HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
Knicks Still With Much To Prove
By Tommy Beer
April, 29th 2001. That is the last time the New York Knickerbockers registered a postseason win. The Knicks beat the Toronto Raptors that Spring day 10 years ago. Glen Rice scored 18 points off the New York bench for Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy. Antonio Davis was Toronto’s leading scorer with 19 points.
Yes, it seems like a lifetime ago… And although the Knicks qualified for the postseason again in 2004, they were quickly swept back into irrelevance by Jason Kidd’s New Jersey Nets, who destroyed New York in four straight games.
For the most part, the past decade has constituted the franchise’s dark ages. Perpetual gray skies and black clouds seemed to be constantly hovering over Madison Square Garden. This once-proud organization devolved from a NBA flagship franchise into a league-wide laughingstock. From embarrassing off-court incidents, lawsuits, and assorted drama, to incessant losing on the floor, the last 10 years have given Knicks fans very little to smile about. However, over the past 10 months, the clouds have parted and some sunlight has begun to break through.
Henderson Comes Through In Clutch
By Derek Page
Some attributes on the court simply can’t be taught. Certain players just exude that it factor when the game is on the line, and have the ability to will a team to victory.
While the Charlotte Bobcats’ Gerald Henderson can’t boast to being one of those type players at this point of his career, he has showcased the ability to take over games in recent weeks with some outstanding fourth quarter performances.
Whether it’s hitting big-time jumpers at the end of games to propel his team to victory, diving on the ground and fighting for the loose ball against two defenders with the game on the line, or taking the toughest defensive assignment on a nightly basis, Henderson has begun his ascension into becoming a franchise-type player for the Bobcats.
5 Steps: Fixing The Bucks
By Joel Brigham
Hypothetically rebuilding some teams, like the Cleveland Cavaliers, for example, is relatively easy because there’s so much wrong in the first place. In other words, identifying the problem isn’t particularly difficult, and of course identifying a problem is the first step towards fixing it.
With the Milwaukee Bucks the problems aren’t as obvious. Only a year removed from the "Fear the Deer" campaign that took the team roaring into the 2010 playoffs, this roster wasn’t supposed to fare as poorly as it did this year. Even without the rash of injuries, Milwaukee just didn’t come anywhere close to fulfilling expectations which, as you may recall, included potentially winning the Central Division.
Well that didn’t happen, and now the Bucks look like a bit of a train wreck. We at HOOPSWORLD are taking it upon ourselves to try and make it all better, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy task. Let’s try to make the deer fearful again, shall we?
San Antonio’s Most Important Piece
By Yannis Koutroupis
The 2008 NBA Draft was accurately projected as a class that possessed some guards who would have a major impact right away. The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose, Oklahoma City Thunders’ Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon of the Los Angeles Clippers have already established themselves as some of the league’s best.
George Hill, who the San Antonio Spurs selected 26th overall that year, wasn’t expected to be one of the classes’ top guards. In fact, many viewed him as a questionable selection who the Spurs settled on after the Houston Rockets took Nicolas Batum, a player that the Spurs’ reportedly coveted more than anyone else. Yet, three years in only the aforementioned World Champion Gold Medalists – and maybe O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies – can claim to be better.
Hill has proven to be quite the steal for the Spurs, a franchise renowned for their ability to find draft diamonds in the rough. At one point Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich deemed him his favorite player due to his willingness to play and excel in whatever role he’s asked to play. Hill has played both guard positions as a starter and reserve. Up to this point the only gripe Popovich has had with him is that he doesn’t realize how good he is.
Jason Richardson: Nobody Remembers Losers
By Lang Greene
To the casual NBA fan the name Jason Richardson, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2001 draft, may only be synonymous with his back-to-back slam dunk competition titles in 2002 and 2003. Those victories allowed him to join Michael Jordan as the only players to pull off the feat in consecutive seasons (Nate Robinson would later become the third).
But after those All-Star weekend triumphs Richardson would fade back into obscurity as a high scoring guard on a perennially mediocre Golden State Warriors team.
The former Michigan State standout didn’t reach the NBA playoffs until his sixth season in the league and as his career begins to wind down, the importance of his legacy and the role winning plays in it becomes even clearer to him.
5 Steps: Fixing The Nets
By Mark Nugent
The New Jersey Nets entered the 2010-2011 season with seemingly one goal in mind: land a superstar they can market to fans when they open their new building in Brooklyn, at the start of the 2012-13 season. They spent more than half of the season in a failed attempt to pry Carmelo Anthony away from the Denver Nuggets. During this time the Nets failed to achieve any cohesiveness on the court, and the team quickly slipped near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Fortunately for the Nets, they were able to use the assets they were hoping would land them Anthony, and traded them for star point guard Deron Williams. Adding Williams hasn’t resulted in more wins though, as the team is just 7-13 since the trade.
With the Nets on the outside looking in at the playoffs, it’s a good time to start looking at how they can improve their team for the future. Here are five steps that will help the Nets get back to respectability.
Have questions for Mark Nugent? Be sure and drop by HOOPSWORLD on Wednesdays at 5PM Eastern for his weekly basketball chat.