NBA Dunks: Top Ten Dunk Contest Dunks

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Today’s Top 10 list is the dunk contest edition and we’re in for a treat. If anybody wants to debate which professional sports league has the best athletes, I present these dunks as Exhibit A for the NBA cause.

I think I realized I’d never make the NBA after I watched my first dunk contest. Maybe I’d learn to shoot, dribble, and pass well enough, but I didn’t have the pixie-dust to fly like MJ.

My top 10 list will include a lot of familiar dunks and dunkers, but no foul-line dunks. Not Dr. J’s, not MJ’s. You guys can send me hate mail, but I stubbornly refuse to consider these great dunks. Any mediocre NBA athlete can dunk from the foul line. It’s just not that hard. Brent Barry did it!

Actually, there is one foul-line dunk, but it’s not going to be the one you guys expect!

10. MJ Leaner

Classic MJ dunk delivered with a lot of flair. Almost looks like he’s going to mess up the dunk before he recovers in mid-air in spectacular fashion. Look for the little hesitation to see what I’m talking about.

(NOTE: The dunk is 33 sec into the video)

9. Dwight Howard Volleyball Dunk

I’m choosing this dunk over the far more popular Superman dunk for one reason. He didn’t even dunk the ball! He just threw it in! Talk about an overhyped dunk.

8. Dwight Howard Behind the Backboard

Even though the Superman layup wasn't a dunk, you still have to respect the man’s dunking ability. Unbelievably hard dunk. Not only does he have to avoid hitting his head on the backboard, but he finishes with the left, too!

7. Vince Carter alley-oop through the legs

Another through the legs dunk. This Carter dunk ranks so high not because of the originality, but because of how clean the dunk is. Does any other dunker make the near impossible look so effortless?

6. Gerald Green Bday Cupcake

Sadly, this candle represents Gerald Green’s NBA Career.

5. Jason Richardson off the glass, between the legs

Off the glass, between the legs. Just had to say it again and let it sink in.

4. James White D-League FT Windmill

After stumbling upon this D-League All-Star Game gem, I’ve made the executive decision to include the dunk. I mean the D-League is part of the NBA , right? And how can this dunk not be on the list? A vicious windmill from the free throw line. Dwarfs all the other free throw line dunks in comparison, don’t you think?

3. Jason Richardson, another between the legs

A truly exciting, original take on the between the legs dunk.

2. 'Nique Windmill Tomahawk

This dunk followed our #10 dunk in the ’85 Contest and defies description. Is it a windmill? Is it a tomahawk? Nobody can combine power and grace the way Nique could.

(NOTE: The dunk is 45 sec into the video)

1. Vince Carter Reverse 360

The best individual dunk from the best set of dunks in NBA Dunk Contest history.

NBA Season Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

Last year's record: 23-59
Head coach: Scott Brooks
Projected Starters: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nenad Kristic


The Thunder are set for the future, with a starting five filled with young talent that must have Scott Brooks thanking the good lord every morning he wakes up. But for the present, they might be too young to figure into the playoff race. Either way, it will be exciting to watch these guys grow up and progress.


Jay – Shaun Livingston. Some people forget, but Livingston was one of the most gifted young point guards in the league before his gruesome injury. At 6'7", Livingston reminded a lot of folks of Magic Johnson. I don't know if I would have ever gone that far, but if Livingston can regain some of his youthful athleticism the Thunder will have a hell of a point guard.

Tommy - Jeff Green. He's definitely not your normal power forward, but Green could present mismatches for almost any power forward in the game. Just imagine Kevin Love trying to handle Green's quickness...

TJ - Jeff Green is still a bit of a project at the power forward position; however his continued growth is essential to the success for this stellar young team.

Biggest question mark:

Jay – How quickly does this team progress? I think it's safe to say that, if this team sticks together, they should be a lethal mix in a few years. But can they do it sooner? With all the speed, quickness, and skill the Thunder possess, I wouldn't be too surprised. But I don't expect it. Not yet.

Tommy - Does athleticism trump experience? If it did, the Thunder would be one of the top teams in the league. Unfortunately, experience counts for a lot in the NBA. So the Thunder better grow up, quick.

TJ - Can Kevin Durant become the perennial NBA superstar that the media is making him out to be? Do not get me wrong I love KD, but up to this point he is just a long athletic shooter who can really fill it up. I would not be so fast to compare him to the likes of a LeBron James or Dwayne Wade.

Most compelling storyline:

Jay – Kevin Durant's climb towards NBA superstardom. With Durant, it isn't a question of when he will become a superstar, it's a question of when that day will come. It should be illegal to do half the stuff he can do at 6'10". I can still outbench him, but I probably couldn't do this...

Tommy – If you ever played AAU basketball, you're familiar with teams like the Thunder. Long, athletic teams who often don't quite play with any semblance of fundamentals.

TJ – The job that general manager Sam Presti has done up to this point is outstanding. If he can use the cap room that he has saved for next summer on a dominant big man like Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire, this team will be title contender within the next three years.

Player to watch:

Jay – James Harden. I love this kid. He reminds me a lot of Paul Pierce, the way he plays slowly and methodically but always seems to get where he needs to go. I expect big things out of Harden, and I expect him to have an instant impact. This kid's game is far more mature than a normal rookie's. And, somehow, I went through an entire preview of the Thunder without mentioning Russell Westbrook or Jeff Green. That speaks to the amount of talent on this team.

Tommy - Shaun Livingston and his recovery. Once upon a time, he had the vision of Nash with the height of a small forward. Last year, he played more like a journeyman. This year...?

TJ - Two players you should watch on this team are Russell Westbrook and James Harden. This backcourt can become deadly if the chemistry is there. They both offer a wide variety of skills that could translate into the Thunder becoming the most exciting team in basketball next season.

Projected Record:

Jay – 39-43

Tommy – 38-44

TJ – 40-42

NBA Season Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

Friday, October 9, 2009

Last year's record: 24-58
Head coach: Kurt Rambis
Projected Starters: Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes, Kevin Love, Al Jefferson


Minnesota hopes the tough inside duo of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love will be enough to lead them into the playoffs. Unfortunately for the T-Wolves, there is no chance of them realistically making a run at the postseason. However, for now they can hang their hopes on the development of youngsters Jefferson, Love and Flynn, not to mention a certain floppy-haired point guard currently playing basketball in Spain.


Jay – Corey Brewer. There were high hopes for Brewer out of Florida. Many touted him as a Scottie Pippen-like defender with budding offensive skills. He's been injured throughout his short career, but even when healthy Brewer has failed to live up to his expectations. He still has length and athleticism galore, but he'll need to really develop to become a key player for these Wolves.

Tommy - A young team with some shocker potential. Kevin Love has to take another step forward in his development if they want to compete.

TJ - Ramon Sessions. He flashed some brilliance in Milwaukee, but must do so on a more consistent basis to bring Minnesota a few more wins.

Biggest question mark:

Jay – Point guards, point guards, point guards. Why the hell is Minnesota GM David Kahn going after so many point guards? WIth two picks in the top ten, Kahn selected two point guards, when he could have used at least one of those picks to shore up Minnesota's glaring lack of wing players. He then signed point guard Ramon Sessions and traded for point guard Antonio Daniels. On the bright side, they'll have a lot of ballhandlers.

Tommy - Frontcourt defense. Neither Jefferson or Love are known for their defense.

TJ - Why could I not find any good video of Al Jefferson's post game? The man has the best low-post moves in the NBA, but no good YouTube video of him going to work in the post. Can one of our video-savvy readers please make one? Please include the pretty drop-steps, gorgeous up-and-unders, and silky jump hooks.

Most compelling storyline:

Jay – Can Al Jefferson and Kevin Love coexist in the same frontcourt? Two slow, plodding big men not known as good defenders. Last year, they didn't play together often; Love didn't get much playing time until Jefferson went down with an injury. It will be interesting to see how they play off each other.

Tommy - The T'Wolves really seem intent on pushing the tempo offensively this year. But I don't see a fastbreak finisher on this roster and Al Jefferson is probably the best post up threat in the NBA, so why would you run away from him? Big Al was told to slim down – and did report to training camp at 262, the lightest he's played at in the NBA – but he has never been very fast up and down the court and he's always thrived in a half-court offense. Kahn has made some puzzling moves so far, especially since he whiffed on Rubio.

TJ – Al Jefferson signs his name as "Big Al". I don't know why, but that really cracks me up. If anyone ever asks for my autograph, it's definitely going to have to say "Big T".

Player to watch:

Jay – Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions. You know what you're going to get from Jefferson, and to a lesser extent you know what Love is going to give you. You know the wings probably won't give Minnesota much. But the point guards are wild cards. Sessions showed great potential with Milwaukee, and Flynn with Syracuse; but will either of them become an elite point guard? Flynn would if he could always play Rutgers...

Tommy - Al Jefferson; In my opinion, the best low-post player in the league. Think about it, Duncan is still good, but he's getting older and settles for outside shots more often. Ditto with KG. Howard has zero post game. Gasol is great, but not as strong or assertive. Boozer has a claim, but he seems like a complete douche.

TJ - Jonny Flynn. This kid has hops, quickness and a great competitive desire... And in a few years he'll be splitting minutes with Ricky Rubio in David Kahn's bizarro backcourt.

Projected Record:

Jay – 32-50

Tommy – 34-48

TJ – 30-52

Boston Celtics-New York Knicks running diary

The Celtics took a long time to get going, but started to come together in the second half of a 96-82 blowout. Led by Kendrick Perkins' 14 points and 7 rebounds, the Celtics had no problems dispatching the Knicks, despite a sometimes lackadaisical effort. Off the bench, Rasheed Wallace added 13 points and 12 rebounds, accounting for three of the Celtics' nine made three-pointers.

Kevin Garnett scored 10 points and 8 rebounds, but still looked unable to fully explode off his recovering knee. The other members of Boston's Big Three, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, scored 13 points and 9 points, respectively. Rajon Rondo has a solid game but didn't do too much, accounting for 6 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals.

Playing a lot of point guard, Marquis Daniels struggled at times. But I don't think anyone is too worried about Marquis... yet.

In case you want more analysis, here's a running diary of tonight's game...

First Quarter

  • Listening to the Knicks broadcast team. Another plus of going to college in New York. Grrrr. And if you have ever heard Walt "Clyde" Frazier, this is an "auspicious beginning" to the night.

  • The first bucket of the game is a Kendrick Perkins alley-oop to KG. Only it didn't work out. Perkins made the bucket instead, then trotted back downcourt like it always happens.

  • Rajon Rondo just hit a pullup jumper. Stunningly, it looked smooth and natural and Rondo was confident taking it. It's early yet, but it looks like Mark Price's lessons might have paid some real dividends.

  • Perkins may be a bit skinnier, but he's still a monster. He just backed down David Lee with utmost ease. It looks like he maintained a lot of his muscle while getting rid of the excess weight.

  • Pierce is doing a lot of work down low. He looks to be in good shape.

  • Ray Allen almost just dunked all over Danilo Gallinari and Gallinari's entire family and ancestors. From here on out, we will call Gallinari "the best shooter Mike D'Antoni's ever seen." And he was almost called "Ray Allen's poster victim."

  • It is almost imperceptible, but Garnett looks to be limping a little. It was very little, but I'm pretty sure it was there. Uh-oh. And I might have been right: Doc took him out right after I noticed the limp.

  • Rasheed in the game, misses his first three. Misses his second three. Goes nowhere near the paint in the meantime. Still, I like the addition.

  • Celtics just ran a set where Pierce was point guard, made one pass and cut straight into the post. It seems like he's focused on his low-post game right now.

  • I definitely just thought Marquis Daniels was Mikki Moore. That made my heart sink. To run that by you again, I just thought Mikki Moore was still on the Celtics;talk about depressing. Do you know how I realized it wasn't Moore? He played his first minute without committing a foul.

  • Toney Douglas has a weird shoulder brace on his arm. At least I think it's a brace.

  • Uh-oh. Tony Allen checks in. My heart dropped again. But Rasheed picked it right back up with a nice turnaround jumper.

  • This game got hit in the head with the ugly stick. It's missed shot after missed shot. Every individual for the Celtics looks good, but as a team they need some time to gel. And the Knicks just used their last two possessions to have Darko Milicic and Jared Jeffries fire three-pointers.

  • Tony Allen just stumbled on his way to making a layup, clanking it off the iron. I don't know if I can handle another year of Allen.

  • Mikk... I mean Marquis is posting up a lot, too. The Celtics have a lot of versatility this year. They can trot out big lineups, small lineups, fast lineups, and lineups that include Brian Scalabrine.

  • 19-8 after the first quarter. I'd like to say it's a defensive struggle, but it's more of a disgusting offensive performance.

    Second Quarter

  • My buddy just switched the channel. To watch the f---ing Yankees. I don't know what's worse; that the last play I watched was Tony Allen committing his first of many offensive fouls this year, or that A-Rod just came through with a clutch single.

  • Daniels playing point now. Not much defensive pressure, though, so I can't get a feel for how he'll handle the pressure.

  • Nate Robinson just had an incredible missed alley-oop. Not to be a party pooper, but the two plays that have gotten me the most excited have been missed dunks. Not exactly the sign of a good game.

  • Knicks are now 2-16 from beyond the arc. I guess that's what happens when you're letting Milicic, Jeffries and Wilson Chandler shoot them.

  • Big Baby is looking good. As much as anybody on the team, he's fighting for a spot in the rotation. Another guy fighting for a spot... Tony Allen. Who just missed a floater in the lane. By my count, 0-3 with a charge and a failed layup for Tony.

  • Garnett back into the game. Hopefully his limp isn't.

  • Marquis is not playing well. He's showing good ballhandling skills, but playing a little out of control. My buddy's quote: "He just doesn't look natural playing PG." Uh-oh.

  • "The best shooter Mike Dantoni's ever seen" is now 0-3. UPDATE: two possessions later, he is now 0-4.

  • Al Harrington also has a weird shoulder brace thingy-ma-bob. And he's also killing the Celtics, with 11 of the Knicks 25 points right now.

  • Starters back in. Perkins has been the best Celtic so far, with a nice fadeaway jumper right over David Lee. Also, the Knicks' broadcast crew just shared their first interesting tidbit of information. Perk was so obsessed with working on his game and getting in shape this summer that he... wait for it... DIDN'T GO ON A HONEYMOON! That's right, Kendrick Perkins declined a honeymoon to work on his game. Just another reason I love Perk.

  • Just realized what I should have realized a long time ago – Pierce and Allen are posting up so often because Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson are in the same backcourt, leaving Duhon on either Pierce or Ray. I don't think that Knick's backcourt is too conducive to winning ballgames. In case you were wondering, it's 38-29 Celtics.

  • Another quote from my buddy, the bearer of bad news: "KG just looks like he's hobbling." I can hear the audible sigh from all of Celtics Nation. Or maybe that was just my own sigh.

  • Pierce spin moves directly into Jared Jeffries' waiting hands. Kind of reminded me of a move Tony Allen might make.

  • 41-33 Celtics at halftime. Ray Allen just nailed a three, then Nate Robinson dribbled between Rondo's legs while trying to answer. But he misses, and the first half is over. I can't believe THIS is what I waited five long months for. What an ugly game.

    Doc shortened his rotation from last game, and a bunch of guys have yet to get into the game. Lester Hudson and Shelden Williams were the two I wanted to keep an eye on. My brother was very impressed by their effort in the first game. But in the first half, at least, we won't get a chance to check them out.

    Third quarter

  • I took a shower and missed the first three minutes of the second half. Just as I expected, I didn't miss much scoring.

  • The Knicks' broadcasters are very excited about Jared Jeffries' developing three-point stroke. Umm, I wouldn't be too hyped about it.

  • Perkins misses a dunk on Jeffries' head, but gets fouled. Next play down, Jeffries misses a dunk on Perkins' head, but gets fouled. Anything you can do, I can do the same.

  • Garnett may be hobbling, but his jumpshot is still the same. Even hobbling around (and hobbling is probably too strong a word), KG will affect games and make the Celtics far better. But let's hope that tiny little limp goes away.

  • By the way, Jared Jeffries has posted two straight bricks from three-point land since I said the announcers shouldn't be too excited. Either I'm omniscient, or I've just seen Jeffries play enough to know that his stroke is not very good. I'm going to go with a) I'm omniscient.

  • Scal comes in to a thunderous applause. I hope this means Doc will open up the bench a little bit in the second half. UPDATE: And it does; Lester Hudson comes right back in. This time, playing alongside Rondo at the SG position.

  • Hudson is really a bull. He's built like a house. Would have made a good safety had he chosen football.

  • Finally, an exciting dunk that actually goes in. Pierce with a thunderous reverse on the fast break.

  • The Celtics look great right now. The prettiest play of the game just occurred: an over-the-head pass from either Pierce or 'Sheed (wish I had DVR!) to a cutting Rondo, who then whipped a bullet to Scal in the corner for three. Just pretty basketball. Celtics up double digits and looking like they might run away with this one.

  • Hudson applies very good ball pressure; he could become a very good defensive point guard. And as I was writing that he whipped a beautiful left pass to Marquis Daniels underneath the bucket. But Marquis missed, continuing his struggles.

  • House, Daniels and Hudson all in the game at the same time. And House is doing most of the ballhandling – something to watch. UPDATE: Hudson takes the point the next possession.

  • 'Sheed ends the quarter with an airball, and the Celtics will take a 64-51 lead into the fourth quarter. Still a pretty ugly game, but the Celtics picked up their ball movement and finally began to look like a team out there. The Knicks, on the other hand, just look like the Knicks.

    Fourth quarter

  • Daniels and Wallace with back-to-back buckets to bring the lead to 69-51. And somewhere Red Auerbach broke out his victory cigar.

  • Wallace with a pretty finger roll. Looked more like George "Iceman" Gervin than a 35 year-old center on that one.

  • Marquis now running a little point. None of the Celtics three backup point guard options look completely comfortable at the position, but they all seem capable of providing good minutes. Which is exactly what most people expected.

  • This second unit can really shoot. Rasheed, Eddie, and Scal are all deadeye shooters, and Big Baby can spread the floor too. Marquis Daniels? Not so much. But his slashing game will benefit from all the spacing.

  • Gotta love Big Baby's energy: 76-57 in a preseason game, and he just tried to take a charge.

  • Toney Douglas is a hawk defensively. Either that, or Marquis Daniels is a very shaky point guard. I think it's more the former; Douglas looks like a menace.

  • Big Baby with a sweeping hook in the lane, then 'Sheed with another three. This second unit has made this game a complete blowout. 84-61, Celtics.

  • Shelden Williams in the game. Sweetney and Giddens are the only guys yet to play, if I'm not mistaken.

  • Celtics are nailing three after three. That might be a theme with this second unit. Remember the Bench Mob? The C's haven't even played a single regular season game yet, but I nominate their bench for the nickname "The Boston Bomb Squad".

  • Sweetney checks in. Everyone in the front row just hid all their food. Hudson and Giddens check in, too. The bench has been emptied.

  • 92-71 Celtics. This one just about in the books.

  • There's a rumor going around that Glen Davis didn't actually lose weight... He just looks a lot smaller compared to Michael Sweetney.

  • Sweetney may be an exact replica of the Good Year's blimp, but he has great hands and touch down low.

  • This one has come to a close. 96-82, Celtics.

  • Click here to see the Box Score

  • Should Doc Rivers get more credit for the Celtics' recent success?

    For the proud franchise that is the Boston Celtics, losing games is not acceptable. So when the C’s put together a string of two straight losing seasons midway through the new millenium’s first decade, including the ever-forgettable 24-win campaign in 2006-2007, somebody was going to feel blame’s scorching heat. It should have been the players; after all, it was them on the floor kicking games away. It was the players who were throwing turnovers, missing jumpers and losing games. But it wasn’t.

    It was Doc Rivers. In retrospect, of course, it was ludicrous to expect that team to win many (any?) games. They had Paul Pierce, but he missed almost half the season. Every other significant player had at least one problem, too: Al Jefferson (just blossoming into the player he’d become), Delonte West, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo (too young), Ryan Gomes (too limited), Wally Szczerbiak (too washed up), and Gerald Green, Tony Allen, and Sebastian Telfair (after all, they’re Gerald Green, Tony Allen, and Sebastian Telfair). There was certainly some talent there, but the talent had holes and the holes were clearly evident on the court. Doc tried to coax wins out of the sorry bunch he was given, but not even Jesus Christ himself could have taken that team to the playoffs (though Red Auerbach might have been able to).

    Still, Boston was out for Doc’s head. The city was in arms about one of the worst teams in franchise history and wanted its head coach gone. When Danny Ainge decided to keep Rivers for the following year, cries ran out in the streets of Southie; Ainge had blown it, letting Rivers stay on. How could Rivers get another chance, after such an abysmal performance? Ainge said he saw something in Doc, that Ainge alone was informed enough to make the decision, due to his access at practice and in the locker room. But did anyone believe him?

    A couple years later, the Celtics are great again. Unquestionably, the Celtics are one of the NBA’s best teams. They have talent and depth at every position, and three Hall-of-Famers in the starting lineup. Now, Rivers doesn’t get any more blame, but he doesn’t get much of the credit either.

    Maybe it’s because he’d already earned a reputation in Boston as being a poor coach. Maybe it’s because his players are so talented and experienced that people just think they’re good enough to coach themselves. No matter what it is, Doc Rivers is still rarely (ever?) mentioned among the NBA’s elite coaches. In a recent top ten list on Ball Don't Lie (maybe the best NBA blog around), Rivers wasn't named in the top ten. Even though he has five playoff appearances this decade, seven winning seasons in nine years, a championship and a Coach of the Year Award. Maybe Doc doesn't deserve to be in the top ten, but it's about time he starts to get his due as one of the NBA's best managers of talent.

    Nobody talks about his role in molding a team of star-studded individuals who had never won anything into a championship team in their first year together. Most of the credit for that goes to Kevin Garnett and his infectious energy and boundless leadership. The credit that doesn’t go to Garnett goes to Pierce and Ray Allen, for sacrificing their own games for the good of their team.

    Nobody talks about his role in the development of the other two young starters, Rondo and Perkins. Those guys were supposed to be the weak links who would hold Boston back from being true contenders. But somewhere they found the confidence to play alongside three Hall-of-Famers and the know-how to find their way. They played with belief and they played with aggression. But none of the praise goes to Doc Rivers for helping the young starters play to their capabilities. People said Rondo progressed well because he has “swagger.” And Perkins was alright because he knew his role and had the tutelage of assistant coach Clifford Ray.

    The Celtics’ defense was great, too, but Doc didn’t get any credit for that, either. It was Tom Thibodeau who received all the adulation. After all, he – not Doc – was the defensive guru brought in from Houston to shore up the Celt’s “D”.

    In football, linemen often get no credit when things are going well and they are blocking their man, even pancaking their man, from reaching the quarterback. But as soon as the quarterback is sacked, linemen are noticed, and never in a good way. Coaching is often the same. When things are going wrong, it’s the coach who’s the first one out the door. It isn’t the players who get fired – or “sacked”, if you will – it’s the coach. When the losses mount up, it’s always the coach who feels the most blame, who encounters the “hot seat.” After a loss, there’s always an adjustment the coach could have made, a play the coach should have called.

    But when things start to go well, nobody pays attention to the great play call, or the perfectly-timed substitution. It’s the players who earn the wins; the coach who screws up the losses. Other coaches have received credit, but it takes years of winning to establish credibility in the thankless profession that is coaching. Guys like Jerry Sloan, Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson have finally earned the recognition of being great coaches, but the esteem didn’t come easily; it took time and year after year of winning.

    People will always be skeptical of Doc Rivers. Due to the nature of his profession, every loss is magnified, every mistake exaggerated. But keep track of all the good things he does. Next time a player goes down to injury, don’t merely blame Doc for playing him too many minutes; watch as Doc plugs in the next guy and somehow persuades the team to move on smoothly. Next time you see the Celtics move the ball swiftly and selflessly around the perimeter, don’t just thank the heavens that your team was blessed with such worthy passers; give Doc a little credit for instilling a team-first mentality.

    Doc will always have his detractors, and he may never get his deserved due for leading Boston to its first championship in 22 years. But he’ll be happy with winning games.

    No matter who gets the credit.

    NBA Season Preview: Memphis Grizzlies

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    The Grizzlies are a little bit of an enigma. With young talent at almost every position and aging gunners at every other, they are a strange mix of players. Nonetheless, they remain a talented bunch with scorers galore. Still, don't look for the talent to translate into too many wins.


    Jay – Whether or not Hasheem Thabeet turns out to be a bust. Even without any semblance of an offensive game, Thabeet could still make a huge impact due to his size, athleticism and shotblocking ability.

    Tommy - OJ Mayo; He's a special talent with the ability to play lockdown defense, but he needs to grow as a leader and cut down on turnovers and bad shots. Especially with notorious gunners AI and Zach Randolph in town. But if THIS quote (from Mayo’s DraftExpress profile) doesn’t make you think Mayo will succeed, nothing will…

    “He pushes himself as much as any player I’ve seen” Mike Procopio noted. “I’ve never seen a guy who is more focused than him. I feel bad for the guys who will have to work out against him. He reminds me of Clubber Lang [played by Mr. T] in Rocky 3 with the way he trained for that fight against Rocky. Rocky was in the disco having fun, and Clubber Lang was in some hole in the wall doing chin-ups. The guy is a nut when it comes to working out. You can see it in his eyes, he wants to be great. He’ll spend all day doing something until he gets it right. The kid cannot fail. He will not fail. He’s fearless. Some kids listen to the crowd around them, who tell them how good they are. They live on the hype. They live off the rankings of the scouting services around the country. He doesn’t. He wants to rip your heart out, serve it to you on a plate, and then do it again. The kid is a killer, he’s a total killer on the court. He’ll be a special player.”

    TJ - Allen Iverson seems to be rejuvenated in Memphis and feels he has a chip on his shoulder to prove to the world that his career is not over just yet. (Note that I never said it was over; I believe he will make a solid impact in Memphis)

    Biggest question mark:

    Jay – How many gunners does it take to build a successful team? With a whole bunch of shot-first players, the Grizzlies are ready to test it out.

    Tommy - Does Mike Conley have a chance? A truly spectacular player for Ohio State, Conley hasn't shown much explosiveness in the League and looks physically overmatched at times. Doesn't help he's had to deal with selfish players, but that's his reality now with Zach , AI and OJ around.

    TJ - Zach Randolph is at a crossroads in terms of his NBA career. Will he come back to the good side or will he continue to burn his career away on the dark side? (Note: the city of Memphis might be too dangerous for Randolph to live. Did you ever hear this quote from Randolph’s high school coach? “I just don’t want the day to come where I pick up that paper and it says [Zach] shot someone, or that he was shot. Every day that goes by that I don’t see that, I feel good.”)

    Most compelling storyline:

    Jay – Allen Iverson’s shot at redemption. Iverson has done so much over his career that it would truly be a shame for people to remember him for last year’s underwhelming performance. If he can coax a few more wins out of this young bunch, it would go a long way towards sealing his legacy as one of the game’s greats. If not, he may be remembered in all the wrong ways. This is how he SHOULD be remembered…

    Tommy - An outstanding collection of me-first gunners. AI. Zach Randolph. Rudy Gay. OJ Mayo.

    TJ – While playing with the USA Select Team this summer, Rudy Gay apparently made a strong case for him to be on the 2012 Dream Team. The recognition he is beginning to receive around the league could translate into newfound confidence that makes him among the elite players in the NBA. I believe Rudy Gay will make his first all-star appearance this season.

    Player to watch:

    Jay – Marc Gasol. If you haven’t seen this kid play, you’re missing out. One of the better young low-post talents in the game today.

    Tommy - Sam Young; I love this kid; ferocious competitior, good athlete, great defender. But how will he develop in this atmosphere?

    TJ - OJ Mayo, who will be mentored by Allen Iverson. People forget who AI is but they will remember when they see a bigger version of him developing over the next few years in Mayo. Watch out because Mayo is the real deal and he is a work horse on a mission to become great.

    Projected Record:

    Jay – 30-52

    Tommy – 26-56

    TJ – 31-51