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Cavs Stuff: "Shut Up Joakim Noah!"; "Mo Williams at 19?"; and Other Thoughts

December 8, 2009

PD columnist Bill Livingston is the latest to weigh in on the "controversy" surrounding LeBron James and Joakim Noah. (http://www.cleveland.com/livingston/index.ssf/2009/12/even_for_lebron_there_should_b.html) Livingston actually makes some good points, but his final sentence bring my vehement disagreement. Livingston writes in reference to LeBron's dancing, "Noah was right to be upset."

No Bill. Noah has no stature in the NBA. Noah needs to shut his mouth.

Livingston correctly points out Noah was quite the hot dog himself in winning two titles at Florida. Relevant here, but Livingston misuses the context. Noah has rubbed veterans the wrong way since his rookie year. He has developed into a solid player. He is a good defender and rebounder. Not much of a scorer. Kind of awkward. Easily beaten up physically by stronger post players (about 95% of NBA bigs are stronger than Joakim), but he works his tail off. I'm surprised at how good he has become, frankly. He is sort like a less talented, skinnier, less accomplished Anderson Varajao. "Less accomplished?" you say, "Didn't he win two titles at Florida?" Ah, yes he did. The key is that last part though. He won two titles at Florida. Watch a college basketball game. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Done?

Did you notice something? I notice something every time I watch an NCAA game. NCAA teams suck. It's not all that shocking that NCAA teams have less talent than their professional counterparts. That's not my point though. Watch an NCAA football game and then an NFL game. Certainly, the NFL teams are vastly superior to NCAA teams but the games look about the same. At least the talent levels. Watch an NBA game and then an NCAA game. To me the suckitude of NCAA basketball players and the NCAA basketball game just punches you in the face. 35 second shot clocks? No post play? Constantly missing open jumpers? Offensive and defensive schemes roughly as complicated as a "Barney and Friends" plot? This is the basketball land was where Mr. Noah was a rousing success. In the NBA he is a decent player on a team that once took a playoff series to 7 games. They lost. He's a solid defender and rebounder, but he isn't exactly Bill Russell. He has no stature in the NBA. He is like Varajao, except he hasn't ever helped his team win much of anything. His most noteworthy NBA moments all involve him showing the maturity level of a hyperactive 4-year-old on a sugar high who wet his pants. He's a solid NBA player putting up decent stats on a weak team, nothing more. Noah is annoying, but somewhat effective. Is my description screaming "medium talent" to you yet? However, Noah acts like he's one of the NBA's elite. He thinks he is a superstar. He seems to have no concern for the repercussions of his behavior. He doesn't care what his own teammates think, or his coaches, or opponents, or refs, or fans. He seems to behave as if the world should acclimate itself to him. In basketball, where players are deified (see James, LeBron; Bryant, Kobe; Jordan, Michael; Johnson, Magic; etc. etc.) you actually can get away with that sort of behavior if you are good enough. If not, prepare for the wrath of the NBA world. Mister Noah, you are nowhere near the level that your behavior will be excused. You have also managed to piss off the best player in the world. You will see him 4 times per season for quite awhile. I hope you enjoy being dunked on. I also hope you learn to appreciate little jigs in your direction afterward. You brought this upon yourself. Nice move. Brilliant.

Moving on to Mo Williams. In the following article (first brought to my attention by cleveland.com's Starting Blocks): http://www.manwhole.com/the-nba-is-on-point/ , Mo Williams is rated as the 19th best point guard in the NBA. I have to disagree. Allow me to go through the manwhole rankings and insert my own comments. I'll go from top to bottom and at the end of each description I'll give you where I think the point guard should be ranked from 1-30. 2009 stats in parenthesis:

manwhole.com Number 1: Chris Paul (2009 stats: 23.1 PPG 9.7 APG .625 on 3s) Can't argue here. CP3 rules. May actually be better than his numbers. My rank: 1

manwhole.com Number 2: Steve Nash (17 PPG 11.1 APG .3 Steals) Shenanigans! Steve Nash has been hugely overrated since going to Phoenix. No where near as good as his numbers. Humbers inflated by the system he plays in and the fact he doesn't tire himself out on defense. He does try on the defensive end, it's just he is rarely near any offensive player so he saves a lot of energy. Usually offensive players blow right by him. As his offense declines becomes more overrated. Supposedly he is a great guy. That's important, but it doesn't help on a basketball court. I don't blame manwhole.com big time here since everyone overrates Nash. Still, there's no way he is the number 2 point guard in the league. He probably never was, even when he won 2 BS MVPs. My rank: 7, which actually still may be too high

manwhole.com Number 3: Chauncey Billups (17.5 PPG 6.1 APG 16-5 Team) Chauncey is like the anti-Nash. Since some of his biggest contributions are on defense I think he is waaayyyy underrated. His numbers aren't amazing, but he helps his team win and makes others around him better on both ends of the floor. I guess it's just not fun or sexy to call Chauncey Billups as good as he really is, but manwhole got close. My rank: 2

manwhole.com Number 4: Deron Williams (18.9 PPG 10 APG 4.4 RPG) Very good player. Probably slightly underrated because 1) he will forever be compared to CP3 because they were drafter together and 2) he plays in Utah. Still, he is productive as hell and very good. My rank: 4

manwhole.com Number 5: Tony Parker (17.6 PPG 5.6 APG .503 Shooting) I sports-hate Parker. I want him to be overrated. I can't stand him. Annoyingly for me, he is really good. He has rings to prove it. My rank: 3

manwhole.com Number 6: Gilbert Arenas (20.4 PPG 6.5 APG .398 Shooting 7-12 Team) Maybe worth this spot 3 or 4 years ago. Not today. Shoots a ton despite hitting less than 40%. Team doesn't win. Doesn't really show any ability to make his teammates better. If he stopped thinking he were so great and just fit in somewhere he'd probably be a lot better. His attitude holds back his physical gifts, especially after 6,422 knee surgeries (approximate). My rank: 12

manwhole.com Number 7: Devin Harris (16 PPG 5.7 APG .348 Shooting 1-19 Team) Really manwhole? Number 7? He's shooting under 35% from the floor and his team is historically awful. Um, why is he the 7th best point guard in the NBA? Why? Seriously? Do people realize his stunning 1st half last season is not, in fact, his whole career? Way overrated. My rank: 18 and falling

manwhole.com Number 8: Jason Kidd (8.6 PPG 8.8 APG .467 3-Point Shooting 14-7 team) This lock Hall of Famer is actually enjoying a little resurgence now that he has remade himself into a 3-point marksman to help offset his declining natural scoring ability (take notes Gilbert Arenas), and he can still pass. The 14-7 record shows he can still help a team win. manwhole has him rated a little high, but he's still a good player. My rank: 10

manwhole.com Number 9: Derrick Rose (15.3 PPG 5.3 APG .94 SPG) Gets a bit of a pass from me for playing hurt. Incredible talent who had success last season as a rookie and is better than his numbers indicate. Do you really think the Bulls would take Devin Harris over him? manwhole.com seems to think so. My rank: 6 with a pass for playing hurt

manwhole.com Number 10: Rajon Rondo (11.1 PPG 9 APG 2.55 SPG) It's hard to gauge how good Rondo really is because there is so much talent around him, but we can say for sure he's pretty damn good. He's better than his numbers. He shoots 54.5% from the field despite being a crappy 3-point shooter. Gets extra points from me for finding a way to fit in amongst so much talent and also for having recent playoff success. That whole winning pedigree goes a long way. In a sport where 200 guys come in thinking they are awesome, and only a few can actually be awesome in the league, you can argue knowing how to fit in and fill a role is a talent. Another player I sports-hate, but I can't deny he is good. Do you think Boston would take Devin Harris over Rondo? manwhole apparently does. My rank: 5 (Maybe a little high, but he wins and he out dueled Rose in 7 last season)

manwhole.com Number 11: Russell Westbrook (16.1 PPG 6.9 APG 4.7 RPG .396 shooting percentage) I may be underrating Westbrook a bit, but he hasn't won anything in this league and he shoots under 40% from the field. That doesn't sound like the 11th best point guard in the NBA. He does have solid assist and rebounding numbers, and the former Sonics are off to a nice start. But the team is still in 4th place. Westbrook is clearly not their best player. I just can't get past shooting under 40% from the floor. My rank: 17

manwhole.com Number 12: Brandon Jennings (21.3 PPG 5.8 APG 3.9 RPG 19 Career Games) I'm not trying to deny Jennings impressive start. I'm just not willing to say he is the 12th best point guard in the NBA after 19 career games. It's just way too early. In fact, my rank for him feels at little high before he even plays a career game in January. My Rank: 16

manwhole.com Number 13: Mike Bibby (10.2 PPG 4.2 APG 3.0 RPG 14-6 Team Record) Another one who doesn't have impressive numbers, but he is shooting 44% on 3s for a team that's winning. He's never made an All-Star team, but he always seems to find himself in the playoffs, doesn't he? Why yes he does! Since getting the hell out of Vancouver (remember when there used to be an NBA team there?), he's been the starting point guard on a playoff team in 7 of 8 seasons. Sure, it wasn't all Bibby. It also can't just be a coincidence, can it? 7 of 8? That's 87.5% of the time! Or more than Devin Harris's and Russell Westbrook's 2009-2010 shooting percentages combined! Wow! My rank: 11

manwhole.com Number 14: Jose Calderon (12.1 PPG 6.4 APG .515 shooting percentage) Not really a big winner and apparently not inspiring Chris Bosh to stay in Toronto. However, Hubie Brown would point out that if you are Jose Calderon you shoot a good percentage. Kind of feels like a middle of the road starter. My rank: 15

manwhole.com Number 15: Aaron Brooks (16.5 PPG 5.6 APG 11-9 Team Record) Has been the best player on a surprisingly competitive team. Still, he feels to me like a good starter, but not a star. If he can continue to play well in the playoffs and do so against other good PGs he would be worthy of moving up. Kind of feels like Calderon to me, but maybe a little better. My rank: 14

manwhole.com Number 16: Baron Davis (16 PPG 6.9 APG 3.6 RPG) Baron is going to get a little boost from me based on his past success and my belief that playing for the Clippers sucks and most players are better than they appear when in a Clipper uniform. At least the ones who have some talent. ( Fore example, Michael Olowokandi is not good in any uniform. He's just tall.) I don't have a lot of complaint with manwhole's ranking here. My rank: 13

manwhole.com Number 17: Rodney Stuckey (18.1 PPG 4.3 APG 5.0 RPG) Loses something from me because 1) there is no real evidence a team can win with Stuckey at point, 2) is more of a combo guard or 2 guard that can pass than a point guard to me, and 3) is a little overrated because Joe Dumars says he is good and people think Joe Dumars knows all despite trading Chauncey Billiups for a washed up A.I. and drafting Darko Milicic over Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. I'd be more impressed with Stuckey if his good numbers translated into more victories. Still, I don't think manwhole was way off here. We are pretty much in agreement. My Rank: 19

manwhole.com Number 18: Jameer Nelson (13.7 PPG 5.5 APG 3.1 RPG) I have a major complaint with this one. Jameer Nelson may not have the best numbers, but he is a good shooter who helps his team win games. Give me a point guard who wins over a point guard who scores any day. It doesn't help Jameer that he is hurt a lot. His numbers don't blow you away. However if you watch the Magic when they are healthy, Nelson often looks like the 2nd best player on an elite team. That has to be worth something. My rank: 9

manwhole.com Number 19: Mo Williams (17.1 PPG 4.6 APG .476 3-point shooting) This was the pick that inspired my column. Williams and Nelson are in the same boat, wayyyyy better than their numbers. Williams scores plenty. If he had 2 or 3 more assists he'd probably rank a lot higher. If you watch him night in and night out you know he is a lot better than the 19th best point guard in the NBA. This rank feels like a lot of anti-Cleveland bias. Obviously, I am biased the other way. Still, Mo is an excellent shooter. He is a leader. He is quick. He plays solid D. He keeps the offense moving when LeBron isn't on the floor. If you look purely at his numbers he is underrated at 19. If you actually watch Cavalier games and realize how much he does for the team, then you realize he is wayyyyy underrated at 19. My (obviously biased) rank: 8

manwhole.com Number 20: Louis Williams (17.4 PPG 5.1 APG 3.5 RPG 1.7 SPG) Nice numbers. Lots of ability to move up if his point guard play can translate into wins. In case you haven't noticed, wins and losses are important to me in evaluating point guard play. Numbers are nice, but these guys are supposed to be the coaches on the floor. Williams has very good all around numbers. He just needs to lead his team to some more victories. My rank: 20

manwhole.com Number 21: Steve Blake (7.5 PPG 3.9 APG .382 shooting percentage) Let's do some more Hubie Brown, "You're Steve Blake. You are not particularly good at anything. You are not all that athletic. Your team brought in a better player to replace you in the starting line up, only it was a horrible fit so you still start. You have started on a team that had regular season success, but Eric Snow once started on a team that went to the Finals. So while winning is important in evaluating the point guard position, it isn't everything. Why would anyone say you are better than 9 other starting NBA point guards?" I have no idea. My rank: 29

manwhole.com Number 22: Stephen Curry (11 PPG 4.9 APG 6-14 Team Record) Curry may someday be very good. Before I put him ahead of 8 other NBA starting point guards, I'd like to see either production or a winning percentage closer to that achieved at Davidson. My rank: 27

manwhole.com Number 23: Mario Chalmers (9.7 PPG 4.1 APG .504 shooting percentage) Chalmers will probably never be much more than a bottom tier starter, and he'd probably more suited to be a top tier backup. The high shooting percentage shows Mario is aware he isn't the greatest player in the league and plays within himself to an extent. He did play on a playoff team, so that's at least an accomplishment. My rank: 22 with a lot of guys behind him who can easily pass him

manwhole.com Number 24: Jonny Flynn (14 PPG 3.9 APG 3-17 Team Record) One of many rookies who will probably move ahead of Chalmers on my list in the not too distant future. Lots of talent and upside. Can't rank him too high until he manages, oh I dunno, how about a 10th career win? At least 5? My rank: 28

manwhole.com Number 25: Derek Fisher (7.1 PPG 3.2 APG 35 years old) Much better before he was so freaking old, but never anything close to elite. Gets moved up a little for 1) winning and 2) being compared to a lot of rookies who have played less than 30 career NBA games. My rank: 26

manwhole.com Number 26: Mike Conley (8.8 PPG 4.7 APG 2 RPG) Lots of talent. Drafted by a crappy franchise. Should be getting more out of his ability. Still time to turn his career around. Looks more like a very good backup than a starter. Team finally starting to win, a little. Well at least relative to how much they usually win in Memphis. My rank: 23 with bonus for potential and my Ohio State bias

manwhole.com Number 27: Raymond Felton (11.8 PPG 5.2 APG 1.6 SPG) I actually think Felton is better than most people realize. I'd have him a lot higher if he ever started for a team that did anything, besides in college. Still pretty young. I feel like he is better than his numbers indicate, but his win totals disagree with me. If Larry Brown trades him for 30 cents on the dollar someone will get a steal. My rank: 21

manwhole.com Number 28: Beno Udrih (13.6 PPG 3.8 APG .537 shooting percentage) You are helping to keep a team many thought would battle for the NBA's worst record treading water without its best player. You also shoot a great percentage. I am also channeling Hubie Brown again. Still, when I watch you play I am decidedly unimpressed. You are just not that good. I do like you better than manwhole. My rank: 24

manwhole.com Number 29: T.J. Ford (9.6 PPG 2.9 APG) Why aren't you better? Anyone wonder why I hesitate to put rookie point guards really high on my list? Wonder why I am nervous when I say Brandon Jennings, who has been lights out so far this year, is the 16th best point guard in the NBA, worried it may be too high a ranking? The answer is T.J. Ford. I know Ford has battled injuries, but still. He should be a lot better. He's only 26 and his career numbers to this point have been solid. He's never really been a winner though. Toronto had one good year with T.J., but even that season Bosh+Ford should have been better in a wear East. I'm probably penalizing T.J. for falling short of expectations. I dunno. He should be better. He's been awful this year. However, his track record still gets him ahead of Flynn and Curry on my list. My rank: 25

manwhole.com Number 30: Chris Duhon (7.7 PPG 6.1 APG .309 shooting percentage) That shooting percentage is not a typo. Chris Duhon really is hitting just a shade over 3 out of every 10 shots he attempts. I think we can all agree Chris Duhon sucks. He'll make an NBA All-Star team before LeBron plays for the Knicks though. Maybe he could make a EuroLeague All-Star team. Do they have an All-Star game? I dunno.

So those are my point guard rankings. To recap:

1 Chris Paul
2 Chauncey Billups
3 Tony Parker
4 Deron Williams
5 Rajon Rondo
6 Derrick Rose
7 Steve Nash
8 Mo Williams
9 Jameer Nelson
10 Jason Kidd
11 Mike Bibby
12 Gilbert Arenas
13 Baron Davis
14 Aaron Brooks
15 Jose Calderon
16 Brandon Jennings
17 Russell Westbrook
18 Devin Harris
19 Rodney Stuckey
20 Louis Williams
21 Raymond Felton
22 Mario Chalmers
23 Mike Conley
24 Beno Udrih
25 T.J. Ford
26 Derek Fisher
27 Stephen Curry
28 Jonny Flynn
29 Steve Blake
30 Chris Duhon

I did promise other thoughts in the title, so here they are:

- I think J.J. Hickson could be an All-Star in 2011. I am drinking the Kool-Aid.

- I will play in the NBA before a woman plays in a NBA regular season game for anything other than a publicity stunt.

- Tonight's game: Cleveland 107 Memphis 94

- One final note: I spent a really long time writing this and feel really good about it. If you read it all, thanks. I hope you enjoyed it.

Jack Bacevice

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