Tag Archives: Allen Iverson

We’re about ten games into the NBA season so far.  It’s late enough to start perceiving some trends, and still early enough to make predictions.

If you haven’t been paying attention, here’s what’s been hoopening:  Miami, after all the hype, is 6-4.  The Hornets, who had no hype, are 8-1.  The Lakers, who still aren’t fully healthy, are 8-2.  The Clippers, who are mostly healthy, are, well, the Clippers.  The Knicks have shown signs of life, but then allowed Kevin Love to put up a 30-30 game.  No joke.  At least 30 points and at least 30 boards.  (A question for the NBA’s official statistician: does it only count as a 20-20 game, because it happened against the Knicks?)  And, after improving to 2-0 against the Heat this year, Paul Pierce tweeted an absolutely classic tweet.

We’re now deep enough into the season that it’s an appropriate time to start talking about predictions.  I begin my analysis by looking at individual players; specifically, stars.  For a team to make the playoffs, it obviously must have balance, depth, and role players.  No question.  But, in general, it also must have at least 1 star.

I don’t see more than 1 or 2 NBA teams making the playoffs that do not have an All-Star on their roster.  The only team to do it last year was Milwaukee, and they had a few guys who were borderline All-Stars.  This is no coincidence; when attempting to pick the playoff teams, I start by trying to pick the All-Stars.  Then I add 4 borderline All-Stars per conference, and that tells me which of the teams are worthy of going through the hoopservations state-of-the-art (ahem) data analyzer to predict playoff teams.

As a starting point, here were last year’s All-Star rosters:


LeBron James

Kevin Garnett

Dwyane Wade

Allen Iverson (injured)

David Lee

Dwight Howard

Al Horford

Chris Bosh

Paul Pierce

Gerald Wallace

Joe Johnson

Rajon Rondo

Derrick Rose


Carmelo Anthony

Tim Duncan

Kobe Bryant (injured)

Jason Kidd

Steve Nash

Amar’e Stoudemire

Pau Gasol

Kevin Durant

Dirk Nowitzki

Zach Randolph

Chris Paul (injured)

Chauncey Billups

Brandon Roy (injured)

Chris Kaman

Deron Williams

Right off the bat, we know there will be a few changes, because Iverson isn’t in the league anymore (he was barely in the league when he made the team last year, but his name won’t be on the ballot this year so the chances of a repeat are low), David Lee went to the Western Conference, and Amar’e went to the East.

Here’s what I see for the East:

1. LeBron James

2. Dwyane Wade

3. Amar’e Stoudemire

4. Dwight Howard

5. Danny Granger

6. Paul Pierce

7. Gerald Wallace

8. Joe Johnson

9. Rajon Rondo

10. Derrick Rose

11. Joakim Noah

12. Andrew Bogut


Brook Lopez

Al Horford

Andre Iguodala

Anderson Varejao

And here’s what I see for the West:

1.  Carmelo Anthony

2.  Kobe Bryant

3. Steve Nash

4.  Blake Griffin

5.  Pau Gasol

6.  Kevin Durant

7.  Dirk Nowitzki

8.  Manu Ginobili

9.  Chris Paul

10.  Brandon Roy

11.  Deron Williams

12.  Russell Westbrook


Stephen Curry

Zach Randolph

Tony Parker

David West

So, the teams we can eliminate from playoff consideration because they simply don’t have enough talent are: Detroit, Toronto, Washington, Sacramento, Minnesota, and Houston.  That probably doesn’t count as going out on a limb, so let me push the envelope a bit… at least 4 of those teams will win fewer than 30 games.

Soon, I’ll analyze each of the other teams and generate playoff predictions.

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Much has been said about the Knicks trading for T-Mac. If you’re interested in reading about it, and haven’t had the chance to, you can check out some other people’s opinions here, and here.

I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say about the salary-cap ramifications of the deal that hasn’t already been said: the Knicks cleared a bunch of cap space, which will prove to be a good thing if they sign 2 superstars, and will prove to be a complete waste if they don’t. I’ve already blogged that it’s very difficult to build a championship team via free agency, and I won’t repeat myself (if the number of comments are any indication, nobody thought it was particularly worthwhile the first time). It’s a risky move to give away draft picks in exchange for freeing up cap space, but if any team can build via free agency, the New York Knicks with a whole bunch o’ cap space is as likely a team as any other to get it done.

When talking about the McGrady trade, I’m more interested in exploring the possibility that he – T-Mac – actually winds up helping the Knicks for reasons that have nothing to do with the salary cap. To be clear, I haven’t even seen McGrady move in months. For all I know, he limps around, or grimaces when he walks. Obviously, if that’s the case, he ain’t helping the Knicks on the court. I have to assume, though, that for the Knicks to give up draft picks in the trade, they had to at least see that he moves fluidly and without pain on the court. If that’s the case, then I think an under-reported aspect of this trade is that McGrady himself could be a valuable piece to a solid Knicks team in the near future.

That’s because basketball, much more so than football or baseball, is a game dominated by stars. Role players are important, if the team already has stars in place. But role players alone won’t make a bad team good.

Whatever else may be true about McGrady, he has been a star before; he’s one of the few guys in the league who has ever been the best player on a playoff team. In fact, I don’t think there are more than 30 guys in the league who can make that claim. By my quick count, the list begins with the 16 guys who were the best player on a playoff team last year:
1. LeBron
2. Pierce
3. Joe Johnson
4. Dwight Howard
5. Wade
6. Andre Iguadala
7. Derrick Rose
8. Richard Hamilton
9. Kobe
10. Carmelo
11. Duncan
12. Brandon Roy
13. Yao
14. Dirk
15. Chris Paul
16. Deron Williams

It also includes the following guys:
1. Iverson
2. Nash
3. Shaq
4. Kidd
5. Chauncey Billups
6. T-Mac
7. Ray Allen
8. KG
9. Baron Davis (remember when the Warriors were a threat?)
10. Arenas
11. Vince Carter
12. Grant Hill

There are probably 2 or 3 guys that I’m forgetting, so let’s say there are about 30 guys in the league who were, at some point, the best player on a playoff team. One team in the league has three of them (Celtics), and 6 teams have 2 of them (Cavs, Magic, Mavs, Sixers, Nuggets, and Suns). Following me? That covers 15 of the 30 guys.

That leaves 23 other teams in the league and 15 other guys who have ever been the best player on a playoff team (and one of those 15 guys is Gilbert Arenas, who, um, has some issues).

Well, the Knicks just got one of those guys. I’m not saying he can lead them back to the playoffs — as I said, I don’t even know if he’s walking without a limp. I’m saying that he has breathed rarified air, and he’s only 30 years old. If he’s able to be 75% of what he once was, he’s probably good enough to be the second or third best player on a solid team.

Thumbs up, Knicks.

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