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Thursday, January 31, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 19. Utah Jazz

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  15-17,  fifth place Northwest Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st ):
  • Points Scored: 98.5 (10th)
  • Points Allowed: 99.6 (22nd)
  • Team FG%: .443 (15th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .457 (22nd)
  • Rebounds per game: 42.8 (13th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.7 (13th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.2 (17th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.6 (16th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):

Worst Player of the Month: Marvin Williams

This was supposed to be a year of redemption for Marvin Williams:  after seven wasted years in Atlanta, this was supposed to be his chance to prove to everyone that he was not the draft day blunder that he has been portrayed to be.  He could start off fresh in new surroundings and finally would have a chance to revitalize his once stagnant and slumping career.  Unfortunately, that has not happened as Williams has once again continued to disappoint as he has become even less of factor Utah than he ever was in Atlanta. His performance in December was less than stellar to say the least averaging just 7.7 points and 3.3 boards per game dropping down from his numbers in November of 9.7 points 3.8 boards.  At least he will just be on the last year on his contractafter this season so the Jazz can either buy him out or use him as part of a trade.   
First Player of the Month: Enes Kanter

After a rather solid rookie season for a player that had limited basketball experience, Enes Kanter has picked up where he has left off proving how much of a steal he was with the third pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.  Along with a much more cut and muscular physique, Kanter has also become an efficient and reliable contributor coming off the bench.  In less than 15 minutes of playing time, he has averaged around 6 points and four rebounds per game while shooting at an efficient .550 clip.  Although it is quite too early to determine whether he will be a star or not, Kanter has certainly shown that he certainly belongs in this league and will have a bright future if he continues to progress the way he had had.  What the Jazz will do in the off season will determine whether or not the franchise has enough faith that he will live up to his status as the third overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

In one month, the Utah Jazz went from a team that picked up where the left off from last season's shocking playoff appearance and one of the top teams in the Western Conference to falling to last place in its division and finding themselves on the outside looking in on the playoff race.  November was a rather up and down month for the Utah Jazz, but the Jazz still manged to come out of it with a 9-8 record.  December, however, was somewhat rougher as the Jazz would struggle a bit going 6-9 for the month and go into new year two games under .500.  Utah started December well enough winning four of its first six games including an upset win over the Western Conference leading San Antonio Spurs (12/12/2012).  Unfortunately that momentum did not last as the Jazz would finish 2012 on a sour note losing seven of their last nine games and those loses were not pretty either.

All seven losses were rather convincing as the Jazz lost five of them by double figures with an average margin of 12.2 points.  They certainly did not look like the team that clawed their way through November fighting tooth and nail, but more as if the team had simply run out of gas.  Granted Utah did face some rather stiff competition during that nine game stretch which included Western Conference powerhouses such as the Memphis Grizzlies (12/15/2012), Golden State Warriors (12/26/2012) and the Los Angeles Clippers twice--once at home (12/28/2012) followed by other on the road two days later (12/30/2012).  Utah also had the misfortune to face two of the Eastern Conferences top teams on the road as well facing the Central Division leading Indiana Pacers (12/19/2012) and the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat (12/22/2012) which were both by rather sizable margin--by a total of 36 points.  Nonetheless, despite facing the cream of the crop in the NBA, there was still no excuse for Utah to allow themselves to be steamrolled over like that.

It was as if the Jazz simply fell asleep at the wheel as there was just simply a supreme lack of focus and energy on the their part allowing their opponents to have their way with them on the offensive end.  In that final nine game stretch in December, the Jazz allowed their opponents to outscore them 100.7 to 91.7 and scorch them from the field out-shooting them .474 to .418.  Their poor effort on the defensive end was bad enough, but to allow such a feeble offering on the offensive end while supposedly boasting on of the deepest and dangerous front courts in the league is simply inexcusable.  They allowed the worst team in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns, to have their way with them allowing the Suns to simply abuse them on the floor stomping them by 15 points.  Most noticeably, the Jazz allowed one of the league's lowest scoring and poorest shooting teams in the Indiana Pacers to just simply torch them scoring a monthly high of 107 points while allowing a team that ranks 23rd in the league in field goal percentage to shoot probably the best that they have ever had on the field.  With such a poor performance, Utah had better wake up or else this will turn out to be a very long season.

This certainly has to be frustrating for head coach Tyrone Corbin because he has witnessed his team perform far better under much worse circumstances.  After all, not many gave the Jazz much of a chance last season when they came in without their former franchise player Deron Williams and long time coach Jerry Sloan.  Many expected the Jazz to simply tank the season as many anticipated last season to be the start of a long and arduous rebuilding period; however, Utah proved all their naysayers wrong as they outperformed and overachieved resulting them in surprisingly catching the last opening in the Western Conference playoffs.  With the addition perimeter firepower that was added in the forms of both Mo and Marvin Williams along with Randy Foye, the Jazz looked to have an even stronger team from last season as the roster is much more balanced in terms of inside and outside scoring production.  As the season continues on and if the Jazz continues this slide, there will certainly be plenty of questions and speculation on what moves the team's front office will do to respond to this disturbing trend.

In lieu of recent events, the Jazz's General Manger, Kevin O'Connor has two options: either allow the team to simply tank the season waiting for the 40$ million in cap space to arrive once the season ends or use the wealth of expiring contract along with the two front round picks the Jazz possess to attain immediate help in the hopes of making another playoff run. In regard to Utah's current situation, the Jazz still remains quite respectable despite dropping nine of fifteen games to end 2012.  The season is still young so the Jazz can still regain some ground and still make a push for a second straight playoff appearance.  However, in a rather competitive Western Conference, does Utah really want to risk busting their hump only to narrowly miss the playoffs and be left with a rather low first round pick to show for it.  It will really be interesting to see what will happen in the next couple of months with the All Star break trade deadline looming as the Jazz seem to be stuck in limbo while teetering on the edge as well.                

SDH Presents the NBA's Top 10 Plays of the Night (1/30/2013)

Check out the 10 best plays from around the NBA on a 12-game night where Joe Johnson serves up an ankle-breaker, Ricky Rubio flashes his brilliant passing ability and Blake Griffin makes a non-dunk appearance!

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for the month of December in SDH's Worst to First for December. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 20. Philadelphia 76ers

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  14-17,  fourth place Atlantic Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):  

  • Points Scored: 93.2 (26th)
  • Points Allowed: 95.7 (7th)
  • Team FG%: .438 (19th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .450(19th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.5 (19th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 43.3 (23rd)
  • Turnovers per game: 12.4 (2nd)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.5 (17th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):  

  • Scoring (ppg): Jrue Holiday (18.6)
  • Rebounds per game: Thaddeus Young (7.2)
  • Minutes per game: Jrue Holiday (38.5)
  • Assists per game: Jrue Holiday (8.9)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Thaddeus Young (.532)
  • Steals per game: Thaddeus Young (1.8)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Spencer Hawes (1.1)

Worst Player of the Month: Lavoy Allen

Last season Lavoy Allen was one of the pleasant surprises of 2011 NBA Rookie class coming from the second round to give Philly a major boost and was a major factor in the Sixers' fairy tale season last year.  Now, like his team, Lavoy has fallen flat only slightly improving in production despite being placed in the starting lineup this season.  Much more was expected from him when coach Doug Collins gave this diamond in the rough to blossom with additional minutes; however, that has far from happened as Allen has been all but invisible on the offensive end, and rather disappointing on the defensive side of the floor as well.  Perhaps it was too much to expect that Lavoy Allen would have a breakout season or even that he would even grow from his rather impressive rookie season that saw him start 32 of the 66 regular season games.  Maybe he is nothing more than a lucky second rounder who happened to have shined at the right place and the right time which is too bad.
First Player of the Month: Evan Turner

From being considered a draft day bust after having two rather non descript seasons, Evan Turner has finally shown why the Sixers picked him second overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.  Turner has had a breakout season as all of his statistics have shot up across the board.  What was once a mere role player on the bench has now become Philly's third leading scorer (14.5ppg), second leading rebounder (6.6) and assist man (4.8).  Add the fact that his three point field goal percentage has sky rocketed from under .220 last season to .420 now makes Turner definitely a candidate for the Most Improved Player Award.   Hopefully, this breakout season will be the start of great things for this former Ohio State product.

For those Philly fans who have been shell shocked by their team's sudden downfall, you have to realize that unfortunately this was bound to happen.  After two years of defying the odds, silencing their doubters, and providing Sixer fans with more joy that it has ever experienced in more than a decade, reality was going to set in and it was going to hit the Sixers hard.  It looked as if Philly would continue its magical run after a solid finish in November where the Sixers entered December with a 10-6 record and looked to take on all comers in the Eastern Conference; however, that would be seen as the final dance of what has been a fairy tale thus far.  There was no way Philadelphia could continue entering every game facing teams that frankly out-sized, outmatched, and even out-classed them and still continue winning--something had to give, sooner or later.  Thus, December's sudden demise of a one time underestimated franchise should not be seen with dismay or disgust because one could have easily predicted that this was going to happen--if not now, then later down the road.

After an amazing 10-6 start in November, the Sixers went into December losing three of their first five games which at first did not seem like anything to really worry about as both the team and its fans had a false sense of invulnerability.  That all changed, however, when the Sixers suddenly dropped five straight and would later lead them to finish 2012 4-11 dropping them a top tier contender in the East to a shattered shell of their former selves.  The first two loses were not so bad as the Sixers only lost to Chicago by just seven (12/12/2012) and Indiana by just ten (12/14/2012).  That was until they embarrassing lost by 13 points at home by a struggling Lakers team (12/16/2012) followed by a harsh two game Texas road trip that saw Philly lose by a combined 32 points against the Dallas Mavericks (12/18/2012) and Houston Rockets (12/19/2012).  Philly then hobbled through the end of 2012 winning two of their last five games earning hard fought victories against the Atlanta Hawks (12/21/2012) and Memphis Grizzlies (12/26/2012) while suffering heartbreaking losses to the Brooklyn Nets (12/23/2012), Golden State Warriors (12/28/2012) and Portland Trailblazers (11/29/2012) as they lost those three by a total of 14 points--an average margin of less than five points per game.

It is easy to see why Philadelphia crashed and burned in December after starting the season soaring high last season.  Last season, the Sixers had the good fortune of playing a shortened regular season due to the NBA lockout that ate up a good chunk of it--16 games to be exact.  Philly simply took advantage of  it as they went off to an impressive start winning 15 of their first 21 games which earned them first place in their Atlantic Division for much of the season. That did not last, however, as Philly started slowing down during the course of the season as Philly went 20-15 to finish the season eventually losing first place of the Atlantic to the Boston Celtics and fell from one of the top teams in the East to the eighth seed in the playoffs.  There, the Sixers had the luxury of facing and defeating a severely depleted and undermanned Chicago Bulls team in the first round followed by an aging Boston Celtics team that took them a little too lightly.

With all things remaining equal, there was no way that last season's Philadelphia team could have handily beaten a Chicago Bulls team at full strength.  In fact one can go as far to say that Chicago had themselves to blame to losing that series to Philly because even without two of their key players, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Bulls were a far better team than Philly.  Philly really did not have to do much--the Bulls just simply let go of the wheel which led them to spiral out of control and barrel of a cliff.  All Philly essentially did was watch as the Bulls allowed themselves to fall apart allowing the Sixers to just slip past the wreckage and look like the dominating victor à la "David and Goliath."  Thus the image of a mighty Philadelphia 76er team has essentially had been a been a falsehood which would lead them to be eventually exposed as the  frauds they truly were.

This certainly does not bode well for head coach Doug Collins who had been protrayed as Philly's savior over the past couple seasons taking an underrated and underestimated Sixers team to playoff glory.  His success resulted from generally outside circumstances  and as he slowly loses control of his team as the season progresses, it will be all but certain that his head will be first on the chopping block if this slide were to continue.  Although, despite the unfortunate downturn, Sixers fans should remain hopeful that their team can find away to bounce back from the current slump that they are in.  There is still a lot of time left, and the Sixers, finishing 2012 three games under .500 can still regain some ground and still make a run for the post season; however, it will take a lot of effort and most definitely a lot of luck for that to happen.  Not that Philly has been essentially exposed as a fraud, there will be numerous teams looking to knock the Sixers down another peg or two.            

SDH Presents Top 16 Euroleague Basketball Previews: Week Six

It is week six of the Top 16 Euroleague playoffs as the 16 best teams battle each other in order to make it to the next stage.  Here are the previews on what to expect this upcoming Thursday and Friday starting with Group E:

and for Group F:

Finally check out this in-depth look at this week's Euroleague game of the Week between two of the biggest names in European basketball, CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid.  Take a look at the history of this epic rivalry.

As always, you can join in " Feel(ing) the Devotion" by watching live streaming video of all the top 16 teams on http://www.euroleague.tv and do not forget to check on Slap dog Hoops for all the scores, recaps and highlights.

SDH Presents the NBA's Top 5 Plays of the Night (1/29/2013)

Will LaMarcus Aldridge`s buzzer-beater over the Dallas Mavericks take the top spot on NBA Fan Night`s Top 5 plays?  Find out right here on SDH.

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for the month of December in SDH's Worst to First for December. 

SDH Presents NBA Nightly Highlights (1/29/2013)

Check out all of Tuesday`s NBA action wrapped up in under two minutes.  Will the Golden State Warriors win on the road without without four of their key players--Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, and Carl Landry?  Will the Lakers continue their winning ways as they try to climb out the huge hole they had created for themselves at the start of the season?  See right here on SDH to find out!!

Last night also saw an epic duel between the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trailblazers.  Nicolas Batum, Dirk Nowitzki, and LaMarcus Aldridge made for a fantastic finish in Portland which must be seen to believed.

Finally, Check out Golden State's Klay Thompson's monster night against the Cleveland Cavaliers as he went for a career high 32 points while shooting an unconscious 6 from 8 from beyond the arc.


As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for the month of December in SDH's Worst to First for December. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 21. Orlando Magic

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  12-19,  fourth place Southeast Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):  
  • Points Scored: 93.3 (25th)
  • Points Allowed: 96.2 (10th)
  • Team FG%: .462 (11th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .444 (15th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.3 (10th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.5 (11th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.3 (19th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 12.7 (30th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):  
  • Scoring (ppg): Arron Afflalo (17.0)
  • Rebounds per game:  Nicola Vucevic (10.5)
  • Minutes per game: Arron Afflalo (36.3)
  • Assists per game: Jameer Nelson (6.9)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Andrew Nicholson (.528)
  • Steals per game: Jameer Nelson (1.2)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Nicola Vucevic (1.1)

Worst Player of the Month: Josh McRoberts

While his teammates have stepped up their games going above and beyond since the departure of Dwight Howard, Josh McRoberts has been an absolute disappointment.  Two years ago, it seemed as if he would become one of the up and coming young big men in the NBA after he posted career numbers while playing for the Indiana Pacers.  Unfortunately, that optimism would be short lived as he simply floundered the following season when he played for the Lakers.  His play continues to spiral downward in Orlando as he has spent December playing rather lackadaisically with a rather pathetic output of just a little over three points per game while shooting .396 from the field in December.  The look on his face says it all--how disinterested he is and the rather blahzay attitude and pathetic effort he has given thus far.   
First Player of the Month:  Andrew Nicholson

Most players who get picked late in the first round do not have a chance to enter the rotation let alone make any impact; however, that is not the case with Andrew Nicholson.  So far, the Canadian born St. Bonaventure product has played quite impressively becoming one of the surprise rookies in the NBA.  In just over 15 minutes per game, Nicholson averaged around eight points and four rebounds per game while shooting .519 in the month of December.  Extending his production over 36 minutes, his 36mpg averages resemble that of an All Star--19.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game--thus showing that he has plenty of potential to bring good things for his team in the future.  He will certainly be a player to look out for in years to come.

Here is a perplexing and baffling mystery to try and wrap your heads around:  how can a team that is one of the best defensive in the league in terms of points and field goals allowed, rank among the top ten in the league in rebounding, and has one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA have a 12-19 record?  In addition, how can this same team who also out rebound their opponents by an average margin of +3 per game be among the bottom tier teams in the league?  Ask the Orlando Magic as this team has performed rather well statistically as a team ranking among the NBA's best in the most important categories yet find itself on the opposite end of the win column.  This is certainly a case that would even baffle the genius of the great Sherlock Holmes (provided that he actually existed in real life) as it does not make any sense for the casual observer on how a team can statistically outperform its opponents yet still be on the losing end.  Usually, it is the other way around--teams who routinely outperform their opponents on both ends of the floor are the most certain to win--it is just makes logical sense.

So how can a team such as the Orlando Magic whose performance should result in it being 19-12 be instead, the inverse opposite.  Looking in closer detail at their schedule in December can give more insight on such a strange phenomenon.  The Magic started rather well in December as the impressively won six of their first nine games holding their opponents to just 90.7 points over that nine game period and beating their opponents by an average margin of 7.2 points.  It all started to unravel, however, as the Magic would finish 2012 on a sour note losing six straight to finish the month of December.  What was even worse was the fact that all of those losses could have gone the completely opposite direction if things went Orlando's way in the end.

The Magic losing streak started with three straight defeats at the hands of the Toronto Raptors (12/21/2012), Utah Jazz (12/23/2012) and the New Orleans Hornets (12/26/2012) by a total of just ten points.  Afterwards, Orlando, would suffer their worst losses to the lowly Washington Wizards by eight points (12/28/2012) followed by a complete shellacking by the Toronto Raptors on the road (12/29/2012) by 35 points.  They then ended the year with a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Eastern Conference's best Miami Heat by just one basket (12/31/2012).  Thus one can chalk up Orlando's poor record to just simple bad luck as five or six of those games that the Magic had could have been won.  If the ball would have dropped their way in four of those six games, the Magic's situation would have been completely different--instead of wallowing at the bottom with a 12-19 record, they could have started the new year one game over .500 with a 16-15 record.

It must have been so arduous for a die-hard Magic fans to watch his or her team work so hard with near perfect execution only to have fate just sweep their hopes away.  At least they can hold solace to the fact that although their team suffered at the hands of fate losing games that should have been theirs to win, they are far better off than Dwight Howard and the Lakers.  The man who had given  Magic fans so much grief and sorrow by causing so much turmoil is taking a heavy dose of his own medicine as his Laker team has been struggling and performing well under expectations.  Sure, the Magic have not been doing better in terms of wins and losses and will certainly not make the playoffs, but at least fans in Orlando will have the satisfaction knowing that neither will Howard.  Add the fact that the team will look forward to plenty of cap space along with the guarantee  of attaining the number one pick in this summer's NBA draft, fans can certainly expect a bright future sooner than later.

For now, fans can still remain proud to the fact that despite all the past turmoil, their team still goes into every game playing hard and might surprise a few opponents here and there with an upset win or two.  They have already resigned to the fact that their home team will most likely not make the post season, but as long as the Magic continue to play hard and perform well beyond expectations, fans will be satisfied.   Things can always be worse--at least their team is still somewhat competitive and continues to play at a high level despite losing their All Star big man.  For example, they could be Lakers fans, right?  And that right now can be considered the worst fate than anyone could want or deserve.    

SDH Presents the NBA's Best of the Week (1/29/2013)

It is time once again to showcase the best dimes, dunks, swipes, swats, plays and playmakers in the NBA for last week.  Enjoy this quick stroll through memory lane as you take a look at all the plays that made the week special.  Let's start on a generous note with the ten best dishes, lobs, alley-oops and dimes from around the NBA last week from the best passers in the league including three appearances from Manu Ginobli with his incredible between-the-legs pass against the Mavericks!

Next, let's go the complete opposite approach as the players have shown their greedy nature by playing lockdown defense preventing the opponent to score and simply frustrating the opposition.  Here are the 10 best swipes, interceptions and steals from last week including a pair of AMAZING coast-to-coast steals and slams from Kevin Durant and Terrence Ross!

Continuing on with the "Despicable Me" theme, check out the 10 best swats, rejections and blocks of the past week in the NBA as big men around the league flash their defensive abilities with these basket-saving denials!

Finally, let's end this post with an emphatic exclamation point (!) with the 10 best slams, jams, facials and dunks from around the NBA last week as all your favorite high-flying superstars showed off their incredible hops in a top ten that includes JaVale McGee, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin plus Harrison Barnes' dunk that has to be seen to be believed!

So there you have it--the week's best from the league's best.  As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for the month of December in SDH's Worst to First for December. 

SDH Presents the NBA's Top 10 Plays of the Night (1/28/2013)

Check out the 10 best plays from around the league, including two incredible defensive plays from Nate Robinson, an unbelievable block by Derrick Favors and another jaw-dropping slam from Harrison Barnes!

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for the month of December in SDH's Worst to First for December. 

SDH Presents NBA Nightly Highlights (1/28/2013)

Take a whip around the league and check out the highlights from all seven games tonight including Andrew Bogut's return to the Warriors lineup for the first time since early November!

Check out some of the highlights from Andrew Bogut's first game back from injury since early November as he showcases the impact he can have for Golden State by making some big plays on both ends of the floor!

The Grizzlies' Marc Gasol also had a big game last night as he led Memphis to the win against the Philadelphia 76ers.  Gasol scorched the Sixers scoring 27 points on 10-15 shooting.  He also showcased his incredible touch from the outside and the post AND blocks the Sixers game-tying 3-point attempt at the end of regulation!

As always, you can view full game by game recaps, highlights and post game interviews on www.nba.com/video and be sure to stay tuned in the coming days as SDH recaps, reviews, reminisces, and ranks all 30 teams for the month of December in SDH's Worst to First for December. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 22. Dallas Mavericks

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  12-19, fourth Southwest Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st)
  • Points Scored: 98.3 (11th)
  • Points Allowed: 103.1 (38th)
  • Team FG%: .446 (12th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .447 (17th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.3 (21st)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 46.2 (30th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.6 (27th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.3 (9th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):

Worst Player of the Month:  Dirk Nowitzki

When he finally returned, it gave many in Dallas hope that somehow, Dirk Nowitzki will find a way to right the ship and bring the Mavericks back to their winning ways.  Unfortunately that has not happen as he has just played sparingly in the four games he has played thus far and has yet to make an impact.  Perhaps his play is reflective of the grim future Dallas will face in the coming months.  As with his teammates, Dirk can no longer be the catalyst that sparks victory for the Mavericks as he himself no longer has it in him to do so anymore.  With his age and the amount of time that he was out, do not expect either Nowitzki or his Mavs to reach the post season.
First Player of the Month:  Brandon Wright

He’ll probably never be better than he already is, but Brandon Wright has given the Mavericks a solid and consistent contributor off the bench.  The Mavs can always count of Wright to fully capitalize on the few minutes of playing time he receive whether it be on the offensive end with his regular four baskets per game or on the defensive with his shot blocking.  In every game he has played in December, Wright accumulated at least 2 points and one rebound while scoring in double figures in five of the 13 games he played in that month.  Whether he plays twenty minutes or just two, the Mavs can count on Wright to make a solid contribution and consistent effort no matter how much playing time or shot attempts he gets.  And considering Wright is getting just under a million for a year, the Mavericks have certainly got their money’s worth from him.  

The end has finally come and the Dallas Mavericks along with their fans have finally accepted the fact that they will not be returning to the post season and on the verge of a long rebuilding period.  Gone is the denial of owner Mark Cuban and team management that the Mavericks are headed to the rebuilding stage after 12 glorious years or playoff runs and NBA glory.  The anger of Mavericks fans have essentially died down after finishing last season so poorly with their team being humiliated in a four game first round sweep of the playoffs.  There has not been any talk of deals or bargaining to try and salvage this season in the hope that Dallas can push for one more playoff run. And finally, after a rather unnoticeable period of depression, the Mavericks and their fans have seemed to accept their predicament and are resigned to head for that long dark road together after so many years of joy and happiness.

This season has been more of a farewell tour than anything else as the players no longer have the delusion that they were the same team that won the NBA Championship two years ago and that it is time to call it a season.  There has not been the usual conflict among players or deterioration of chemistry which often happens when a team starts to fall off and head towards the bottom.  The Mavericks still remain a rather cohesive unit and are resigned to face the end in a valiant manner as a team.  They still play with the same effort and purpose, but the years have just been too long for this old and weary team who spent the past decade as one of the NBA's top tier teams.  The players have dropped all their invincible public personas and have accepted their fate fighting together in a war whose outcome has already been determined.

One can go as far as calling this season's performance by the Mavericks as noble as the players know that they face impending doom, yet still manage to continue fighting to the very end.  They started December rather strong winning four of their first five games; however, after a heart breaking loss on the road against another team that is heading to extinction in the Boston Celtics (12/12/2012), everything started to unravel.  The Mavs lost two straight getting blown out in Toronto (12/14/2012) followed by losing a hard fought game in overtime against the Minnesota Timberwolves (12/15/2012).  They managed to stop the bleeding temporarily with a home win against the Philadelphia 76ers (12/18/2012), but the feeling of victory was short and fleeting as Dallas would finish on a sour note losing their last six games.  As they enter they new year, itr has become quite apparent that the Dallas Mavericks will no longer be force that it once was.

Even the return of their hero, Dirk Nowitzki, was not enough to energize this moribund team as even he did not have it in him to carry the team as he once did.  His first games back showed how frail and weak he has become, and it is just a moment in time until he too fades away along with the memories of joy and glory that he has brought Mavericks fans for so many years.  It seems like it was an eternity since the Mavericks had been a downtrodden cellar dweller before mark Cuban arrived and turned a perennial loser into one of the most successful sports franchises in the last fifteen years.  Sure, in that period of time, they had only managed to reach the NBA Finals twice and just one NBA title--two things that probably will always remain painful sting for Cuban to this day.  Nonetheless, what he accomplished with the Mavericks can never be discounted and as they watch their team head off into the sunset, hoops fans in Dallas will always remember appreciate what he has done for their team and their city.

With their veterans on their way out with their expiring contacts, Dallas will be in a good position to return to prominence one day thanks to the massive cap space that their departures will leave behind.  Dallas also have a few pieces to build their future upon in the forms of young veterans OJ Mayo, Darren Collison, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominque Jones and Brandon Wright along with a group of promising rookies in Jared Cunningham and Jae Crowder.  Unfortunately, to fully move forward, the Mavs' front office cannot just try to pull off a quick fix just to quickly return to the playoffs.  Even Mark Cuban, who has never been known as a gracious loser, has resigned to the fact that all the money in the world will not quickly resurrect the foundation that he had a hand in building.  It took him 13 years for him to build the team into a winner, and it may take almost as much time for them to return as a championship contender once again.            

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 23. Sacramento Kings

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st): 11-19 ,  fourth place Pacific Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):
  • Points Scored: 96.8 (15th)
  • Points Allowed: 101.8 (27th)
  • Team FG%: .439 (20th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .455 (21st)
  • Rebounds per game: 40.5 (24th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 44.3 (26th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.5 (11th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.7 (14th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):
  • Scoring (ppg): DeMarcus Cousins (16.3)
  • Rebounds per game:  DeMarcus Cousins (9.5)
  • Minutes per game: Tyreke Evans (30.9)
  • Assists per game: John Salmons (3.3)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Jason Thompson (.511)
  • Steals per game: DeMarcus Cousins (1.5)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Jason Thompson (1.1)

Worst Player of the Month:  DeMarcus Cousins

It is pretty bad when the team’s leader tweets that he no longer has the will to play and has lost all his confidence in his game; unfortunately, however, Demarcus Cousins’ recent comments essentially reflect the current mood on this Sacramento Kings organization from top to bottom.  No one cares whether they win or lose and almost every person in organization would rather be somewhere else whether it is meant to be figuratively or literally.  For his own personal health and well being, Cousins should demand for a trade because it is otherwise a toxic situation for him if he stays in Sacramento.  The team is going nowhere and Demarcus Cousin’s  talents and abilities will remain wasted if he is forced to languish in this raw sewage waste dump of an NBA franchise.  Over the last three years, Cousins has already proven that he does not have the goods or the maturity to have a franchise built around him—both parties should see this and finally make the move to sever this dysfunctional relationship before it gets to point where there is no turning back.
First Player of the Month: Jimmer Freddette

It is quite sad when the only player that is worth talking about only plays less than 14 minutes per game because unlike his teammates, Jimmer Freddette actually plays like he gives a damn.  In the few minutes that coach Keith Smart gives him, Jimmer has utilized every opportunity and has brought a positive impact on his team with his amazingly efficient and disciplined play.  It is quite remarkable considering the fact he came from an environment where everything and everybody revolved around him when he played college ball at BYU.  It just goes to show that there is more to Jimmer Fredette than the ball dominating, shot hungry ball hog that many have unfairly portrayed him to be.  If he can shine a light on this poor excuse of an NBA franchise in the short time that he is on the court, then Keith Smart would be wise to let that light grow instead of stifling it in a corner.


Joe and Gavin Maloof should be BANNED from ever owning an NBA franchise after what they have done, or have not done, to the Sacramento Kings.  What was once a proud franchise that was followed by a small, but even prouder fan base has become a virtual laughing stock as the Maloofs have chosen to tank and devalue the team to justify themselves to move to another city.  Despite the efforts of city's mayor, former NBA player Kevin Johnson fighting and pleading to keep the Kings in Sacramento along with hardened cries of fans who outwardly show how devoted they are, they have all fallen on deaf ears. Over the past few years, the Maloofs have purposely gone out of their way to purposely self destruct the team along with the morale of its host city.  It is an absolute crime to inflict such a horrid act to a fan base that has supported a team though good times and bad, historically MOSTLY BAD, for three decades.

What is worse is that unlike most NBA teams that move because of the economic reasons, it is not the case in terms of the Maloofs and the Sacramento Kings.  Although it is in a rather small market which limits its exposure, the Sacramento Kings have always been a profitable venture for the past thirty years as they always ranked among the top teams in the NBA in arena attendance, through much of its history.  In fact, one can also point out that their small market status did not impact the team when they attained NBA greats such as Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, and Peja Stojakovic and was capable to garner worldwide attention during the "glory years" of the late 1990s and early 2000s.  While most NBA franchises have to worry about outside factors such as the "luxury tax" and other financial speed bumps, the Maloofs are essentially insulated from that as they have the resources to cover any such costs while keeping the team competitive.

Similar to the big market owners such as Jerry Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks and James Dolan of the New York Knicks, the Maloofs have a humungous war chest and are more than able to cover ANY luxury tax penalties that they may incur.  If it is not from the billions that they had made in their internet ventures, it is from the possibly hundreds of billions in revenue that they continue to receive from their Los Vegas casino operations.  Unlike what the "poor us, we do not have the money to keep the Kings in Sacramento . . ." image they have portrayed, the Maloofs have more than enough resources to keep the Kings in Sacramento, possibly even more than some of the richest owners in the richest markets in the NBA.  Out of all their combined assets in their entire portfolio, the Sacramento Kings is just a tiny sliver of all the revenue streams that the Maloofs currently possess.   So all the talk about them not being able to survive in small market is and be able to compete in the NBA complete bull**** because they have proven that they could do it before--they simply just want to get out of Sacramento at any cost and ironically it will probably cost them more leaving the city that actual remaining there.

For starters, the Maloof's public image has all been shot--once all the dust settles and what little left of the Kings has been removed, no city or professional sports league in its right mind will have anything to do with the Maloofs.  They can forget about owning ANY professional sport franchise or having ANY stakes in professional sports, period, because no league will want what has happened to Sacramento to happen to the their cities and franchises.  It is more than certain that Commissioner David Stern has already silently devised a plan to ensure that neither Joe or Gavin Maloof will ever be able to do business with the NBA ever again.  As it stands now, the Sacramento Kings are being avoided like the Plague with no one even wanting to involve themselves in this entire sordid affair and  all the money in the world will not buy back the credibility that the both Maloof brothers have lost in this whole fiasco.

As for their team that they have been running into ground, the Sacramento Kings have continued their march to futility as they remain as a bottom feeder of the Western Conference and the league.  They did manage to start December on a positive note winning three of their first four games, but that quickly went downhill as they dropped five in a row losing rather embarrassingly by an average margin of 16.4 points.  The Kings did manage to bounce back, however, and finish 2012 on a positive note by winning four of their last six games, but it really does not matter.  The Kings are simply "dead men walking," heading for the "Green Mile" to their inevitable execution for a crime that the franchise's owners have continued to commit.  Hopefully, the Maloofs will just do everyone involved in this fiasco a favor and just sell the team and cut all their ties to the NBA, because it has been long enough and the fans in Sacramento deserve better that what they have gotten thus far.