HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
LeBron James Taking Too Much Heat?
By Derek Page
Four NBA Most Valuable Player awards and one NBA Finals MVP tend to garner a player plenty of respect among his peers and those who have come before him. For LeBron James, the question has never been the extent of his talent but rather how far his mental psyche would allow his physical gifts would take his career.
“LeBron is such a gifted athlete, and he’s way beyond the man-child aspect, the first impression,” NBA-legend Julius Erving told CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger. “It’s Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and LeBron, OK? I mean these are guys when they were freshmen in high school, they probably could’ve been pros. I can only think of those three, and then George McGinnis was probably like that. Some get to the mountaintop and others don’t. There’s no guarantee.”
That hurdle was seemingly cleared this past season by James, as he silenced critics en route to his first NBA championship. However, James’ detractors have reared their heads once again just a year later as LeBron competes in his third-straight NBA Finals.
Why LeBron James Frustrates Fans
By Bill Ingram
As parents, or perhaps as little league coaches, when we first start to teach our young people about the game of basketball, the first thing we teach them is how to dribble and shoot the ball. Those are the easiest things to practice, after all, and can be practiced alone with nothing more than a ball and a hoop. The next thing on the agenda, once teammates are involved, is how to pass the ball. Every kid wants to be the one to shoot the ball, but when the defense is just too tough they have to have another option. It’s the right basketball play, and in the early stages of teaching basketball we tend to focus on solid fundamental plays.
For some reason, our expectations change a bit when we’re watching professional basketball. The better a player is, the less we want him to play great fundamental basketball and the more we want him to make some amazing, eye-popping play to win the game single-handedly, momentarily disregarding the other four players around him who happen to be wearing the same jersey.
What’s Next For the Chicago Bulls?
By Joel Brigham
The Chicago Bulls were never really a serious title contender this year, not without Derrick Rose, who missed the entire season rehabbing a torn ACL. But with Rose back in the fray, and with uber-coach Tom Thibodeau at the helm squeezing every last drop of effort out of every player on his bench, Chicago should be right back among the Eastern Conference’s best teams next year.
However, that is not a given, as the Bulls’ lineup will undergo some pretty major changes this offseason. As with any team, they’ll address their needs through the draft on June 27th, free agency in July and possibly even some trades along the way. Here’s a look at what’s next for the Chicago Bulls:
Chris Bosh Must Step Up for Miami
By Alex Kennedy
These past few weeks have been tough for Chris Bosh. On the court, he’s not producing at the level he’s used to. Off the court, he’s taking a beating from fans and media alike. Bosh hasn’t been himself this postseason and he must step up for the Miami HEAT to take down the San Antonio Spurs.
LeBron James has been under heavy scrutiny and Dwyane Wade’s struggles are well-documented, but Bosh has been the least productive member of the Big Three (if that’s even a fitting nickname anymore).
Bosh has had just one 20-point game during the playoffs, and it was back in Game 3 against the Chicago Bulls. When his shot hasn’t been falling, he hasn’t found other ways to impact the game either, struggling on defense and failing to record double-digit rebounds in all but three games this postseason.
Kidd’s Chance To Bolster Brooklyn
By Lang Greene
Ever since Mikhail Prokhorov took over control of the Brooklyn Nets the owner has talked about building a championship culture and has worked long and hard to pull off headline grabbing deals. The latest move by the Nets’ front office, the hiring of future Hall of Fame player Jason Kidd to be its next head coach, may be the signing which injects life into the franchise and finally gets it over the hump.
“Jason Kidd has a long and legendary history with the Nets and with the city of New York,” Prokhorov said in a statement. “He has the fire in the belly we need, and has achieved as a player everything the Brooklyn Nets are striving to achieve. We believe he will lead us there. Welcome home, Jason.”
The Nets will introduce Kidd’s arrival with a press conference on Thursday and are entrusting the former point guard, who retired from playing less than two weeks ago, with the keys to the franchise for the second time. The first time was as a player when Kidd led the franchise to consecutive trips to the NBA Finals over the course of six seasons.
What’s Next For The Lakers?
By Jabari Davis
When we last saw the Los Angeles Lakers in action, they were being unceremoniously ousted from the postseason at the hands of the eventual Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs. With their once-prized trade acquisition, Dwight Howard, angrily watching the final seconds of a disappointing season wind down from the locker room after receiving his second technical foul, the Lakers entered the offseason with a level of uncertainty that is unfamiliar to most people associated with the storied franchise. Questions regarding the pending free agency of Howard, health of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, and status of head coach Mike D’Antoni rained down upon Staples Center nearly as loudly as the “We Want Phil” chants.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak is in an increasingly familiar position of having to walk a burning tightrope, as the $99.9 million in salary they paid for the 2012-13 season would place the Lakers well over the projected luxury tax threshold of $71.6 million for the upcoming 2013-14 season. Even with the contracts of Antwan Jamison, Devin Ebanks, Earl Clark and several others coming off the books, the Lakers are still on the hook for $68.1 million before the start of negotiations with Howard. In order to re-sign Howard, it is likely to require a five-year, $118 million max contract, while still finding a way to shed undesirable salary in order to acquire complementary players. An unenviable situation, to say the least, but not a scenario Kupchak hasn’t seen before.
2012-13 Fantasy Basketball Awards
By Tommy Beer
At the midway point of the season, Durant was ranked slightly ahead of LeBron due primarily to KD’s incredible efficiency, but then LeBron simply kicked it into another gear over the final few months of the regular season. When all was said and done, LeBron had authored one of the greatest single statistical seasons in NBA history. LBJ was the only player in the NBA to lead his team in scoring (26.8 ppg), rebounding (8.0 rpg) and assists (7.3 apg). He also became just the third player in NBA history to total at least 2,000 points, 600 rebounds, 500 assists and 100 steals during a single season, and only the second player to do so more than once (Larry Bird did it three times and Michael Jordan achieved it once). And LeBron is the first player in NBA history to ever average 26/8/7, while also shooting above 54 percent from the floor.
Simply put, LeBron did it all. Those general managers that were lucky enough to draw the No. 1 overall pick could not have asked for more.
The Thunder’s Next Move?
By Susan Bible
It has been right at one month since the Oklahoma City Thunder was last spotted on a basketball court. A repeat NBA Finals appearance was not in the cards this season thanks to a 4-1 thrashing by the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round of the playoffs. For the first time in this young franchise’s history, they experienced the devastating effects of a season-ending injury to a key player. When starting point guard Russell Westbrook went down in the first round, so did their title hopes.
So the offseason came early this year for the Thunder. The next couple months will be fraught with decision-making and strategizing with a goal of strengthening the team for another run next season. Clearly, there are certain areas that need attention; low-post scoring and three-point shooting come to mind. Let’s take a look at possible moves the Thunder could make in the offseason.