There’s no better way to lead off an NBA column than with a Darius Miles anecdote – and this is a good one. Several years ago in Portland, Ore. a woman approached Darius at a club and had the following exchange:
Woman (in smooth voice): Hey Darius baby.
D-Miles (in equally silky voice): Hey mama, what’s up?
Woman: How come you ain’t got no jumpshot?
If a woman wearing a skank top and six-inch heels makes fun of your jumper, maybe you should get out of the NBA. Just a thought.
Let’s get this NBA Season Preview started!!
Least Valuable Player – Darius Miles. To indirectly quote San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, “Cannot play with (him), cannot win with (him), cannot coach with (him). Can’t do it. I want winners. I want people that want to win.”
MVP – LeBron James. The most freakish physical specimen the game has ever seen (sorry Wilt, Shaq). At 6’9″ and 260 lbs. of wiry sinew, LeBron cannot be challenged in the open court. He handles like a point guard, passes like Magic, and shoots it enough to keep a defense honest. With a few extra shooters on Cleveland’s roster the NBA title is a very real possibility.
Best Sixth Man – Manu Ginobli. Far be it from me to argue Ginobli’s case as one of the best overall players in the NBA, but the facts speak for themselves. Winner of Olympic gold, Euroleague hardware, and multiple NBA titles, the Argentinian pinball can flat out play. With more help on the wings the Spurs are just as dangerous this year as they were two years ago, and nobody can fuck with Gregg Popovich’s beard.
Best Defensive Player – Russell Westbrook. Nobody, and I mean no-buh-dee, can out-athlete Westbrook. And he’s the fiercest on the ball defender coming into the league since Sydney Moncrief. Of course, Russell won’t actually win the award for best defensive player because he’s a rookie and the NBA values shot blocking and rebounding more than actual defense, but Westbrook projects to be the best on-ball stopper in the league for as long as he stays healthy. Sorry Bruce Bowen, your run is over.
Rookie of the Year – Derrick Rose. With all do respect to Old Man Oden and Michael “I’m trying hard to emulate Derrick Coleman’s career trajectory” Beasley, the best rookie is Rose. The Bulls have given him the keys to the franchise and he’s the most gifted point guard to come into the league since Isiah Thomas. In three years he will eat Chris Paul’s lunch for him, take Deron Williams’ milk money, and bang Tony Parker’s wife. All while saying nary a word.
Most Overrated Player – Ray Allen. Sorry former Seattle fans, your boy Ray-Ray is a step slow now and isn’t what he once was. He’s still going to get a lot of open shots for the Celtics this year but it’s not a Big Three (as the commercials say). More accurate is a Big Two with a better than average third wheel. Still, he did nail those two strippers in ‘He Got Game’, so he’s got that going for him.
Most Underrated Player – Kevin Martin. The guy averages over 23 ppg on approximately 15 shots. That’s insanely good. He gets to the free throw line like Iverson (without taking 30 shots to do it), strokes from outside like a young Ray Allen, never complains about playing in the NBA’s hinterlands and has yet to make an All-Star appearance. But he’s quietly killing everybody across the board. Not bad for the young man out of Western Carolina.
Most Improved Player – Andrew Bynum. It’s easy to look at Greg Oden as the future of NBA centers, but I think the real future lies further south down the 405. Bynum has soft touch, a strong body, and a knack for making little plays. Oden’s a better defender but Bynum can score with anybody. And given more opportunities this year look for him to do so. Kobe can carry this team a long way but it will be Bynum’s play that puts them back in the Finals.