Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sneaker Squeaks

Pivot, cut, jump stop, foot fakes
Going way, then another
Know what sound is like music on the hardwood?
Sneaker Squeaks
Mixed in with defensive call outs and other noises, squeaks standout
It's music to the ears
Just like being around animals, you must be quiet to hear
Multiple sneaker squeaks inspire me

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

LA Lakers: Valiant Effort

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
The LA Lakers look more formidable of late. Last night they beat the Hornets to bring their winning streak to three. While they nearly let the game slip to New Orleans late, is this push legit? Are the Lakers a team to look out for now?

It's too early to tell, but the changes in attitude and increased role definition mean something. The Lakers are carrying themselves differently from how they were earlier in the season. The team's more upbeat, the body language is better and that has as profound an impact on their play as any other factor.

When the LA Lakers believe, they can achieve! Basketball is more of a chess match in the mind than it is in the body. If the LA Lakers continue to hold each other up, to not let their emotions get the best of them, then they'll be a playoff team.

Just last night against the Hornets, Kobe Bryant lifted Earl Clark up. After Clark picked up a foul and hung his head, Kobe clapped it up, as if to say, "it's aight Earl!" Little emotional lifts are what make champions in basketball. The Lakes aren't near championship conversation right now, but they're in a much better place as a unit.

The role definition is begging to be more clear for this team. Kobe Bryant is being more of a facilitator, Steve Nash is healthy and taking on the role of the primary ball handler and Steve Blake is helping solidify the bench. Pau Gasol has been demoted to a bench role, but, if they continue to play the way they have been it could work out.

Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison and Steve Blake is a solid bench. Mike D'Antoni could go even deeper into the rotation with Robert Sacre or Devin Ebanks. Mike D'Antoni's rotation is great too because he really lets the starters rest when he gets the bench out there. No starter played more than 37 minutes against the Hornets last night and at this point in the season that's a good number.

That way the Lakers aren't going all out in the regular season and then gassed come playoff time. Mike D'Antoni deserves some credit too. He's spent enough time coaching the LA Lakers to begin understanding what they need to adjust in order to thrive.

Coach D'Antoni is listening to the players input too, or so it appears that way. The Lakers players and coaching staff are communicating more effectively. It shows when you watch them play. Coach D'Antoni knows the quirks of his guys now. He knows what buttons to push and when to push them, in order to get the most out of his squad.

The LA Lakers have a long ways to go. Despite coming from a low, they could still reach high if their effort level persists. Don't count the LA Lakers out just yet. The LA Lakers could surprise us all!

A Father First- Book Review

Dwyane Wade's A Father First is a great read. Dwyane Wade opens up about his custody battle and divorce and life off the court. It was great to hear from the Dwyane everyone knows and loves off the court, but, in A Father First, the Dwyane few know off the court comes to shine.

Dwyane Wade is a simple man who's got a strong support system, on the court and off. A Father First provides insights into how he does business, how his faith inspires him daily and details his families ups and downs.

What's best about this book? Dwyane Wade told his story and presented his life so you can see the person in him. Forget the awe inspiring alley oops and game winners, Dwyane Wade takes you for a ride down his own street.

As someone who looks up to these ball players, it's great to see that they're people too. A Father First sheds light on the bad days in an NBA superstars life. Don't think NBA superstars have rough days? Read A Father First and tell Dwyane Wade how easy he had it!

Reading about Dwyane's childhood in Chicago was inspiring. Dwyane Wade is a marvel of a success. To go through what he details in A Father First, to then being an Olympic gold medalist and an NBA champion is truly remarkable. Dwyane Wade certainly didn't do it alone though.

Dwyane Wade is a humble individual who knows he can't do it all. That's evident in A Father First. Wade acknowledges his friends, his family, his business partners, his whole crew. To be so young and so on top of things really is a wonder. Dwyane Wade has his life in order and it was a pleasure to see not only it be about him in his own book, but to hear about Lisa Joseph and other members of TEAM NO SLEEP!, as Dwyane calls them.

Say what you want about the Miami big three and the competitive balance of the NBA, but don't question Dwyane's business know how. He's got the right people behind him and it beams through in this great piece of literature.

This book is especially great for families. Dwyane's talk about forgiveness is particularly admirable. Read this book if you want to become closer as a family, learn from a great role model in Dwyane Wade and of course if you looove basketball!

A Father First resonates highly with me. Pickup a copy and comment below about what you think about it. A Father First gets four out of five basketballs!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rajon Rondo: Sending Best Wishes

Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn right ACL. Rondo suffered the injury late in a game Friday against the Atlanta Hawks. Word came Sunday during the Celtics afternoon game against the Miami Heat in Boston. During halftime of the game, the Celtics coaching staff was told of the news, but not the team.

The Celtics went on to win the game against Miami in double overtime. In his postgame interview with Doris Burke, Paul Pierce was asked about the injury and Paul was clearly taken aback. How could you not be, though?

Rajon Rondo was a late scratch for the early afternoon showdown Sunday. The Celtics played the game without him, but must've thought something was up. Rajon Rondo was having a standout season and now has to recover from knee surgery.

All we can do is wish Rajon Rondo a speedy recovery. As other players have shown, recovery is possible and not only can you return to the NBA, but you can shine. Rajon Rondo is loved throughout the league and here at NBAtipoff. Be well Rajon Rondo! Hope to see another tantalizing ball fake soon!

Lakers Thunder Analyzing the Stats


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Taking a Look at the NBA All Star Starter Matchups


Most teams have already reached the halfway point in their season, and it seems like once again the NBA season is flying by.
Stars are preparing to lace up their sneakers and get ready for the All Star game on February 17.
The festivities show promise, especially seeing the amount of returning faces to the starting lineups.

But how will the starting lineups stack up against each other?

1. At the point guard position…
Chris Paul vs. Rajon Rondo

Two of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA this season, Rondo and Paul have separated themselves as the best of their respective position.
Paul has the quickness and the ball handling skills that are unmatched in the NBA, and Rondo has the craftiness and the leadership ability that give him an edge over almost every point guard that he has faced this season.
I will give this matchup to Chris Paul, but not by much.  Rondo may lead the league in assists, but quickness kills, and Paul is the quickest point guard in the league.
Rondo is already one of the most turnover prone players and 9 times out of 10 he is driving to the basket; especially with Chris Paul’s tantalizing defense, turnovers should be an expected problem for the east.

2. Coming in at the 2 guard…
Dwyane Wade vs. Kobe Bryant

It’s hard to believe, but these guys are going to be two of the oldest players in the All Star game.
Now lets take a look at the matchup.
Kobe has the jump shot and has proved over the course of this season that age has taken little affect on his game.
Wade however has struggled this season. After missing a lot of the 2011-2012 season, it is obvious the Dwyane Wade is not the same man that we saw in the 2006 finals vs. Dallas. He is not able to score at nearly the same rate that he once was.
Basically, Wade might have been able to slash, but like LeBron’s talent in 2009 his game has gone south for the year. So I will give this matchup to the Mamba.

3. At Small Forward…
LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant

This is probably the premier matchup to look forward to in this year’s game.
Representing the Eastern Conference you have the 28 year old, 3 time MVP who is being forced to carry a team on his shoulders.
Representing the Western Conference you have a 6’9” shooting guard with a monster like wingspan, who has shown that on the offensive end of the court he can score on any player in the league.
But who will win the matchup?
This time I’m going with the eastern conference.
LeBron has shown the whole season that he knows how to carry a team, and with an aging eastern conference squad he will have to do it again.
Durant may be able to score at will, but James has the athleticism and the strength to slow him down.
The Heat Thunder matchup on Christmas day should foreshadow what the All Star game matchup will be like. Both James and Durant will light up the box scores, but James will end up on top.

4. At Power Forward…
Blake Griffin vs. Carmelo Anthony

Another great matchup for the highlight reels.
Anthony brings his amazing scoring ability to the table while Griffin brings his dazzling athleticism.
Although this promises to be a great matchup, we will go with Griffin.
He might not have the all around game that Melo has, he has proven to be a good defender while being 5 times as athletic as Melo.
We also have to look at the statistics. Griffin is not only 2 inches taller than Carmelo, but outweighs him by 20 pounds.
While Carmelo may have improved his defensive game over the offseason, he cannot match Griffin’s strength. And if that isn’t enough, over the last year we’ve seen Griffin consistently try to expand his game, and he is pretty comfortable knocking down the 18-foot jump shot.

5. Center…
Dwight Howard vs. Kevin Garnett

Not the most exciting of the 2013 NBA All-Star festivities, but definitely a good matchup…
 if you like the Western Conference.
No disrespect to Kevin Garnett (seeing that he is a future 1st ballot hall of famer), but Dwight Howard is the overwhelming favorite in this matchup.
Howard is young, athletic, and although he has still not recovered from his back injury, he is definitely ready to take on a player like Garnett.
He outrebounds Garnett by 5 rebounds per game, and can outscore him at will.
From the Center position it is not looking good for the east.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Damian Lillard: Game Changer?

Damian Lillard. Image from College Life.
Damian Lillard is a rookie making loud noise in the NBA. Damian Lillard is sharp on both sides of the ball, can play off the ball offensively and has poise reminiscent of Derrick Rose. Scott Hastings of Altitude TV compared Damian Lillard to a mix of Isaiah Thomas and Stephen Curry.

Still doubt that rookie Damian Lillard is legit? Try telling that to Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. Damian Lillard's usage percentage, per NBA.com, is 23.6%. That means Lillard is involved in almost a fourth of the Blazers plays.

For a team with LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicholas Batum, that says a lot. Damian Lillard sets the tone for the Blazers. He gets them into their offense and can create for himself.

Damian Lillard is a dynamic guard who has a long way to go, but certainly has played to please. Where can Damian Lillard improve?

Damian Lillard needs to work on his defense and strength.

While defending at the guard position in the NBA is never an easy task, there are times when Damian Lillard gets light up by the opponents PG. While great defense can always be beaten by better offense, there's no reason Lillard couldn't tighten up his defensive fundamentals. Rotating to the open man, boxing out the shooter at the free throw line and communicating on pick and roll defense are all keys. The little nuances of defense are what Lillard must gain experience in.

Damian Lillard can already finish despite contact. He's shown the ability to do that which is fantastic. To continue climbing up the mountain, Damian Lillard should add five, maybe ten pounds of muscle to start bangin' even more! If he adds more muscle, he could even start posting up small guards. Russell Westbrook came into the league not getting into the post much at all, but he's added that to his game. Who's to say Damian Lillard couldn't?

Damian Lillard is a guy to watch. He plays the game the right way and is in a terrific situation with the Blazers. What's the limit? Only Damian Lillard knows! Keep your eyes peeled on Damian Lillard. It's clear Damian Lillard is a game changer.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Shooting


Shoot the ball
Whether you're small or tall
Don't stall!
Only thing you can trust is yourself; not the ball
The time to practice your shot's now
If you don't work hard, why grind?
The best shooters work on their form
That's why they're hard to scorn!
Spread the fundamentals, not the crab dribble
Only the famished will take a nibble
Don't forget to dribble!