Tick-Tock: Lakers’ Brown must win now

Mike BrownOn paper, the Los Angeles Lakers have one of the best starting line up’s the NBA has ever seen. By adding  two-time MVP point guard Steve Nash and three-time defensive player of the year Dwight Howard, the Lakers added to an already stacked team that includes Pau Gasol and one of the best to ever play the game, Kobe Bryant.

Last season was a disappointment.

In a shortened season, the Lakers finished with a losing record away from the Staples Center. (14-16) Even though they won the Pacific Division for the 33rd time and earned the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, they were outrun by a young, up and coming team in the Thunder during the semi-finals.

Many of their shortcomings were put on the shoulders of first-year head coach Mike Brown and for good reason. It’s not easy to replace a legend and unfortunately it’s not going to get any easier this season.

During his introductory press conference Brown stated “We don’t play for second here, it’s as simple as that.”

The pressure started at that moment and now the lofty goals for the Lakers continue. While Brown had his excuses from last season there are none to be heard of this year.

Off to a slow start, the Lakers can’t afford to not gel in a timely manner.

With injuries to Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard getting back into shape the Lakers haven’t had the game experience yet.

What must worry Lakers’ fans, Last season the rotations Brown used took too long to mesh together and at many times he would randomly pick a player to give huge minutes to out of thin air. Brown must find the rotations to use and quickly.

The truth is if the Lakers are unable to unseat the Heat and bring home a 17th Championship the season will be a failure and Mike Brown will be the scapegoat.

NBA 2012: Story lines, predictions

Dwight Howard-Ray AllenJust think, a year ago we were all telling jokes about how LeBron James had no rings, no killer instinct, and couldn’t put the team on his back.  Now after he won the NBA Championship, MVP, NBA Finals MVP, and an Olympic Gold Medal in the past year we are now asking what’s next?  Can LeBron take himself to MJ levels?  Can he be the greatest of all-time?  And that has to be the main storyline for the upcoming 2012-13 season.

The Miami Heat:  The Heat come into 2013 as the defending champions and all the pressure is on them to take control of the NBA like they did last year.  The big storyline is can they repeat?  If so, can they go on a historic run like Jordan did with the Bulls and win multiple titles in a row?  Miami not only has the best player in the NBA, LeBron, but they now surrounded that man with shooters all around him signing the best 3-point shooter off all-time, Ray Allen.  Last year in the Playoffs, the Heat figured out who they are and it only took them two years to do it!  The Heat run an unprecedented offense with “no positions”, it will consist of LeBron doing whatever he wants and surrounding him with shooters.  The Miami Heat are clearly the team to beat in the NBA.

Los Angeles Lakers: Arguably the next biggest storyline of the off-season was the Lakers making trades to give a three-year window to allow Kobe Bryant to at least (and hopefully surpass) Michael Jordan’s six NBA Titles.  The Lakers shocked the world by not only getting Steve Nash (the best point guard that Kobe will ever play with), they traded for the much maligned and best Center in the NBA, Dwight Howard.  The Lakers are now four-deep in their starting lineup with potential Hall-of-Famers, and the Artest formerly known as Ron, Metta World Peace will only have to be a spot up shooter and play defense.  The question is can this team gel and do they have enough in their legs to last a grueling 82 game season with a long playoff run?  Dwight Howard is the great equalizer and one of the best defenders in the NBA who can clog the middle.  The Lakers will be learning to play with each other on the run and are installing the new Princeton offense.  The Lakers will start slow but will hit their stride later in the season, don’t panic if the start off around .500.

James Harden Trade:  The Los Angeles Lakers main competition to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals to a big step when the Oklahoma City Thunder abruptly traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets.  As a small market team, the Thunder “said” they couldn’t have three max players and decided to low-ball James Harden after paying Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge  .  In the short-term, the Thunder are hurt by this trade in the Western Conference, they get a big-time scorer in Kevin Martin and a developmental two-guard with Jeremy Lamb, but that won’t replace the Sixth-Man of the Year.  In the long-term the Thunder might be better off.  Westbrook and Durant are still in their early 20′s and will eventually have to sign another contract, Sam Presti and the Thunder want to make sure that the talent they have will get better and they know in three years that the Lakers will potentially be without Nash and Bryant. Read more…

Top 5 Fantasy Basketball centers

Dwight Howard Lakers

Dwight Howard LakersBeing 5’8 I vicariously live through every big man in the NBA. As an outstanding Center on the YMCA Green team I consistently had 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 5 fouls every game. My numbers were never fantasy worthy and probably the reason that I spend most of my time analyzing players now instead of making the effort to play. I am hoping that my son has an inkling of a chance, but unfortunately with 5’8, 5’4, 5’6, and 5’7 in the lineage, his hopes are looking very slim. The guys below tower over my ancestors and me, because of this they have the best chance of producing every night for my fantasy hopes and dreams. Below are my 2012 Fantasy Basketball: Top 5 Centers.

Top 5 Centers

1. Dwight Howard: Superman is just that, Superman. Howard is definitely my top ranked Center this year. Playing with the Lakers, he is surrounded by a cast of talented players. This potentially could hurt some of the potential scoring, but on Fantazzle’s leagues he makes up for it through blocks and rebounds. Howard averages 38 minutes per game and scores 20 points a night. This pretty much guarantees us a 20 point head start. The true scoring comes from the average of 14 rebounds a game and 2 blocks a night. I see Dwight as a consistent 30 point guy and will definitely be taking him in all limited lineup games. He may be too pricey in salary leagues, but can be worth the money if you can level out the scoring between cheaper utility players.

2. Al Jefferson:  Jefferson is the Jazz and the Jazz revolve around Jefferson. He hasn’t been as consistent in the preseason this year, but when the ball is thrown into the air for the first tip-off, Jefferson will be getting the rock. Jefferson is a 20 point 10 rebound guy every night. He doesn’t have the ability to get the blocks that Howard had, but he will be consistent. I feel like his salary point will be lower than a couple of the other guys, so he is definitely a good pickup.

3. Andrew Bynum:  In my mind, Bynum is the closest thing to Howard on the list. If he is healthy and stays healthy then he will be my pick in weekly leagues and definitely limited lineup leagues. He had an All-Star season last year and should continue his success. I predict him to have 20 points, 11 rebounds, and at least 1 block a night. Remember this, if he gets healthy and remains that way he is a great pickup. Read more…

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Orlando Magic ready to move on from Dwight Howard

Jacque VaughnWe’ve seen it before in multiple sports and even in Orlando once before. A centerpiece leaves and the team falls to the bottom of the pack. The Orlando Magic refuse to believe this will be the case.

According to theOrlando Sentinel “When you throw the term ‘rebuilding’ [around], it kind of implies as if you’re almost willing to lose,” shooting guard Arron Afflalo said. “And I don’t think there’s a guy in the locker room, management or on the coaching staff that is willing to lose.”

To their credit they believe the Magic won’t be anyone’s pushover, but looking at the franchise there is not much to bring back from the Dwight Howard-less playoff run of 2012.

The Magic held on to Dwight Howard knowing they would eventually be forced to trade him, but it’s hard to say what the Magic received from trading away a top-5 NBA player. Sure, the additions of Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, and Nikola Vucevic help but it’s the future first-round pick from each the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers that will determine how well the trade went for the Magic.

Ultimately, despite the Magic’s strong and positive beliefs, they must replace what Dwight Howard was. Orlando was ranked among the league’s top defenses each year with Howard as he won Defensive Player of the Year through 2008-2011.  Howard was the Magic’s centerpiece on defense as they funneled the opposing offense to him under the basket. Finding a replacement, isn’t an option.

The new faces surrounding the Magic continue as they also turn to a new head coach in Jacque Vaughn.  “Fresh energy” is how Vaughn described the atmosphere at media day.

With entirely new management, new coaching staff and 12 new players, the Magic will have their work cut out for them, but Vaughn said “We’re going to try to win every game, we’re going to try to win every possession. I think as soon as you do anything but try to do that, you run the risk of creating an atmosphere that you don’t want to create.”

The Magic have their work cut out for themselves.

Ménage à Trois: The NBA’s love triangle

Don’t worry, my loyal readers, this isn’t some kind of actual weird love triangle with NBA players, where Chic-Fil-A fans will burst into my house and ‘teach me a lesson’.  Instead, this ‘Love Triangle’ in the NBA is the top three teams trying to win my affection and eventual choice as the favorites going into the NBA season a couple of months away.

Those three teams are, of course, the defending NBA Champions the Miami LeBrons Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and after stealing Dwight Howard away from the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Think of it like the Bachelorette finale (shameless way of getting girls attention to keep reading), I went on three different dates and met the players and the families a.k.a. the Front Office’s of the three teams, but who did I give my final rose to?

Seeing as I’m getting older, I wanted to feel young again so my first encounter was with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  They took me out to the only bar in Oklahoma City and tried liquoring me up to get me to give it up. (It being the rose, get your mind out of the gutter!). I enjoyed my time with them, they have a young nucleus with Kevin Durant, turns 24 next month, Russell Westbrook, turns 24 a month into the season, and James Harden, turns 23 this month.  Durant is the biggest mismatch in the NBA standing at 6’11 as small forward, or the 3, and has in the gym range.  The Thunder were the favorites after defeating the Spurs in the Western Conference Championship, but got caught up by their lack of experience and LeBron realizing he’s the best player since Michael Jordan, and evolving like he’s a Pokemon character.  But with this team getting older, more mature, and simply getting better they made a strong argument for the final rose.

Next up, I took my talents to South Beach..(I had to.)  LeBron, a limping DWade and a still dapper and great-haired Pat Riley picked me up from the airport in LeBron’s Mom’s Hummer, I didn’t appreciate their lack of love for the ecosystem, but I was impressed.  After wining and dining me all night, the master negotiator, Riley, made his pitch on why they deserved my final rose.  The aforementioned greatest player since Jordan, LeBron James, figured out how to play as their point forward, Wade is now his Scottie Pippen, and they signed the greatest three-point shooter ever, Ray Allen, while also signing Rashard Lewis, one of the most overpaid athletes of all-time, but he has one job – hit threes.  The Heat will keep playing the Oregon offense in the fast-break, while posting up LeBron and putting 4 shooters around him, not to mention they are the best defensive team in the league.  Nice job Pat. Read more…

Lakers get Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard and Andrew BynumThe long national Dwightmare is over. According to multiple reports, Dwight Howard will be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as early as tomorrow.

In the proposed four-team trade the Lakers will send Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers and Philly will send Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets. The Orlando Magic will get multiple players and first round draft picks from all three other teams.  Read more…


Dennis Rodman speaks to the youth of today

I read somewhere that Dennis Rodman is putting out a children’s book.  More power to him.

I’m not necessarily saying that the Madonna-tutored, ex-bad boy, who once traveled the nation with his own bartender, dyed his hair every different color of the rainbow and kicked an NBA cameraman in the groin on live television ISN’T the least likely of candidates to speak to America’s youth.  I’m just saying if I were a parent, I probably wouldn’t bring my four-year old to the book signing, unless of course, it was open bar.

Rodman getting in touch with his inner child inspired me to think of the least likely book titles we’d ever see.

Fasten your seatbelts and if you’re easily offended, please turn away.

Gambling is Bad by Michael Jordan

The Perfect Golf Swing by Charles Barkley

Decision-Making 101 by Dwight Howard

Read more here…

Orlando Magic: Single again

Lots of people are on dating websites these days.  In fact, it’s safe to say the internet has revolutionized the way lovers meet.  It’s quite brilliant, actually.  The airwaves have taken the whole, too-timid-to-make-the-first-move quandary right out of the shy guy’s equation.  Thank you, Al Gore.

In light of Dwight Howard’s repeated stance that he will NOT remain a member of the Orlando Magic, much like his Shaquillish predecessor, I thought it might be time for Orlando to create a dating profile of its own, since the franchise apparently can’t keep a good man on lock.  After all, one can only take so much rejection before resorting to more drastic measures.

Let us not sit in judgment.  Haven’t you ever encouraged a friend unable to find that special someone to dabble with internet dating?   Well, now it’s Orlando’s turn.  A persuasive, dating profile might be all the Magic need to change its image and finally find its one true love.  Hey, I’m just here to help. Read more here….

The Houston Rockets rolled the dice

Jeremy LinThe Houston Rockets should never go anywhere and gamble… EVER. Recently the Rockets tried to out smart their fellow NBA teams by offering some sneaky contracts to players. Their thoughts were to try and lock up these individuals so that the franchises couldn’t be able to be major players in the 2013 free agency. This free agency will feature certain players like Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard (if he doesn’t get traded and sign a deal). The new CBA has called for some steep penalties if the teams go over the salary cap.

Houston recently has made certain moves to make sure they would have enough room to sign two mega stars preferably Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Its no secret that Paul and Howard have expressed interest in playing with each other. Recently Houston waived Luis Scola in efforts to make room for their cap and trade for Dwight Howard. The Rockets made a move to block the New York Knicks from the Howard sweepstakes by offering Jeremy Lin, a restricted free agent to an offer worth 25.1 million dollars. This move, couldn’t be because Lin deserves this much but to gamble and think that Knicks liked Lin so much that they wouldn’t let him walk.

Unfortunately for the Rockets it looks like the Knicks will call the bluff and let him go play for the Rockets.  Read More…

Why the Lakers need Howard more than Bynum to win a ring

Dwight Howard and Andrew BynumDwight Howard is the most dominant force in the NBA at his position. I say that with all due respect to Andrew Bynum the 24 year old up and coming beast that is the current Laker center and arguably the second best center in the league.

Bynum is no Howard. This should go without saying, but the proof is in the pudding to coin the old cliche’.

You say, look at those post moves and footwork that Bynum displays with ease after honing for 7 years now with help for the likes of Kareem Abdul Jabbar and surely a point or two from Kobe here and there. Bynum averaged 11.8 REBS and 18.7 PPG on .558 FG percentage from the field this past season. Not bad for a 2nd or 3rd option huh?

Bynum’s numbers speak to his skills improving dramatically over the past couple of years to the point where he is now on the path to becoming a perennial NBA All-Star and first or second team all NBA for years to come.

Still, Bynum is no Howard. Howard’s numbers are better of course, but not by much as you may be aware. 14.5 REBS and 20.6 PPG on .573 FG percentage from the field. Only 2 points and about 3 rebounds a game more than Bynum, he shoots a bit better as well. Not MVP numbers but without question the best at his position on the offensive end of the court, if not by much.

Where Howard becomes a “super-beast”, if there is such a thing, is on the defensive end of the court. He defends like no other player in the NBA today. He is now for the 3rd consecutive time the NBA defensive player of the year. With players like Lebron James, Kevin Garrnett, Serg Ibaka, and Tyson Chandler only dreaming of having his abilities to stop scorers from even thinking of driving to the rim, Howard is the lynch pin of any All-Defensive team the NBA could put together.  Read More…

Dwight Howard is on his way to the Lakers

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

The prize for the Lakers is, of course, Dwight Howard.

Supposedly, the framework for the blockbuster trade is in place. The Lakers will send Andrew Bynum to Orlando and get Howard in return.

The deal is contingent, however, on Bynum signing an extension with Orlando. No word on weather the Lakers are demanding the same from Howard.

The addition of Howard, along with recently acquired Steve Nash, would make the Lakers favorites to win a championship next season.

Reports are that Howard has already spoken to Kobe Bryant and Nash. The trade is supposed to be finalized over the weekend.

(Will be updating this story throughout the day. Stay tuned. Read the updates here..

A fair trade: Me for Dwight and Dwight for me

It appears life is not without a sense of irony.

As an Orlando Magic fan and sports blogger (of the year, mind you), I’ve written my fair share of articles about Dwight Howard, 38 to be exact.  That’s probably more than your average Orlando Sentinel beat writer.

Well, some news came down the pipe this week that made me chuckle and, if nothing else, bring my article count to 39.

I’m being traded for Dwight Howard.

Like I said, irony.

Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste.  My name is Chris Humpherys.  And thanks to my namesake, I’m getting a lot more attention these days.  No, I’m not Kris Humphries, the journeyman, NBA power forward who has played for four, and now quite possibly his fifth, team in nine seasons.  Not the Kris Humphries who was taken in and then spit out by Bruce Jenner and a handful of Kardashians.  I’m Chris Humpherys bartender/sports blogger/ overall troublemaker and I live in Tampa, Florida, potentially only an hour drive from my namesake’s future home. Read more here…

Dwight Howard, make up your mind

He’s going. He’s staying. He’s going. He’s staying. He wants the coach fired. He doesn’t want the coach fired. He’s going.

This is what we have had to put up with from (the soon-to-be-ex?) Orlando magic center Dwight Howard all season long. And we’re going to have to put up with it all summer, too.

It should come as no surprise that it is being reported that Dwight Howard wants out of Orlando. Again. Keep in mind that the Magic have fired head coach Stan Van Gundy (per Dwight’s request) and GM Otis Smith (probably per Dwight’s request, too). They have done all this just to appease their super diva center. And he’s still not happy.

If the Magic have any sense at all they will trade him as soon as possible. The longer Dwight stays, the more damage he can do to the organization. I have never seen a single player wreak havoc on an organization like this before. And that includes Terrell Owens and Latrell Sprewell. Read more here…

Random thoughts on the NBA Playoffs so far, looking ahead

After watching the Clippers outscore the Spurs by 22 points in the first quarter of Game Three of their playoff series, it appeared, if ever so briefly, that San Antonio was not as invincible as everyone thought.  Then we saw them retaliate with a 50-17 run of their own and realized, perhaps they are.

At only 23 years old each, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are disturbingly good.  The Los Angeles Lakers had to play their very best just to be able to stay on the same floor as them.  The future of the league is in good hands.

Read more here…