatility screams that he should be the left-handed T-Mac, minus the injuries and bad luck. However, I believe he's just naturally unselfish; and a lot of times on the basketball court, unselfish to a fault. He appeared to be uncomfortable with Kobe the previous two seasons, when he seemed to frequently disappear and become spectator to the Black Mamba. He seems to perform better when he's at best the third option on the team, evident by his numbers since the Pau Gasol trade--and his season with the Wade/Caron/Odom Heat. Few remember that he had 29 points in his first career game. Yes, he is the biggest triple-double threat next to Jason Kidd; but I just feel that maybe he should have a few all-star games under his belt. His career numbers are respectable; but maybe I was hypnotized by his work in that old Nike commercial.

At the other forward. 6'10" from Villanova. Tim...Thooooooomaaasssss.
This is another one of those picks the casual fan, or even the above-casual fan, may question. Thomas has played for six teams in his eleven seasons, and most remember him for contributing big three-point shooting to Phoenix the season Amare Stoudemire was injured. I remember him being the second-rated high school basketball player, behind one Kobe Bryant. After one season at Villanova, Thomas was taken three spots after Antonio Daniels. Thomas was one of the first athletic big men with range behind the arc, with enough guard skills to play on the perimeter. I don't know what exactly happened, but it seems that he should've been more than what he is. Now, whether or not that means all-star appearances is somewhat unlikely; but, to me, he should've at least been in a couple snub discussions. I mean, he's better than Matt Harpring; but i guess double-figured career scoring average is respectable.

And at center. 6'11" from Thornwood HS. "Cheeseburger" Eddy...Currrrrrryyyy.

How come all my lists seem to have Knicks players on them? Anyway (before I get Stephen A. Smith upset), the man once dubbed, "Baby Shaq" has been more like the first part of that nickname and nowhere near the latter. Curry is talented. He has good footwork and solid moves around the basket. The problem--the huge problem--I and most other people have with him is that he seems disinterested in becoming better. Need proof? Big men shouldn't average less rebounds (6), than feet in height (7). He did average 19 points per game last year, but also got out-rebounded by Jason Richardson. Curry is currently 92nd in rebounding, behind the likes of Joakim Noah, Reggie Evans, and J-Rich...again. Someone--anyone--please save this franchise.

It was difficult coming up with a bench for this team. I do have a sixth man, and rightfully so, in my opinion...

Jamaal Tinsley
His college stats don't lend much to my argument, but anyone who watched him at Iowa State knows that Tinsley was the best point guard in the nation. His only downside was his team being a #2 seed and losing to #15 see Hampton in the 2001 tournament, his sophomore and last season with the Cyclones. After being drafted by the Pacers, he averaged over eight assists per game as a rookie; and lent some folks to believe that he would one day propel himself to among the ranks of the NBA's elite floor generals. Well, that day hasn't come; and while Tinsley is solid at the one-guard spot, few remember just how talented he is...especially with moves like this.

While compiling this roster, I learned a few things. I gained a better understanding of why various levels success in amateur basketball does not equate in the pros (Read: No one has any idea how to predict it...For every Michael Jordan, there's a Sam Bowie). Everyone doesn't have the drive of His Airness--or Kobe Bryant, for that matter. I guess that's why they're elite. Most importantly, I learned it's difficult living up to the pressures of being drafted with Tim Duncan.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Letter 71724-H: Mark Cuban

Dear Mr. Cuban,

I've been waiting for you to do something to qualify yourself for letter status. Your "superstar" player has qualified with his Gary Coleman-sized performance in last year's playoffs; and even for a similar effort in the 2006 Finals against the Heat. But now, you've done enough to fill up the special meter and I'm about unleash the Super Move of a letter about you and your team's recent events (yes, I'm a nerd; so what?). Brace yourself...

Let me start by saying you've done a great job bringing this franchise from the beneath the NBA cellar it dwelled in for the previous decade. The memories of Roy Tarpley are gone, and clamoring for the "Three J's" are no more. You've even managed to be so respected that Diddy himself has designed your team's alternate uniforms. I don't even mind your courtside antics and constant beefing with officials because I know, behind the scenes, you work towards them being better at their craft; even though you appear to just be whining.

In fact, I don't have a problem with how you run your team, except for the recent trade you made for Jason Kidd. The problem isn't with making the move for Kidd--he's an all-star point guard and a better player than Devin Harris (or so you feel). I maintain that you are a worse team now; but this blog isn't reserved for basketball analysis, so I don't have to explain myself. The problem I have with you was created in August 2006; when you signed Devean George to a two-year, $4.2 million contract. Again, the problem isn't the contract--George is a veteran swingman that plays pretty good defense and is a decent enough shooter to stay on the floor (two sentences of basketball analysis is enough). The problem lies in the no-trade clause he was allowed to negotiate; like he's a star player. He's Devean George, 1998 & 1999 NCAA Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player; and fifth option for the three Phil-Shaq-Kobe Lakers championships. He must negotiate as well as Matt Millen, otherwise there's no way he should have that kind of vetoing power. Now, because of his apparent omnipotence, Mark; you had to drag semi-retired bust Keith Van Horn from his home in Utah and pay him $4.3 million to make the deal work. Oh, and George is still on your team; feeling, actually, like a star player.

Click for Ray J's cover to his new mixtape...NO JOKE (probably NSFW)

If you want to ship away your future floor general for a chance to win now, by all means, go ahead. Unfortunately for you, you're still not anywhere near the best team in the West. If you were on the other coast, then you'd instantly be a title contender. This wouldn't even make you among the best even if Phoenix and the Lakers hadn't made their own blockbuster trades, (or, in L.A.'s case, theft). You've certainly added validity to my previous idea that the Western Conference has acquired the "trade override" setting that has yet to make it over to the East; but your team hasn't even done anything to strike fear in those, "We Believe," Golden State Warriors--much less the elite teams. Tim Duncan (almost) laughs at how desperate you look. Gregg Popovich will smirk as you're ushered out of the first round; quite possibly by his Spurs.

Congratulations, Mr. Cuban. Congrats on making the Western Conference that much more interesting. Congrats on now becoming the 6th best team in the West; and adding more teams to the list of those that keep you from crying while being presented with the real trophy, instead of at Dirk's "MVP" presentation. A piece of advice: The sooner you and Avery Johnson realize Josh Howard is the best player on your team, the closer you will be to that title. The sooner Dirk shows that he can play with a heart bigger than the Grinch's was--or else be willing to play second fiddle to J-Ho (and Jason Terry in the fourth quarter), the better the Mavs will become. You can't purposely misspell Dwyane Wade's name because he actually has a ring; and single-handedly became both Superman and The Flash and dismantled your Mavs in the Finals. You and Dirk griping about the officials is lame. How about next time your team actually plays like the better team, instead of changing its starting lineup to adjust to a .500 team.

Let's hope Kidd is that final piece you've coveted for the last five years as San Antonio and their team completeness have surpassed you in every year except one; and Timmy had to be hurt for most of the season, plus Manu had to give an unnecessary foul for you to be in position to win the series--and it still took seven games. I wish you and your team good luck on the rest of the season, because you are going to need it.



P.S. Nice moves.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

NBA's All-Time Loser Team

This is inspired from a phone conversation I had with one of my boys in my sports circle about how basketball has revolved around one Timothy Duncan for the past decade. So, for all you Kevin Garnett fans out there, you can have him and his versatility and his, "play all five positions on the court-ability." I'll take Timmy and will see you watching us in the Finals. These players are ones that have great statistical careers, but aren't guilty of knowing how to win. They can't seem to get over the proverbial hump and make any type of deep playoff run. Without further ado, let's get to the starting lineups...

At guard, 6'2" from Georgia Tech. Stephon...Marburyyyy
As a devoted New York Knicks fan (yes, these New York Knicks), it pains me to my heart to see this once-proud franchise in the [mess]hole it's in now. As with all of the players that make this team, there's no denying Steph's natural talent. Strong, quick, and blessed with court vision, he could be capable of leading a team to a title or two--if he had the mental toughness to do it. For some reason or another, he can't seem to make his teammates better, and every team he's left has gotten better soon after his departure. Need proof? When Steph was traded to the Knicks during the 2003-2004 season and Steve Nash was signed the following season, the consensus was that Starbury was better than Nash. Well, 62 wins later, Nash was an MVP; and Steph was leading an under-.500 Knicks team to a first-round sweep at the hands of the Nets. That's just the recent example; I didn't mention New Jersey, or Minnesota. With him being out for the rest of the season with bone spurs in his ankle, this is all the entertainment I now have of him...smh...

At the other guard, 6'6" from North Carolina. Vince...Carterrrrr
Let me preface this by saying: I have never been a fan of Vince Carter. To me, he's been lazy his entire career, and not really fulfilling his boundless basketball potential. Sure, he can provide a dazzling highlight; but if you're a real basketball fan, ask yourself this: Do you still care about him? Does he resonate with the same deified reverence in your memory banks anymore? The answer is no. He has not done anything of worth in the playoffs, except a first-round duel with Allen Iverson in which he had the better team but couldn't beat the player with more willpower than anyone in the game. Granted, he was a vital piece to New Jersey the season he was traded; but he's never made it past the second round in his career; and that's not totally about having better players on your team (see: Lebron's Cavs last year). Sometimes, as a superstar, you should be able to will your team past better teams based on your sheer awesomeness. Hopefully, he gets it while he's still productive...

At forward, 6'8" from Mt. Zion High School. Tracy...McGradyyyy
Unlike the members of the backcourt, I actually like T-Mac; however, my only beef with him is what earns him the starting small forward spot on this roster. In ten seasons, including six of them extending beyond the regular season, McGrady has never advanced past the first round of the playoffs. His best chance came in 2003 when his Orlando Magic were ahead 3-1 in their opening series against the Pistons. McGrady was asked about his probability of finally reaching the second round and said, "It feels good to finally make it out the first round," thinking the series was a best 3-out-of-5. Well, in was a best 4-out-of-7, and the Pistons proceeded to win the final three games and add to McGrady's list of early playoff exits. I honestly believe he has bad luck. No one gets that injured that frequently; and the McGrady-Yao experience hasn't equated into winning so far. For his sake, I hope the Rockets figure it out.

At the other forward, 6'10" out of Michigan. Chris...Webberrrrr
What can I say about him. Winning has eluded Webber's grasp since college. It has nothing to do with his basketball game. He's one of the smartest and most offensively skilled big men to ever play. The numbers speak for themselves, as he has a higher points per game average (20.79) than Alonzo Mourning (17.09), Kevin Garnett (20.49), and Moses Malone (20.33). It's just something about his presence on a team that keeps talented teams from winning. As a member of the 2001-2002 Sacramento Kings, in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers (the Robert Horry Game 5 winner series), he couldn't buy a free throw in Game 7, and the Lakers gladly strolled to the final of their three consecutive championships. Granted, Shaq and Kobe were a formidable tandem; but dynasties hadn't existed since His Airness retired, so there was no reason C-Webb's Kings couldn't pull through one year. He's the reason Detroit didn't beat Cleveland, and why Golden State will be quickly ushered out of the postseason. He just doesn't bring winning with him. I don't think it has anything to do with his attitude or chemistry. It just doesn't/hasn't happened.

And at center, 7'0". From Georgetown. Patrick...Ewwiiiiiinnng
Surprise, surprise. Another Knicks player. Unlike C-Webb, Ewing won in college. He was in the NCAA Championship Game three of his four years, winning once and losing twice. Losing to Jordan and UNC, then the famous defeat at the hands of Villanova. A lot of Pat's playoff dreams have died with a flick of MJ's wrist; but Pat did reach the Finals twice. He was injured in 1999 against San Antonio; but in 1994 against Houston, he pushed Olajuwon and the Rockets to seven games (thanks a lot, John Starks). There's no denying that Ewing is a hall-of-fame, top ten center to ever play professional basketball. While he's probably number 10, he's still great by anyone's statistical standards. His only problem, as with the other players on this team, is that he's without jewelry.

Now, I can't finish my team without at least having a few reserves on the bench...

Allen Iverson
This probably hurts more than the two Knicks players being on this list, since AI is my all-time favorite player (yes, ahead of Jordan); but it's undeniable--the man is third in career points per game average; and has one Finals appearance to show for it. He plays with too much heart and intensity, and maybe he hasn't been properly surrounded with talent. However, I can't use that excuse for him and not say the same about Vince, T-Mac in Orlando, or the next man on this list. Superstars have to be able to get past the first round more than just once. Please, Allen, do it for the DC area..

Kevin Garnett
This is what separates The Big Ticket from The Big Fundamental. Four rings to none is pretty lopsided, especially when he's only been out the first round once in 12 seasons (2003 to the Conference Finals with Minnesota). While it's highly likely that'll change as he's now a member of the Boston Three Party, but we'll see (for the record, I hate Boston fans now...sorry). He certainly will be bumped up to starter on this team if the Celtics experiment fails...

Charles Barkley
My final reserve spot is for the Round Mound of Rebound. Barkley's gaudy stats (career 22.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg) and one finals appearance (1993 with Phoenix), don't fit well together. Yes, that Finals loss was, again, at the hands of Michael Jordan; but, again, one team with one superstar and a talented supporting cast (Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, to name a few) should snatch one title in the years they've been together..

So that's the roster. These players are guilty of not translating their stats into postseason wins. Bill Russell laughs and applauds as his rings clang together when his hands meet. Bottom line: you gotta win to cement your legacy.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Introductory Post

This is the spot for my new, professional-looking sports blog, "Fundamentally UnSound." You may or may not know that I have another blog with my good friend, questionmark, called, "UBN Sports." I figured if I was going to tell those with ties to the journalism profession that I'm aspiring to enter their realm, I couldn't show them a blog with a racial slur in the title. I also post my thoughts on Facebook, but I don't think editors are searching that site for new talent. I've linked my older posts from there in this sentence fragment, so I can move forward with the sports world.

I'm looking to combine KissingSuzyKolber's and Deadspin's humor, with FreeDarko's writing eloquence and non-sequitur photos. I won't focus too much on the analytical side of sports (i.e. matchups, x's & o's, etc.), as much as the underlying theories and conclusions that can be drawn when one reads between the headlines.

This will be mainly about basketball, football, and baseball; however, if there's a women's field hockey story that needs an opinion, then I'm on it. Some posts will be funny, others will be serious; but they all will force you to think about things that various sports shows tend to overlook for sake of political correctness. Hopefully, I can stay motivated enough to continuously bring you readers quality material. So, spread the word that there's a new blog out there, and please leave feedback on the quality; as well as comments on the topic of each post. I'm not looking for followers, I'm looking for fellow sports fanatics to debate and analyze along with me.



Friday, February 1, 2008

My NBA All-Role Player Team

If you're as devoted a basketball fan as I am, All-Star Weekend has lost some of the luster it once had in years past. Every year, we're reminded of how little the players care about it; evident by the number of them that miss the various events--especially the dunk contest. So, in order to satisfy your fix, I'm going to present a series of various All-(Insert Filter Here) Teams for this weekend. The first was my All-Time Loser Team; and now I present to you my All-Role Player Team. The qualifications for this are: 1) you can't be the best player on your team; and 2) He can't have already been in an all-star game. Let's introduce the starting five...

At guard, 6'3" from Spain. Jose....Callllllllderooooonn.
In a season with so many point guards having outstanding seasons; Calderon gets overlooked as a really good point guard, especially since he's in the East. Calderon, quietly, is averaging 8.7 apg; good enough for fifth in the league. He's started only 37 of his 51 games this season, after being point guard 1-a with T.J. Ford. With his decision-making and three-point shooting, and Ford's health questions, Calderon has likely put Toronto in a bind in the off-season about who to keep as their lead floor general.

At the other guard position. 6'6" from Miami. John...Sallllllllmonnnnss.

One could argue that John Salmons is Sacramento's best all-around player. He doesn't do one thing great, but does a lot of things very well. He can shoot, score, pass, rebound, and defend; perfect in my off-guard spot. Salmons is so valuable to the Kings, he makes Mike Bibby that much more expendable; and when Ron-Ron came back from injury, they moved Artest to the power forward spot just so Salmons could keep his place as a starter. He doesn't have to worry about that on this team. Maybe he should become a Knick, but that's probably a bad move...for him...

At forward. 6'8" from Oak Hill Academy. Stephen...Jacksooonnnnnn.
To some people, this should be S-Jack's first all-star appearance. I'm not one of those people, but there's no denying Jackson's impact on the Golden State Warriors. He had to sit out the first seven games this season due to suspension, and the Warriors went 1-6. Since his return, they're 31-14; and Jackson is their second-leading scorer at around 20 points per game. His field goal percentage is suspect at best, but he seems to be the guy that hits big shots when the Warriors need it. He also plays excellent defense; just ask Dirk.

At the other forward. 6'10" from Turkey. Hedo...Turrrgokluuuu.
I don't know what clicked in Hedo's head this year. But with a career high in points, rebounds, and assists, something had to happen. Hedo's played so well, he's been the best non-Boston and Detroit-related story in the Eastern Conference. When he was a standstill shooter with Sacramento, did you think to yourself that one day, you would hear whispers of injustice behind the fact that Hedo wasn't an all-star? He's Orlando's second-best player (yes, Rashard Lewis is now what Hedo used to be in Sac-town); and is their best playmaker off the dribble. And he takes and makes big shots. More Hedo, please.

And at center. 7'1" from Dominguez High School. Tyson...Channndlerrrr.
Since I have a lot of guys that man the perimeter, someone's gotta man the middle and be a defensive presence in the paint; so I choose Tyson Chandler. This is the man His Airness the GM passed on because Kwame Brown beat him in a game of one-on-one. Well, Kwame's...Kwame; and Tyson Chandler has settled into a nice role as alley-oop recipient in New Orleans. Averaging a double-double, and with a gradually-improving offensive game; Chandler may not be an all-star-caliber player, but he is vital to the Hornets' success.

As with my other team(s), I will provide a few reserves for my squad to round out my rotation...

Al Harrington
On my bench, I look for players that can play multiple positions on the floor; and since Harrington is listed at the 3,4, and 5 positions (for my fantasy team), I start my bench with him. He has the physical nature to rebound inside, and the skill to exploit the mismatch against bigger or smaller players. I just wish he were more consistent, or he could have a couple all-star nods in his career.

Jamal Crawford
My favorite Knicks player can play either guard position and not be a liablity. He struggles with consistency; but I believe he's a better playmaker than others believe. This role would be perfect for him, because he could be the number one option with the second team; and be able to take over with moves like this...and this. With a little more consistency, he could be more widely respected among the really good guards in the league.

Paul Millsap
Millsap is the reason why a lot of NBA scouts get fired. How can a man that led the NCAA in rebounding three years in a row be selected 47th overall? He's a beast on both backboards, and has the quickness to handle pick-and-roll situations. Another vital piece to championship success, his work ethic and tenacity is key for handling the physical nature of NBA frontcourt players.

So there's the list. I'm showing love to the guys that may be looked over by the casual fan. Die-hards like me know the value of these players; and appreicate what they bring to the NBA experience.