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InsideHoops NBA [HOME] Jan. 23, 2004

Throwing 'Bows






If things go according to plan, the NBA stands to get a lot more interesting in the coming months, and it's got nothing to do with the All-Star Weekend or playoff races. It's about two things: the Oak and the Worm.

Charles Oakley latching on somewhere seems imminent, with the Rockets, Raptors, and Lakers all rumored to be interested. Toronto probably has the biggest need for a body in the middle. I wouldn't be particularly thrilled about seeing Oak in the purple and gold, but if that were to happen, at least we could be sure he'd get his share of TV time.

Houston would be the best fit, no question. If Jeff Van Gundy wants Yao to get more physical, what better role model could there be? Charles Oakley is to physical play in the paint what Paris Hilton is to home porn. I can see it going down. Someone throws an elbow at Yao in the paint, and Oakley smacks the guy in the mouth. Then he smacks Yao in the mouth for not throwing an elbow back, and we all grow as people.

As for Rodman, he's putting in his work in the ABA at the moment. He pulled down 14 boards in 28 minutes in his first game, and 8 boards in 19 minutes in his second game before removing himself from the game with some kind of a calf strain.

The Worm may or may not get himself back into NBA shape. If he does, a team like the Lakers will take a shot with him. But if he doesn't, if you were a team like the Atlanta Hawks, what's the downside to taking on Rodman, even if he's terrible? The team would see a spike in attendance, and depending on how bad Rodman is, could actually get worse without looking like they're tanking to get the top draft pick. No lose situation.


At this point, the Pacers look like the favorite to come out of the East. Yeah, Detroit just had a sweet run, but in the process of winning 13 of 14 games, they gained a total of 0 games on the Pacers and then were slapped around by them to end their streak. The Pacers are now 3-0 on the year against their top rival in the East.

So the question is, could the Pacers hang with any team that comes out of the West?

Right now, the Kings are owners of the NBA's best record. So let's see how the Pacers would match up 5-on-5.

C. Vlade vs. Jeff Foster. Advantage, Kings.

PF. CWebb vs. JO. Webber, of course, is an established All-Star. Jermaine O'Neal is averaging 20 and 10 and has become one of the better big man defenders in the league. I call it a wash.

SF. Peja vs. Ron Artest. What a fun match-up this would be to watch. Peja's been arguably the best offensive player in the league to this point, and Artest is arguably the best defender. But he can score, too. I call this a wash, too, but this match-up would be the most pivotal in the series.

SG. Doug Christie vs. Reggie. Christie's a very good defender and a good role player, but in the playoffs, guys don't get any more clutch than Reggie. Advantage, Pacers.

PG. Mike Bibby vs. Jamal Tinsley. Advantage, Kings.

I think the Pacers could match-up pretty well against either the Kings or Spurs. On paper, of course, no one matches up well with the Lakers, but it's so hard to tell what they'll look like come playoff time. As it stands now, the Pacers would be the East's best chance to provide a competitive final since 2000 when they took the Lakers to six games.


Darius Miles for Jeff McInnis and Ruben Boumtje Boumtje. Hm.

Couldn't the Cavs have gotten anything more valuable? Like, oh, I dunno... a ball rack and a pair of Jordans? An autographed 8 x 10 of Jack Sikma? A VHS copy of Space Jam?

McInnis was the third point guard on a team where the first two point guards aren't anything to get excited about. The most attention Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje's ever gotten came when Rasheed Wallace hit him in the avocados with a basketball. I understand that the Cavs wanted another point guard to get LeBron back on the wing, but surely they could've picked someone up in the offseason that was better and wouldn't cost them Darius Miles.

It's not that I expect Darius Miles to net an All-Star in return, but someone with that much athletic ability shouldn't just be given away, I don't care how big of a letdown he's been. He's still quite young.

For now, Miles finds himself buried on the depth chart in Portland, behind Rasheed Wallace and Zach Randolph for sure, and probably Ruben Patterson and Qyntel Woods, too. It sounds bad, but there's at least a good chance that 'Sheed and Patterson won't be Blazers past the February 19th trading deadline, which would leave very few headcases, enough playing time to go around, and a good coach to learn under.


1. Sacramento. Eh, why not. They deserve a turn at the top. Good luck winning a title with the league's 5th worst defense, though.

2. Minnesota. Losing by 19 to Houston isn't the end of the world, but it does mean you don't get to be #1 anymore.

3. Detroit. 13 straight is impressive. A 14th against Indiana might've gotten them the #1 ranking, though.

3(t). Indiana. Hard to rank them behind a team they've beaten three times this year. So they're tied.

5. Dallas. Six wins in a row... could be starting to come together.

6. San Antonio. Lost 4 of their last 6, 3 of them to Eastern Conference teams (Atlanta, Indiania, Detroit). That's not good.

7. Denver. Have been eating up on weak teams (Suns, Jazz, Heat, Lakers) and losing to good ones (Mavs, Kings, Spurs), but still, 26-18 gets them a spot.

8. LA Lakers. Lost to Phoenix, lost to Memphis, were hammered by Dallas. And down they go.

9. Memphis. Probably not among the best teams in the league, but they've been hot recently and may not get another shot to crack the Mighty 10. So they get the nod.

10. Milwaukee. If Michael Redd isn't an All-Star, it's a crime. This team has no business being this good.


New Jersey. Booklyn, Jersey, whatever. I don't care where the move, but if they moved out of the Atlantic Division, they might struggle to make the playoffs. Houston. Didn't do anything to deserve to fall out of the Top 10, but I couldn't ignore Milwaukee or Memphis. They'll get back in soon.


25. Washington. Sure, they've won two straight, but they're not fooling anyone.

26. Miami. Dwayne Wade's return should pull them out of the Meek 5, but the fact that the rest of the team is terrible keeps them in for right now.

27. Atlanta. It's never a good sign when opposing players suggest moving the franchise.

28. Orlando. Each week, it gets harder to come up with another description of how they bad they suck.

29. Chicago. Making a serious run at being as bad as Orlando. A game and a half out of last. With any luck, they'll get a great draft pick and spend it on a big man straight out of high school, because that's worked out so well for them in the past.


If you're the GM or owner of the Wizards, what do you do with the world of (expletive deleted) you find yourself in? And besides drugs, what has Christian Laettner brought to the table lately? Why is he still here? And what's the contract status of Kwame? Do you keep him around given the wizards history of cutting or trading players that turn out to have productive careers elsewhere? I'm actually quite suprised they haven't put Jarvis Hayes on the block yet.
- Tim O., D.C.

Alright, if I was the owner of the Wizards, one word occurs to me: Sell. If I was the GM, the first thing I'd do is call up Christian Laettner, fine him and suspend him. For not sharing. And then I'd consider hanging myself with Etan Thomas's shoelaces.

And if none of that worked, I'd go about the business of righting the ship. The Wizards are bad, but they aren't in terrible shape. They have assets (Arenas, Stackhouse, Hayes, Kwame) and aren't in cap trouble like some teams. The rest of this year for the Wizards is about seeing what they have. Hayes looks like a young stud, but they've got to figure out if Arenas and Stackhouse can play well together, or if Kwame's worth hanging on to. I think Christian Laettner is a pretty good role player, and plays a smart game. He's also one of Kwame's best friends and biggest supporters on the team. Christian Laettner is the least of the Wizards worries.

If I was a Wizards fan, I'd be terrified of letting Kwame go. For reference, see: Wallace, Ben. Or Wallace, Rasheed. Or Webber, Chris. Right now, his trade value probably isn't the highest in the world, so if I were GM, I'd definitely hang on to him for a little while. These are the dangers of taking a high schooler #1 overall. If you guess wrong, it kills you. Absolutely kills you. Even if you guess right, and it takes 4 or 5 years for the guy to develop, it still kills you.

Dude, you failed to mention that in that game in which you quoted you loved Pierce's stats, he was nursing an injured left hand. You failded to mention the recent run of ALMOST triple-doubles over the past few weeks. Paul is easily one of the top 10 players in the league, arguably top 5. Give him some love. By the way, love your work, keep it up!!! Cheers,
- Mark Linnett, Australia

First, thanks for the kind words and I think it's awesome that I can disrespect your favorite player and you can still love the work. And yeah, I know about Pierce's hand and his #s, but he had the 4-point night on the same day I got last week's question about Pierce, so I ran with it. I meant no disrespect. More on Pierce below...

You think you're pretty funny, huh? Paul Pierce had ONE bad night. He fights through triple teams every night because of how bad his team is. He's AVERAGING 23, 7, and 6. I vote for KG as MVP, but Pierce deserves to be on there, regardless of his team's record - they WILL make the playoffs in the East.
- Matt Ferrante

Easy, fella. I figured this would happen, and you're right, I was being a smart-ass about Pierce. Forgive me. Here it is for all the world to see: Paul Pierce is an outstanding basketball player. But MVP candidate? Come on now.

A brief list of guys to whom I'd give MVP consideration over Pierce: KG, Peja, Baron, Tim Duncan, Jermaine O'Neal, Jason Kidd. That's six. There are at least a few more I'd include over Pierce, but against those five, Pierce can't even make an argument. So sure, if there are 7 players on the ballot, by all means, Pierce might make the cut. This isn't to say that Pierce doesn't have the talent to ever be an MVP candidate, because I think he does. But right now, the Celtics are too bad and there are too many other candidates for him to be considered.

The Hornets need Mashburn bad, and when he comes back we'll catapult up the list again. Until then, we will shoot more bad 3's than a team full of Antoine Walkers. This must come from coaching. Can't "Pink" Floyd get some control of this poor shooting squad?
- Donnie Boy Riguez - New Orleans, LA

Hey, Tim Floyd is your head coach, and you aren't dead last in the league. Be thankful.

Actually, I think Tim Floyd deserves a lot of credit. He took an absolute beating in the media before the year, and came out and had the Hornets smoking for a while. I do think the Hornets will pull it together. But let's look at the problem you mentioned.

Of the 15 guys in the NBA who have attempted the most three pointers this year, three are Hornets. David Wesley, Darrell Armstrong, and Baron Davis. Baron has shot 382 three-balls. That's 90 more than the next guy, T-Mac with 292.

And of the Top 15 gunners, here are the worst percentages:

13. Darrell Armstrong, .309
14. Baron Davis, .304
15. Antoine Walker, .278

Yeah, that's not good. This is a team with a cast of excellent "dirty-work" guys and role players that was forced to rely too much on one scorer. If you were coaching the Hornets without Mash, what would your offensive strategy be? Pound the ball into Robert Traylor in the post? Having Jamal Mashburn back at point forward will make all the difference for the Hornets. I wouldn't worry too much. He'll be back by February which is plenty of time to re-integrate him to the offense before the playoffs roll around.

First, props to my boy Mikey at work, who this week had the equivalent of a (disgusting medical procedure involving a 10-inch pipe cleaner and a sensitive part of the male anatomy deleted). Unsedated. Fully awake. That's a man for you. Secondly, who would your starting five be from the past 13 years? (90's and 00's) And also, who do you believe would be the first pick of the NBA draft next year? Thanks.
- Luke, Virginia

Listen, I'm going to let it slide this time, but no more descriptions of medical procedures, alright? I know it's very exciting to see your pal's little problem mentioned on a website as prestigious as this one, but I don't want anyone to get the idea that it's OK to e-mail me anything about medical procedures that involve pipe cleaners. But sure, props to your boy. On to the actual questions...

My starting five from 1990 to right now: PG - Magic. SG - Michael. SF - Larry. PF - Tim Duncan. C - Shaq. Toughest decision was at center, between Hakeem and Shaq, but in the end, Shaq is just more dominating. I'd love to hear about some other people's 1990 to right now teams, however.

As for the draft, the consensus #1 seems to be Dwight Howard. Here's what I know about him: He's big, crazy athletic, looks amazing in workouts, and is a high schooler, which means I wouldn't draft him #1 overall even if his mother agreed to come to my house and cook for me five nights a week as part of the deal. Taking high schoolers is just too big of a risk. If you guess wrong, it sets your franchise back 5 years. For reference, see: Curry, Eddy, or Brown, Kwame.

Does the Mighty One think that maybe Vince Carter leading the All-Star voting has little to do with not having other good forwards in the east (Paul Pierce, T-Mac, Artest) and more to do with the fact the Canadians think voting is cool and Americans think it sucks? I would like to see you give some props to the Nuggets bench: Earl Boykins, Jon Barry, some huge white guy that's really good, and some guy I'm forgetting. If you would write about them I would know more.

Thank You. One of your biggest fans,
- C. Evans

Actually, Vince Carter leading the All-Star voting has nothing to do with him competing with guys like Pierce and T-Mac, because those two guys are listed as guards on the ballot. Ron Artest is listed as a forward, but his name doesn't carry near the juice that Vince's does. As far as Canadian voting attitude vs. American voting attitude, that's just way too controversial an issue for me to touch. Let's all just try to get along.

As for the Nuggets bench, I've always been a Jon Barry fan. He hustles each trip down the floor, creates turnovers, gets the fans excited, and sticks the three. Every team needs a guy like that. I think Kid Rock said it best last year while being interviewed at a Pistons game. "We're kickin' ass! We got Jon Barry." Indeed. I think Earl Boykins is a great backup point, and I was surprised that more teams didn't go after him when he was a free agent this past summer. I think he runs a game very well. Chris Andersen is the best white guy from Blinn College to ever play in the NBA. The few times I've seen him, he's struck me as incredibly athletic with crazy hops. We'll be seeing him in the All-Star Slam-Dunk competition this year. Rodney White was a 2002 lottery pick that never lived up to the potential, but has shown flashes here in there. It seems like he's mentioned a lot in trade rumors. And Ryan Bowen... what can you say about Ryan Bowen? Exactly.

Question, comment, problem, tirade, hate mail, love note? Send it along here.

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