HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
Should Dwight Howard be Getting More Blame?
By Lang Greene
The Orlando Magic are in the midst of arguably the best four-year run in the history of the franchise, yet there are daily doomsday reports of the team’s failure to live up to the lofty expectations set at the beginning of the season.
True, the club was projected to run roughshod through the Eastern Conference and establish themselves as a legit contender to claim the championship perch owned for the past two seasons by the Los Angeles Lakers. Overall, however, the Magic have indeed struggled throughout the season for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s been integrating new players into their system or completely inexcusable stretches of lackadaisical defense Orlando hasn’t consistently resembled a team with championship aspirations.
Some of the criticism has been warranted, most of it hasn’t, but what’s driving the latest surge of doom and gloom fate after every regular season loss is the uncertainty of Dwight Howard’s future in Orlando.
Why the Bulls Keep Winning
By Joel Brigham
In the years between 1998 and 2010, the Chicago Bulls were, at best, good, and at worst, historically awful. But what they haven’t been called since the team won their sixth championship thirteen years ago is "legitimate championship contender." Seemingly overnight, despite massive roster overhaul, significant injuries, and a brand new coach with a brand new system, that’s exactly what the Chicago Bulls are being called in 2011.
But how? A lot of people will point their finger directly at Derrick Rose and his MVP-caliber season, but there’s a bigger reason why the Bulls are a mere 3.5 games back from having the best record in the Eastern Conference. It’s first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau.
"We give him a lot of credit," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. "We’re 34-14, we’re the third seed in the East, and he’s still telling us we have a long way to go and we need to get better. It’s great to have a coach who believes we have so much room to improve." Click Here for More
Why the Lakers Should Get ‘Melo and Why They Won’t
By Eric Pincus
The possibility of the Lakers trading Andrew Bynum to the Denver Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony set the NBA ablaze on Tuesday.
Depending on perspective, it might be a tough call.
For the Lakers, it doesn’t seem to be. They’ve been committed to Andrew Bynum since they drafted him at 17 years of age and that doesn’t appear to have wavered.
Never mind that he’s had knee problems year after year after year (dating back to high school).
Despite the rumors, buzz and excitement, the Lakers do not appear inclined to make a Bynum/Melo swap.
Perhaps there’s something to be said for keeping the core together. This is a team that won back-to-back titles and three straight Western Conference championships.
The length of Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Bynum make the Lakers a very difficult team to deal with.
Jamal Crawford: At Least Eastern Conference Finals
By Lang Greene
The trade deadline continues to be one of the most exciting times of the NBA season for fans and one of the most nerve-racking experiences for the players who find their names constantly appearing in the daily rumor mill.
It just depends on what side of the ball you’re on.
For reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford it’s a case of been there and done that.
Crawford will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but entered the season with the sole intent to sign a long term extension to remain in Atlanta. But after the franchise invested $180 million in order to re-sign their All-Stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford his future became even less certain with the organization, especially considering the Hawks have absolutely zero interest in paying the luxury tax.
Best/Worst Schedules After the Break
By Mark Nugent
The All-Star break is just one week away and teams are preparing for that final push towards the playoffs. For some, the post All-Star schedule will make it difficult for them to continue the success they are currently experience (example: Portland Trail Blazers). For others, a favorable schedule could mean a trip to the playoffs (example: Houston Rockets).
In determining a team’s remaining strength of schedule the key factors to look at are games against teams above/below .500, games against projected playoff teams, number of home/road games, longest home/road stretches, and total number of back-to-back games.
For the purposes of this discussion both the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Bobcats will be considered playoff teams because the race for the final spot in the East seems to change every day. Along with those two, the Celtics, HEAT, Bulls, Magic, Hawks, and Knicks are pretty close to locks to make the playoffs. The 76ers round out the east, even though a two-game losing streak could have them on the outside looking in.
Jerry Sloan: A Tribute
By Bill Ingram
Few NBA head coaches are as associated with the word "excellence" as long-time Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan. Sure, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich are the league’s current gold standard, with multiple championships to their credit, and legendary coaches like Red Auerbach, Pat Riley and Chuck Daley have made their lasting marks on the NBA. But after 23 years at the helm of the Utah Jazz, Sloan is every bit as elite as his ring-bearing peers, even though he never managed to get that one elusive achievement.
Sloan’s no-nonsense approach gained him the respect of his players, and his love for the game kept him going even when the team went through its down times. He took the helm of the Jazz in 1988-89, replacing Frank Layden, a time when John Stockton and Karl Malone were just becoming household names and Mark Eaton patrolled the paint. For 15 straight seasons he led the Jazz to the postseason, and to the NBA Finals twice. When Stockton and Malone retired Sloan could have done what so many other coaches have done and retire or move on to another team. Instead, he stayed loyal to his team, and after three years of roster rebuilding he had them right back in the postseason.
Through it all, Sloan maintained a no-nonsense approach. He never did anything to tarnish a player’s image, never called anyone out in public, and never took credit for any of his many successes. He was all about the game, and that was his solitary focus.