Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011- The Year Of Love

Everyone knows LeBron James and Kobe Bryant will continue to rule the NBA hierarchy but throughout the first few months of the 2010-2011 season fans have seen some players begin to blossom. Who will to continue to breakout? and Who is going to fall back to reality?

Kevin Love- Right now Kevin Love is leading the league in rebounds by a wide margin and is cementing his place among the elite big men. Kevin Love has always been recognized as a solid player but he has never been mentioned in that "superstar" category. So far this season Love has proved he wants to be in recognized in that upper echelon of talent, and he certainly deserves to be. He is averaging 20.8 points and 15.5 rebounds per game, last season he averaged 14 and 11 but was seemingly overshadowed by the presence of Al Jefferson. With Jefferson's departure to Utah, Kurt Rambis has designated Love as the go-to-guy for this young team. The Timberwolves are filled with raw-youthful talent such as: Jonny Flynn, Wes Johnson, Ricky Rubio, Darko Milicic, and Michael Beasley. Injuries and inexperience have set Minnesota back a few years but despite their rebuilding process, the team is getting a high level of production from their third year big man. His most impressive performance came against the Knicks back on November 12th where he dropped 31 points to go along 31 rebounds. This was the first 30-30 game in NBA history since Moses Malone. That was the first of four 30+ point performances for Love, including a career-high 43. Kevin Love's game exists away from the basket as well; he is a versatile offensive weapon. In eleven games this season Love has made multiple 3-pointers and has had two nights in December where he shot a perfect 5 for 5 from behind the arc. He shoots 45 percent from the field, 43 percent from the 3 point line, and 88 percent on free throws, proving he puts up high scoring numbers at an efficient rate. In the NBA, efficiency is what separates the league's stars from the rest of the field. Love will make a major push for an All-Star spot in the west and definitely deserves consideration as a backup forward. The starting front court will include Durant, Gasol, and Nowitzki but look for Love to be in contention as well, along with guys like Rudy Gay, David West, Tim Duncan, and Carmelo Anthony.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Unfamiliar Names Prevail In The Endzone

Arian Foster, Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis, and Mike Tolbert are the top 3 players in rushing touchdowns with 13, 12, and 11 respectively. Peyton Hillis is also tied with 11 (along with others). But the fact is this season is full of breakout runners that have proven to be more than "one week wonders". Foster's success has been well documented all season but Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis has only one fewer touchdown than Foster. Arian Foster is the go-to-guy for the Texans and gets most of the touches, while Green-Ellis started the season battling for time with 4 other backs and has the league's best passing game hindering his opportunities. Despite all this, Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis has taken Randy Moss's place as the Patriot's "touch down machine" and could also break the 1,000 yard plateau in the team's final two regular season games. The Chargers came into the season with a potential three headed rushing attack. Rookie Ryan Matthews was supposed to come in and replace LaDanian Tomlinson as the primary runner, Darren Sproles was there to be the spark plug for this prolific offense, while Mike Tolbert was designated to a third string role seeing possible touches on third down and on the goal line. But throughout this season Ryan Matthews has suffered chronic injuries for a myriad of alignments, nonetheless San Diego's offense hasn't missed a beat. Obviously a majority of the credit goes to Philip Rivers for playing MVP-caliber football but Mike Tolbert has taken over the full rushing responsibilities. Regardless of his full-back body Tolbert has been burning opposing defenses and using his strength to battle for first downs and powering through the endzone. The Broncos decided to "throw in" Peyton Hillis when they acquired Brady Quinn from the Browns. We know see why the Broncos fired Josh McDaniels and why Brown fans are happy they are finally on the top of a loop-sided-trade. Hillis already has over 1000 yards and 11 TD's but his most proud moment has to be on November 7th, when he torched the Patriots for two touchdowns on 210 total yards, handing New England one of there only two losses this whole year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Craziest Moments of 2010: NFL Edition

Jason Campbell has more wins than Donovon McNabb- After the Redskins had acquired McNabb from the Eagles Jason Campbell became dispensable and was soon traded to the Oakland Raiders. Oakland sent back a fourth round pick in the 2012 draft and continued on to sign Campbell to a one-year contract extension through 2011. Jason Campbell earned his starting job and has been the main quarterback most of the season, despite battling with Bruce Grankowski and fighting injury. McNabb has had his ups and down but by no means has he been the savior that Washington hoped for. Mike Shanahan has already benched McNabb twice including this past week. When Campbell was sent to Oakland everyone claimed his career was over and he would be forgotten after being sent to the Raider organization, following the foot steps of current CFL quarterback and former Raider, Jamarcus Russell. Campbell has not only resurrected his career but he is majing football relevant again in Raider Nation. Campbell now has 1 more victory than McNabb (in 2 fewer starts). This offense can put up a lot of points and is lead by Darren McFadden, but the passing game has been elevated due to the immergence of Jason Campbell and Jacoby Ford. In their most recent game against the Broncos we saw the start of a new era where, one in which the Raiders are relevant again.

The Oakland Raiders are relevant again (and Al Davis is still the owner)- The part about Al Davis is truly unthinkable but for the first time in 8 seasons the Raiders are going to finish with fewer than 11 loses. These Raiders currently stand at .500 with a 7-7 record, but the most surprising statistic is that they are 5-0 in division games. They are third in the AFC West and if they win their upcoming game against the Chiefs then the Raiders will be the first team in NFL history to win all their division games and miss the playoffs. Both of these ideas are shocking. San Diego had beaten Oakland 13 straight times entering 2010, but this season the resilient Raiders knocked off the defending AFC West champs twice. No one has discussed "the Raiders" and "the playoffs" in the same sentence, unless "will never make" was in between, for many years. We will see Oakland back in the playoffs soon, probably not this season but in the neat future.

The Minnesota Vikings- Joe Webb starts, Favre's streak ends, Josh Childress is fired, they trade for Randy Moss, they waive Randy Moss, the Metrodome collapses, they play a "home" game at Ford Field, and Monday Night Football is moved outdoors to a college field where Toby Gerhart starts at running back and Joe Webb comes in to replace Brett Favre...pretty much what everyone expected coming into the season.

Randy Moss plays for 3 teams this season- The Patriots shockingly traded Moss back to Minnesota in return for a third round pick next season. Although his connection with Tom Brady was historic and marked in the record books the front office grew increasingly tired of his off the field antics and contract disputes. It only took the Vikings a few weeks to realize they got a bad deal so Minnesota waived Randy Moss. Eventually he was signed by the Titans, where he is currently residing on the bench trying to recall what the end-zone looks like. Congratulations to the Patriots who after trading Randy Moss obtained former-Pat Deion Branch. Branch has more catches, yards, and touchdowns than Randy Moss. No one would've guessed that the Patriots lose Randy Moss for Deion Branch, and the fact that the swap worked out for New England is an even greater testament to this franchise.

The Patriots two leading rushers are: an undrafted free agent and a former Jets practice squad player- Only the Patriots could thrive in the run game with two guys who were unheard of before October. Danny Woodhead was cut by Jets and Green-Ellis went undrafted and was finally signed by the Patriots. Injuries to both Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris opened opportunities for these young backs and like always, the Patriots revealed their hidden gems. Ben Jarvus Green- Ellis (The "Lawfirm") has compiled over 800 yards already and is on pace to break the 1,000 yard plateau, while Danny Woodhead is used as a receiver out of the back field but is also averaging an outstanding 5 yards per carry. Woodhead also plays wide recievers is a dual threat in both the passing and run game, but his talents extend to special teams where he one of the leading tacklers on their unit.

Jaguars>Colts- Entering Week 16 the Jaguars are leading the AFC South (yes, Peyton Manning is still on the Colts and yes, this is 2010). We all assumed a division title and around 12 or 13 wins for the Colts but the Jaguars did have the same plans as the rest of America. This is not some fluke and the most jaw-dropping fact is that David Garrard's passer rating is higher than Peyton Mannings. The Colts run game has been non-existence and injuries have plagaued Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Austin Collie. Everyone is aware of Peyton Mannings ability to throw to any and all receivers, but now he is running out of healthy targets. Maurice Jones-Drew is on almost all MVP lists while Peyton isn't even the highest Manning on anyones list.

Tim Tebow got his first starts AND Josh McDaniels got fired- Tebow getting a start this season over Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn was a long shot, but if any coach had the desire to try this it was going to be Tebow-Lover Josh McDaniels. McDaniels is the sole reason the Broncos used such a high draft choice on the former Heisman Tropy winner Tim Tebow. But after a couple of blow out loses and poor management McDaniels was on the hotseat. He didn't stay there for very long, instead he was quickly fired. But upon his departure it seems as if the entire team is embracing a new era lead by Tim Tebow. The dual threat quarterback showed off his arm and legs during his first start in Oakland. Kyle Orton had been having a phenominal season, mostly because of his conenction with breakout wide reciever Brandon Lloyd. Many NFL teams could use either of the Broncos back-up quarterbacks (see Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, and Arizona Cardinals).

Michael Vick is an MVP candidate- One of the greatest comeback stories, Mike Vick left football as a pro bowl quarterback for the Falcons and he has returned to that same form for the Eagles. Last season he was stuck behind Philly "hero" Donovan McNabb. But the team decided to part ways with their franchise quarterback but unfortunately for Vick Kevin Kolb hurdled his way into the starting job. Kolb had started the season off well and has taken advantage of all his opportunities but once Michael Vick got the nod after Kolb's injury a new chapter was beginning. He deserves the MVP award and Michael Vick has handled his entire situation with class, dignity, respect, and honesty.

This season's leading rusher: Arian Foster (1345 Yards)- Arian Foster is on pace to finish the season as the NFL's leading rusher for 2010. He has out-rain the likes of Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. Foster has more yards on the ground than Shonn Greene (696) and Ryan Matthews (503) combined. Joseph Addai, Beanie Wells, Marion Barber, Pierre Thomas, and Steve Slaton COMBINED have less rushing yards than Arian Foster in this breakout season. Arian Foster has been one of the most important players in the entire league this season. Similarly to Tom Brady, Arian Foster is carrying an entire team in 2010. He has 7 games of over 100 yards including one monster performance with 238 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Colts. Before the season very few people knew the name "Arian Foster". He went undrafted out of Tennessee and played only 6 games for the Texans in 2009. But in those 6 games Foster averaged: 43 yards/game, 5 yards per carry, 12 yards per reception and totaled three touchdowns. The Texans witnessed the breakout of Steve Slaton and had no expectations for Foster to blossom into an All-Pro running back.

The Cincinnati Bengals- In a year filled with surprised the Bengals are on the tail end. They have a roster filled with superstars but these names are atop the biggest busts of the year. Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and Cedric Benson have looked absolutely terrible individually, but even worse together. The only thing that tops all these guys stats has been the Bengals record. Last season the won the AFC North, beating out the Steelers and Ravens, and swept their division games. Their playoff run from last season seems like an eternity ago after constant failure, the only consistency this roster has is in disappointment. There is no doubt Cincinnati's front office will blow up there roster and a lot of people are going to be unemployed come the spring. Head coach Marvin Lewis has not been able to work with this overrated offense despite having "Batman and Robin" lined up wide. The TOcho Show has been a complete disaster and Cedric Benson is on his last legs and no longer high quality running back. Additionally, it is tough to tell if Carson Palmer's down fall is due to a lack of playmakers or just the end of a average career. One thing is for sure, the 2011 Bengals will be filled with a completely different roster, only time will tell if different results will follow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

When Will Carmelo Be A Knick?

The question is no longer if the Knicks will get Carmelo Anthony, it's when they will get him. The options are either acquiring Anthony in a trade before the February deadline or waiting until the offseason to make him an offer as a free agent. After Carmelo's recent comments regarding his desire to play for New York the Nuggets have seemingly lost any leverage they had in trade talks. The Knicks have no reason to appease Denver by trading away any of their valuable assets like Danilo Gallinari. Before the season started it seemed as if trading Gallinari along with multiple other pieces was the only way to even enter the Melo discussions. The Nuggets were claiming to be fielding offers from the Nets, Bobcats, and many other teams but now the list has been shortened to one: The New York Knicks.

Trade for Carmelo: At this point Carmelo's trade value has significantly decreased and the Nugget's hands are tied but doesn't mean they will give him away. A trade offer from the Knicks will be centered around Eddy Curry's expiring contract which will also balance out the salaries. Denver would obviously want more than just the expiring contract and that is where the disagreement comes into play. The Knicks should label Gallinari as untouchable and look to include players such as: Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph, Landry Fields, and Tony Douglas. It makes the most sense to deal Chandler because he is a free agent at the end of the season and will be searching for a contract in the 6-8 million dollar range. Fields and Randolph both have very frugal contracts and are two of the biggest bargains in the NBA. Now and in the future Fields could be a very solid all around player and cement his position as the starting two guard. As for Anthony Randolph, if he can live up to just half of his potential then Randolph will be a very important role player as the back up big man on this roster. Chandler is expendable because he plays a similar style and the same position as Carmelo. Currently Chandler is blossoming in the starting lineup, as the 4, and even when he was the 6th man he put up huge numbers. But with the addition of Carmelo the 3 and 4 spots will be filled leaving Chandler back in his bench role. Except now his role as the sixth man will come along with fewer minutes and fewer touches significantly impacting his role.

Signing Carmelo in the offseason is still the smart move unless a very attractive offer comes to the table. Eddy Curry (11.3 million), Wilson Chandler (2.1 million), Kelena Azubuike (3.4 million), and Roger Mason (1.4 million) all come off the books which is a total of over 18 million dollars freed up in cap space. The Knicks could use this money to offer Carmelo a similar contract to Amar'e.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 13 NFL Game Reviews

Biggest Surprises:

Oakland Raiders 28 @ San Diego Chargers 13

The Chargers were poised for another second half playoff run and were deemed the hottest team in the NFL by everyone, including myself. But this week the lost a crucial game to the Raiders which puts San Diego in third place at 6-6. The Cheifs are first at 8-4 and Oakland second at 6-6 (owns the tiebreaker beating San Diego twice). The numbers explain the Charger's lackluster performance; 3/10 on third downs and only 7 rushing attempts for 16 yards. The Chargers clearly attempted to solely rely on their passing game but River's got sacked four times. He had very little time in the pocket Kaeding hit 2 of his 3 field goal attempts and the Chargers sole touch down was a four yard pass to Antonio Gates. The Raiders won this game on the ground and had 250 rushing yards. Mcfadden and Bush each had a touchdown and almost had 100 yards a piece (97 and 95 yards respectively). Jason Campbell only threw 16 passes but had no turnovers and did a good job controlling the game. The Chargers have a huge must-win game at home against Kansas City this week and need finish the season 4-0 and hope for help. If they won this game versus Oakland then they could've been tied for the division lead with a win against the Cheifs. It looks like the Chargers are going to have to step up their game to pull another late season miracle.

Dallas Cowboys 38 @ Indianapolis Colts 35

The Colts made a fourth quarter comeback against Dallas but lost on a Peyton Manning interception in over time. Peyton Manning just hasn't been the same and hasn't looked like the same 3 time MVP QB that we are accustomed to. He had to do a lot of throwing in this game, 48 passes, and had a disastrous 4 interceptions. Interceptions have been a frequent occurrence of late for Peyton Manning. The Colts are 6-6 through 12 games, normally through 12 games we expect the Colts to be cruising at around 10 or 11 wins. Like the Chargers, the Colts had under 30 yards rushing for their 3 running backs. Javarris James did have 2 goal line touchdowns (1 and 2 yards) after Manning and Wayne marched down the field. The sole bright spot was Reggie Wayne who had 200 receiving yards and was targeted 20 times, clearly the focal point of the offense playbook. But without any threat of a running game defenses are going to take advantage of Manning and the lack of healthy receivers. The offense has always been centered on Manning to Wayne, but with no other viable threat the connection is not enough to result in wins. The Cowboys played well enough to win this game and have been impressive under Jason Garrett. The Colts were in the super bowl last season but are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time this decade. They have three divisional games coming up and it would be hard to imagine having the Colts and Peyton Manning sitting home in the NFL post season.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Week 13: NFL Picks Against The Spread

1. Cleveland Browns +4 @ Miami Dolphins

Take the Browns with the points. I like the upset here and the only reason the Dolphins are favored is because the game is in Miami. But this Miami has had a "home field disadvantage" as 4 of their losses have come at home. Between the Marlins and Dolphins not many games are won at Sun Life Stadium, and not many fans attend. The Browns are a team that plays up to their competition and shows up for big games. Their two biggest wins this season are extremely impressive: beating the Saints and New Orelans and man-handling the Patriots by 20. They also played tight games on the road against Baltimore and Tampa Bay. Plus if Rodney Stuckey had not fumbled the ball in overtime then the Browns could've added a win over the Jets to their resume. The Dolphins have been banged up but Chad Henne returns this week after suffering a shoulder injury. With Brandon Marshall non-existent Davone Bess and Brett Hartline need to step up for the Dolphins to win this game. Neither teams play great defense but Peyton Hillis will come out and produce so the Browns are the safe play to cover and possibly win.

2. Buffalo Bills +7 @ Minnesota Vikings

Forget the records in this matchup (both teams would love do this) and look at the how both teams have played. The Bills only have 2 wins and were winless until week 10, but they also have 3 over time losses. They took the Ravens and Steelers to over time, 2 of the top teams in the AFC, as well as the NFC west leading Chiefs. If you just look at the season numbers the Bills look pretty ugly. But people who watch games every week have seen the Bills play every opponent tough and could easily have 6 wins. The Bills defense and Brett Favre have both been non existent this season and I see Ryan Fitzpatrick and breakout wide out Steve Johnson continuing their connection against the Vikings secondary. The running game will be less of a factor as Peterson is a little banged up and Fred Jackson is up and down week-to-week. This game is going to be a shootout due to lack of defense. Take the Bills with the points and the over easily, my sleeper bet: Bills ML.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars +3 @ Tennessee Titans

The Titans are at home and getting the requisite three points, similar to the Dolphins. This is a division battle and the Jaguars are leading the division over the Colts (Yes you heard that right and yes it is week 13). The Titans are deciding between Rusty Smith and Kerry Colllins, obviously Collins gives them a better chance but I don't trust either one. With Kenny Britt still sidelined and Randy Moss leaving his talents in New England, the Titans are left with a one dimensional offense attack again. Last week the Texans recognized this and stacked the box against to stop the run. Chris Johnson had his worst game of the reason with only 7 yards on 5 carries and I bet the Titans regret releasing Lagarutte Blount right about now. We should expect Johnson to bounce back but it won't be enough to carry the anemic Titans against a hot Jaguar team. David Garrard is playing very well as of late, finding multiple targets like Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas, Marcedes Lewis, and of course Maurice Jones-Drew. Sims-Walker should return to action this week giving Garrard 4 viable threats to pass to. In the running game I see Maurice Jones-Drew having a better overall game with more yards from scrimmage than Chris Johnson. MJD has been on a tear of late and the Jaguars fate lies on his hands (and his feet). The Jagaurs win big on the road putting pressure on the Colts to win against Dallas. Take the Jags and the points to win by double digits.

4. New Orleans -7 @ Cincinnati Bengals

The Saints are playing like the defending super bowl champs and Bree's has lost his madden curse in exchange for the Sport's Man of the Year anti-curse (see Tom Brady). The Bengals haven’t won a game since week 3 and only have 2 wins (1 was against a terrible Panther team). The Bills decimated the Bengals two weeks ago and there is no reason why New Orleans shouldn't cruise to victory on Sunday. Carson Palmer and Cedric Benson look well past their prime and Ochocino and T.O are getting increasingly frustrated with the team's lack of offense. They are cruising right now and end the season playing the Ravens, Falcons, and Buccaneers. Sean Payton will not allow his team to lose focus or look ahead because they need to keep pace the Falcons in the divison race. The Saints win big and the game will be out of hand by the third quarter. Take New Orleans and give the points without worry.

5. San Fransico 49ers @ Green Bay Packers -10

The 49ers are coming off a victory on Monday night but it was against the Arizona Cardinals and an NFC west battle which severely diminishes the victory. Frank Gore suffered a broken hip early Monday night and was placed on the IR, which will certainly lower team morale. Even Mike Singletary won't be able to inspire a team lead by Troy Smith and Brian Westbrook against an NFC powerhouse. The Packers lost a tough game to the Falcons as both teams were looking to earn a bye. But the Packers will look to take their anger out on San Francisco and hope the Falcons fall on the road to Tampa Bay. The Packers win by two touchdowns at Lambeau.

6. Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks -5

Take the Seahawks. The Panther's are the worst team in the NFL and the Seahawks play in the NFC West which means they still have a chance to win the division. Their defense is underrated and Seattle is very good at home. Give the points whether it's -5 or -55.

Extra: Chiefs/Broncos over 48- The best play of week is the over on the Cheifs/Broncos game. There is a lot of animosity between these two teams after the Broncos ran up the score the last time. Look for the Chiefs to do the same this game. Orton to Lloyd and Cassel to Bowe have surpassed Manning to Wayne and Brady to Moss this season by a large measure. Look for those connections to be prevalent throughout the game in this shootout. We also can't forget Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones in the Cheifs back field so look for those guys to go for around 100 yards and a score each. Those aforementioned players alone could account for at least 42 points (6 touchdowns) not to mention Orton and Cassel’s ability to spread the ball around. Look for a lob sided game where the Chief’s might beat the over on their own.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Bronco Nation Loves Kyle Brotzman

This Facebook page has generated over 43,000 fans and is still growing at a rapid rate. Bronco fans and Boise State students have already forgiven Kyle Brotzman despite missing two field goals, inside of 30 yards, against rival Nevada. Either of these two field goals would've kept Boise's undefeated season alive, as well as their aspirations of playing in the BCS championship game.

Brotzman received so many nasty Facebook messages that he was forced to deactivate his account,t and his family began receiving so many angry phone calls to the point where the police were notified. But this page is flooded with words of appreciation towards Brotzman. This shows the type of support and fan base Boise has. Any chance of being in the BCS championship game, an undefeated season, and millions of dollars all disappeared when Kyle Brotzman missed early Saturday morning. But despite all this, 40,000 + people are showing their support for this wonderful athlete.

After being red-shirted in 2006, Brotzman lead the WAC in field goals, field goal percentage, and PATs during his freshman season in 2007, and he was a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza award in addition to being an honorable mention for the freshman All-American team. In 2008 he lead Boise in scoring with 101 points (17 field goals and 50 extra points), while also leading the WAC confrence in field goals per game and handling a bulk of the punting duties. In 2009 he was the leading scorer on the team again and in the WAC with 117 points. He also lead the conference in field goals and averaged an outstanding 44 yards per punt. This season he was kicking field goals at a rate of over 82%. He has been one of the most consistent and reliable kickers in college football since 2007, and Brotzman has been a part of these legendary Bronco teams and victories. Who could forget his fake punt pass to help beat TCU in the Fiesta Bowl season? He is a finalist this year for the Lou Groza award and is just nine points away from breaking the scoring record for Division I kickers. Unfortunately, he will be remembered for his game against Nevada, and it's sad that we don't look to blame the defense for allowing Nevada to rally back or even the offense for not bolstering the lead after halftime and putting the game away in overtime. When it comes down to the end, most close games are decided by the foot of the kicker. It is a huge burden to rest the fate of a team's season on a college athlete and sometimes we forget that athletes, especially college ones, feel the worst when they make a mistake. I am okay with hammering a pro-athlete for messing up in the clutch; it's their job to perform and live up to million dollar contracts. But I draw the line at going on vicious rants condemning a college athlete for an on-the-field mistake; these players are still kids and sometimes we forget that. Death threats, vicious emails, and menacing phone calls should not occur not matter how big the game is.

Fans of all sports, both pro and college, can learn from the Bronco Nation on how to deal with a bad situation. The fans came together to support their team and express their gratitude for a wonderful run. Fans frequently lose their cool during bad times and call out players which in turn only lowers player morale and diminishes team chemistry. In times of adversity, it is difficult, yet necessary to come together and be supportive in hopes to learn and grow for the future.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Should Knick Fans Be Optimistic Or Fearful?

Since 2008, Knick fans have dreamed of welcoming LeBron James to the Garden; but as the summer of 2010 passed by, Knick fans agonized at "The Decision", where the Big 3 decided to “take their talents to South Beach”. Knick fans cynically watch with a smile, as the Heat is only a mere one game ahead of the Knicks; both teams are hovering around .500. In hindsight, it's a bittersweet feeling. These same Knicks have shown signs of a bright future on occasion, while also showing signs of a regression to last season's woes.

We have been hearing demands to fire Mike D'Antoni as well as some fans screaming how Amar'e is a bust already. Those two statements, and others like them, are completely outrageous. This roster is filled with new faces and it's going to take time for a group of young guys to develop the necessary chemistry to win in this league. But there are a lot of positive things so far that hint a bright future which is why fans should keep faith and remain optimistic. During their recent 5 game winning streak the team went from 3-8 to a respectable 8-8. Winning those 5 games was no walk in the park as New York had a stretch of 5 games in 7 days, 3 road games on the west coast and a home and away series versus the Bobcats. Regardless of the opponent, winning an away game in the NBA is always a daunting task.

1. Amar'e Stoudemire is worth his max contract and is playing like an MVP caliber player.

22.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 2.1 BPG

His assist and block numbers are career highs and his points and rebounds are exactly what we fans expected, All Star and MVP type numbers. Obviously he knows and fits into D'Antoni's system and once the offense begins to click we can expect all of his numbers to increase. Amar'e has played much better basketball than Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer has yet to see the court in a Bulls uniform. The Knicks came away with the best deal when it came to signing a high priced big man.

2. Raymond Felton has been the biggest surprise so far this season for the Knicks and maybe in the entire NBA.

It looks like we finally found our franchise point guard; Raymond Felton is putting up the best stats of his career (career highs in: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, ft%, 3 pt%, 3 pointers made, and field goal percentage). 18 points, 8 assists, and 2 steals a game is much better than we expected after Felton averaged 12 points and 5.5 assists last season with Charlotte. He has been criticized for his inability to run the pick and roll with Amar'e and for not being a D'Antoni point guard like Steve Nash was for the Suns. But even if that is true, imagine how much better the Knicks and Felton will be once he learns how to play the two-man game with Amar'e. Felton has been a great defender, clutch shooter, and smart leader all season and will continue to flourish in this system. He is getting everybody the ball and making this offense click. We expected Amar'e to fill the stat sheet but Felton is not far behind.

3. Rookie Landry Fields

The starting shooting guard role was the major point of discussion in the off season, Azuibuike was brought in to play that position; but, he is still recovering from injury and is yet to play a game for the Knicks. Roger Mason and Andy Rautins were thought to be perfect for this system where the shooting guard does just that, shoot 3's. But both players are not even in the rotation and have yet to impress the coaching staff. Chandler and Gallo both were mentioned as potential starters but with their size and offense style they both were better suited to play the opposite wing, with Chandler being the 6th man. Both Douglas and Fields impressed fans with their hustle and defense enough to earn consideration for the starting position. But Douglas is still more of a point guard with a shooting guard style of play. Douglas is probably the best perimeter defender on the roster but his combo guard style did not fit the needs at the 2. So as the season began rookie Landry Fields got the nod to be the team's starting shooting guard and has made the most of his opportunity averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds. Fields is the team's second leading rebounder, which is very impressive for a guard. This should not come as much surprise because Landry Fields average 22 points and 9 rebounds last season at Stanford playing on the wing. He almost always the height advantage over his defenders seeing as he is 6'7", which makes rebounding a huge advantage for the team. He makes the hustle plays and is always working hard and getting up and down the court. He is not the conventional shooting guard for D'Antoni's system, but the way he is playing you can't argue he deserves the minutes.

4. Anthony Randolph's Averages Per 48 minutes (11.6 points, 14.3 Rebounds, and 3.18 Blocks)

Anthony Randolph was supposed to be the main piece of the David Lee trade, a player with All Star potential who has been hurt. Fans had high hopes of Randolph have a Gallinari type breakout season but so far he is barely seeing playing time. The first few games he played in a Knick's uniform did not resemble his high flying-highlight reel style we saw in spurts over for the Warriors. But recently he was put in during a blowout and showed signs of a higher basketball IQ, instead of forcing the ball he slowed it down and made smart passes. Although he finished with 0 points and 2 assists, everyone has to be pleased with the improvements in his mental game. Let's hope his erratic play and constant fear of making a mistake is part of his past. Randolph is only 21 and still has that same potential plus he would be a perfect center in D'Antoni's system. He could block shots, rebound, score on the fast break, and be a presence down low on both sides of the ball. The Knicks have already transformed into a high quality defensive unit that can block shots and cause turnovers at will so with the addition of Randolph down low this team could give any offense a hard time.

The future looks bright for the New York Knicks and fans should be optimistic because as the season goes on the wins will start to come in bunches. Amar'e is one of the best players in the NBA, Felton is playing like a top 5 point guard in his first season under MikeD'Antoni, Chandler is the front runner for 6th man of the year award and is playing to impress in hope a new contract, Gallinai is always a threat when he has the ball and is one of the most versatile wing players in the league, and with the vast depth and young talent on this roster we can look forward to a fun season of quality basketball for the first time in this decade.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mike Tannenbaum Rebuilds the New York Jets

The New York Jets have entered a new era, one that should provide stability and results. Led by Head Coach Rex Ryan, Franchise Quarterback Mark Sanchez, and Pro Bowl Cornerback Darrelle Revis, this New York Jets team has its eyes set on the Super Bowl.

The foundation of the team begins in the front office. Owner Woody Johnson and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum have worked together since 2006 to create the team we see on the field today. GM Mike Tannenbaum has used multiple acquisition techniques to construct this roster; beginning with crafty draft day moves to address the team's weaknesses. Most notably, Tannenbaum and the Jets traded up to the fifth pick in the 2009 draft to select USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Many people criticized this move because the Jets were giving up Kenyon Coleman, Brett Ratliff, Abram Elam and their first and second round picks, but now it's evident that this move could not have worked out better. This season we see a shift from "winning despite Mark Sanchez" to "winning because of Mark Sanchez". Also in the 2009 draft Shonn Greene, RB out of Iowa, was selected in the beginning of the third round. Other running backs such as Beanie Wells, Donald Brown, and Knowshon Moreno were all first round picks in ‘09, which makes Greene look like the steal of the draft because he has out-performed all three of these running backs. In his rookie season he proved he could be the future running back making Thomas Jones and Leon Washington disposable and freeing up cap space. In 2007 and 2008 the Jets used first round picks on CB Darrelle Revis and TE Dustin Keller respectively, and both players have made huge impacts ever since. Keller has been one of Sanchez's favorite and most reliable targets, while Revis has been deemed the NFL's most feared cornerback, shutting down every receiver that dares to visit "Revis Island". The strong O-Line is held together by 2006 first round picks C Nick Mangold and T D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Tannenbaum also made great selections with DBs Kyle Wilson and Dwight Lowrey who are backups on one of the best secondaries in the NFL. And after this week’s Thanksgiving day game against the Bengals, who could forget the versatile Brad Smith, a fourth round pick back in 2006, with two huge touchdowns for the Jets? Brad Smith can catch, throw, run, and return kicks (if only he could kick FGs) and Brian Schottenheimer has multiple plays designed to get their playmaker the ball.

Another aspect that the Jets have utilized is preying upon other teams inability to handle disgruntled players. Tannenbaum has been able to acquire high caliber talent for mid-level draft picks because other teams cannot seem to control their players off the field. In March of 2010, New York traded a 2011 third round pick to the San Diego Chargers for CB Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie was the 19th pick in the first round of the 2006 draft and 2007 was his breakout season. He was an All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection after picking off 10 passes. He showed his play making ability that season as well after recording the longest play in NFL history: a 109 yard missed FG return touchdown and being the only player to have 3 interceptions against Peyton Manning in one game. But off-the-field issues and a poor playoff performance enticed the Chargers to trade him away. This season he has gone back to his true form and is playing like a Pro Bowl CB again, well worth the third round pick the Jets gave up for him. A few months earlier, in October 2009, the Jets traded for another player with legal issues who seemed as if he hasn't giving enough effort, WR Braylon Edwards (#3 pick in the first round of the 2005 draft). Like Cromartie, Edwards had his breakout season in 2007 making the Pro Bowl and finishing second behind Randy Moss in touchdowns. But the following season Edwards only found the end zone three times and lead the NFL in dropped passes. The Browns had a dismal season and as ‘09 rolled around they were getting tired of Braylon Edwards. Prior to trading him Edwards was involved in a bar fight and charged with a misdemeanor, the Browns were glad to part ways with him and obtain Chansi Stuckey, Jason Trusnik, and a third and fifth round pick from the Jets for this "diva" wide receiver. Edwards had a monster 80-yard touchdown catch in the AFC Championship game. This season Edwards has 6 touchdowns in the teams first 11 games and, despite a DUI offense, has stayed on the field for every game thus far. Alongside Braylon Edwards is late season hero Santonio Holmes. Holmes was acquired in April of 2010 from the Pittsburgh Steelers for a mere fifth round pick. Santonio Holmes was a first round pick in 2006 and named Super Bowl XLIII MVP after catching the game winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining. Holmes was suspended the first four games this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. But Holmes has 4 TDs the last three weeks including game winning touchdowns in weeks 10 and 11. Look at the return the Jets received for only a fifth round pick, and if you look around the league this season Tannenbaum's trade looks like pure genius. The Miami Dolphins gave up a second round pick for Brandon Marshall and the Minnesota Vikings traded a third round pick for Randy Moss, and both of these guys have been enormous busts, so Holmes for a fifth round pick was by the far the best investment of 2010.

NFL teams are known for signing players to outrageous contracts only to see their investment end in heartbreak, but the Jets have gone down the path of shopping with a purpose to fill needs and get the biggest bang for the buck. It all started in January of 2009 when they secured the man who will control the team. Ravens Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan signed a four year contract to become Head Coach of the New York Jets. Previously under Eric Mangini the Jets failed to make the playoffs two out of his three seasons and it was clear he was not the right fit for the job. Rex Ryan coached the Ravens defense, which was one of the most feared units in all of football, for ten seasons including a super bowl ring in 2000. Ryan was coveted for many head coaching positions by Baltimore, Miami, and Atlanta but landed in New York. Not only did his persona and legacy come over to the Jets but he even brought along some veteran talent in Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard who both signed multi-year contracts in the off season to continuing playing under Ryan. Rex Ryan has a strong reputation for stressing defense, which factored into Jason Taylor's decision to sign with the Jets in 2010 after seeing how the team's defense transformed. Taylor has been selected to Pro Bowls and All Pro teams numerous times as well as being named Defensive Player of the Year and honored as a member of the NFL 2000s All Decade Team. This adds on to Calvin Pace, the former Arizona Cardinal first round pick, who signed a 6 year deal back in 2008. Also in 2008, Tannenbaum signed RT Damian Woodey to a five year contract to bolster the offensive line. Woodey was a Pro Bowler and 3-time super bowl champion with the New England Patriots. Even with players like Kris Jenkins who is on the IR yet again, but when he has been on the field Jenkins has simply dominated opposing teams and was considered the front runner for Defensive Player of the Year pre-injury in the 2008 season. Hopefully in 2011 Kris Jenkins can return to being that dominant force at nose tackle. Rather than go after one year wonders or unproven players Mike Tannenbaum has given veteran guys long term deals to ensure stability where it matters most.

When we think about the Jets auspicious start atop the AFC elite at 9-2, we give credit to guys like: Rex Ryan for controlling the swirling variables and egos, Mark Sanchez for his growth during his sophomore season, and LaDainian Tomlinson for resurrecting his career. But the man who really deserves the credit for the 2010 New York Jets is General Manager Mike Tannenbaum for his pure genius.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hottest Team in the NFL: San Diego Chargers

Here are some statistics:
1st in passing yards per game
1st in opponents passing yards per game
4th in opponents rushing yards per game

These numbers alone mean the Chargers have the best passing offense, are the best at defending the past, and are the 4th best team at stopping the run. This doesn't even talk about their rushing attack, which when healthy includes Ryan Matthews, Mike Tolbert, and Darren Sproles. Philip Rivers is the offense MVP this season and isn't even getting the credit he deserves. Rivers is leading the NFL's best passing attack led by TE Antonio Gates and WR Malcom Floyd. In addition the list of weapons is endless. Rivers is throwing to receivers like Buster Davis, Patrick Crayton, Seyi Ajirotutu, and Legedu Naanee. Randy McMichael did a great job filling in for Gates and will be a valuable #2 TE. What is hard to believe is the Chargers and their #1 passing attack is without star WR Vincent Jackson who returns this week against the Colts. With Jackson on Floyd on each side, Gates in the middle, and Sproles out of the backfield defense will need to pick their poison with this offense. Injuries won't even stop this team as players like Crayton, Ajirotutu, and McMichael have proven they can produce when called upon. This rushing offense has been average (ranked 17th) but star rookied RB Ryan Matthews has been injuried but showed signs of making San Diego fans forget about LT. Matthews can be the teams go-to running back with his speed and power. Tolbert has filled in wonderfully and can use his big body to be the 3rd down and goaline back. Sproles cannot be contained on screens and seemingly breaks off at least 1 huge run per game on his speed alone. The Chargers offense is filled with weapons and maintained success behind a strong veteran offensive line. Lineback Stephen Cooper, Shaun Phillips, and Kevin Burnett are racking up the numbers this year in tackles and haven't missed a beat without Pro-Bowler Shawne Merriman. Second year OLB Larry English will also offer containment when he remains healthy and establishes his position down the road and in the playoffs. This secondary is manning the best pass defense in the NFL. Jammer, Gregory, Weddle, and Cason don't give up the big plays and have the ability to take risks knowing their linebacks and D-Line can pressure the opposing QB. After the Colts game their schedule gets pretty easy so they could finish 11-5 on a 9 game winning streak entering the playoffs. We have seen in recent weeks the Jets need luck and big plays to pull out wins and the Patriots have holes in their defense and a sketchy running game. The Colts can't stay healthy leaving Manning with few options. The AFC is strong but most of the elite teams have holes that are drawing huge criticism. The statistics and talent shows it: The San Diego Chargers are the best team in the AFC.

Fantasy Playoffs and Trade Deadline

Sell High:

QB: Mike Vick- He is posting ridiculous numbers but it is hard to believe he will replicate these numbers throughout the fantasy playoffs. He will be great no doubt but if you have another elite quarterback like Tom Brady or Philip Rivers than trade Vick for an elite RB or WR to fill a weakness and add balance.

RB: Arian Foster and Ryan Torian- Injuries, bad teams, meaningless game all of these factors could impact these guys numbers. Like Vick, sell Foster at his peak value when you could get RB of equal value and a solid RB2 or WR1/WR2. Torian is hurt and the Redskins have about 8 other RBs but if you could unload Torian to someone who is just looking at his stats then go for it. Torain will be riding everyones bench the rest of the season, including the Redskins. Keiland Williams (available in most leagues will be a solid flex play or RB2 in deep leagues for the rest of these season)

WR: Percy Harvin, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant- All of these guys have had up and down seasons and Marshall has seemingly forgotten where the end zone even is. But Harvin and Dez have fought to put up some huge games at times but have also been killers for some owners. The risk is not worth starting them on a week to week basis. Dez was a huge fantasy dud this week against the Saints which could cost owners a playoff spot, Kitna is no Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense is risk/reward each week. Harvin lives and dies by Favre which at this point is not a safe risk. Trade both of these guys for safer options while their value is still high due to some huge fantasy weeks. Marshall has been a consistent player and put up solid scoring outputs all season with only one touchdown. But with Tyler Thigpen (3rd string QB) starting and spreading the ball around to everyone on the field Marshall's yardage will decrease and he already is rarely targeted in the red zone. He will be a WR3 or flex play at best for the remainder of the season.

TE: Antonio Gates- Injuries have killed owners the past few weeks and this season TEs are coming out of nowhere and putting up huge games. Gate was the fantasy MVP a few weeks ago and trade him now while he is still hot for a top 10 TE and WR2. Marcedes Lewis is guy I like going forward to lead the NFL in TDs for tight ends as he is Garrard's favorite red zone target. And when it comes to TEs touchdowns are the smarter way to go than yards.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The One Reason the Heat Will Not Win the Championship

The Miami Heat have worst the starting pointing guard in the NBA.

Think about that, in all likelihood 31 teams have a better starting point guard. If you look at any other contender the have a top 10-15 starting point guard leading their team.

The Elite Teams

Lakers: Derek Fisher- Although he is not considered an elite statistical point guard he is a winner. A 5-time NBA champion, all with the Lakers says it all. The past 5 seasons he has played in all 82 games. He runs the offense and is a smart player. 9 points and 3 assists seems mediocre but 5 time NBA champion means he must be doing something right.

Celtics: Rajon Rondo- He might be the best pure point guard in the league right now. He is the best defensive point guard around and already has a ring. He leads the league in assist with an outstanding 15 a game. That number will obviously go down but he has cemented his place into the "Big 4" and is the best player on the best team in the east.

Hornets: Chris Paul- The Hornets have started off undefeated and Chris Paul is the favorite in the MVP race. He has been the face of the organization despite trade rumors surfacing this summer. If you look at the roster it doesn't seem like one that would be undefeated after this many games but Chris Paul can score, make plays, and win games. With Durant, LeBron, and Kobe putting sub-par numbers up so far Chris Paul is my early MVP favorite.

Magic: Jameer Nelson- His game has taken a step backwards due to injuries but once he is healthy the Magic will be a force again in the east. He is averaging 15 points and 6 assists so far this season which is a good sign.


Thunder: Russell Westrbrook- The Thunder's success or failure rests in the hands of pre season MVP favorite Kevin Durant. He has not lived up to that label or his new contract but he will come into form soon. But this might be the biggest surprise of the season, the play of Russell Westbrook. This is only his third season (4th pick in the 2008 draft). The Thunder traded away back up point guard Darren Collison in the offseason because they knew Westbrook was their point guard for the future. He averaged 16 and 8 last year and this season his assists have stayed about the same, at 8, but he's scoring 24 points a game while also grabbing 6.5 rebounds a game. He has 5 double doubles and 2 30+ point games already. He has shown he IS a top 10 point with room to grow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The King of Queens

The Miami Heat will not win the NBA championship this season and won't even be playing for it. People have been quick to assume the Heat will win 4 or 5 rings the next 6 seasons but let's focus on this year.

1. The Center Position: Joel Anthony

Does any team have a worse starting center than the Miami Heat? They need someone down low to rebound, block shots, and be a threat. Joel Anthony has averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds in his first three seasons, he is not going to scare anyone. He would be no match for players like Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. In this decade a majority of the championship teams have had all start caliber centers who average double digit points and rebounds as well as being outstanding defenders (Shaq, Gasol, Duncan, etc).

2. Point Guard: Carlos Arroyo/Mario Chalmers

Realistically the only way to fix this would be to have LeBron play the point down the strech late in games. But they lack a true point guard to run the offense and be a facilitator. They don't need a scoring point guard, just someone who can defend and make good passes. Arroyo has bounced around and is really a average back up point guard. Chalmers has played well his first two seasons but his inexperience will show when trying to handle all these superstars. Yet again look at the other top teams, they all have true point guards leading their teams. Derek Fisher, Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose; all players who can score and hit free throws when needed but more importantly have high basketball IQs. I don't see Chalmers or Arroyo being able to guard anyone of these elite point guards. Derek Fisher would have been an extremely valuable addition to this roster.

3. Bench and Depth

After the "Big 3" the roster is full of players in the wrong side of their prime or players who shouldn't see the court unless it's from the bench. Haslem has been around for a while and will be the back up 4, he could be useful when Bosh takes a rest. Eddie House is instant offense and a great 3 point shooter, but it's not like their is a lack of offense on the Heat. Mike Miller is out for at least half the season but would've been a great 6th man, he will be missed.

4. The 3 Queens

LeBron will put up his stats night after night, but he still needs to improve his shooting and free throws. Wade sat out almost all of the preseason and will be rusty, while Bosh will be in an unfamiliar position going from a first option to a third. There is only one ball so someone is going to have to sacrifice points. Bosh is a great player but cannot defend players like Kevin Garnett and Amar'e down low. This just adds to the fact that the Bosh/Joel Anthony low post presence is a joke.

The wins, the blow outs, the fame will all be there this season but the rings will not. The Lakers and Celtics improved and had time to get healthy. The Magic and Spurs realize they need to win now after being so close the past few years. And in addition the Bulls and Thunder and legit contenders now and in the future. The Celtics, Magic, or Bulls could easily take down the Heat in a 7 game series. I would not put the Heat in a league of their own. The Lakers are the team to beat in the NBA, the Celtics are the team to beat in the East. Until this new Heat team fixes their problems (and gets some hardware) that won't change.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

LeBron and "The Decision"

As a Knick fan every since 2008 I have put all my hopes and faith into signing LeBron in 2010. But as the summer approached I realized we had serious competition. New York, Chicago, Miami, LA Clippers, Dallas, New Jersey and of course Cleveland all were in the hunt. I immediately knew the Clippers were eliminated. There was no chance that LeBron would go to Los Angeles and be in Kobe's shadow and literally be playing in Kobe's house. The next team to go was Dallas because it was clear that Dirk was not going anywhere and the deal was too complicated to work out. The only reason people even mentioned Dallas is because with Mark Cuban anything is possible. Now New Jersey, even though it seems that New Jersey was in the race I thought they had no chance. If he would leave Cleveland he would not chose New Jersey over New York. The Nets are stuck in New Jersey for 3 years with no roster. This leaves Cleveland, New York, Chicago, Miami. I felt any of these were possible. At the time I also had thought Wade was considering leaving Miami for hometown of Chicago and possibly bring in LeBron. I dismissed the rumors of LeBron, Wade, & Bosh going anywhere together as a fantasy. All 4 had there features: Cleveland- his hometown, his team for 7 seasons, family, loyalty, legacy...Chicago- best core group of talent and money...New York- best city in the world, marketing, msg, money...Miami- flexibility, good city, smart management. In my reasoning I did not attach Wade to Miami. I then narrowed it down to two: Cleveland and New York. Of course I am biased but I have reasons. Cleveland will always be in it because it is team and home, but if he was going to leave why would he go to Chicago where he will always be #2 to MJ and compared in every way. In Miami there is no one on the roster unless he brings people with him and with Wade it will always be wade vs lebron to the fans. The fans would be most understanding to a move to New York because it is the greatest city and a major career opportunity outside of just basketball. He could rebuild a team and be the King of New York. But when LeBron announced he was joining Wade and Bosh in Miami for a big 3 it was career suicide. For Wade and Bosh this is a good move because Bosh has a chance to get his max money and win titles (he is not worries about legacy since he is not one of the greatest of all time) and for wade he already has his ring and is staying at home. But LeBron is concieding any chance at being considered the greatest player of all time. No matter what he does he will never surpass Kobe, Michael, Magic, Kareem, Bird, and Russell. All were players who were commited to intergirty in the game. All of whom also have won a large number of titles. Even if LeBron wins 4 rings in the next 6 seasons he will be behind a large number of people. He put himself into a situation where Wade will always be better than LeBron due to the 1 ring advantage. If he had stayed in Cleveland and proved his loyalty then he had a chance to stay there for the rest of his career and even if he only won 1 or 2 titles he would still be in the top 10.

My Projected New York Knick's Starting Lineup

PG- Raymond Felton- The Knick's signed him to a 3 year deal after LeBron's decision. Felton has averaged about 13 points and 6.5 assists in his first five seasons and never missed more than 4 games in a single reason. He can be a key addition and immediately have an impact as the team's point guard. Felton shot 39% from 3 point range last season and will have a lot of opportunities to shoot the long ball in D'antoni's system. Adding Raymond Felton is a good move because it allows second year PG Toney Douglas to remain in the back up role. Felton adds to a good young core of talent in New York and can spread the ball in this fast paced offense as well as being able to drive and hit 3's when necessary. I love this signing because he is also a above average defender and has always been healthy, some refreshing news for Knick fans. With Chandler slashing to the hoop, Gallo being a matchup nightmare, and Amare down low Felton should be able to rack up the assists. I predict that Felton will average around 13 points and 7-8 assists a game. This is a much needed change as Duhon (a free agent) had seen a sharp decrease in his numbers.

SG- Wilson Chandler- In his fourth season season Chandler is most likely going to be the starting shooting guard on this team. Even though he is 6'8" and listed as a SF he seems to be the only option to fill the need at SG. This will be his first year as a full starter. He has shown he has the ability to get to the hoop and finish strong. Chandler could be a primary scoring option. Last season when T-Mac arrived McGrady was the primary option and took away time from Chandler. None the less Chandler made the most of his chances and will see an increase in shots. Last season he averaged around 15 points and 5.5 rebounds as well as 2 assist. It will be interesting to see how more playing time, shift to SG, and the addition of Amare of other role players will impact his numbers. The wild card in predicting Chandler's stats is Kelenna Azukuike. Azukuike only played nine games games list year but should be healthy for the start of training camp. Azukuike is 6'5" and will most likely be a used as wing player either at the 2 or the 3. I can see a competiton between Azukuike and Chandler for a starting spot but I think Chandler will start off. The shift from playing SF to SG might see a drop in his rebounds but an increase in assist. Wilson definitely needs to work on his 3 point percentage because he will see a lot of looks in this offense. Ultimately I can see that being the reason why Azukuike may move into the starting SG role with Chandler being the 6th man & backup SG/SF.

SF- Danilo Gallinari- In 08-09 (his rookie season) he did not see much playing time and was insignificant. But last season was a breakthrough. His second year in the league out of Italy "Gallo" was one of the few bright spots on the Knicks. He was a fan favorite and a unique player. Gallinari was amongst the league leaders in 3 point shooting and will be used so spread the floor. At 6'10" he almost always will have the height advantage over the opposing SF. He can either stay on the wing knock down shots, post up a smaller defender, or drive to the hoop with his quickness. The pick and roll betwen Gallo and Amare will be deadly and should be the focal point of the Knick's offense. I expect to see increases in his points and rebounds as he matures and improves. He was a lot of potential and can even go down and play the 4 or 5 in a smaller lineup. Look for him to be used on drive and kicks and to work the post. He plays good defense and is very coachable and energetic. Look for him to emerge as the leader of the wing on the Knicks. Azukuike or Chandler can also see some time at SF depending on the type of lineup. Watch out for his rebounding and blocks to sky rocket with his height and leaping ability.

PF- Amar'e Stoudemire- He is the Knick's prize this offseason. The summer of 2010 was supposed to be about LeBron, Wade, or Bosh for the Knicks, unfortunately all three teamed up in Miami. With Joe Johnson, Dirk, Pierce, and Rudy Gay all re signing with there teams the Knicks were lucky to get Amare in the beginning. Teams like the Clippers and Nets are now left with money to spend and no one to give it to. In my opinion Amare was the second best big man in this free agency class. With Bosh leading it, Amare is a better player than Lee and Boozer. This is the first time the Knicks have had an all star that is not out of his prime (or injuried) in a long time. Amare's is seen as a superstar in this league. He won rookie of the year in 2002, is a 5 time all star, and was named to the All NBA second team last season. Upto this point he has spent his entire career with the Suns and has been a major part of some teams. Amare played under D'antoni and knows the system. This is a huge move for the Knicks and gives some hope to the fans. Undoubtedly Amare will be the primary scoring option and leader of this team. He has suffered some injuries to his knee and eye but played and started all 82 games last season. His stats are of course very good and he brings a low post presence to the Knicks that other teams should fear. I think if he stays healthy he can put up numbers as high as 25 points with 10 rebounds. We saw David Lee average 20 and 12 and Lee was a double double machine in New York. I see no reason why Amare cannot grab 10-11 boards in this fast paced offense. He will do a majority of his work down low and also shot some jumpers. With Gallo and Chandler on the wings Amare will have a lot of options and should get a few assist per game.

C- Anthony Randolph- I do not know if Randolph will start off the season in the starting lineup but he should definitely be in it before December. He was one of the players that the Knicks received in the David Lee start this offseason. He is also the most coveted of the three. This kid is full of potential and at 6'10" is extremely athletic. He was injured last year and played sparely in his rookie season but Randolph showed signs of superstar talent at times in those games. If you just look at his stats you may see a nice young big man to come off the bench and play some strong minutes but I see more. I see the potential for a starting center that can score 15 points and grab 8-9 rebounds. Not to mention countless blocks and a major presence down low. I'm basing this on a few highlights of him but we haven't seen him play much at all. If he can develop a mid range jumper then the Knicks have a franchise big man that can be used in many ways. I compare him to a Gerald Wallace or a Lamar Odom with a higher ceiling. A big man that can run up and down the court and be a scoring threat in the open court. I don't see him doing much "back to the basket" work but maybe he can develop that which will turn him into an all star. The move to get Randolph was one that had a purpose to trade Lee who was a free agent in return for something. The other two pieces, Azukuike and Turiaf can be role players off the bench but Randolph has tremendous potential. I can see someone else beginning the season at center. If Randolph stays healthy watch out for him when he Knicks decide to run or as a help defender. Currently his body is not as big as needed and he needs to hit the weight room to be able to go up against some other centers.


I see Douglas being the back up PG to Felton (again), Kelenna Azukuike as the 6th man getting a lot of minutes (like chandler), Bill Walker will be a "Nate Robinson" type scoring spark off the bench, Andy Rautins as the sharp shooter (Eddie House last season), and Earl Barron as the back up big men at PF/C. The rotation will include: Felton, Gallo, Amare, Chandler, Randolph, Azukuike, with Barron and Douglas in the mix. It seems as if the Knicks are full of young players but there is not enough room for everyone. Out of the three rookies I think Rautins is the best but can't see him getting much time with all these guards. Landry Fields and Jerome Jordan will most likely sit back and watch for the time being. While Curry and Turiaf are the veterans bigs ready for garbage time.

PG- Felton/Douglas
SG- Chandler/Azukuike/ Walker
SF- Gallo/Azukuike/ Rautins

Curry should be traded by the deadline and rookies Landry Fields and Jerome Jordan are nice pieces for the future.