True Hoop Drew

I breakdown basketball constantly in my mind and occassionaly translate it into blog form

Category: NBA

Dwight Howard’s historical night in Golden State

The Orlando Magic beat the Golden State Warriors 117-109 last night. Dwight Howard had 45 points, 23 rebounds and attempted an NBA-record 39 free throws, five more than the previous record of 34 set by Wilt Chamberlain during the 1961-62 season, in which he averaged 50.4 points per game.

Howard came into the game shooting just 42.6 percent from the line, a career worst. He’s been right at 59 percent the past five seasons. The trade rumors have clearly affected Howard on the court this season and as someone who doesn’t have trouble finding a reason to not give 100 percent effort level, a struggle like this isn’t surprising. Howard made just 21 of his 39 free throw attempts versus the Warriors, 54 percent.

It’s not shocking that a historical statistical night occurred against the Warriors. It happens all the time from Brandon Jenning’s 55-point night as a rookie to David Lee’s 37 point, 20 rebound, 10 assist game two years ago, the Warriors have a knack for getting the best out of their opponent.
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Clips beat Heat in NBA’s first playoff game this season

I planned to watch every NBA game last night. I did, but only one ended up mattering. Heat at Clippers with a 10:30 tip, thank God by the second half no other game was on (because trust me, I would have been flicking back and forth between a Timberwolves game if one was on).

Last season was tough for Miami in a lot of ways. One way was that night in, night out, they got everyone’s best shot. The rest of the league had a grudge against Miami and wanted to prove they weren’t the league’s best yet without earning it.

That’s impossible to happen again this year with the condensed schedule (part of why I picked Miami to win 54 games). But last night, Miami was in their first playoff game of the regular season on the road and lost in overtime, 95-89 to the Lob City Clippers.

Both teams came into the game having played the night before and lost. Before the game began, here were the keys I was looking for:
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Bama beats LSU, Boris Diaw vs. the Knicks

I almost forgot college football existed. In fact, I almost forgot anything that isn’t the NBA existed. But my attention was distracted from my first love to the national championship last night, but not for long.

Alabama beat LSU in dominant fashion to capture their 14th national championship all-time and first since 2009. Nick Saban also coached to win his third title in the BCS-era, the most of any coach.

The game was of course a rematch with LSU winning 9-6 in overtime in the first meeting this season in Tuscaloosa. In eight quarters plus overtime between these two teams, one touchdown was finally scored by Alabama on a 34-yard touchdown run by Trent Richardson with 4:36 left in the game.

The clear-cut two best teams in the country played twice and only one touchdown was scored between them. Yet it was never boring, just impressive, with the athletes on each side of the ball and the plays being made every down.
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The future looks bright in Minnesota

No team has jumped up everyone’s “NBA League Pass Power Rankings” quite like the Minnesota Timberwolves this season. It was expected early in the season just because we’d finally get a chance to see rookie Ricky Rubio for the first time in his career but now the Timberwolves are turning into one of the most interesting teams in the league night in night out.

The Timberwolves dropped the Washington Wizards to 0-8 yesterday with 93-72 win led by rookies Rubio and Derrick Williams who each posted a +29, +/- number. Rubio led the way with his most assists yet, 14, five of which accounted for each of Williams’ field goals, four three-pointers and another sweet alley-oop dunk.

I’m leaving out Kevin Love from the equation who had another monster game with 20 points and 16 rebounds, now averaging 25.4 points and 15.0 rebounds on the year, find me someone else doing that.

The core of Rubio-Love-Williams has to be getting fans in Minnesota excited, I know I’m getting excited (writing about how they are the next great team after they beat Washington). With Rubio looking like the next Steve Nash and Williams starting to remind me of Shawn Marion, the Timberwolves may easily become the team I watch more than any other for the next 10 seasons.
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Rookie Brandon Knight attempts 13 threes

The Detroit Pistons lost at home to the New York Knicks 103-80 last night. Brandon Knight started for the Pistons for the second time in a row. Knight also attempted 13 three-pointers in the game. That’s a lot.

To be fair, one was a half court attempt at the end of the first half. But still, 13 threes thrown up by a rookie in just his eighth game and by someone shooting only around 30 percent from deep is interesting.

I’ve known about Knight since he was a freshman in high school. I saw him make it to States four straight years in high school and followed his successful run to the Final Four with Kentucky during his one and only season in college. I know he’s a great student, a great kid, has great work ethic, and that there’s no way he won’t succeed in the NBA.

Usually when you see a rookie shoot 13 threes, it might be seen as a red flag. Stephen Curry never shot 13 threes as a rookie and Kobe Bryant during the 2006 season (when he seemed to shoot more than anyone ever) only did five times including going 7-for-13 in the game he scored 81.

Knight’s not a red flag. He’s a well thought-out player playing on a terrible team in his first season in the league. He’s surrounded by a bunch of bums and he isn’t one. He took every shot because it was the right one and he’s not afraid.

Let’s go through each one:
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The new Monta

Monta Ellis was part of one of the more amazing statistics two years ago. On a 26-56 Golden State Warriors team and in a season where Ellis averaged 25.5 points per game, Ellis’ teammates outscored their opponents when their star was on the bench. This basically confirmed that Ellis was a ball hog and took bad shots that hurt his team no matter how much he scored.

Ellis is now entering his seventh season in the NBA this year and is 26 years old. He also now has a new coach in former point guard great, Mark Jackson, who planned to change the Warriors into a more defensive oriented team more suited for making the playoffs than the run-and-gun teams of the past.

Ellis seems to be changing somewhat too. He’s always had an elite talent with his quickness and ability to get into the paint and score. While he still has that, he’s beginning to use it to make himself more of a playmaker than ever before.
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LeBron James’ improved post game

LeBron James has gotten off to one of the best starts to his career this season with the 6-1 Miami Heat. He has certainly looked like the best player in the league, as he should, treating teams like Charlotte, Minnesota and most recently Indiana like JV squads.

The more confidence LeBron plays with, the better he looks. This has always been the case. It’s the teams that are able to take away his confidence and comfortableness that have the best chance to beat him.

In recent years, LeBron has looked the least comfortable in the post. The critics have always pointed this out and pointed to this as one of the reasons Miami wasn’t successful at winning a championship last season.
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Rondo a better fit in OKC than Westbrook

After watching the first five games of the Thunder season, I’m starting to feel like Russell Westbrook is literally the worst player in the league. He’s definitely becoming one of the most destructive and as part of the Thunder faithful, I want him out now before it gets any worse.

The trade rumors I’ve heard involving Westbrook that are the most exciting would be swaps for Rajon Rondo or Stephen Curry. While Curry is one of my favorite players in the league and I would love to see this trade happen, I’d rather see Westbrook traded for Rondo and think it makes a lot of sense for both teams.

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Part 2: Ranking the best players in the NBA by position

Now that I have explained all of the positions or types of players in the league that I respect, here are my rankings:

High post iso guy

Tier 1:If he’s you’re best player, it gives you the best chance to win a title

1. Dirk Nowitzki – see 2011 Playoffs.
2. Kevin Durant – if he tries to emulate Dirk from last year, and I think he is, he is the next in line for this type. He needs to do less running off screens (although deadly) and handling in pick and rolls and more of this.

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Part 1: Best players in the NBA by position

I’ve always wanted to take the time and make a list of the best players in the NBA. Anyone who loves the NBA does this all the time and people are always debating who the best player in the league is. It’s a debate that will always go on because it is nearly impossible to compare players at different positions and tell which is more valuable (although everyone thinks it’s easy).

I’ve spent some time trying to come up with the best players by position. But there aren’t really five positions in basketball because there aren’t five different types of players. So I’ve come up with the most relevant positions (player types) that help a team win a title and ranked their importance and tried to come up with the most relevant/valuable players in the league when it comes to winning a championship.

First off, here are the positions and by importance:

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