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Suaveness
03-26-2004, 02:59 PM
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=stein_marc&id=1768848

No team deeper than Minnesota


Twenty days left in the regular season and still no hint of a clear-cut Team To Beat?


BRILLIANT!


Yet just because the race for the championship is so wide-open that doesn't mean we can't hop in the lab with the scientists from Guinness and try to fill the void by anointing a "Deepest Team In The League."



Kevin Garnett has his best shot at a deep playoff run since he arrived in Minnesota.
Only one problem -- sorting out who's deepest isn't so clear-cut, either.


Here's our best effort at a breakdown, three weeks before an anything-can-happen playoffs ... a wide-openness that serves as our salvation in a season so ravaged by injury.


Minnesota narrowly tops the ESPN.com depth chart, placing ahead of Sacramento and Detroit. The Wolves' opponents Friday in Los Angeles -- fresh off their best game since early December in dismantling the perennially deep Kings -- land at No. 4, just ahead of surprising Memphis and those who missed out, namely Indiana and San Antonio.


1. Minnesota Timberwolves
There's a reason Kevin Garnett is so confident his team can win multiple rounds in the playoffs, in spite of the Wolves' infamous inability to get past Round 1 in their first seven tries. Reason being: Minnesota has its best, deepest squad since Garnett arrived in 1995. This team might actually be a little too deep, judging by its recent 6-7 malaise, but Minny will take its chances with overkill after so many failed attempts with insufficient assistance flanking KG. These Wolves have two dangerous point guards (Sam Cassell and Troy Hudson), a slew of quality swingmen (Latrell Sprewell, Wally Szczerbiak, defensive specialist Trenton Hassell and long-ball specialist Fred Hoiberg) and a myriad of frontcourt options (Michael Olowokandi, Ervin Johnson, Oliver Miller, Gary Trent and Mark Madsen) to complement Garnett. KG, as a result, somewhat ironically ranks as a stronger MVP candidate than ever before, even with more help than he's ever had. Maybe that's because Garnett earns points with voters for how well he pulls all those diverse talents and personalities together. It remains to be seen, though, whether Wolves coach Flip Saunders can establish a finite playoff rotation, which means excluding folks worthy of playing time. Saunders can't play all those swingmen regularly, and they're all important. Saunders also has to decide whether Olowokandi can function in the Wolves' system, or if it's better to just use the defensive-minded Johnson --and the smaller Madsen and Trent -- as KG's main wingmen. Getting those decisions right, and snuffing out any dissension that comes from those who sit, will determine whether the Wolves can go deep in the playoffs for a change.

2. Sacramento Kings
They're not the kings of depth like they used to be, in part because they sacrificed Keon Clark and Jim Jackson in a bid to save a little money after the expensive addition of Brad Miller ... and in part because they never seem to have their full team healthy. Of course, assuming that the Kings are mended by the time the playoffs start, they'll be the league's only team in position to bring two players of All-Star caliber off the bench -- Brad Miller and Bobby Jackson -- to complement one of the best starting fives you'll find: Mike Bibby and Doug Christie in the backcourt, Peja Stojakovic and Chris Webber in the frontcourt and Vlade Divac at center. What's missing? These Kings only go seven deep with players who have Rick Adelman's full confidence; Anthony Peeler, Tony Massenburg and promising rookie Darius Songaila are Adelman's other options. Of greater concern, mind you, is the serious decline in Sacramento's defense since last season. Clark and Jim Jackson were handy defenders, but the holdovers should be doing much better than they are -- 26th in defensive field-goal percentage (.454) and 26th again in points-per-game allowed (97.7). Unless the Kings re-establish some defensive legitimacy, they're going to be heartbroken in the spring once more.

3. Detroit Pistons
Consecutive losses in New Orleans and San Antonio have temporarily hushed those rushing to label Detroit as the new Team To Beat in the East, and the Pacers and Nets weren't about to concede that title even before the Pistons' eight-game win streak was replaced by a losing streak. Yet there's no question that the Pistons have the East's deepest team, for no one else in the Leastern Conference has a West-sized front line. The tag team of Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace, with 7-footers Mehmet Okur and Elden Campbell coming off the bench, should make the Pistons a viable opponent for the West champions ... assuming Detroit can get to the Finals. Which probably depends more on the play of Detroit's guards -- Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton -- and swingman Tayshaun Prince. Those three have to score consistently in the postseason for Detroit to overcome its offensive shortcomings. It also won't hurt if Larry Brown can get an occasional bonus from Corliss Williamson and reserve guards Mike James and Lindsey Hunter. The Pistons are at their best when Brown can go 10 deep and instruct his guys to wear the other team out with constant defensive pressure.

4. Los Angeles Lakers
Compared to last season's crew, when the third-best Laker in the crushing Game 6 elimination loss at home to San Antonio was Slava Medvedenko, this club is reminiscent of the glory-days Lakers that had the likes of Michael Cooper and Bob McAdoo (and later Mychal Thompson) in reserve. Granted, today's Lakers really aren't that deep, but the Zen Men consist of four future Hall of Famers and a tangible supporting cast. Rick Fox, Derek Fisher, Devean George and Bryon Russell all figure to have their moments in the playoffs. And depending on how much Phil Jackson is willing to play his kiddies when it matters most, there are a few more potential contributors from the younger set: Kareem Rush, Luke Walton and, yes, Medvedenko. Alas, the focus inevitably shifts back to the Four Cornerstones: Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton and Karl Malone. But if the living legends can bring consistent energy, get out in transition and play championship defense from the start of the postseason -- and get a little help -- the Lakers can certainly reclaim their old Team To Beat status.

5. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizz is a tough team to grade because Hubie Brown has no certifiable star in his rotation. But Brown does have a legit 10-man rotation (an 11-man rotation at times) that has utterly transformed the fortunes of a franchise that never won more than 23 games in a single season before he got there. Memphis has only one player averaging more than 30 minutes a game, and Pau Gasol only averages 32.3. Five Grizzlies, however, score in double figures -- Gasol, James Posey, Bonzi Wells, Mike Miller and Jason Williams -- and there are also quality handymen at Brown's disposal in Shane Battier and Bo Outlaw. The Grizzlies, as a result, are on pace to win 52 games and make one of the established West powers work hard to reach the second round of the playoffs. Battier admitted to ESPN.com earlier in the season that the platoon system isn't loved by all in the Grizzlies' locker room -- "Depends on who you ask," Battier quipped -- but the Duke alumnus also contends that "the people on our team realize that we're not good enough to do it individually." Because, as Battier concedes, Memphis lacks "that one guy, an equalizer like Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett." The depth, then, is the Grizzlies' lifeline, and chances are it'll also be valuable in the summertime. That's when the man who assembled it all -- Jerry West -- sets about trading two or three pieces for that certifiable star.

Why they missed out
Rick Carlisle is the East's leading Coach of the Year candidate because the Indiana Pacers are simply not as deep as they're reputed to be. Indy is smaller than it was last season without Brad Miller, gets by with three pedestrian point guards (Jamaal Tinsley, Kenny Anderson and Anthony Johnson) and has received virtually nothing from two players Jermaine O'Neal expected to be key contributors: Jonathan Bender and Scot Pollard. It's only Jermaine's dominance, Ron Artest's maturation and the solid individual defense Carlisle gets from Artest, O'Neal and Al Harrington that overcomes those deficiencies. Those things and Carlisle's coaching, that is. ...


The San Antonio Spurs will probably go at least nine deep in the playoffs, and it's a rotation that can offer beef (Rasho Nesterovic and Malik Rose), championship know-how (Robert Horry) and serious variety at the swing positions (Manu Ginobili, Hedo Turkoglu and Bruce Bowen). But let's face it: The whole scheme works only if the otherworldly Tim Duncan is healthy enough to trigger everything. If Duncan misses any substantial time in the playoffs because of his knee problems, count on this group looking rather ordinary, with Tony Parker -- not yet a 15-point scorer in this league -- forced to carry the team then. ...


Depth at one end isn't enough to get you in the top five, or even the top seven, which is why the Dallas Mavericks didn't qualify. The Mavericks have considerable offensive firepower, as ever, but their two best defenders are rookies Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels. Which isn't a promising reality for Dallas' playoff hopes. ... The New Orleans Hornets, meanwhile, miss out because their depth strikes us as wasted depth. Even with Jamal Mashburn limited by injury to 19 games, and even with Baron Davis hobbling now, the Hornets still must be classified as underachievers given their size (Jamaal Magloire, P.J. Brown and Tractor Traylor) and their many options at guard (David Wesley and Darrell Armstrong) and the swing spots (Stacey Augmon, George Lynch and Steve Smith).




Someone explain to me HOW the LAKERS are top five....

And how Indiana isn't deep....

Slick Pinkham
03-26-2004, 03:08 PM
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=stein_marc&id=1768848

the ESPN.com depth chart...

4. Los Angeles Lakers...


Granted, today's Lakers really aren't that deep...


the Indiana Pacers.. virtually nothing from Jonathan Bender ...


:shakehead: :bs: :dunce: :alcohol: :crazy:

Southside_Pacer
03-26-2004, 03:12 PM
Funny how most NBA coaches comment about how deep the Pacers bench is. But their NBA coches......ESPN has to know more than they do.

Suaveness
03-26-2004, 03:16 PM
How are Detroit OR LA deeper than us? Last time I checked, the Lakers had absolutely nothing without their "Fab Four"

And I think stein seems to have forgotten people named AJ, Cro, and FJ who just happen to contribute.

Last time I checked, Elden Campbell wasn't in the running for sixth man of the year.... :unimpressed:

Unclebuck
03-26-2004, 03:59 PM
I don't agree with him about the pacers not being deep, but i do agree with some of his other points about the pacers, especially the reasons why the pacers win.

indygeezer
03-26-2004, 04:24 PM
Add another million citizens to our fair city and we will sudenly have one of the deepest benches in the league.











IOW...we're small market and they don't care about sucking up to us.

SycamoreKen
03-26-2004, 05:34 PM
I would make the arguement that the Lakers should be below the Spurs as well. He must not have watched the game last night. Both the Pacers and Spurs benches are better than the dreck on L.A.'s.

Another brilliant line:

"But let's face it: The whole scheme works only if the otherworldly Tim Duncan is healthy enough to trigger everything."

You could say the same thing about every other team on the list. If either O'neil or KG go down so do their respective teams.

Kegboy
03-26-2004, 06:49 PM
Before I even got to us I figured he'd diss our points and not having Brad. That's all the national writers seem to know about us.

Did anyone ever think about that we haven't gotten anything from Johnny or Pollard because we haven't needed anything from them.

Suaveness
03-27-2004, 03:02 AM
He's essentially just taking people from teams and trying to find good points about them.... :unimpressed:

Peck
03-27-2004, 03:23 AM
Let's be honest here, I would never be confused with being a homer.

But even I find this list to be assinine.

The Lakers????? :bs:

Now if he would have called them one of the best teams I would have to concede. Anytime you have Shaq & or Koby you are going to be a contender. Throw in the mailman & the glove & you've got a formidable foursome. But beyond that????

The Wolves have improved, without a doubt. But is he serious. Oliver Miller?? :sarcasm: Ervin Johnson???? :o

I don't even know how to respond to that.

I don't know exactly where I would put us but it certainly would be in front of the Lakers in the depth chart.

dipperdunk
03-27-2004, 07:40 AM
My top 4 would be the Pacers, Grizz, Spurs and Kings not sure about the order. You guys can make a starting 5 out of your bench players that would be competitive in the East.

AJ
Jones
Bender
Harrington
Croshere

is probably better then the Hawks starting 5 and could compete in the East. Even Kenny Anderson was doing ok for you guys as a starter before he was injured. Ask NJ if they would like to have AJ back now that Kidd is hurt. I don't know what their looking at. :shrug:

indygeezer
03-27-2004, 08:21 AM
Let's be honest here, I would never be confused with being a homer.

But even I find this list to be assinine.

The Lakers????? :bs:

Now if he would have called them one of the best teams I would have to concede. Anytime you have Shaq & or Koby you are going to be a contender. Throw in the mailman & the glove & you've got a formidable foursome. But beyond that????

The Wolves have improved, without a doubt. But is he serious. Oliver Miller?? :sarcasm: Ervin Johnson???? :o

I don't even know how to respond to that.

I don't know exactly where I would put us but it certainly would be in front of the Lakers in the depth chart.


OK I'll probably get slammed for this but from what I've seen, Medvadenko is no slouch. In the few Laker games I've watched he's been more than adequate as either a starter or a back-up. So I'd ask that he not be overlooked when discussing the Laker's bench.

Suaveness
03-27-2004, 02:11 PM
Let's be honest here, I would never be confused with being a homer.

But even I find this list to be assinine.

The Lakers????? :bs:

Now if he would have called them one of the best teams I would have to concede. Anytime you have Shaq & or Koby you are going to be a contender. Throw in the mailman & the glove & you've got a formidable foursome. But beyond that????

The Wolves have improved, without a doubt. But is he serious. Oliver Miller?? :sarcasm: Ervin Johnson???? :o

I don't even know how to respond to that.

I don't know exactly where I would put us but it certainly would be in front of the Lakers in the depth chart.


OK I'll probably get slammed for this but from what I've seen, Medvadenko is no slouch. In the few Laker games I've watched he's been more than adequate as either a starter or a back-up. So I'd ask that he not be overlooked when discussing the Laker's bench.

Every team has a decent bench player, but that doesn't mean that Lakers are deep. He may not be a slouch, but isn't that great to make the Lakers a top 5 deep team.