RT @Krisjo32: Fellas, beware of the women who leave the club/bar before the light comes on 15mins prior to closin! Lmbo #ShesHidingSomething
RT @Juliushoops: If you focus on setting good screens the game will come easy to you and your teammates. Setting good screens CRUCIAL to …
RT @bruce_arthur: “When he was in his prime, I have never seen a scarier centre.” - Jerry West, to Dan Patrick, on Shaq.
1. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton (QB – Auburn)
2. Denver Broncos – Von Miller (LB – Texas A&M)
3. Buffalo Bills – Blaine Gabbert (QB – Missouri)
4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green (WR – Georgia)
5. Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Peterson (CB – LSU)
6. Cleveland Browns – J. Jones (WR – Alabama)
7. San Fransisco 49ers – Marcell Dareus (DT – Alabama)
8. Tennessee Titans – Nick Fairley (DT – Auburn)
9. Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith (OT – USC)
10. Washington Redskins – Robert Quinn (DE– North Carolina)
11. Houston Texans – Prince Amukamara (CB – Nebraska)
12. Minnesota Vikings – Aldon Smith (DE – Missouri)
13. Detroit Lions – Anthony Castonzo (OL – Boston College)
14. St. Louis Rams – Cory Liuget (DT – Illinois)
15. Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey (OL – Florida)
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ryan Kerrigan (DE – Purdue)
17. New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan (DE – California)
18. San Diego Chargers – J.J. Watt (DE – Wisconsin)
19. New York Giants – Mark Ingram (RB – Alabama)
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Da’Quon Bowers (DE – Clemson)
21. Kansas City Chiefs – Nate Soldier (OL – Colorado)
22. Indianapolis Colts – Danny Watkins (OL – Baylor)
23. Philadelphia Eagles – Gabe Carimi (OL – Wisconsin)
24. New Orleans Saints – Adrian Clayborn (DL – Iowa)
25. Seattle Seahawks – Marvin Austin (DL – North Carolina)
26. Baltimore Ravens – Jimmy Smith (CB – Colorado)
27. Atlanta Falcons – Akeem Ayers (LB – UCLA)
28. New England Patriots – Cam Heyward (DT – Ohio St)
29. Chicago Bears – Derek Sherrod (OL – Mississippi St)
30. New York Jets – Phil Taylor (DL – Baylor)
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – Aaron Williams (DB – Texas)
32. Green Bay Packers – Bruce Carter (LB – North Carolina)
In what will be one of the most exciting matchups to watch in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Okahoma City Thunder will face the Denver Nuggets.Oklahoma City boasts one of the most impressive duos in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. At only 22 years of age, having just secured his second consecutive NBA scoring title, Durant is without question one of the league’s most valuable assets. Westbrook is a player who has made the leap this season from promising young point guard, to one of the league’s best. Along with Derrick Rose, Westbrook is one of the most aggressive point guards in the NBA when it comes to attacking the rim with what TNT broadcaster Kevin Harlan would refer to as “no regard for human life”. He is fast, fearless and has almost no weaknesses in his game after improving his jump shot significantly last off-season. This is a scary thought for all other NBA teams, as these two players will surely keep improving as time ticks on, while at the same time they do not stand alone as the only players worth discussing on the OKC roster.
Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, and James Harden make up the rest of the starting lineup. These guys will be the essential for the Thunder to achieve success this post season, as their performances could very well dictate how far the team goes. Since the departure of Jeff Green to Boston in the trade that brought Kendrick Perkins to OKC, James Harden has stepped up his game significantly. The second year player out of Arizona State has averaged 16 points and 4 rebounds per game since the All Star break. It will be key for the Thunder that he maintains this productivity in the post season because with teams keying in so heavily on Westbrook and Durant, he is guaranteed a ton of open looks.
Serge Ibaka has been another pleasant surprise for the thunder. His head coach Scott Brooks is well aware of Ibaka’s importance, which is the main reason why he has provided him with almost 10 minutes of extra playing time per game this season compared to last. Ibaka has certainly made the most of this opportunity, as he has improved in every statistical category dating back to last season. He is averaging 10 points per game this season as opposed to 6, and 7.6 rebounds per contest compared to just over 5 last season. The most important improvement however has come where his team needs it most, on defense. Ibaka is averaging 2.4 blocks per game this season, compared to 1.3 last year, which ranks him 3rd in the NBA, one slot ahead of this year’s Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. Though he doesn’t get to the line often, it is worth noting that he has also improved his FT shooting by a whopping 10% from last season, transitioning from a 63% foul shooter to 75% this season.
It can be argued that the impact of Kendrick Perkins on this OKC Thunder team is yet to be determined. He was brought in by GM Sam Presti part way through the regular season to bring an edge to the Thunder, and I see him doing just that. He provides a solid interior presence to accompany Ibaka up front, while bringing the same mental and physical toughness that he has displayed throughout his successful career with the Celtics.
The Denver Nuggets have been on quite the roller coaster ride throughout the 2010/2011 NBA season. I could not be happier to finally see this organization rid itself or the monkey on its back - which in this case can be formally acknowledged as a human being by the name of Carmelo Anthony. No disrespect to Carmelo as a player at all, he’s tremendous. But the distractions that were presented to the Nuggets as a result of his desire to join another franchise surpassed that of the LeBron James fiasco. The main reason I feel this way is because the bulk of the “Melodrama” took place during the regular season, while LeBron James’ break-up with the Cavaliers was during the off season, while he was an unrestricted free agent. There comes a time when an organization needs to accept their fate, even if that means parting ways with their franchise player, if it is going to replenish that team’s identity in a positive way. That is exactly what the Denver Nuggets have accomplished by trading Carmelo Anthony. They acquired 3 legitimate NBA starters in Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton, as well as a first round draft pick in 2014, and a couple future second round picks. To be honest, I was a fan of this trade for the Nuggets from the moment I learned of the details, but I did not expect it to pay dividends nearly this quickly.
These 3 players have immediately come in and helped turn the Nuggets into what I considered to be one of the deepest teams the NBA has seen in a while. They are rock solid at nearly every position.
Here’s a look at their depth chart:
The Nuggets will often find a way to play Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari together, which is ideal, as it allows them to employ an extremely large, or small lineup – whichever George Karl desires at that point in time. Gallinari will normally play the small forward position, allowing Chandler to play shooting guard, giving the team a physically imposing lineup. If Karl elects to play small ball, he can play Felton and Lawson together in the backcourt, with Chandler, Gallineri and Nene up front. Having the freedom to dictate the tempo of a game with these options has proven to be beneficial for the new look Nuggets who have exceeded all expectations since the deal was made, going 18-7.
Most Important Player:
The Boston Celtics are looking to return to the NBA finals after last year’s post-season run fell short at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. Standing before them is a re-vamped New York Knicks team that is looking to return to glory as a legitimate NBA contender, which hasn’t happened since the 1999 season. This matchup between two of the most storied franchises in NBA history is sure to be an intense battle which will pay tribute to the type of basketball that has been played by these two franchises over the course of history.
Despite having 2 perennial superstars in Amare Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks lack of depth will be their achilles heal in this particular matchup. The Celtics have superstars of their own, as well as a complete roster to back them up. Not to mention, this group of Celtics, for the most part, has a ton of playoff experience together. This is another stark contrast to the Knicks who since trading more than half of their starting lineup away less than two months ago, have had a bit of trouble developing the on court chemistry that is necessary to win consistently in the NBA.
I have a strong belief in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire when it comes to playing their best basketball when it matters most. Both players have showed me the ability to come up big when when the lights are on throughout their careers. The same can be said for Chauncey Billups, who’s commonly referred to as “Mr.Big Shot”, for the clutch performances he exhibited as the catalyst of the 2004 NBA Champion Detroit Pistons. Based only on the ability of these players, I expect the Knicks to steal a few games from the Celtics… but their lack of depth will be too much to overcome.
Most Important Player:
Boston wins in 7 games.
The New Orleans Hornets will pose no serious threat to the Los Angeles Lakers pursuit of a third consecutive NBA Championship. They may be able to win one game, but I highly doubt it. Not having David West as a second option will be fatal for the Hornets.
Most Important Player:
The Lakers win in 4 games.
Page 1 of 2