Brandon Roy

2010-11 NBA Preview: Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder (50-32 last season)

How could I not put up a picture of Kevin Durant? MVP? I think so.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Russell Westbrook

Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha

Small Forward: Kevin Durant

Power Forward: Jeff Green

Center: Nenad Krstic

Key Reserves:

Guard: Eric Maynor

Guard: James Harden

Forward-Center: Serge Ibaka

The Thunder are still so young, yet so talented.  They can’t get ahead of themselves though.  This new success needs to be handled correctly and it cannot get into their heads or else they could possibly have a massive meltdown.  For example, take the 2008-09 New Orleans Hornets.  They are the perfect example of that.  They biggest concern I have for the Thunder is their shooting.  Other than Kevin Durant, it was an adventure for them last season.  Hopefully the additions of Daequan Cook and Morris Peterson can help in that department.  OKC is a lock for the playoffs and look for them to make a deep run.

Portland Trail Blazers (50-32 last season)

Will Oden ever last through an entire season?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Andre Miller

Shooting Guard: Brandon Roy

Small Forward: Nicolas Batum

Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge

Center: Marcus Camby

Key Reserves:

Guard: Wesley Matthews

Guard-Forward: Rudy Fernandez

Center: Greg Oden

No team ever avoids injury, but no team is ever stung as bad as Portland was last season.  With a complete lineup, this team has the potential to be the best in the West.  They allowed the fewest points of any team in the West (94.8) and defense is definitely their calling card.  Wesley Matthews was brought in for his defense and also to provide a spark off the bench.  Marcus Camby is still a great defensive center, even at 36-years-old.  Nicolas Batum has the length to block shots and get a couple of steals per game.  The great thing about the Trail Blazers is that they are also very young as well.  I realize that Camby and Andre Miller are not, but the rest of the team is.  This team will be good for years to come, as long as Brandon Roy is still hanging around in the future.

Utah Jazz (53-29 last season)

I think Hayward has a potential to be another Kirilenko.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Deron Williams

Shooting Guard: Raja Bell

Small Forward: Andrei Kirilenko

Power Forward: Paul Millsap

Center: Al Jefferson

Key Reserves:

Guard: Sundiata Gaines

Guard-Forward: C.J. Miles

Forward: Gordon Hayward

Deron Williams might be the best point guard in the NBA thanks to last season.  His playmaking ability is getting to a ridiculous feat and with the players around him it could even get better this year.  Getting the additions such as Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward acclimated quickly is crucial.  Williams and Carlos Boozer were the second coming of Stockton and Malone (obviously not as good as these two) and I believe Jefferson can fill the shoes of Boozer and put up 20 points and 10 rebounds for the season.  Jefferson is also going to have to find chemistry with Paul Millsap.  Both will want to control the paint, but each have to pick and choose when to make their moves.  The Jazz will most likely be a middle of the pack playoff team, but I see them losing first round.

Denver Nuggets (53-29 last season)

Will he stay or will he go?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Chauncey Billups

Shooting Guard: Arron Afflalo

Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony

Power Forward: Kenyon Martin

Center: Nene Hilario

Key Reserves:

Guard: J.R. Smith

Forward: Al Harrington

Forward-Center: Chris Andersen

Most people probably are wondering why I have the Nuggets finishing fourth in their division, and the reason is because Carmelo Anthony will either be gone from the team or not focused enough to lead.  Carmelo is an elite player, and if he gets traded the Nuggets will turn into another run-of-the-mill team not making the playoffs.  We all saw the breakdown this team had without head coach George Carl, and without their superstar, all hell might break loose.  J.R. Smith is a hothead and even though he is in a contract year, his play will still be very streaky.  Kenyon Martin is always getting hurt, so the play of Al Harrington will be a huge part to the success to this team as well.  In the end, with Carmelo or not, I just don’t see it this year for the Nuggets.

Minnesota Timberwolves (15-67 last season)

A world of potential and only 21-years-old

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Luke Ridnour

Shooting Guard: Corey Brewer

Small Forward: Michael Beasley

Power Forward: Kevin Love

Center: Darko Milicic

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jonny Flynn

Guard: Wayne Ellington

Forward: Wesley Johnson

The Timberwolves are going to be even worse this year.  With the loss of Al Jefferson to division opponent Utah, Minnesota has no “go-to” scorer.  Michael Beasley is their best bet, especially since in 2008, he was projected and considered to be a better prospect than Derrick RoseKevin Love is developing into a great player but he does most of the nitty-gritty work.  Rookie Wesley Johnson has the skill set to be great and he will definitely get ample amounts of playing time with this team.  Darko Milicic has ANOTHER chance and again it will be a failure.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this team finishes with less wins than they did last season.

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4/29/10 NBA Playoff Predictions

Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs- 8 ET TNT

These three must lead the charge with their backs against the wall in San Antonio

In their two game trip out to San Antonio to play games 3 and 4, the Dallas Mavericks failed to come through with a road victory. Coming off a home victory in Game 5, staying safe from elimination, the Mavericks have their backs up against the wall traveling into the Spurs country. There’s a strong chance that even before the game tips off, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban won’t have any fingernails left on his hands. This nerve racking Game 6 will be the game of the night as both the Mavericks and the Spurs pose a threats that could head deep into the playoffs.

Both Manu & Timmy will be refreshed for Game 6

Rest assured, Tim Duncan will elevate his game and chomping at the bit to finish off Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of his rival opponents. I can also assure you Caron Butler will not go off for 35 points and 11 rebounds again in Game 6. With Ginobili only clocking 18 minutes in Game 5, the Spurs in a sense are well rested and should be well prepared. It’s almost as if they were okay we allowing the Mavericks to have the Game 5 win and planned to take care of the Mavericks back in San Antonio. I see a change of plans in the forecast; the Spurs won’t execute the organized plan to win Game 6. I predicted the Mavericks to go to NBA Finals this year and I’m going to stand by it with the Mavericks tying up the series.

Mavericks- 106 Spurs- 98

Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers- 10:30 ET TNT

You know Channing's brought his whole repertoire when he throws down a monster dunk like he did in Game 5

As an NBA fan you always got to give it up to the Phoenix Suns. They always try to keep games interesting. Game 6 should be no different, the Blazers will keep their hopes alive with a huge win at home. My reasoning behind that starts with the Blazers bench and ends with the Suns bench (literally). In Game 5, both Channing Frye and Jared Dudley were spectacular combining for 13-21 shooting, connecting on 8 of just 14 attempted three balls, both perfect from the free throw stripe with 10 boards and contributing 39 of the Suns 55 bench points. That my friends, won’t happen inside the Rose Garden! With that being said, it’s not out of the question that the Suns starters can make up for some of the lack of production off the bench but Frye and Dudley were the key difference makers in the Suns Game 5 success.

On the flipside, the Blazer bench was nonexistent in Game 5 and that includes my guy Martell Webster. I see the injured Brandon Roy largely effecting the outcome of Game 6, Roy always finds a way to play well on his homecourt. Rudy Fernandez must be more aggressive on offense, I can’t even understand how he only took one shot in fifteen minutes, is that even possible? Can you really be a shooting guard and only attempt one shot when playing and being defended by the Phoenix Suns? Seems impossible to me.

Do YOU believe Bayless could soon be in a Phoenix Suns jersey?

My final thought is in regards to Jerryd Bayless, it’s safe to say Jerryd’s probably receiving tons of text messages and phone calls from his Phoenix connects talking about the Suns. Though he’s far from the team’s leader or best player for that matter, Bayless is good enough for me to be confident in saying he won’t allow his team to go out like this at home. At the very least, he’ll help keep them alive and force a Game 7 in Phoenix. Many may think I’m giving the kid way to much credit than he really deserves. But it’s hard to argue against Jerryd Bayless’s performances against the Phoenix Suns. He really does bring it each and every night, coming out with a little more aggressiveness as if he has something to prove. In many ways, he definitely has a lot to prove. He’s got one more year remaining on his contract and I’m sure he’d be interested in signing his first veteran’s deal with the Phoenix Suns if the price is right. By this point in his career the Suns will have a pretty clear evaluation of his potential and his league value, while Suns fans can only pray the Suns organization also realizes Goran Dragic is not the answer to Steve Nash’s predecessor (nor is Bayless but he honestly is a better overall player than Dragic). But in the meantime, Bayless and the Blazers force a Game 7 in Phoenix “for all the marbles” as the Suns legendary broadcaster Al McCoy used to say.

Blazers- 110 Suns- 101

NBA Playoffs Game 2’s 4-20-10

Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks -7ET

In large part to help promote the great BucksProductions videos, I’ve decided to take a different approach in previewing Game 2 between the Bucks and Hawks.

The Architecture: Any good architect can tell you that if there’s even the slightest chance that a foundation’s structure could collapse, you need to make adjustments to the plan. Despite the fact that he doesn’t like making adjustments, Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles must make a starting unit adjustment in order for the Bucks to have a chance. Josh Smith had his way all game long with Carlos Delfino guarding him and to make matters worse Delfino wasn’t even contributing on the offesive side of the floor. Skiles must change his starting rotation to Jennings/Salmons/Mbah a Moute/Ilayasova/Thomas. That limits the amount of mismatches and help side that will present out there on the floor.

The Rotation: Giving Ersan Ilayasova the starting nod does risk early foul trouble and obviously diminishes Skiles reliable big man scoring option but it’s a roll of the dice the Bucks need to take. If and when Carlos Delfino wakes up and starts to be the aggressive shooter he’s been all year for the Bucks, we have a nice new addition to the bench scoring output alongside Ridnour and Stackhouse. The Hawks themselves don’t really have a solid big man off the bench so starting Ilayasova seems very logical to me. Are the Bucks really trying to tell me that Dan Gadzuric can’t do a somewhat decent job defending Joe Smith or Zaza Pachulia? Please…At least test the waters of the idea. The Bucks aren’t in a position in which they can play it safe, it’s time to take a chance at a new look and see if it pays dividends.

In Our House…Playoff Party: Brandon Jennings was phenomenal in Game 1 proving yet again that the young rookie steps up in big time games. Jennings should already be expected to see some of the Hawks defensive adjustments come Game 2. With the Hawks high intensity switching defense look for the Hawks’ guards to force the ball out of Jennings hands, trapping him whenever the opportunity presents itself (Screen & Rolls) in particular. So the Bucks will need solid offensive contributions from those surrounding Jennings, Kurt Thomas must hit the open 15 footer off the screen and roll (he’ll get tons of those looks if the trap Jennings on the screen). John Salmons must do a better job putting the ball in the basket assisting Jennings, in Game 1 the Bucks relied way to much upon Jennings and help was nearly non-existent on offense.

Can the Bucks find the right ingredients to keep the chef from cooking?!

Game 2 Overview: The Bucks chances of success will obviously start on the defensive end of the floor. Getting stops early would really be the difference maker in the Bucks giving themselves a great chance to come out on top in Game 2 starting with limiting amount of points in the paint. The Bucks can’t play from behind like they did and Game 1 if they want to give themselves a chance to head back to Milwaukee tied up. A win in Game 2 for the Bucks puts them in a very good position to force a Game 6 or even series deciding 7th game.

Hawks-109 Bucks-105 OT

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics-8 ET

Will O'Neal step up his game for Game 2?

As Paul Pierce would say sometimes The Truth Hurts and to be honest, I truthfully feel the Celtics are fine without Kevin Garnett. While I’ll be the first too admit I haven’t been high on Garnett ever since leaving Minnesota, I think the Celtics have adapted to playing without him at this point. The only big issue that becomes a concern is relying upon the play of Rasheed Wallace who has been a complete waste this season. But you can be assured that Rondo and Pierce will come out an pick up the scoring slack left in Garnett’s absence. For the Heat, Jermaine O’Neal’s 3-14 shooting performance just won’t cut it. Clearly they’ll need him to start finishing around the basket and Tito Jackson must also step up his play. Quentin Richardson did a sufficient job aiding Dwyane Wade for the perimeter tallying 15 points in Game 1, but on a nightly basis the Heat must have “a big three”. Clearly Wade will always be a permanent figure in the Heat’s “big three” but between Richardson/Beasley/O’Neal, two of them must step up on any given night for the Heat to find success. In Game 1, only two were present (Wade & Richardson), if the Heat can compile a “big three” tonight they win Game 2.

Heat- 97 Celtics- 94 OT

Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns- 10 ET

Phoenix is all too familiar to this face...But can the Suns ruin his homecoming?!

While I’d like to say that the Phoenix Suns learned a valuable lesson in Game 1, I very well know they haven’t. Even if they have come out and win in Game 2, I’d be very concerned if I were a Suns fan:

-How bad are the Suns on defense? They’re as bad as allowing Andre Miller to score 32 points allowing him to replicate Brandon Roy in Blazers’ offense.

-How good is Amare Stoudemire? He’s great until he decides to take a defensive possession off allowing Aldridge to follow tap in a missed Bayless jump shot.

-Does Bayless explode yet again? Yes, especially with Brandon Roy out, Bayless will continue to contribute 10-15 points nightly maybe even 20 a night if the Suns aren’t careful.

-How do the Suns respond in Game 2? The Suns will take Game 2 at home, but that’s fine, the Blazers got what they wanted, a split on the road heading back to the Rose Garden. Going into the series I never thought I’d say this but Portland’s in control of the series.

Game 1 was The Tale of Two Jared/Jerryd’s one was a DUD one continued to be an Arizona stud….

Game 2 will be should be another great battle till the final buzzer. It seems as though the Blazers know what to expect on the defensive side of the floor and if they can continue do exactly what they did in Game 1, they’re in good shape. The Suns must get out on the break more frequently and find their touch early. Particularly, Jared Dudley must step up off the Suns bench. Dudley is the team’s spark plug and crowd favorite must drill his open shots, helping swing the momentum in the Suns favor. He was nonexistent in Game 1 which I truly feel was a big reason why Portland stole the opener. Hopefully Dudley watched the Cavaliers’ Jamario Moon’s play last night because the Suns need the same time of contribution. While Dudley’s not a proven NBA player in the league yet, this year’s he’s shown me enough to confidentially say he’ll come out ready to play in Game 2. With that being said, I’m going with a Suns win at home tonight in Game 2, this is Ross Geiger reporting on behalf of JMZ/JSPN (haha just kidding!).

Jared Dudley must step up in Game 2

Phoenix Suns- 104 Portland Trail Blazers- 96

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers- 10:30 ET

The Battle Continues Tonight in Game 2

The Thunder had a very impressive hard fought Game 1 loss in Los Angeles this past Sunday. So impressive that I believe they actually just might win a game this series. Durant and Co. showed their young side with their playoff butterflies during the first quarter of Game 1. But after that, they settled down and played real solid against the contending NBA champions. This series also features one of the best (if not the best) defensive matchup in the first round, Kevin Durant guarded by Ron Artest. Watching Durant and Artest go at it is a thing of beauty, a chess match for the ages. This matchup should only get better as the series moves along as both players begin getting a better feel for one another’s tendencies. If the young Durantula can continue to create space, opening himself up for good looks at the basket, the Thunder will win a game this series. Tonight won’t be that night, but will be another step towards figuring it all out.

Lakers- 98 Thunder- 85