Mouth from the South

By Tom Minear

HoopsAddict.com is excited to announce the addition of Tom Minear from Australia to the site. In his first article he talks about LeBron James needing to turn it up this season, his thoughts on Chris Webber signing with Detroit, the Pacers-Warriors deal, jumping on Kevin Durant bandwagon and a possible second half surge by the Hornets.

Where art thou, King LeBron?
I love LeBron James as much as the next guy. Maybe it’s the nightly trip-dub threat. Maybe it’s those crazy moves he teases us with. Or maybe it is just a product of the Sternbot brainwashing the world into loving his love-child.

But honestly, what is up with the King? He is not playing like royalty right now, performing instead like a mere mortal. It’s strange – his numbers suggest that he should be threatening to win his first Maurice Podoloff Trophy.

Check it out – the only dude in the league averaging over 26, 6 and 6, and the Cavaliers are at the top of the tree in the Eastern Conference. I mean, that’s awesome….right?

Well, I have my doubts. Last season, LeBron was on a 79-game tear as he absolutely dominated in every game he stepped onto the hardwood. There were nine straight games with 35 or more. The All Star MVP award. The playoff debut game against the Wizards of 32-11-11, and the 41 he piled up in his first away playoff performance.

I mean, he was going crazy. But now?

LeBron just doesn’t look like LeBron. He is still playing well, but without that passion or intensity that lifted Cleveland to new heights in last year’s playoffs. He doesn’t have that anger. In fact, LeBron just looks tired after co-captaining the USA in the summer.

This season, he is down in every major statistical category. His numbers are still amazing – but shouldn’t a fourth year player be raising his numbers, not letting them slide?

The fact that stands out to me is that when LeBron brought up his first triple-double of the season against the Nuggets the other night, the Cavaliers lost. This was the first time that the King has got a trip-dub and his team has not won.

Look, I know LeBron will get back to his winning ways. Conceivably, he could still end up with MVP and Eastern Conference Champion on his resume by the end of the season. But I am sick of this waiting – I want him dominating the league again. I want him giving me 34-8-8 every single night.

I want LeBron playing like royalty.

C-Webb gets his motor running
So the Philadelphia meltdown is complete. Unless of course, Larry Brown sacks Billy King, then ships off Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert in exchange for Mikki Moore. You never know.

The final move was the buyout of Chris Webber’s contract, allowing him to go back home to Detroit. For the Pistons, it is a masterful signing.

Most people see Webber as a washed up veteran who won’t do much more in the NBA. That was my opinion as well, because he had been struggling with back injuries and never looked like regaining his form of years gone by.

But in Detroit, it is a whole different scenario. C-Webb wants to play for the Pistons, the Pistons want him. But most importantly, they want to win together.

That is why I like the move – Detroit now have a very deep, talented and experienced roster, and adding Webber to their starting five makes them a legitimate contender once again in the weakened Eastern Conference. He is the ideal man to play centre for Detroit, because he wants to win, not be selfish.

Whereas Ben Wallace was focussed on defence, and Nazr Mohammed was little more than a role player, C-Webb just wants to win a championship. That is all he is aiming to do. When a guy has been playing for as long as he has, stats become meaningless.

Look, I don’t think Detroit can win the championship, because the Suns, Spurs or Mavs are too strong. But I do look forward to watching them play. It will be beautiful basketball when C-Webb sets up in his favoured mid post, and hits a cutting Rip Hamilton for the deuce.

He may be old, but his passing skills are as sharp as ever. It’s like poetry in motion.

No more hibachi
I guess this is old news. But down in Australia, I didn’t get wind of this major loss until a couple of days ago. I have to say, I am in mourning.

Hibachi is gone.

I mean, hibachi was what made Gilbert Arenas. That was why I loved him. The ability to say he is going to score fifty, come out, do it, hit the clutch three for the win and keep yelling ‘hibachi’ every time he hits a basket.

It was priceless. People across the globe were running to Wikipedia to find out about Agent Zero’s favourite Japanese heating device.

I know everyone will keep using hibachi. I know it will stay it our language. But Gilbert Arenas isn’t using it. I mean, that was the whole attraction.

Of course, he will still be a goofy dude who everyone loves (except Kobe).

But ‘quality shots’ just doesn’t have that same ring to it.

Another Pacers shake-up
Jeez, what do the Pacers want? They bring in Al Harrington during the summer, along with nine other players. It was a huge shake-up, designed to give them some support for Jermaine O’Neal and to make them a contender in the tough Central Divison.

But then Rick Carlisle, in all his glory, decides to buck the trend and play a slow, half-court offence. No run and gun, no small ball.

Yet all the players he brought in were perfect for that scenario. He had a decent floor leader, some talented swingmen and an All-Star big man.

What was he thinking?

I honestly don’t know. Everyone else in the league is playing a fast-paced and entertaining brand of basketball, while the Pacers are stuck in the past.

Well, at least the trade helps them to run a half-court offence. Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy aren’t extraordinary athletes by any stretch of the imagination, but are talented enough to be solid options for JO to defer to.

Now they have a very good inside-outside big man combo, and Murphy can return to his three point shot and nightly double-doubles. Dunleavy has a chance to prove he is not a bust. Most importantly, Danny Granger will start at small forward and flourish like everyone predicted he would at the start of the season.

In my opinion though, this trade heavily favoured Golden State. It was a very courageous and intelligent move by Don Nelson. You have to admire the guy. He plays the guys that want to play for him, and leaves his big-name players on the bench. He invests in the youth of Mickael Pietrus, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins, and ships off the supposed saviours of the franchise.

Now he has a very talented roster that can run all day and score like there is no tomorrow. They are very deep at all positions, and there is great competition for spots with Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington having to prove they are good enough to get the minutes over surprise packets like Matt Barnes, Pietrus and Ellis. When Jason Richardson returns, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Jumping on the bandwagon
I’m not a huge follower of college basketball. Occasionally I’ll check out Aaron Bruce, a fellow Australian point guard at Baylor who is consistently being compared to Steve Nash. I like what I see – somebody draft this guy!

As of yet, I haven’t had the chance to watch Kevin Durant. But if Bill Simmons is right, then this guy might well be my new favourite player (except for Chris Paul – more on that later). Check this out:

“It’s nearly impossible to compare players and teams from different eras because the game continues to evolve in ways that nobody ever imagined. Tuesday night, I watched a triple-OT game between Texas and Oklahoma State where a 6-foot-11, 190-pound forward (the outrageously talented Durant, my current basketball obsession other than the Suns) scored 37 points on an eclectic mix of 25-footers, spin moves, jump hooks and drives to either side. He did everything facing the basket. He looked like a 6-foot-11 Tracy McGrady. Trust me when I tell you this: We’ve never seen anyone remotely resembling Kevin Durant on a basketball court before. If you stuck him in a time machine and transported him back to the Russell-Chamberlain Era, he’d probably average 55 points a game. Just the mere thought of his putting on a Celtics jersey makes me want to start sobbing with joy.”

Wow.

I don’t think Bill Simmons has ever given out that many compliments in one paragraph, and the guy hasn’t even been drafted yet.

I would love to be the team with the number two draft pick this year. Greg Oden is a certainty to go number one, simply because he is Greg Oden. But I think Kevin Durant will be a superstar in this league as well. And as much as I want him down in San Antonio, just think how amazing it would be to have Telfair or Rondo manning the point while Pierce and Durant run the wings in Boston.

Nearly makes me cry as well.

Crash is back
The injury curse has struck with a vengeance this season, but Gerald Wallace has regained his fitness and is back starting for the Bobcats. He started very slowly after a breakout 2005-6 campaign, but has shown signs of regaining his form.

I am here to tell you right now though – his second half will be huge. He might not get back to averaging 2.1 blocks a game, but all his numbers will be sky-high. I think his scoring will go through the roof, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him averaging 20-7-3 with a couple of steals and a block after the All-Star break.

If you thought last year was a breakout for Wallace, you were wrong. He is ready to produce something extra special.

Here come the Hornets
I feel bad for the Hornets this year. They had a great off season, bringing in Tyson Chandler, Bobby Jackson and Peja Stojakovic to complement a very competitive roster. But with injuries to all their stars, including David West and Chris Paul, their playoff hopes appeared dashed.

But amazingly, all is not lost. Their group has shown incredible resolve to continue playing .500 basketball on the back of career-making performances out of Devin Brown, Jannero Pargo, Rasual Butler and Chandler.

Now David West is back, and they can try to start mounting a run to the post season. Once CP3 is on court, they will be a very underrated and dangerous team.

Paul is the most talented young floor general in the league. He drops dimes that Steve Nash would be proud of, scores in the clutch like Gilbert Arenas and can seemingly do everything on the hardwood like his good mate LeBron.

If New Orleans get their team together, don’t be surprised to see CP3 leading them to the playoffs.

Well I will shut up for now, but the Mouth from the South will be back soon.

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3 thoughts on “Mouth from the South

  1. Thank you for calling out “King” James! Despite being blessed with a world of talent I don’t see him playing with the same passion or desire that say a Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade or Ben Wallace plays with. To be the best you gotta’ have that fire in your eyes that MJ had and play like someone just broke into your house and beat up your little sister. LeBron has a desire to win but it’s not the same passion that kept MJ up at night after a loss.

    I think that biggest plus of adding C Webb is that Detroit can now move Nazr for another guard or swing player. The loss of Billups last wee due to injury showed that C Delfino and Flip aren’t ready to step up and play big time minutes come playoff time.

    As a fantasy GM I’m stoked to see David West return! Having to endure Udonis Haslem as my starting PF for the past month and a bit nearly crippled my entire season and his double-doubles this week were a much needed answer to an SOS I sent out last week. However, while West is great for my fantasy hoops team his return will cost the Hornets some much needed lottery balls this spring. I’m not one for tanking a season but the thought of a frontline in New Orleans with Tyson Chandler, Greg Oden and West is beyond scary! Add Peja at the 2 and Chris Paul at the point and this would be one of the more exciting teams in league.

  2. Webber is washed up. No lateral ability at all. Utah ran the pick and roll on him everytime when he was in. The rest of the league will catch on.. Anything he gives on offense he will give back with no D.

  3. i hear what you say about webber’s lack of defence, and i agree he is not the defender he was ten years ago. but he is playing on a very good defensive team, and he knows this is his last shot at a championship ring. he will give it everything, and as a team i think detroit will still be very tough to score on.

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