You know, I’ve watched this VCU team a few times during the NCAA Tournament and not until the Elite Eight did I realize that Shaka Smart was the head coach. I swear I thought Nantz and Kellogg were referring to the team’s undersized big man who is killing people down low. Live and learn. He doesn’t look like a Shaka Smart… I mean, if one is born with this name, this person’s career is pretty much mapped out for him. It’s either bouncer, hitman, Zulu warrior or power forward. I wouldn’t think “coach” would be in the mix.
Last week, as the sight of my team in the Damn Lies standings had me on the brink of forging a prescription request from my internist for a cauldron of Zoloft, I escaped from the depression by breaking down the potential first round of a 10-team, eight-category, points-based playoffs league. Since it did momentarily have me thinking twice about accepting that harnessless window-washing job at the Chrysler Building, I figured I might as well put together round two.
Here was Round 1…
1. Derrick Rose
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Pau Gasol
4. Kevin Durant
5. Rajon Rondo
6. LeBron James
7. Dwyane Wade
8. Russell Westbrook
9. Serge Ibaka
10. Luol Deng
11. Carlos Boozer, PF, CHI – With Rose monopolizing the ball, Boozer’s numbers are taking a hit. I do think that in a series against a tough defensive unit, Rose will have to adjust his game and get his talented power forward more involved. He is not a great steals/blocks guy, but is capable of averaging 18 and 10 throughout the playoffs. And this could very well be a long run by the Bulls. I wouldn’t wait too much longer on him.
12. Dwight Howard, C, ORL – Superman’s offensive game is worlds better than it was a year ago at this time thanks to attending the Dream Shake Summer Basketball Camp. Howard disappointed this author in last year’s playoffs by constantly getting in foul trouble and turning the ball over as if it caromed to him off the planet Mercury. He is playing the best ball of his career right now, and if he somehow manages to stay out of foul trouble, we could be looking at a monster couple of rounds.
13. Paul Pierce, SF, BOS – The Truth’s numbers have slipped a little the past few years, but he is still worthy of an early look. Still the Celtics’ go-to guy, you could be looking at 20-6-2 with decent peripherals. The big question lies as to whether or not he can lead his team to victory over the Heat in the conference semis and then the Bulls in the conference finals. Boston is crawling to the regular season finish line, but they are again ready to click the light switch to the on position.
14. Kevin Garnett, PF, BOS – KG has silenced his critics with a throwback type of year. Still the heart and soul of this Celtic team, he produced 14.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks and only 1.6 turnovers in the regular season. If he can duplicate these totals and make it to the finals, he will provide first-round value.
15. Joakim Noah, C, CHI – Noah has battled injuries throughout his brief career, and has missed more than 40 percent of the Bulls’ contests in 2010-11. When healthy, he is a force both defensively and on the glass and will see plenty of run. He should average a small double-double, and among big men, his blocks and steals are a sight to behold. A long Chicago run is a distinct possibility and like Rose, Deng and Boozer, Noah will reap the benefits.
16. Andrew Bynum, C, LAL – I’m not sure if anyone has caught on to my man-crush on the big fella. Bynum has recovered nicely from preseason knee surgery and rounded into form at just the right time. Even though he plays on a team with multiple stars, including the greatest chucker of them all, Bynum will get his. He is simply too big and too talented not to produce for his owners. I can definitely see the Lakers getting bounced by the Thunder in the second round, but I certainly wouldn’t bet the farm house on it. A small double-double and big-time blocks numbers await.
17. Manu Ginobili, SG, SAS – Speaking of man-crushes, no one loves Manu more than the Fox Unbalanced scribe. I just think that the Spurs are limping to the finish line and will have a real hard time getting by the long and athletic Thunder in the second round. If they can pull this off, the Ginobili, Parker, Duncan trio will be steals. As it is, even with only two potential rounds, Ginobili should remain prolific. This season he is averaging 17.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals and two 3-pointers per night. I guarantee this team will not be an easy out, especially with home court advantage.
18. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL – Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and I will no longer share my tater tots. For some inexplicable reason, I believed in the Mavs at this time a year ago. Don’t ask why. If $10,000 worth of psychotherapy can’t answer it, then I don’t even want to talk about it with my loyal readers. We all know that Dallas will get by New Orleans and then get pummeled into submission by the Lakers. Well, maybe not pummelled. Dirk will appear in about 11 playoff games and his season averages of 23.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.0 3-pointer per game should be on the rise. He is not worthy of first-round status, but by taking him here, you will likely guarantee yourself some bragging rights through the first half of the playoffs.
19. Ray Allen, SG, BOS – Jesus is pretty dynamic in this format as threes are worth three points apiece. The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost also doesn’t turn the ball over and will get you a steal a game. I had him in last year’s playoffs league, and although he left me empty a few times, he helped carry me to second place. If percentages were involved, he’d rank a few spots higher.
20. Tim Duncan, PF, SAS – Duncan may be on his last legs right now, but with a good rest these past few weeks, I can definitely see his overall totals climb to the 17-point, 10-rebound, 2-block range. That’s first-round stuff, but with the Spurs potentially facing the up-and-coming Thunder in a second-round dogfight, his games could be capped at about 12.
Fox Unbalanced will appear in these pages every Thursday. If you or someone you know views a Grizzlies/Raptors game as a religious experience, this could be the perfect destination for you. Feel free to chime in with some feedback. This author also broke down recently and now has an active Twitter account. Anyone interested in fantasy basketball or the mating rituals of Magpie should intensely follow him at @gregfoxy5.