Tuesday, October 30, 2012

'8 New And Exciting Things To Watch For In The 2012-13 NBA Season'

-LeBron James as a defending champ.
Is it finally no discussion of calling James 'King' anymore? Critics will say that one ring doesn't a king make, and probably not two either, but this will be the first season where 'Bron can call himself the reigning NBA Finals MVP and world champion. As if he didn't already have a target on his back. If LeBron leads the Miami Heat through the gauntlet similar to what he did last year, it will certainly solidify his standing among NBA royalty.

How many more jewels will the King add to his collection?

-Lakers form latest 'Big 3'.
Ask the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat if adding two big name players in an off season doesn't add up to big time results. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash joining Kobe Bryant is the latest trio and may be the most devastating ever formed when you combine career accomplishments. It's not like they'll be trying for 5,6,7 chips as the Heat prophesied, as Nash and Bryant are in the twilight of their careers. One championship would mean a lot for all three players, with Nash and Howard earning their first in their careers, and Bryant donning his sixth, tying him all-time in rings with one Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

This group, when playing as a unit, will be the toughest out in 2013.

-Revamped Celtics squad.
The Boston Celtics threesome of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen produced two NBA finals appearances, one championship, and two notorious up 3-2 games series collapses. As a Celtics fan, it's hard not to feel cheated that this group didn't win multiple titles together, and the eldest of the three -- 37-year old Allen -- would leave the Northeast for the arch rival in South Beach. Despite that, there's still a quiet buzz of anticipation going on in Boston right now. On paper, this year's Celtics squad looks younger, deeper, taller, and more athletic than last year's team. The core of the team -- Pierce, Garnett, and Rajon Rondo -- already has championship pedigree, and a bitter taste in their mouths from allowing Pierce's Game 5 Conference Finals heroics to be inducted into the forgotten-clutch-playoff-game-winner-hall-of-fame. The return of guard Avery Bradley and forward Jeff Green, combined with the signings of guards Courtney Lee and Jason Terry, will help pull weight for whatever drop off you might have lost with Allen's departure.  Rookies Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger add depth to a small frontcourt.

Rondo will need this many rocks to dish to all the talent on the C's roster this year.

-OKC Young Gunners minus Harden.
It almost feels like the Thunder gave up on this year when it was announced that badman-beard James Harden was on his way to the Houston Rockets via trade. OKC was in the Finals last year, and yeah they got dominated by the Heat, but it was alot of James Harden's heroics against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals that got them there.  The daggers, energy and excitement that Harden provided, can that be replaced by adding Kevin Martin (who in his defense has been a consistent offensive threat since the 2006-07 season, averaging right around 20 ppg) and UConn rookie guard/forward Jeremy Lamb?

The OKC gang will be firing with an extra chip on their shoulders.

-Flopping Rule.
In soccer, you get yellow carded for 'taking a dive' and certain accumulation of yellow cards leads to disqualification. The NBA will be similar to this format starting this year. The point being, just as we see in soccer, being penalized for 'flopping' won't actually stop players from doing it completely (see Chris Paul and Manu Ginobili) but at least now the consequences are more severe.

Really, Chris Paul?...really?

-Take a Brow.
The boy Anthony Davis has in the past year won a Gold medal in the Olympics, won a National Championship at Kentucky, won the Naismith and Wooden POTY awards, and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. You gotta give this long, lanky, athletic freak from Chicago his props as no stage seems to big for him. A 6-9 former point guard that can block shots, grab boards, start fast breaks, and has a decent jumpshot? It's only a matter of time until Davis connects that success he's been having into NBA stardom.

Davis' unique skill set will catapult him to NBA stardom in due time.

-Where Brooklyn at?
Deron Williams knows that when it comes to a franchise that is building up high expectations, in the midst of one of the biggest media markets in the world, Brooklyn is on top, and there is no competition. The Nets didn't land Dwight Howard this off season, but BK will be the new perennial hot bed location for off season free-agent player interest. They put up big money to grab scoring guard Joe Johnson from Atlanta, and re-up'd on budding big man Brook Lopez's rookie contract. Add in the Williams extension and swingman Gerald Wallace, and you can clearly see that sky's the limit for Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference.

New look Nets are coming of age in Brooklyn.

-Do it again.
Show and prove time for Jeremy Lin.  Everyone wants to know if it was just a fluke you had, or are you really an elite point guard in this league?

The make or break time for Lin is now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

2012 NFL Week 5 'BIG UPS' 10-9-12

Catch Harvin if you can...watch your ankles though.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings. Looking for the most explosive player in the NFL? Look no further than one William Percival Harvin, III, Vikings' receiver/runner/return specialist extraordinaire. Harvin diced the Tennessee Titans this past Sunday for eight catches and 108 yards with a touchdown, a rushing TD, and a few linebackers and DBs with broken ankles. Harvin leads the league in YAC with a 8.4 average and he's averaging 38.3 yards per kick return, including a 105-yarder for a score last week against the Detroit Lions.

Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots.  It wasn't a perfect night for Ridley but it was major looking ahead for his career.  The Patriots are a passing team with a stable of running backs, but Ridley is emerging as the starting back of the future for New England.  He had a career-high 151 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown against the Denver Broncos after 22 carries and 106 yards rushing against the Buffalo Bills the previous week.  Ridley has to do a better job of holding on to the football though.  He has fumbled four times in his last 118 touches, a rate that will not sit well with Bill Belichick no matter how well he's playing.

Ryan Tannenhill, Miami Dolphins.  Tannenhill dons No. 17 and is also the 17th different starting quarterback for the Dolphins since Dan Marino retired in 1999.  Through the Jay Fiedler's, A.J. Feeley's, and Matt Moore's, the thing that makes Tannenhill stand out the most is his size and confident Marino-like swagger.  He is athletic enough to scramble but chooses to stand in the pocket and make passes while taking big hits.  This will endear him to his teammates in the long run.  The No. 8 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft is not getting the hype that RGIII and Andrew Luck are getting, but it won't be long before Tannenhill really starts coming into his own.  Case in point, the Week 5 win against the Cincinnati Bengals put Tannenhill into an elite category.  He is now the only rookie in NFL history to pass for more than 1,200 yards in his first five games with at least two wins.  Add on the Week 4 performance against the Arizona Cardinals when he threw for a Dolphins single-game rookie record 431 yards and it's clear to see that Tannenhill is on his way.  BIG UP.

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints.
Records keep piling up for Brees.
As a Dolphins fan it's hard to give Brees the BIG UP because I still remember the 2001 draft, when Miami desperately needed a franchise QB after Marino retired, and Brees was still available for the Dolphins to pick and they passed over him to take CB Jamar Fletcher when they already had two Pro Bowl corners in Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain on the roster. But I digress. Brees has basically gone from a fringe elite NFL quarterback to a lock for the Hall of Fame in just the past four years. Super Bowl winner, 5,000 yard passer, and now consecutive games (48) with a passing TD record passing the great Johnny Unitas (although it's noteworthy that Tom Brady will likely eclipse the Unitas mark in Week 17 if he throws a TD in every game this season).