HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
Five Steps: Fixing The Suns
By Luke Byrnes
Coming into this season the Phoenix Suns had been to three of the past six Western Conference Finals and averaged better than 55 wins per season. This year, however, the Suns fell back to the pack and find themselves preparing for the NBA Draft Lottery rather than a playoff run.
Phoenix struggled to get stops and were a miserable rebounding team in 2010-11, finishing with a 40-42 record. The Suns are caught in a gray area with Vince Carter and Steve Nash moving towards retirement and a young crop of players not yet ready to push the organization into the playoffs.
On the outside of the playoff picture for just the fourth time in the last 23 years, here are five steps to help get Phoenix back into contention.
Top 5 Playoff-Ready Lottery Teams
By Joel Brigham
This is a great time of year to be an NBA fan. The playoffs are in full swing, teams are surprising us with unbelievable postseason play, and fans in arenas have kicked up the energy about a thousand notches. The playoffs are so fantastic because there’s so much at stake, and sixteen teams are fighting their rear ends off for a shot at the NBA title.
So yeah, it’s a great time of year… for those 16 teams.
That leaves 14 teams (and by association, 14 fan bases) with little to look forward to until the draft in late June, but let’s remind ourselves which of those 14 lottery teams are still worth talking about. Some of these organizations aren’t far from the playoffs; they’ve either got the players to make a real run at it right now, or they’ve got a young core right on the cusp of blowing up. Today’s Top 5 looks at the non-playoff teams who are most likely to get into the playoffs next spring. In descending order, here they are:
Dwight Howard: The NBA’s Only Titan
By Alex Kennedy
The Orlando Magic had just defeated the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of their first-round series and Dwight Howard was on the court for every single second of the win. After choosing to call the occasional timeout instead of leaving the floor, Howard summed up why he didn’t want to exit the game.
"We needed to win," Howard said after the game before elaborating during his press conference. "I just didn’t want to give them a chance to win. I trust my teammates, but I just felt like I needed to be on the floor."
These days, Howard knows that he must be on the floor as much as possible if the Magic want to have any shot at advancing in the postseason. His teammates aren’t shooting the ball well and, outside of Howard, the group has been completely stagnant on both ends of the floor.
NBA Playoff First-Round Heroes
By Stephen Litel
It may be slightly early to breakdown NBA Playoff Heroes, but there were so many incredible games over the first few evenings of the 2011 postseason. There have been upsets, there have been blowouts and there have been nip-and-tuck games that make the NBA’s postseason great.
Of course, along with the fantastic games incredible individual performances are the norm. However, with all due respect to Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard’s incredible Game One—in which he scored 46 points to go along with his 19 rebounds— in order to make this list your team has to have won at least a single game through last night.
Here are some of the most notable heroic players in early postseason play.
NBA Playoff First-Round Duds
By Mark Nugent
The NBA playoffs have gotten off to an exciting start with Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans all stealing games on the road. There have been some exceptional performances from guys like Chris Paul and Derrick Rose, but there have also been some duds.
With each series having played two games, it’s time to take a look at the players that haven’t been able to help their teams the way many expected them too. Some of these players have just underperformed; unfortunately some have fallen to the injury bug.
More Than Just Doc’s Son
By Derek Page
High school standout Austin Rivers, son of former NBA All-Star and now NBA-Champion head coach with the Boston Celtics Doc Rivers, appears ready to take some of the spotlight for himself as one of the top-ranked recruits in the country.
Growing up with a dad like Doc Rivers, Austin was always attached with the stigma of being an NBA player’s son; something he didn’t exactly relish.
"Some kids might like being famous because of their father," Rivers said. "Personally, not me. I like having my own fame. I like to work on my own status… Growing up everybody said, ‘Hey, that’s Doc’s kid.’ Now, I’m my own man. From my hard work, they know me as Austin.