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Friday, December 30, 2011

Jam of the Week 12/30

During the short off season, there was a lot of chatter about a few teams out west. The chatter was centered mostly around Dallas, both LA squads and Denver. But now, they're talking about the Blazers. After a 3-0 start the Portland is clicking on all cylinders with their multi-threat offense, and pernicious defensive prowess. With cornerstones Lamarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews alongside key additions Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford, I'd have to say that this is a top 5 NBA team and a legit contender. They're deep, efficient and downright dirty. For that, this week's dunk goes out to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day Predictions, Pt. 2

On November 28th, COA predicted the three Christmas games that were initially scheduled:

Christmas Day Predictions!

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics
Everybody and their dog knows that the Knicks traded everything but the kitchen sink for superstar Carmelo Anthony before the trade deadline last year. Between Anthony, Stoudemire, and Billups, the Knicks have the perfect concoction of youth, experience and talent to be a special team this year. With role player Landry Fields and first round draft pick Iman Shumpert picking it up on D, D'Antony's Knicks could be dynamic in the Big Apple. Boston showed their age down the stretch in the playoffs last year, and I think this fatigue is bound to catch up to these aging superstars. Lookout Boston Three Party, there's a new sheriff out East.

Winner: New York Knicks

Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks

Ya hate 'em or you love 'em, though cliché, nothing could be truer about this team. Most people expected the Heat to roll through the league with ease, but when they stumbled along the way, doubts began to arise. The Heat fell well short of NBA analyst, Jeff Van Gundy's, 72 win prediction, and people no longer felt the Heat to be favorites for the Eastern Conference crown. LeBron's Heat proved the doubters wrong and galloped into the NBA Finals. They met an unbelievably hot Mavericks team, and what can you say, they got Dirked. A little food for thought: this was the first year these three were together and they came within inches of the trophy. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are too good, too tenacious and too hungry to let the Mavs thwart them again on Christmas Day.

Winner: Miami Heat

Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Many had the Bulls riding that number 1 seed to the NBA Finals last year, but inexperience and fatigue seemed to set in as the Heat took the series easily 4 games to 1. Out west, Los Angeles seemed to show their age down the stretch, being swept handily by Dallas. Pau faded, Kobe and Artest (are we supposed to say Metta World Peace yet?) looked old and their frustration began to show. I think this will be the best game of the day and probably the closest. As a tiebreaker, I'll give it to the better conference.

Winner: Los Angeles Lakers

After this was posted 2 more games were scheduled for Christmas Night, here are our predictions for tonight's games:

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Orlando Magic

Durant and Westbrook will be a heavy load no doubt, but the Thunder never addressed a gaping hole that ultimately led to their downfall last year, post D. The game is in Orlando and Dwight Howard is going to look to prove that he still wants to play, no way he just lies down and takes it. He's too much of a superstar. I also think that the Magic supporting cast is underrated as well Resigning J-Rich was huge and I like the Magic in this
game.Orlando is always in a Christmas game and this experience will work in their favor. Howard will be too much to handle for undersized Perkins and Serge Ibaka.

Orlando Magic

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors

Two Words: Lob City.

Los Angeles Clippers

Old School Pic of the Week: Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas from Court of Appeals! (and Ervin Johnson)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Twas the Night Before Tip-Off

Twas the night before tip-off across the U. S. of A,
not a player was fouling, well, maybe Monta.
All the jerseys were hung in the locker room with care,
Awaiting Pau Gasol and his unruly hair.

The Heatles were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of Dirk's fadeaway danced in their heads.
With C-Witt in his throwback and me in my in Jazz cap,
in great and heavy anticipation, our buckles we did strap.

When on the court there arose such a clatter,
though it was only Marv Albert yelling, "drops the sledgehammer!"
Away to the TV we flew like the Flash,
jumped up and proclaimed, "what a pass from Steve Nash!"

Alongside Marv Albert, we saw something killer,
we remembered his color man was the great Reggie Miller.
When we awoke in a daze, our ending seemed too cliché
it was all a dream, and the NBA was still one day away!

So from Court of Appeals, to hoop fans everywhere,
we extend this message from our hearts with care,
"Happy Hoops and thank goodness the NBA is back,
stay tuned with COA and we'll keep you on track!"

Happy Holidays from Court of Appeals!

And (Metta) World Peace to All!

Jam of the Week 12/23

Two. More. Days.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jam of the Week 12/16

Blake Griffin dunked the ball a whopping 214 times last season. That means about one quarter of Griffin's total points came when he dropped the sledgehammer. You may have not heard, but Chris Paul is the newest Clipper. Paul averages over ten assists per game and the potential of alley-oop acrobatics between these two studs has basketball fans licking their chops. Clippers players know that you can't stop what's coming and have fittingly dubbed themselves, "Lob City." Griffin's dunk/alley-oop stock is up big-time now that Paul is in town. Ya'll need ta hide ya kids, hide ya wife, and hide ya husband because they gonna be dunkin' on err'one out here.

"The Lob! THE JAM!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Old School Pic of the Week 12.13

With this week's announcement that Brandon Roy would retire, the NBA lost a great player and by all accounts an excellent person (not to mention a Seattle legend.) But though his basketball career may have come to a premature end we would like to remind Roy that his future can still hold many joys.

There's no better example than the notoriously fragile Bill Walton. Though able to win two championships, Walton is remembered more for the 352 games lost due to injury than the 468 he played over his ten year career. But as Walton's toothy grin in this week's old school pic testifies, the only thing between an abbreviated basketball career and true happiness is a couple of nice bicycles.

And so, my friend, comes the time to trade in those high tops for a pair of spandex biker shorts and ride off into the sunset. The NBA is a wreck these days anyway.

Pace Yourself: Why You Should Keep an Eye on the Indiana Pacers in 2012

So far this off-season, one team has surprised many by pulling one of the most highly touted free agents, ex-Hornet David West. Many reports linked West heading to Boston. I couldn't have been any less surprised. In my mind, the classic "free agent star-to-LA-Boston-Miami or New York unwritten rule" had held sway (not an official rule yet, but it seems to be trending). Out of seemingly nowhere, reports heralded that not only had Boston not landed West, but he had agreed on a 2-year contract with the Indiana Pacers. I couldn't believe it until the rumor was confirmed by multiple sources. West had picked playing time on a less talented team, over adding himself to an established set of superstars, swimming against the trend of the modern NBA star. To me, this says so much about West as a player and as a person. Instead of joining the multitude of triumvirates that are starting to permeate the league, West chose to see minutes and attempt to build a dynasty from the ground up (cash may have been a factor, but don't ruin this for me people). Not only did I find a new respect for West, but started to examine the Pacers squad as a whole, and liked what I saw.

The Pacers are young, tough and talented. They've slowly accumlated pieces such as, Darren Collison and Roy Hibbert, that they knew down the road would be payoff. This team is packed full of potential and the addition of David West may push them over the hump in order to become a legit presence in the East. Let's take a look at the starting 5 as of today:

Indiana Pacers

PG, Darren Collison

SG, George Hill

SF, Danny Granger

PF, David West

C, Roy Hibbert

Off the Bench: PF Tyler Hansbrough, SF Brandon Rush, SG/SF Paul George

The Bench:
Tyler "Psycho T" Hansbrough held down the starting PF spot last year, but will inevitably lose his spot to West, for the better. Hansbrough is an energy guy any team would love coming off the bench. Realistically he's not a starter in this league, but an invaluable sixth man every good squad requires. He's a tough guy with a high motor, high basketball IQ and he'll hit ya' right in the Adam's apple if you look at him wrong. Rush provides shooting off the bench, like he did in the 2011 NBA playoffs, and the second year man Paul George is an athletic slasher to compliment Rush's stroke. Lance Stephenson is a guy potentially off the bench worth mentioning just in case he isn't incarcerated or suspended for most of the season.

The Starters: Collison came over from New Orleans last off-season looking to get minutes and to make his own name in the league, just like fellow teammate David West. Collison is a unique combination of scorer/distributor and perfectly suits this team, as he can put up points any given night but also facilitate to stars Granger and West. George Hill is known as a great defender, but only a decent scorer. He was acquired from the Spurs via trade during the NBA draft. He'll serve as the defensive anchor of the team and will fill a role as a seasoned leader as well. Granger has only one All-Star game under his belt, but in all honesty should probably have more. Expect Granger to do what he's been doing ever since his rookie year, score and play hard. With opposing defenses now having to focus on West down low, look for Granger to explode this year.

West will be expected to play his game, that is, rebound, defend and be consistent on offense. West is a dependable and consistent player who is going to give you 100 % night in and night out. He is already familiar with Darren Collison having played with him in New Orleans, and I expect for them to reconnect with dynamic PG-PF chemistry. Last year I predicted Hibbert to be the Most Improved Player. While he didn't acquire this accolade, he did improve leaps and bounds. Though his numbers only increased slightly, Hibbert found a role for himself and that 7'2" frame on this team. Hibbert was often criticized for his passiveness and lack of effort, last year he showed glimpses of fiery competitiveness and stepped up as a leader. These intangibles only have room for growth.

The Skinny:

If West can mesh with the established crew in Indy, this first year may be indicative of great things to come. As many teams continue to accumulate 2 or 3 superstars, the Pacers have done a fantastic job of accruing talent across the board. I love the fact the West chose Indiana over Boston (I'm a sucker for small markets), and I hope that he can prove that you don't need a team like The Heatles or the Boston Three Party to garner success in the NBA. Keep your eye out for the boys from I over the course of the season.

Court is Adjourned

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jam of the Week 12/9

The New Jersey Nets are a bad team. Hopefully Pauly D and Snooki don't show up to my house at 3 AM brandishing hair gel and Ed Hardy bags filled with bars of soap in order to fist pump my teeth into the back of my head because of my frankness, but someone has to step up and say it. Rumor has it that the Nets are closing in on a deal with coveted Brazilian big man, Nené. Bad teams overpay, so if a deal is struck, this is going to be one very rich man. If signed, expect to catch Nené at all the hottest night clubs on the shore decked out in the tightest Armani Exchange shirt, alongside wingmen Pauly D and Mike "The Situation" fist-pumping the night away, throwing grenades and whatever the hell else it is they do on that show. Here's to you big fella'.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Old School Pic of the Week 10.6

The lockout is over and free agency is upon us! You know what that means; it's time to for the recently locked out NBA players to put down the TV remote/video game controller/large pizza (looking at you Eddy Curry) and get in shape for training camp. 

But players aren't the only ones getting back to action. Sir Charles and the rest of the league's broadcasters are going to have to be looking fit and trim for debut this season. Let's not forget, the camera adds 10 pounds.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Free Agency Predictions

With NBA free agency officially kicking off tomorrow, here is a look at where the offseason's top available players might be headed:

Tyson Chandler - New York Knicks

Chandler, perhaps this off-season's most coveted free agent prize, is coming off a big season in which he anchored the Mavericks' defense en route to a Championship. Dallas' $84 million payroll last year -- among other things -- indicates that owner Mark Cuban isn't exactly stingy with his dollars, but the new free agency rules put in place by the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) could make signing Chandler difficult. NBA teams have proven their willingness to fork over millions to any 7-footer with a pulse (see: Diop, DeSagana) so given his standing as a legitimate starting center, Chandler should be fielding some lucrative offers. The most lucrative of the offers so far seems to be the Knicks' 4-year, $58 million proposal, which Chandler is reportedly close to signing. Dallas will not be able to make the same type of offer given their salary constraints, and the team is reportedly hoarding their bills to instead throw at Deron Williams or another member of the heralded 2012 free agent class.

Nenê - New Jersey Nets

Though the Nuggets can offer him top dollar, Nenê supposedly wants out of the Mile High City. According to numerous reports he has already received interest from six other teams, with Indiana, Houston, and New Jersey as the most likely suitors. If inclined, New Jersey and Indiana can both offer max deals worth around $17 million annually. On the heels of a lockout caused primarily by ridiculous contracts for marginal players it may seem odd that teams would be willing to throw so much money at Nenê, who definitely falls in the good-but-not-great category. However, centers come at a premium in this league so he will be paid quite handsomely when it is all said and done. Houston can provide the most compelling roster for Nenê, but it is becoming more likely that they will add Pau Gasol in a three-way trade that would send CP3 to the Lakers. If that is this case, expect Nenê to land with the Nets, as owner Mikhail Prokhorov needs to add incentive for Deron Williams to re-sign next summer.

David West - Indiana Pacers

You might have forgotten amidst all the recent talk about Chris Paul that David West is the team's only major free agent at the moment. But despite that fact, whether or not the Hornets choose to resign West is entirely contingent on the fate of his point guard. The first school of thought is that New Orleans needs to sign West so that Paul will have reason to stick around come next summer. The second is the belief that Paul already has one foot out the door and bringing West back without the team's best player would be a hefty investment that would not yield many wins. As Paul's likelihood of leaving town increases so too does West's. The Pacers have expressed interest and have the cap room to land him.

Marc Gasol - Memphis Grizzlies

Though the younger Gasol spent most of early years doing is best impression of a fat Seattle Sonics' Squatch mascot, last year he emerged as a very productive center on a contending team. As a result, the Grizzlies have publicly stated they will match any offer made on him. Done. Next.

Jason Richardson - Utah Jazz

Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor recently stated the team's intention to sign an athletic shooter this offseason. Richardson isn't the same young lad winning dunk contest after dunk contest anymore, but he still fits the bill quite nicely for the rebuilding Jazz. And if the Jazz's contact offer isn't enough reason to sign in Utah, surely the Twitter plead from our very own Danny Franks to J-Rich will do the trick.

Thaddeus Young - Philadelphia 76ers

Young emerged as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in 2010-2011 and, put simply, Philadelphia has the funds to make sure he sticks around in Philly.

DeAndre Jordan - Los Angeles Clippers

As a restricted free agent, the Clippers can match any offer Jordan fields. While it will likely take a hefty chunk of change to keep Jordan in town, the Clips (or The Blake Show, if you prefer) would be wise to keep their young core of Gordon, Griffin, and Jordan intact for the foreseeable future.

                                                                                    Jamal Crawford - Orlando Magic

The Gilbert Arenas Experiment in Orlando is over. Consider him and the remainder of his $121 million contract amnestied. To fill his place, the Magic will look for another explosive scorer at the shooting guard position, albeit one for half the price with a less extensive history as a team cancer. Everyone wins. Except for Gilbert Arenas. And the Magic once Dwight Howard inevitably bails. So, in conclusion, no one wins. Except Jamal Crawford.

Caron Butler - Los Angeles Clippers

It's already been settled, Butler will receive $24 million over the next 3 years to refrain from chewing straws throw lobs to Blake Griffin.

Grant Hill - San Antonio Spurs

In attempt to either win one last championship or become the oldest team on this side of my grandpa's retirement home squad, it looks as if the Spurs are eyeing Hill. For a team that doesn't have a particularly well established plan for the post-Duncan era, this move is a short term solution, but one that could pay dividends. The 39-year old veteran had a productive year last year and should be able to at least match Richard Jefferson's numbers from last season, assuming Jefferson will soon be amnestied.

Jeff Green - Boston Celtics

Boston GM Danny Ainge's bold move to trade Kendrick Perkins for youth on the wing in the form of Jeff Green was criticized for most of last year, particularly after the Thunder made a deeper playoff run than the Celtics. But when Ainge made the trade he had the future in mind and I would not expect him to cut his losses on this investment just yet.

Tayshaun Prince - Detroit Pistons

Already agreed to re-sign with the Pistons for $27 million over 4-years. Seems like I should've written this entire post 4-7 days ago. Moving on...

Aaron Afflalo - Denver Nuggets

With seemingly half of their team stuck playing in China at the moment, the Nuggets will have the available resources to keep Afflalo even though contenders like the Bulls would love to acquire him.

Greg Oden - Portland Trailblazers

There's no debate on this one. Oden has accepted a qualifying offer for 1 year at $8.9 million to remain in a Portland uniform. Which is particularly interesting because -- given his injury history/propensity to take nudey pics -- it's rare to see him in any uniform at all.

Samuel Dalembert - Anaheim Sacramento Kings

Dalembert could take less to play for a contender, but the Kings have to do some major spending just to reach the NBA's minimum team salary and that should keep in Sacramento or where ever the Kings are going to being playing for the life of his contract.

Court adjourned.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Jam of the Week 12/2

Deron Williams is one of the most well-rounded point guards in the NBA. He's quick, smart and has a pernicious crossover that turns defenders' legs in to jell-o. A great player no doubt, but to say that he has earned a jersey retirement in the NBA would be a long shot. But in Williams' brief stint in Turkey, his club Beskitas has granted him this honor. This feat is not only an impressive personal accolade for the point guard, but also a testament to the respect and admiration overseas ball fans have for the NBA. A true diplomat of the game, our Jam of the Week goes out to D-Will.