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Rogco
03-05-2012, 02:10 PM
By: Matt Moore CBS Sports

http://eye-on-basketball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22748484/35012050

As the NBA catches its breath after a hurried rush to the season and a whirlwind All-Star Weekend, we turn our attention to the NBA's stretch run, the second half. We're at the point with the trade deadline looming two weeks away where teams will begin to make moves to either ramp up for a playoffs run or bottom out in rebuilding projects. Will the Heat keep up their pace? Can the Bulls finally get healthy and if so, how good can they be then? Are the Thunder legitimate title contenders? Are the Spurs "back" once again?

So many questions, so little time.

A huge element in the second half of the season is going to be minutes. The best teams will rest their players while desperate teams will have to play to the bone. The Bulls are somehow a great team and a desperate team. They want every advantage including homecourt advantage, and below we'll tell you how that could impact the MVP race.

So we present the Baseline Awards second-half predictions, focused on who will be taking the various trophies for the second half of the season.

Projected Eastern Conference Player of the Second Half: Derrick Rose

LeBron James is the runaway MVP leader, the best player on the planet, and was nearly flawless in the first half, despite the end to that All-Star Game. So why isn't he here? Because the Heat will have a top-two seed locked up by early April, and then you're going to see James take more and more games off as the Heat rest him for the playoffs. What he does between now and then will determine is MVP, but in the meantime, Tom Thibodeau plays his players 35 minutes a game even when they're hurt. Assuming that the All-Star rest helped Rose recover from the back and leg injuries that hampered him this season, he'll get the minutes, he'll get the production, he'll get the win. I expect big things from the reigning MVP in the second half.

Projected Western Conference Player of the Second Half: Kevin Durant

It's terrifying that a kid, a 23-year-old kid, can lead the league in scoring two years in a row and then make the leap. But that's what Durant has done. Everything is better. His efficiency. His productivity. His team. His leadership. His clutch play. And his defense. It's a phenomenal streak the kid's on and there's zero reason to think he'll slow down in the second half. The West is just competitive enough for the Thunder to keep Durant playing nightly and yet not good enough to challenge the Thunder for the top spot in the West (though San Antonio's making a good show of it).

Most-Likely to Succeed: Miami Heat

They have it together. They have no discernible weaknesses, outside of "Can LeBron James succeed in the clutch?" and that's not a regular season concern. The offense is clicking, their chemistry is good, they've had fewer distractions, they're playing at an elite level on both sides of the ball and their injuries haven't been significant. It may be sickening, but it doesn't change the fact that this is the baddest team in the land until further notice.

Least-Likely to Succeed: Charlotte Bobcats

Here's the worst thing about the Bobcats. They don't even have anything of value to firesell. Tyrus Thomas is having a terrible season, Corey Maggette has been injured, D.J. Augustin is just good enough to be their best player and not good enough to draw huge offers on the market. Gerald Henderson may be their best asset and he's too good to move. If they keep this team, they'll be horrible. If they sell off the parts for future components, they'll be terrible. If the lottery doesn't help this team, it's going to be classified as negligible cruelty.

Best Dressed: Indiana Pacers throwbacks


These jerseys are awesome. (Getty Images)


Those blues and yellows are just sharp as all get out.

Worst Dressed: Memphis Grizzlies throwbacks


This, not so much a crime against fashion as a crime against humanity. (Getty Images)


Let us never speak of these again.

Class Clown: JaVale McGee

Runs the other direction, denies things he's said into tape recorders, goes for triple-doubles in blowouts, makes ridiculous goaltends and has somehow failed to get better with John Wall on his team. McGee is funny. But someone really needs to get into his head and straighten things out or a world of potential is going to be lost.

Projected Defensive Player of the Year: Luol Deng

Andre Iguodala deserves it, but Deng may end up winning it simply based on reputation. If Deng is healthy, he's the best perimeter defender in the league. Dwight Howard has struggled at times and hasn't been as dominant. If the coaches really vote this one right, Deng should win as long as he continues to get healthy and Tom Thibodeau doesn't run him into the ground.

Smoke and Mirrors Award for False Relevance: Atlanta Hawks

Always a top-six team in the standings, never a top-six team in the conference. The Hawks have managed to survive a drop-off from Joe Johnson and the injury to Al Horford. The team is supremely in need of a complete makeover but none seems imminent. So they will continue to drift through the season, winning games and getting no credit, losing games and getting hammered, never going up or down. Consistency in this league is often heralded as success. But with the Hawks, it's always seen as evidence of either a mediocre student over-achieving or an excellent student never living up to potential.

Most Likely to Blow It Up: Boston Celtics

The holes have not been plugged. They have not rounded into shape. They have not righted the ship. The experience has not come through. The casual approach to conditioning has not yielded the results they want. They did not coast, they stumbled. They did not cruise, they crashed. They are alive only because of Rajon Rondo and the weakness of the Eastern Conference. The time has come to end this and move on. Sentimentality is not worth wasting time, because if the big free agents get re-aligned and the Celtics have nothing to move forward with, they'll be back in the stone age they were in before the Big 3 arrived.

Carmelo Anthony Award for MeloDrama: Dwight Howard

"I want a trade! But I love it here! But I want more input on decisions in the front office! But I'm just trying to play! I'm not talking about free agency! Except to talk to you about how much I'm not talking about it! I love my teammates! But I love Deron Williams! I love New York! But I love Orlando! I love my mom! But I make my own decisions!"

It's like watching a teenage girl decide between four boys while the one she's with can't figure out what he did wrong.

Projected Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

Ricky Rubio's a nice story. Neat passes. Irving should have been an All-Star and is going to be an elite player in this league over the next decade. Cleveland's rebuild is on its way, just 19 months removed from "The Decision."

Most Likely to be Traded: Stephen Jackson

Steve Nash could go. Dwight Howard might go. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo, Jose Calderon. But Jackson is owed a lot of money, the Bucks don't need him, and he and Skiles hate each other. He's a bad fit in the locker room and a bad fit on the floor. It's .50 cents on the dollar time in Milwaukee for CapJack.

The 2012 Version of the 2011 Memphis Grizzlies:

The Houston Rockets. I'm starting to buy into Houston as a surprise team. Memphis used team play, star power from Zach Randolph and a unique matchup with San Antonio to get into the second round. Houston has a Should-Be-All-Star in Kyle Lowry and world of versatility in lineups they can deploy. Throw in the work that Kevin McHale has done and the fact they're 4-4 this year against division opponents (three of which are likely playoff teams) and you've got a great shot at Houston making a surprising, if ultimately futile, run. Hurray, another mid-first-round lottery pick!

Most Likely to Hit the Rookie Wall:

MarShon Brooks. Brooks is going to be a terrific scorer in this league for a long time. He's got an elite set of offensive skills and tremendous length. He can play in an offense, too. But his game is predicated on shooting percentages and that's the kind of thing that can drop off when it hits the rookie wall. I full expect to have jinxed Brooks and he will now go out and win Rookie of the Year. His play in the win over the Knicks last week was superb.

Most Likely to Make Himself a Name by Season's End: Paul George

Should have won the dunk contest. Played Rose great last year. The Pacers are better than last year and are primed for a playoff run. Getting them out of the postseason is going to be a serious job, and George is going to be a huge part of it. More versatile on offense, better on defense, athletic, explosive, with range. George isn't going to score 40. But he's going to be a part of a lot of playoff wins for Indiana and is going to be that guy in the playoffs that make sports bars of opposing teams groan "Not that guy again!" time and time over. By the way, I've started calling him Mega-Man because it seems like every game he picks up a new ability he didn't have before.

_The_Future_
03-05-2012, 02:21 PM
Mega-Man, love it.

naptownmenace
03-05-2012, 02:29 PM
That Mega-Man line is so awesome!

We need a picture of PG in the blue Mega Man suit! {Paging Magic Rat}

ejwallace
03-05-2012, 02:29 PM
If only Rush were still on our team......


For those of you not in the know:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mega_Man_characters#Rush


Rush (ラッシュ Rasshu?) is a robotic dog belonging to Mega Man. He is introduced in Mega Man 3, and has appeared in many games since. Created by Dr. Light and Dr. Wily to be an all around support unit, Rush has the ability to transform into various forms. Rush Marine transforms Rush into a small, one-seated submarine, and Rush Jet transforms his legs into jet engines that let him take flight. Rush also has the Rush Coil, which is a spring that pops out of his back and helps Mega Man reach higher platforms that he normally can't access. Other games have him transform into a motorcycle and a drill car, and in the fourth and fifth Gameboy games as a spaceship. In later games, the Rush Adaptor allows Rush to attach himself to Mega Man, allowing him to float, shoot more powerful blasts, and launch his arms as projectiles. In a couple of games including "Mega Man 8," Rush can be used to obtain helpful items, such as health.

graphic-er
03-05-2012, 02:40 PM
I disagree about Irving over Rubio for R.O.Y. The Timberwolves were drastically terrible last year, and even in the first 2 weeks of the season this year. THen Rubio starts and they go off on a tear and have been playing so much better since then. Irving is a great player, but he has not had the same impact as Rubio.

Lance George
03-05-2012, 02:55 PM
I disagree about Irving over Rubio for R.O.Y. The Timberwolves were drastically terrible last year, and even in the first 2 weeks of the season this year. THen Rubio starts and they go off on a tear and have been playing so much better since then. Irving is a great player, but he has not had the same impact as Rubio.

The Cavs have had a fairly sizable improvement, too. They've improved their winning percentage 13.9% almost entirely behind the play of Irving. That works out to an 11-win improvement over an 82-game schedule.

graphic-er
03-05-2012, 02:58 PM
The Cavs have had a fairly sizable improvement, too. They've improved their winning percentage 13.9% almost entirely behind the play of Irving. That works out to an 11-win improvement over an 82-game schedule.

But they still hovering 10 game below even. Atleast the wolves are playing .500 ball.

ilive4sports
03-05-2012, 03:27 PM
But they still hovering 10 game below even. Atleast the wolves are playing .500 ball.
And the wolves also have one of, if not the, best PF in the game. Its not all about Rubio.

graphic-er
03-05-2012, 03:30 PM
And the wolves also have one of, if not the, best PF in the game. Its not all about Rubio.

Kevin Love has never got them close to winning season. I seem to remember people speaking highly of Love last year too.

ilive4sports
03-05-2012, 03:50 PM
Kevin Love has never got them close to winning season. I seem to remember people speaking highly of Love last year too.

There is no doubt that Rubio has helped improve that team. But its not just Rubio that has them .500. Also they added pieced like Derrick Williams and JJ Barea. Nikola Pekovic has show huge improvement as well.

Minnesota being improved over last year isn't just because of Rubio. He has played a role in it, but he's not alone in it.

A.B.Hollywood
03-05-2012, 03:50 PM
Irving is the ROY.

Period.

Whether or not other pieces have made one team better or not isn't the issue. And I say this LOVING Rubio. But Irving is having a better season than Wall, Rose and most other combo guards starting out in recent memory.

BRushWithDeath
03-05-2012, 04:29 PM
Class Clown: JaVale McGee

Runs the other direction, denies things he's said into tape recorders, goes for triple-doubles in blowouts, makes ridiculous goaltends and has somehow failed to get better with John Wall on his team. McGee is funny. But someone really needs to get into his head and straighten things out or a world of potential is going to be lost.

Just another example of the idiot, racist, right-wing media perpetuating stereotypes.

Or something like that.

graphic-er
03-05-2012, 04:40 PM
There is no doubt that Rubio has helped improve that team. But its not just Rubio that has them .500. Also they added pieced like Derrick Williams and JJ Barea. Nikola Pekovic has show huge improvement as well.

Minnesota being improved over last year isn't just because of Rubio. He has played a role in it, but he's not alone in it.

But its Rubio that is running the team. Therefore Rubio has had the biggest impact of all those players.

TheDon
03-05-2012, 04:44 PM
love the mega-man analogy that is awesome as far as a picture of him in a mega-man suit. I'm sure we could get some of our more adept photoshoppers on the board to tweak his Tron jersey a bit from the dunk contest. Shouldn't be too hard I mean heck one of our colors is blue anyhow, now if someone can augment a mega blaster arm cannon onto one of his arms I'll declare you photoshop king for what that's worth :D

graphic-er
03-05-2012, 04:46 PM
Irving is the ROY.

Period.

Whether or not other pieces have made one team better or not isn't the issue. And I say this LOVING Rubio. But Irving is having a better season than Wall, Rose and most other combo guards starting out in recent memory.

OH PLEASE, Irving is playing in Byron Scott's pg super system. I mean hell I could say Darren Collison should have ROY. He put up the same numbers as Irving when he was the starter in NO in the same system. :laugh:

ilive4sports
03-05-2012, 04:49 PM
But its Rubio that is running the team. Therefore Rubio has had the biggest impact of all those players.

He may have, but its not so much bigger that you can cite the T-Wolves better record as to why Rubio should win ROY over Kyrie Irving.

Kid Minneapolis
03-05-2012, 04:52 PM
Still like Tron better.

AesopRockOn
03-05-2012, 05:02 PM
Minnesota being improved over last year isn't just because of Rubio. He has played a role in it, but he's not alone in it.

Rick Adelman.

graphic-er
03-05-2012, 05:14 PM
He may have, but its not so much bigger that you can cite the T-Wolves better record as to why Rubio should win ROY over Kyrie Irving.

So record should have nothing to do with ROY? I mean come on....thats just silly.

ilive4sports
03-05-2012, 05:35 PM
So record should have nothing to do with ROY? I mean come on....thats just silly.

because thats what i said:rolleyes:

graphic-er
03-05-2012, 05:50 PM
because thats what i said:rolleyes:

You're silly man, you'd give ROY to some rookie who excelled in a system that was designed around him.

Fact or fake, DC averaged more points and assists as the starter NO than Irving has this year.

Blink
03-05-2012, 05:59 PM
What a great analogy, I'd love for that nickname to stick.

A.B.Hollywood
03-05-2012, 06:01 PM
OH PLEASE, Irving is playing in Byron Scott's pg super system. I mean hell I could say Darren Collison should have ROY. He put up the same numbers as Irving when he was the starter in NO in the same system. :laugh:

Uhhh. This what someone who hasn't watched him play says.

ilive4sports
03-05-2012, 06:02 PM
You're silly man, you'd give ROY to some rookie who excelled in a system that was designed around him.

Fact or fake, DC averaged more points and assists as the starter NO than Irving has this year.

DC also had a much better team around him. Have you seen Clevelands roster? Cleveland lost a record setting 26 games in a row last year. And they didn't add anyone other than Irving this year.

Minnesota added some real talent to that club and a damn good coach.

Everyone is giving Irving the ROY, but I'm the silly one. In a full 82 game season, Irving alone has the Cavs on pace to win 31 games.

graphic-er
03-05-2012, 06:03 PM
Uhhh. This what someone who hasn't watched him play says.

Fact or fake, DC averaged more points and assists as the starter in NO than Irving has this year.

cdash
03-05-2012, 06:04 PM
OH PLEASE, Irving is playing in Byron Scott's pg super system. I mean hell I could say Darren Collison should have ROY. He put up the same numbers as Irving when he was the starter in NO in the same system. :laugh:

Sifting through the crap in this post actually does bring up a good point: The system that Byron Scott runs is very friendly to point guards.

graphic-er
03-05-2012, 06:04 PM
Everyone is giving Irving the ROY, but I'm the silly one. In a full 82 game season, Irving alone has the Cavs on pace to win 31 games.

Funny, that sounds exactly like what the Timberwolves have averaged the past 3-4 years before Rubio.

ilive4sports
03-05-2012, 06:07 PM
Funny, that sounds exactly like what the Timberwolves have averaged the past 3-4 years before Rubio.

and before Adelman, Barea, Williams, and the emergence of Pekovic.

Sookie
03-05-2012, 06:13 PM
But its Rubio that is running the team. Therefore Rubio has had the biggest impact of all those players.

I have a feeling if you took KLove off the team, they wouldn't be nearly as good.

Kevin Love wasn't winning before because he didn't have another great player to play with.

It's a team game. Rubio's team SHOULD be better. That doesn't make him ROY.

Hibbert
03-05-2012, 06:22 PM
You're silly man, you'd give ROY to some rookie who excelled in a system that was designed around him.

Fact or fake, DC averaged more points and assists as the starter NO than Irving has this year.

Both averaged the same in points, Irving with about three less assists per game but also one whole turnover less as well. But look who that NO team had and than compare that to who Cleveland has this year. There's no comparison. Besides, this discussion is pointless, barring an injury, Irving is hands down going to win ROY. Rubio isn't as effective as you may think, he just makes it look so good. Both players are good but Irving has less quality players around him and is putting up better numbers. Also look at the shooting percentages.

Major Cold
03-05-2012, 06:41 PM
Just another example of the idiot, racist, right-wing media perpetuating stereotypes.

Or something like that.
Where did you get that from all that was written?

BRushWithDeath
03-05-2012, 06:52 PM
Where did you get that from all that was written?
It was a reference to the overwhelming favorite for post of the year.

http://pacersdigest.com/showthread.php?p=1380941#post1380941

TMJ31
03-05-2012, 07:23 PM
http://i162.photobucket.com/albums/t241/Fazumar/pgmegaman.jpg

Not my best work, but quick and (in my opinion) pretty funny ;)

Hicks
03-06-2012, 06:51 PM
:laugh: Oh, Lord. We owe #24 something more flattering than that photoshop!

imbtyler
03-06-2012, 06:54 PM
Mega-Man is one of my favorite all-time 'superheroes'. To have Paul George given that moniker is awesome, and the reasoning ("because it seems like every game he picks up a new ability he didn't have before") is music to my nerdy ears.

Where's the photoshop of George in Blue Bomber gear?? WE NEED IT!

imbtyler
03-06-2012, 07:02 PM
If only Rush were still on our team......


For those of you not in the know:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mega_Man_characters#Rush


Rush (ラッシュ Rasshu?) is a robotic dog belonging to Mega Man. He is introduced in Mega Man 3, and has appeared in many games since. Created by Dr. Light and Dr. Wily to be an all around support unit, Rush has the ability to transform into various forms. Rush Marine transforms Rush into a small, one-seated submarine, and Rush Jet transforms his legs into jet engines that let him take flight. Rush also has the Rush Coil, which is a spring that pops out of his back and helps Mega Man reach higher platforms that he normally can't access. Other games have him transform into a motorcycle and a drill car, and in the fourth and fifth Gameboy games as a spaceship. In later games, the Rush Adaptor allows Rush to attach himself to Mega Man, allowing him to float, shoot more powerful blasts, and launch his arms as projectiles. In a couple of games including "Mega Man 8," Rush can be used to obtain helpful items, such as health.

Hahahaha!! Brilliant!!

But since I don't see the media taking off with this Mega-Man nickname, I wouldn't bring Rush back simply for ironic comedy.

TMJ31
03-06-2012, 07:13 PM
:laugh: Oh, Lord. We owe #24 something more flattering than that photoshop!

I used the most ridiculous cosplay photo I could find ;)

Fun times!