From time to time I get questions regarding non-Blazer NBA topics. We don't run many of those--being Blazersedge and all--but the day of the All-Star game seemed like an appropriate time. So here you go.
Where will Carmelo Anthony end up and how much of a difference will he make?
This is the most over-hyped issue to come along in years. Who is Carmelo, exactly? He's a four-time All-Star and a 25 ppg guy, sure. But he's one of the most overrated scorers in the league. He'll spend a few weeks playing amazing basketball and then cruise on his point production for the rest of the year...or two...or three. He's been in the league 8 years now. Where has he taken the Nuggets? They've been far better with him than without him, but how many Conference Finals have they made it to, let alone won? And that's with a solid, talented, veteran lineup around him.
Let's say he gets traded to New York or New Jersey. First they gut their team to get him, mortgaging future assets that could actually improve them. Then in the best-case scenario they pair him up with Amare Stoudemire or Devin Harris. Stoudamire-Anthony will make a putrid defensive frontcourt. There's barely a center in the world who could rescue them. Harris is decent, but is Harris and the NJ scrub patrol a superior lineup to Chauncey Billups, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, Nene, Aaron Afflalo, Chris Andersen, Ty Lawson, and company? It'll take New Jersey 8 more years to build around him, by which time he'll be in his 30's and probably long since disenchanted.
Unless 'Melo goes to Dallas or L.A. this just won't register past the seismograph-jarring announcement of the deal. It's more likely to matter to Denver than to whoever gets Carmelo.
Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge?
I believe Aldridge will emerge with the better skill set and more well-rounded game. He'll be a pro's pro. But Griffin has that out of control physicality. Griffin also has an advantage that Aldridge never will: star potential. We're seeing his coming out party this weekend. When things are roughly equal, which they are in this case, take the guy with star power. It creates a perception among refs, networks, and the general public which can't be duplicated no matter how nice of a player the other guy is.
Put another way: Clippers fans aren't asking this question and neither would Blazer fans be if they had Griffin.
How good is Derrick Rose?
This guy is the real deal. 25 points on 45% shooting plus 8 assists speaks for itself, but I absolutely love how Rose has taken to Tom Thibodeau's defensive schemes. When he came into the league Rose was starting to drift towards sieve territory. He could score but you knew you could get yours back on him. Now he's just a headache all around. His per-36 numbers have shown substantial increases this year outside of shooting percentage, attributable to him taking tons more threes...a category in which he's also improved dramatically. He works on his game. He adapts. He seems to relish leading his team. He's a point guard in a dream era for point guards. There's nothing to dislike about this guy that we've seen so far. He's untouchable.
Boston, Miami, or Chicago in the East?
I personally like the Bulls best but I think Miami's "star power" (and I use the quotes intentionally) will allow them to squeeze by the others, including Orlando who should be on this list. The Celtics are a better team right now and the Bulls will be a better team in the future but I figure things are going to slant toward a Miami finals series at least once and the iron will never be hotter. Funny thought: the Heat are probably the only people in the universe who could turn the Lakers into the good guys in public perception.
Will Kevin Durant be completely unstoppable in a couple years?
He's unstoppable now, so the answer is yes. I don't see the Thunder as unstoppable now or later though. I like their talent and love Durant, obviously. But they just don't scream out "dominating" to me. Maybe it's the defense. They're good, not great. I'd love to see them make a Dennis Rodman or Scottie Pippen-type acquisition, getting some amazing, heady, defensive-minded veterans around Durant and Westbrook. They'll have some cap space to fiddle with if the salary structure remains equal in the next CBA. Speaking of, though, this is one of the teams that doesn't want to see a lockout in any way, shape, or form. Talk about having your roll interrupted.
You said last summer that you wouldn't touch Amare Stoudemire with a 10-foot pole. Does 26 ppg and a starting spot in the All Star Game change your mind?
Do the Mavericks have a chance to come out of the West this year?
Any team with that kind of talent--Dirk Nowitzki-led talent--has a good chance of winning any given series. I don't believe this is the year the Mavericks put it all together and return to the Finals, though. Maybe if they made a trade to get Steve Nash back? You can never trust Dallas. That offense can fall apart and their defense isn't consistent enough to see them through rough patches. It'll be the Spurs or Lakers in the West. Don't count out L.A. because of their recent struggles. You know when it's time they're going to pull it together. They aren't done yet.
Dunking over a car?!? Is that crazy or what?
Well, he parked it under the rim so he only had to get over most of it and then hang on the rim. It was impressive enough but I bet he could hit that dunk every day without the car under there. I prefer the dunks that take some extra effort over the fake-ish prop ones. It does beat pumping up your shoes, I suppose. Do it over a Ford Expedition and I'll be impressed. Or maybe a Bugatti. At least there's some risk there. Griffin probably tipped the locker room boy enough to buy that Kia Optima. If he screws up with the Veyron, that's trouble. "Awwww...you sneaker-scuffed my hood, BG! That's an $800,000 re-buff and paint!" You're telling me that Diddy Dirty Money wasn't around to lend him a car for the stunt? He really had to borrow one from the school crossing guard?
Would Greg Oden have been an All-Star at this point in his career had he been healthy?
They looked for Yao Ming replacements and found only power forwards. I'll say yes. I think he could put up Al Horford numbers, maybe with 3 fewer points and 3 more blocks.
I already have a bunch of seed questions for the next Mailbag but if you want to add some, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the All-Star game!