March 2005 - Posts

The NBA Rookie of the Year voting this year is going to be a lot closer than past seasons.  While there are only 3 main candidates for Rookie of the Year (ROY), they are all playing so well and so comparable that it will be difficult to distinguish who has been the best rookie in the league.  Two of my predicted candidates come from the same school (UConn), which should say something about the quality of their basketball program.

I believe the 3 candidates for NBA ROY will finish in this order:

  • Emeka Okafor of the Charlotte Bobcats
  • Ben Gordon of the Chicago Bulls
  • Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic

If you don't believe me, check the latest Got Milk? Rookie Rankings on NBA.com.  They have the players ranked 1) Okafor, 2) Howard and 3) Gordon.  After these 3 players, no one is even close.

Why I chose Okafor...
Emeka Okafor has been Mr. Consistant for the Bobcats - you know what you're getting from him every night (14.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG).  The numbers are impressive and better than both Gordon and Howard's, but it's Okafor's maturity and leadership that sets him apart, and why he's my choice for Rookie of the Year.

Argument for Gordon...
Ben Gordon has been arguably the best clutch (4th quarter) shooter in the league this year, single-handedly helping the Bulls get back to the playoffs with his late game heroics.  Coming in as a rookie, no one expected Gordon to takeover as the Bulls go-to-guy at the end of the game; most analysts probably would've picked Hinrich, Curry or Chandler to be “the man”, but Gordon has shown great maturity and leadership in helping Chicago reach the playoffs this year.

Argument for Howard...
There isn't much to argue here - the ROY award is going to come down to Okafor and Gordon because of their numbers as well as their leadership.  Howard is in Orlando with a seasoned squad of NBA players including Steve Francis, Grant Hill and Hedo Turkoglu.  Howard has done a little more than I think Orlando expected him to do right away, but he's 3rd or 4th fiddle on that team, whereas Okafor and Gordon are 1st & 2nd, respectively.

While Ben Gordon will be going to the playoffs with his team, and there's still a shot for Orlando to make it, I don't think the Rookie of the Year award should be given based on that.  Emeka Okafor has done a marvelous job with the expansion Bobcats and his stats are better than the other players mentioned here.

2004-2005 NBA Rookie of the Year (My vote anyway): Emeka Okafor

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Following their loss to the Miami Heat the previous night, the Suns were looking to bounce back against the struggling Orlando Magic.  Fresh off his 3 game suspension, Steve Francis looked to lead his team out of the troubles they've found themselves in lately.

While Francis was successful distributing the ball, he was unable to hit the majority of his shots; luckily, the rest of the Magic were able to hit theirs and make a game out of it.

With Amare Stoudemire in foul trouble, the Suns looked to their other players to keep up the scoring, led by Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson (27, 26 points respectively).  Steve Nash also picked up the slack by scoring 23 points and dishing out 12 assists.

The Suns played a competitive game throughout, at times struggling to outplay the weaker Magic team.  The game ended up coming down to the final shot and Jameer Nelson shot an airball from the left side as time expired.  Suns win 118-116.

Game MVP: Shawn Marion

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The game was anticipated as one of the season's best and it didn't disappoint, thanks to the Dwyane Wade and the entire Suns team.

Miami jumped out to an early lead, but Phoenix clawed its way back into the game, nearly taking the lead before half time.  While Wade performed very well in the first half, he was only warming up for ended up being the play(s) of the year at the end of the 3rd quarter.

With time running out and Amare Stoudemire driving the lane, Wade came from behind and blocked the shot straight down, recovering it in the process, and then heaving it over 50 feet straight through the net on the other side of the court.  If the Suns had anything left in them before that shot, it left very quickly as Miami seemingly walked through the 4th quarter enroute to their league leading 52nd victory and the NBA's Southeast division title.

The only bright side for Phoenix in this game, was the return of Quentin Richardson's shot.  Q' kept the Suns in the game by himself, scoring nearly 20 points in the 4th quarter alone on long 3-pointers and incredible layups & dunks.

Game MVP: Dwyane Wade

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Phoenix Suns @ Miami Heat, 3/25/05
Could tonight's Suns - Heat matchup be a preview of this year's NBA Finals?  Everyone has penciled Miami in the finals already, but many are weary of Phoenix's chances.  Despite the league's best record with about 1 month remaining, many are commenting that they won't be suprised if the Suns get bounced by on the other Western Conference teams (including Charles Barkley, former Sun).

Most analysts believe that a combination of the Suns off/on defense and heavy reliance on starter scoring will lead to their demise in a half-court, playoff style atmosphere.  At various points in the season, the Suns have shown these vulnerabilities, such as when Steve Nash went out for a few games and when either Amare Stoudemire or Shawn Marion gets in early foul trouble.

Miami, on the other hand, is the darling of the NBA right now after their second double-digit winning streak of the year earlier this week.  Shaq is now the favoritie for league MVP with Garnett and Steve Nash a distant second and third, respectively.

Tonight's game marks the second matchup of the year, with the first coming in a Phoenix blowout, 122-107, where they ran the Heat up & down America West Arena.  Look for the Heat to be aggresive on offense in an attempt to get Amare Stoudemire in foul trouble; if that happens, Miami will win the game.  If Amare can stay in the entire game, the Suns should have a legitimate shot to repeat the earlier meeting and come out victorious.

Keys to the game:
- Keep Amare Stoudemire out of foul trouble.
- Play defense for 48 minutes.
- Shoot the 3 well.

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The Phoenix Suns played the Charlotte Bobcats last night and came out with their 28th road win of the year.  The game was pretty much a blowout from the beginning, with the Suns going up 44-29 in the second quarter.  The Bobcats made a game of it late coming within about 10 points, but the Suns played it out and won the game 120-105.

Game MVP: Shawn Marion

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This will be the official Phoenix Suns news & commentary blog on NBAWeblog.com.  I will do my best to keep the stories up-to-date & fresh with exciting content.

This is my first time using the NBAWeblog system, but I think it will be a good experience.  I have another blog open at Blogger, you can visit it here: RedHot Roundtable

Chowell

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