Wednesday, April 18

NW Division Roundup, Part II

More Northwest Division Goodness, (Part I here)

The reflex answer is to say Danny Fortson, and considering he played all of 157 minutes this year to the tune of $6 million, it’s not a bad answer, it’s just not the right one. Da Fort’s deal expires this summer, and that makes it a good contract for the Sonics. No, for bad contracts, we’re talking long-term deals that teams are going to be regretting for the long term. We’re talking Kenyon Martin’s (4 more years, $59.7 mil) Rock of Gilbraltar contract, so unmovable they’re thinking of anchoring the Queen Mary to it. We’re talking Raef LaFrentz, whose early termination can’t come soon enough for Portland, or Darius Miles’ horrific 3-year, $26.2 million deal. And don’t forget McHale’s Navy: Troy Hudson, Mike James and Marko Jaric, who will pull down between them $64 million in the next four years. But anyone who knows the league knows the worst deal goes to Zach Randolph at 4 years and $61.2 million. At 24 points and 10 boards, Randolph puts up numbers like nobody’s business, but it’s his off-court crapola that makes it such a bad deal. Do you know anyone outside of NYC who’d be willing to take on that deal? I didn’t think so.

It’s funny, but if you look at the numbers and you didn’t watch any games, you’d probably think Damien Wilkins is the second coming of Jeff Hornacek. The Omen knocked down 41% of his threes and a shocking 90% of his free throws. Considering that in his rookie year he was at 27% and 62%, that’s quite a shock. Still, Damien’s obviously not the best. Ray Allen’s the easy choice, but he didn’t have a great year behind the arc, and he struggled in a lot of late-game situations, which is unusual for him. Brandon Roy emerged as a standout this year, as did teammate Ime Udoka (41% from deep!), while JR Smith, Ricky Davis, and Linas Kleiza all could be considered. But I’m going with Utah’s Gordan Giricek, the Croatian Craig Hodges, who calmly hit 42% of his 3’s and 84% of his FTs. For a guy traded four times in a 5-year career, I’m sure he’ll gladly take the honor.

Yakhouba Diawara, Denver (47/167 from 3), Ronnie Brewer, Utah, 19 points, 2.8 steals per 48, Paul Milsap, Utah, 18 points/14 boards per 48, Brandon Roy, a positively Pippen-esque line of 4 assists, 4.4 boards, 16.8 points in 35 minutes a game, Sergio Rodriguez, for getting mentioned more often on True Hoop than half the guys in the All Star Game, LaMarcus Aldridge, trying to single-handedly make Blazer fans forget Sam Bowie, Randy Foye and his late-game heroics for the Wolves, Craig Smith and his forgotten 26 point, 8 board game against the Sonics as well as his 11 points, 7.6 boards per game mark in the final month. A lot of nominees, but the final five is Roy, Foye, Brewer, Aldridge and Milsap. Hey, is it my fault there isn’t a center in there? What do you want me to do, nominate Saer Sene?

Danny Fortson is two months older than Kevin Garnett.

Lots of “ethnic” flavor in the NW this year (and, yes, I detest that phrase as much of the rest of you; why is being from Asia or Latin America “ethnic” but being from Greece or Italy isn’t? End rant). You can choose from the French Connection of Gelabale and Petro in Seattle, Diawara (France), Kleiza (USSR), and Nene (Brazil) in Denver, Jaric in Minnesota (Yugoslavia, and, no it’s not him), Sergio Rodriguez (Spain), or Giricek (Croatia), Okur (Turkey), and AK-47 (Russia) in Utah. Obviously, AK or Okur are the two best, with the edge going to Andrei Kirilenko, even though he only averaged 8.4 points per game and went from being the Joe Rudi of the NBA to being Gene Tenace in about 17 seconds this year. But I’m going to give the nod to the ridiculous roster the Blazers put together. Somehow, Portland managed to find three guys born in the United States that absolutely nobody believes were born here: Raef LaFrentz, Joel Przybilla and Ime Udoka. Hey, if you’re going to get scrubby American guys to fill out your roster and free up future cap space, couldn’t you at least get guys with names that are easier to spell? Somewhere, Pat Buchanan is advocating building a wall to keep these natives out.

Denver: Woodrow Wilson. Lots of promise, but failed to live up to potential. Remains to be seen if the Nuggets will suffer a stroke in the playoffs, causing George Karl’s wife to steward them.
Minnesota: Ulysses Grant. Past glories fail to materialize in new situation, causing leader to continually make bad decisions in attempts to right the ship. Known for corruption (see, Joe Smith and Whiskey Ring).
Portland: Jimmy Carter. Youthful enthusiasm and a desire to rid the taste of the previous administration leads people to think that anything different is, by default, better. It’s not.
Seattle: James Buchanan. The final administration before a massive sea change, characterized by acts that look incredibly dumb in hindsight.
Utah: Harry Truman. Sometimes, hard work and shrewd moves pay off.

More to come on Thursday ...


Anonymous said...

I'd say that the Jazz are more like James K Polk. Efficient, boring, but effective all at the same time. Good call on Grant and the Wolves, though. It's amazing how badly McHale has tarnished his image with his terrible job in Minnesota. He'd have better off just hanging out with Bird for the last 5 years. Anybody else realize that Ainge, Bird, and McHale are all GMs right now? What's Robert Parish doing? Is he pissed that he's the only one that isn't getting a job? Or that DJ had to go to the NBDL to get a job, while all the white guys are in the big show?

chunkstyle23 said...

Apt comparison, Anon, but you must understand--James K. Polk is basically like Confucius to Pete. He's patterned his life after Polk's teachings, and will talk at great length about Polk's achievements and philosophies. Pete was even insulted by They Might Be Giants' song about James K. Polk because it didn't have the proper "reverent tone." He promptly started writing a song of his own that rivals Don McLean's "American Pie" in length and epic scope.

I agree with the analogy, Anon, but there's no way that Pete equates the hated Jazz with his Gandhi, his Dalai Lama, his Yoda.