Monday, April 25, 2005

Underrated Impact Players- NBA East

How often have we seen it? Steve Kerr hitting a clutch shot on a pass from MJ and Rex Chapman's fall-away, game-tying J from the corner from Jason Kidd in '97...or last year's memorable call: "Derek Fisher scores! at! the buzzer!" Unsung heroes and underrated players are an essential aspect of championship teams. Here is this year's Eastern Conference All-Unsung Team, sure to have a playoff impact:
New Jersey Nets: One analyst likens the Nets to 2 great players who wait around to play pickup with their teammates and, when they don't show, grab 3 other guys and still do OK. That being said, it was difficult to find an unsung hero, but I gave the nod to PG Travis Best, the seasoned playoff vet who can provide speed and scoring off the bench and give J-Kidd the short break NJ can afford if they hope to succeed.
Miami Heat: G Damon Jones (30 pts, 7-9 from deep in Game 1 against NJ) must absolutely love Miami. As an outside shooter, what could be better than playing with the most dominate big guy in Shaq and a remarkable drive-and-kick-or-finish slasher like Dwyane Wade? Undrafted out of college, Jones has found a home, ranking among the league leaders in 3PTM this year, connecting at a 43% rate.
Boston Celtics: C Raef LaFrentz is a big guy capable of stretching D's and opening the paint for guys like Paul Pierce, Ricky Davis, Antoine Walker, and Gary Payton. Going for 21 in the C's win over the Pacers in Game 1 of their series, including 5-5 from 3's, Raef's scoring and shot-blocking are essential to this team.
Indiana Pacers: F Dale Davis, a late-season pickup, causes some matchup problems with his strength against teams that play small like Boston and takes some (keyword: some) pressure off Jermaine O'Neal in the post. Like his name suggest, Double D is a great defender who is a big rebounder and, at very least, 5 fouls against a guy like Shaq.
Philadelphia 76ers: AI provides the scoring & distributing and AI2 (rookie Andre Iguodala) provides stellar D, so if F Kyle Korver is shooting lights out from the arc as he is capable of doing, Philly has all the essentials of a successful backcourt. Plus it turns an effective defensive strategy of collapsing on Iverson's drives into a 41% gamble if Korver is left open from downtown.
Detroit Pistons: Everyone knows their starters are a cohesive unit on D, able to make scoring spurts from time to time. So who is the sleeper on this team? Yep, you guessed it- Darko Milicic! Nah, just kidding...the only way he's a sleeper is during his 48-min nap on the bench each game. The real unsung hero is F Antonio McDyess, who provides much-needed scoring from 15 feet in, as well as another big body against the big West teams.
Washington Wizards: I'm going with- Lord help me- F/C Kwame Brown. If this former #1 pick is ever going to find a successful role in the NBA, perhaps it's as a spark off the bench. Going for 13 pts, 9 boards in Game 1 vs. Chicago, the Wiz need Kwame to continue to contribute solid....adequate...ANY numbers. PLEASE! You're a number 1 pick!!
Chicago Bulls: Why Ben Gordon still doesn't start is beyond me- perhaps chemistry, giving the bench a scoring threat, or his early-game inconsistency- but starting G Chris Duhon gives the Bulls an underrated player who can do lots of everything. A natural PG starting at the 2, he had 7 pts, 6 assists, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals in a Game 1 win for the Baby Bulls who, thanks to Duhon and others, are finally growing up.


At 11:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baby Bulls! Baby Bulls! Baby Bulls! Finally, the team starts winning after the departure of MJ. This team is going to be good for a long time with the solid nucleus of young players filling out the roster nicely. Ben Gordon is incredible in the fourth quarter, and hinrich has ears reminiscent of reggie miller. that is always a good sign

At 1:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, it is awesome to see the bulls succeed as they did in the late 90s. Im pretty pumped about kirk heinrich, i didnt see him doing anything special in the league. but apparently hes the real deal... good stuff. And Ben freakin Gordon. MY GOD!!!! Great to see this guy doin great stuff when hes needed. Although this year may not be the year of the bulls, watch out for them making a solid impact in the east within the next few years. I now feel i should make my point about the celtics. With all the talk about how the nba is being reborn with players like lebron, amare, dwayne, etc, watching the celtics makes me sick. After attending a game earlier this year, i think their organization is one of the sloppiest in all of sports. They play as if they dont even care. Is it Paul Piece? Is it Ricky Davis? Is it Doc Rivers' style of coaching? I dont know. All i do know is that they are a total disgrace to the NBA. I feel this applies even more to the Knicks, and I call myself a Knicks fan. But to have a team like the Celtics in the playoffs is a disgrace to the league in my mind. Even the Nets (with the addition to VC) dont have the same "team" play that they had 3 years ago. I hope I have made my point, although if you feel as though I havent i would love to hear your opinions
Larry "Salvatore" Kinklish

At 3:31 PM , Blogger Jay said...

Larry/Salvatore- while the "rebirth" of the NBA is fun to watch, there are still going to be teams like the Knicks, like the Lakers, like the Blazers who are over-spending, under-achieving, 1-on-1 teams. The celtics point you made i'm a bit confused by...they did bring in a blend of youth (Tony allen, marcus banks, al jefferson to name a few) to help guys like pierce and walker. i think you are expecting too much from the NBA. unfortunately, teams like detroit that are defensive minded and cohesive as a unit (NCAA bball anyone?) just dont exist often. Keep in mind this is a league that does anything and everything they can to increase scoring and revenue...this is no longer a group of college kids leaving it out on the floor, this is a group of millionaires playing a game for a living.


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