Tag Archives: C.J. McCollum

2015-2016 Basketball Season Preview

12 Oct

The wait is almost over. It was a good ass off season, but it is time to start cranking it back up. Hoops season is back, and I couldn’t be happier. So let’s skip the foreplay and talk about the upcoming season, my favorite story lines A to Z.

ADIDAS

You could put Damien Lillard, Andrew Wiggins, and James Khardasian Harden on a barnstorming tour with 2 scrubs and they’d run shit……that is until they ran into the top 3 Nike ballers and their 2 scrubs.

If you were ever thinking about buying some Adidas stock, now would be the time to do it before the season starts (It has risen 10 points since I first checked it in September). That being said, just ask Ray J, Reggie Bush, Kris Humphries, Bruce Jenner, and Lamar Odom how much better their lives are after getting involved with that family. 

BILLY DONOVAN

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I was a little skeptical about the Billy Donovan hire. A year before KD’s free agency seemed like bad timing to try and shake things up. But after reading a couple of interviews, and after Monty Williams and Mo Cheeks were hired as assistant coaches, I feel a lot more optimistic about the Thunder’s upcoming season, and their chances of re-signing Kevin Durant. There will be a learning curve, but not nearly as steep as most first year head coaches.

He has all the tools (assuming his star players are healthy) to make the Western Conference Finals. Only a fool however; would try and compare his rookie season to Steve Kerr’s first year as coach. Kerr has been a GM, an announcer, and played for Lute Olson, Phil Jackson, and Gregg Popovich.  This is Donovan’s first season IN THE LEAGUE. It will take a series of fortunate bounces for Donovan to make it out of the West, and beat Lebron in the NBA Finals.

C. J. McCOLLUM

This is the year my man takes the leap and shows the world he was the player I thought he was when he was saucing up Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 

 The dude can get buckets, and he will be asked to help out with the scoring load for the Trailblazers. When they let Wes Matthews go, I think the front office was banking on C.J. staying healthy (he hasn’t played a full season in 3 years counting his senior year at Lehigh) and taking his game to a higher level. This could be a fun backcourt to watch in years to come.

DURANT

That is right. KD is back and he says he is feeling fine. The playoffs are not the playoffs without KD playing involved. I had gotten so used to the Thunder making the post season, that it felt odd to not have them around. It shows how fast six years can go by.

The EASTERN CONFERENCE

Not quite as wack as last year, but still kind of an eye sore for the basketball purists. Fred Hoiberg will be a breath of fresh air in the Chicago locker room. The Heat will be competitive again (more on them later I promise) and the Celtics will look to improve on their season by actually being .500 again. Lebron will have to work for it a little bit more, meaning they may lose 3 more games in the post season than last year. Unless there is a catastrophic injury to LBJ, you can pretty much pencil them in for the Finals. You cannot say that about ANY team in the west.

FEAR THE DEER

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J-Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks will push the Heat to 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Mark it! They are long, young, fast, and Jason Kidd, who was already a head coach on the court as a player, will be worth at least ten regular season wins alone.

The man is brilliant, and if you’ve ever wondered why people complain about Chris Paul as a leader, then go watch some old game footage of Kidd. Everyone who has ever played with Kidd talks about how great of a teammate and leader he was. As great of a player as Paul is, I’ve never once heard a teammate describe him as supportive. 

GRAYSON ALLEN

Yep. If you were worried that there wouldn’t be a white Duke player to rot against this year, I just served you one up on a platter. Grayson kept the Dukies in last year’s National title game, with some tremendous energy off the bench. If you took Steve Wojciechowski’s antics and gave Ron Paulus hops, then you would have this guy. I actually like this cat. He plays hard. He works hard. He can bang on you if you sleep on him, and from every interview I’ve seen he seems like a great teammate. 

He does not strike me as someone who takes anything for granted. But yeah, fuck Duke. I’d be shocked if they won it all this year. Tyus Jones is in the pro’s now, and that guy was the best PG they’ve had since Jay Williams. Go ahead and pencil in another early round exit for the Blue Devils. Nothing makes me happier than typing those words.

HASSAN WHITESIDE

This cat is like Andrew Bynum without the knee injuries. Homie can ball, but dude is a little “Goof Troop.” His 2K rating will surely go up this year, because he when he is in the lineup, you can expect bro to put up a double double—and that is just in rebounds and blocks. He doesn’t even need to score to affect the game. That being said, he can just easily do something stupid to get himself taken out of the game. But if rebounding and defense get you aroused, then grab a Kleenex and tune in to Miami Heat games.

 INJURIES

Fuck Injuries. Let’s pray for a year without any major injuries to the superstar players. We already know the score concerning Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving, but last season was just ridiculous.  Can we at least have every team playing in the post season relatively healthy? I’ll sacrifice a bucket of chicken to the injury gods. I suggest that you all do the same.

JUSTICE WINSLOW

What the fuck? I started out writing a basketball preview column and it has turned into 2014 Duke Blue Devils tribute. I cannot believe that Winslow fell to the number 10 pick. Every team that had the 4-9 picks are going to be kicking themselves. Winslow is fast, he plays defense, and he is athletic. You want to know why Duke won it all last year? It was because of this guy.

Winslow should have been playing in New York or Charlotte. He is my preseason pick for Rookie Of the Year. As my mother used to say to me whenever I was one strike away from an epic ass whupping , “If you don’t believe me then just hide and watch. 

KRZYZEWSKI KANSAS BASKETBALL  

As in the state of Kansas. This year there will be three Kansas teams in the top 25, and two of them, Wichita State and University of Kansas, have legitimate chances of being in the Final Four (if they can somehow avoid being put in the same bracket). The Shockers bring back the best backcourt in the country with Fred VanFleet and Ron Baker (Baker played in the PanAm games up in Toronto this summer with my boy Keith “K-Freeze” Langford). They are also bringing on Connor Frankamp to help out with the ball handling duties (he can shoot too). They are poised for a deep run into the tourney this year.

As for the Jayhawks, well this is finally the year I’ve been waiting for when Frank Mason and Wayne Selden came onto the campus as freshmen.  They are finally mature enough to take the helm, and you know Perry Ellis is going to quietly get his 20 points and 8 rebounds during his senior campaign.

Devonte Graham has one more year of experience under his belt, and Svi Mykhailiuk will be ready to contribute more on the court as a super sophomore. Self has a rotation of big men (Chieck please!!!!) in the front court, and they have the depth to wear a team down. With Hoiberg coaching the Bulls now, Self will have even less competition this year en route to his 13th straight Big 12 championship. Self’s stranglehold on the conference will end soon now that UT has made a major upgrade with Shaka Smart taking over for Rick Barnes.

 As for K-State? No one gives a shit about them. although i’ll give them props for almost beating TCu the other night in football.

LEAGUE PASS

This is the year I finally get it. Fuck this streaming shit. “Ain’t nobody got time for dat”

METTA WORLD PEACE

The Panda King is back on the LOL Lakers who may not be so LOL this year. It is still a rebuilding year, but did you ever think you’d see the day where you’d feel less hatred for the Lakers locker room than the Clippers? More on those busters later. If you ever want to take a trip to the twilight zone, follow Ron –ahem Metta on Twitter. Dude is out there. He elbowed Harden in the head way before it was fashionable to even feel that way. Maybe homie is Meta.

NEW FACES, NEW LACES, BUT NOTHING REALLY CHANGES

Other than Oklahoma City, the same teams will be in the playoffs. It was much harder to talk myself into Utah and Quinn Snyder (fuck Mizzou), and Phoenix,than it was to talk myself out of Memphis’ old ass roster.

ONE LAST DANCE

We are on the cusp of a new age in San Antonio. The new big three for the Spurs going forward will be “Lamarcus!!!!”,  Kyle “Slo-Mo” Anderson, and Kawhi Leonard. I think this is the year where the Spurs may actually be “too old” to win the NBA title.  I’m not sure how much Parker has left in the tank, Duncan will be fine, but this is certainly Manu’s last year to play in the NBA. I think the Spurs would have beaten the Clippers last year had they played Patty Mills more. They may need Patty and every other guard to chip in and lighten the load for Monsieur Parker.

PAUL PIERCE RETURNS HOME.

Jalen Rose correctly points out that this is the best roster that the LOL Clippers have ever had in the history of the franchise. 

You have a locker room filled with so many strong personalities that I think that this will be Doc Rivers finest job as a head coach, if he somehow gets this team to the NBA Finals (An NBA Finals that I will have no choice but to root for Lebron if the Clippers win the West–kind of like when I had to root for Chicago back in the late 90’s vs. Utah). I am extremely curious how things play out with Chris Paul, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson,Glen “Big Baby” Davis, and Austin Rivers.

What is the over/under on how many times Paul Pierce utters the phrase  “Ya’ll childish” as he exits the locker room while shaking his head? Who will be the guy who gets cut by the team for breaking Austin Rivers’ jaw? Remember when the Wizards had Javale McGhee, Javaris Critendon, Deshawn Stevenson, and Gilbert Arenas on the same team? If managing that team was like handling nitro glycerin, this Clipper roster is like juggling grenades.

QUICKEN LOANS ARENA

I think the Cavs go at least 37-4 at home this year. There is talk about them being “angry”, more focused and all that nonsense. They can do all that, but it’s a long season. They should focus more on being healthy. It isn’t a matter of if Kyrie will hurt himself again, but when. They will be a more cohesive unit than they were last year heading into the playoffs, and I can’t expect Kevin Love to lay another egg this season (I mean for him at least—he still put up decent numbers).  They will figure it out. They would have to try to not make the Finals in that conference.

RICK CARLISLE

He is reason enough that the Mavericks will make the playoffs.  He is poised to win Coach of the Year honors for the roster he is working with this season. Like I said before, he is the second best coach in the league behind “Pops.”

SIDELINE REPORTING

Just isn’t the same without Craig Sager and those goofy ass suits. I miss that dude.  I hope he gets well soon.

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TY LAWSON

Ty

If the Spurs would have somehow gotten Lawson, this season would have been a wrap. Ty finally has something to work with, and he has a lot to prove to all his doubters. The Rockets are going to get up and down the court and will average at least 110 points a game. Rockets games will be easier to digest—well that is until the 4th quarter where Harden starts initiating the free throw contests. But the first 3 quarters will be good. Give me a Rockets vs. OKC/Golden State/ San Antonio any night of the week though.

UNDER ARMOUR

Check the stocks. Under Armour is killing the game right now. Shares are like 102 points the last time I checked. Steph Curry is winning on the court and off of it. Homie got a little piece of the action and has bought stake in the company (Getting a little bit of everything in today’s preview at zero to little cost).

Speaking of winners, can we give props to Dell Curry? The guy had a very solid NBA career, married a beautiful and smart woman, and has two sons in the NBA. One of them is coming off of an NBA title, and the other played 4 years at Duke and just got a legit contract with the Kings. #Winning.

VUJACIC

Yes Sasha Vujacic is still in the league, and may be playing with the New York Knicks this season. Need I say more?

WILLIE CAULEY STEIN

The best player to come out of the state of Kansas in a very, very long time. He has height, lateral quickness, defense, and ups. He will get 8 points a game just from Rondo throwing him oops all season. Imagine if you could  let  Tyson Chandler play defense out on the perimeter. Exactly!!!

 

XAVIER (As in David West’s alma mater).

 I’ve always thought D. West would be the perfect Spur, and he will prove his worth on this roster. He is a true professional and after seeing him beat up on San Antonio throughout the years, it is cool to see him on the side of the good guys. I want so badly to pencil them in for the Finals. I just don’t know if they enough backcourt depth to make it happen. 

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YOUNG GUNS

New stars are good for the league. I’ve already talked about some of this year’s rookies, but the Teen Wolves will be the most fun 20 win team you’ve ever seen. They will compete, but they still not quite there yet. Kevin Garnett in that locker room will be nothing but an asset.

He’s already teaching those Youngbloods what it means to be a professional. They would make a great NBA Jam team. Wiggins, Lavine, and Shabazz Mahummud would be a fun trio to run with (Rubio as the alternate). They are not too far away from being where OKC was back in ’08-10. They just have to be smart (don’t laugh its possible—anything is possible) with personnel moves the next 3 years.

Utah has a decent core coming back. Going up to Salt Lake City is no longer an easy W. They are going to make teams earn it. I like Heyward. Trey Burke still has yet to hit his full potential, Rudy Gobert aint no punk, and we still don’t know where Dante Exum will be as a player. If they were in the Eastern Conference, I could be talked into them making the playoffs.

ZAZA PACHULIA, DERON WILLIAMS and WESLEY MATTHEWS

The three biggest additions to the Dallas Mavericks, and they will still make the playoffs. I rest my case.

 

Standings

West Standings (in no particular order)

Oklahoma City (if healthy)

Houston

Golden State

San Antonio

Memphis

Los Angeles Clippers

Dallas

New Orleans

 

East standings (in no particular)

Cleveland

Indiana

Heat

Atlanta

Boston

Chicago

Milwaukee

Detroit

 

Eastern Conference Finals

Cleveland vs. Milwaukee (Cleveland wins 4-2)

 

Western Conference Finals

Golden State vs. Oklahoma City (if healthy)

NBA FINALS

Oklahoma City (if healthy) vs. Cleveland (Cleveland wins 4-3)

 

 

 

 

March Madness begins in the Winter

19 Jan

Its different living in a non NBA city. Part of the fun of living in places like Portland and Oakland was the passion for NBA hoops. I was fortunate enough to see a Blazers game at the Rose Garden, and lived in Oakland during the crazy ’07 run by Don Nelson’s Warriors.

Pretty much since the great class of 2003 NCAA hoops has been a thing where I stop in to see who next good NBA baller will be. The gap in the quality of play is about as wide between the NBA and NCAA as it is between the NBA and WNBA (Men vs. Boys). The few times I stop in are the UNC-DUKE matchups (one day I will blow a grand to see that match-up in Cameron Indoor)and the NCAA tourney.

Living in Austin during this time period is a funny one. I moved here in ’01 knowing that UT athletics was on the verge of some fun times. The football team was in the hunt for a national title every year, and even the T.J. Ford led Horns were making some noise on the hardwood. Now both programs are perennial disappointments.

Looking ahead at the basketball schedule, I noticed some interesting games to be held in the drum this year despite the quality of Rick Barnes’ squads. I circled a few early before the season began, especially the game with KU, and UNC.

I even had a nice little week where I’d get to see three players that interested me. James McAdoo, C.J. McCollum, and Tony Mitchell. The UNC game would be easy, as the Tarheels would be coming to Austin. I’d have to travel to Denton to watch McCollum play against Mitchell.

UNC was actually coming to town. Legitimately one of the real blue bloods of college basketball–royalty.There was a semblance of historic awe about the game. UNC was historically a title contender and at this point the ‘Heels were a top ten team. I figured everything would be there to see the blood bath, what I’m sure no one guessed was the UT would be doing the blood letting.

I was trying to get a real gauge on this James Michael Mcadoo kid.
The Media had been hyping this kid up, with he and Strickland being the only legit returnees that I knew about.
From the tip off, things seemed to be off with UNC.

The first five minutes were a little blah.

From the onset, UT started pounding them on the boards. UNC’s offense seemed like it could never get into a rhythm and definitely had problems getting easy buckets. The Horns hustled down after every bucket on transition and UNC was not able to run the fast tempo offense that Roy Williams generally implements.

Part of the problem was that UT played very good defense and took smart shots on the offensive end, limiting Carolina’s fast break points. But it was also obvious that Roy lacks a true floor general. His teams generally only go as far as his backcourts would take him.

Rashaad McCants, Raymond Felton, Kendall Marshall, Ty Lawson, Rex Walters and Adonis Jordan, Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Miles and Jacque Vaughn

Well this team sorely lacked the kind of guy who could make everyone else’s jobs easier. They had to fight for each and every bucket and it took forever for them to get into an offensive set.

Even worse Macadoo seemed like an over-hyped dud. Bro was whining about the refs, whining when his teammates didn’t get him the ball. One time he fell down on a play and appeared to hurt himself and it took nearly two minutes before a couple of North Carolina’s bench-warmers came to check on him. The rest of the squad went to the huddle.

Which made me wonder if Mcadoo is even liked by his own team. His body language during the game reeked of Primadonna. It made sense. His uncle was Bob McAdoo. He was light skinned and (we all know that light skinned people think they are better than everyone—white people because they got a little color and black people because they got a little white in them).

But I’d seen crybabies like him before, guys like JR Giddens and Kellen Winslow II came to mind.

And in all my years of going to UT games and watching UT games. I haven’t seen such an empty stadium since the Tom Penders days. The venue was half empty lots of empty seats and burnt orange fans sprinkled with the powder blue. I had no idea so many UNC grads/fans lived in Austin.

Carolina Blue supporters went home disappointed. Go back to Tobacco Road, put that L in your pies and smoke it.

Carolina Blue supporters went home disappointed. Go back to Tobacco Road, put that L in your pies and smoke it.

That being said, that is the loudest I’d heard that venue since the T.J. Ford days and those games would be packed. The fans were in a frenzy and you could tell it was affecting the play of both teams. UT was clearly feeding off the energy while UNC seemed baffled half the time. It was ugly. I thought old Roy was gonna have another heart attack—the poor guy.

I wouldn’t be surprised if old Roy hangs it up in the next couple of years. He doesn’t look like he’s having much fun, and what else does he have to accomplish really? He’s in the twilight of his years. It may be time for him to do something else. Who knows.

The very next night I found myself in Denton, Tx. 3 rd row at the Super Pit. There were 58 NBA personnel there in attendance to see the matchup of Lehigh vs. UNT. I had seats right behind the Lehigh bench. C.J. McCallum the nation’s leading scorer was facing off against Tony Mitchell.

Mitchell of course, I’d seen a few times the previous year, during his freshman campaign. He was undoubtedly the best player to come through Denton since Sheldon Williams’ little brother played there. He fell into the laps of the Mean Green because of some academic problems that prevented Mitchell (a local boy from Pinkston)from playing at Mizzou.

He played well during his freshman campaign but the Mean green didn’t do well enough to make the NCAA tourney. The last time I had seen him play he’d air-balled a potential game winning trey against Arkansas State (former school of Arthur Agee from Hoop Dreams).

This was something I’d been looking forward to for a while, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out that McCallum, the point guard who dominated Duke in the NCAA’s last year wouldn’t be playing. What a dick tease.

Donnie Nelson who’d come to check it out, left early to go see the Mavs take a shellacking from the visiting Miami Heat.

I thought about leaving but decided to stay just because I’d come so far, buying a ticket a head of time, and coming up from Austin. I was glad I stayed. Mitchell had an okay game, didnt put up any real numbers until the game was out of hand.

Lehigh put it on the Mean Green. They have other players besides C.J. (who hung out on the bench in a brown suit helping his teammates with any tidbits he may have seen from the sideline—if the NBA doesnt work out for him he may be a great coach).

They are a great passing team, got rebounds when they needed and shot the 3 ball well. I could see them getting to sweet sixteen (and further depending on if they get McCallum back for the NCAA’s—he may shut it down for the year though). I could even see them beating Duke again.

After seeing what he had done against Duke last year I was convinced he’d be the best PG in the coutnry this year. I was pretty bummed I didn’t get to see him play.

As for Mitchell, one of the scouts was overheard saying that Mitchell would be best suited to stay in college a year. The new coach for the Mean green is pretty terrible and seems like a control freak, Mitchell may decide his best option is to go to Europe and play for a while before he’s NBA ready.

Fans and NBA scouts were screwed out of seeing what could have been private NBA workout in little old Denton, Texas

Fans and NBA scouts were screwed out of seeing what could have been private NBA workout in little old Denton, Texas

This Saturday I’m excited to go see Ben Mclemore play for KU at the Erwin center. I mistakenly thought that this year’s Jayhawks team would be boring. Part of that was the media’s attempt at portraying Jeff Withey as the go to player on the team. I’d seen plenty of what he had done last year and didn’t think he was the kind of guy to be the feature dude (I saw Nick Collison play and Withey was no Nick Collison—not by a long shot).

I judged the Jayhawks too harshly after the game against Michigan State because the game was so boring. I remember thinking there was no way I was making a trip up to Lawrence just to fall asleep in the rafters of Phog Allen court.

Then I heard about this McLemore kid, who apparently played AAU ball with Bradley Beal. I had a free Saturday afternoon to watch the Ohio State game and bro brought it. He came with it and willed the Jayhawks to a with timely scoring. The role players of course played very well, Travis Releford shipped in, Elijah Johnson played a solid game, and Withey had some blocks and boards, and of course my boy Kevin Young made timely plays(seems like something good always happened when he was in the game).

Last Tuesday though I was watching NBA and didn’t think to flip over to watch the KU- Iowa State game. The ticker would come up on the television and I saw the game was close but settled for highlights of the game. It ended in classic Allen Fieldhouse fashion with McLemore hitting a 3 to send it into overtime. They of course went on to win.

So this will be a treat, got a great seat for the game, it’ll be the day after my birthday, and I’m sure the KU faithful will bring their “Rock Chalk “ chants down here with them and fill up the Erwin Center with the blue and scarlet. The only question is when they do the Rock Chalk Chant, will I find myself swept up in it and chant along? And just as importantly am I allowed to as fan but not as an alumnus? Is it as elite a club as the Jews where conversion and immersion is absolutely necessary?

Honestly I don’t know, but I got a nice birthday present in the mail. It is as if God him(her)self is chanting for me to go to grad school in Lawrence.

No confusion as to who I will be rooting for on Saturday

No confusion as to who I will be rooting for on Saturday

Welcome to Austin,TX Jayhawk fans. Hope you have a safe and fun time while you are down here.

Shout out to Longdistancejayhawk.com.