NBA Wrap-up for April 13
Breaking down the days top NBA stories. Read about the Knicks once again missing the playoffs, weigh in on Greg Oden Sr. telling the world his son WILL Declare for the NBA, and analyze CNNSI’s pick of Nash for MVP….
Top 3 Stories
1) Knicks out of the playoff race
2) Oden’s parents say he’s NBA bound
3) CNNSI and the MVP
1) Hand Spike Lee a tissue, the Knicks are done
What Happened: After a season of ‘significant progress’, the were eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoffs after losing 100-86 to the .
Last season, with Larry Brown as coach, the Knicks posted a disappointing 23-59 record.
This season, the entire franchise, including coach and GM Isiah Thomas, was given one year to show tangible improvement.
The team progressed enough for Thomas to receive a contract extension in late March. However, the club struggled down the stretch and failed to secure a playoff spot.
So the New York Knicks’ season: a success or a failure?
Reaction of New York coach Isiah Thomas on getting eliminated::
"It’s always disappointing. I am proud of the way the guys have competed. We’ve got three games left. We’ll keep working, we’ll keep competing.” (ESPN.com)
Reaction of New York center Eddie Curry on the season:
"You can’t look at this year as a success. You look at it like we got a lot better from last year, but we still came up short of our goal. Our goal was to make the playoffs and get better as a team. We partially fulfilled that, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
"We just came in with the mindset we were going to try to make the playoffs and try to improve from last year, but unfortunately injuries and things like that hampered us all season. We find ourselves in the position we’re in right now." (ESPN.com)
Reaction of New York post reporter Marc Berman on the Knicks’ season:
“Isiah Thomas was an emotional shell this morning. He has nothing left to say really. And he has yet to come up with a spin on the season that has gone terribly wrong. Of course it was injuries, but that’s part of who you are. Either you have a durable team or not. They proved not. And guys like Quentin Richardson, Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis are in danger of going down next season too because they have chronic maladies.” (New York Post online)
I’m not sure what to make of New York’s season. On the one hand, they improved on last year’s awful record. Some of their young players progressed. is now a legitimate first-option on offense. averaged a double-double. I also like and . And, at times, looked like a very good blending player.
On the other hand, they often looked dysfunctional. I feel there’s a lot to be concerned with. First off, the players lost focus after Coach Thomas got his extension. They had the coach they like in place for next year and suddenly the team lost it’s will to compete. Second, the situation is a distraction and must be settled. Is he in or out? Finally, after solid rookie seasons, and Nate Robinson stopped progressing and need to pick things up.
I think the Knicks are better. Much improvement is still needed.
2) Oden’s parents say he’s NBA bound
What Happened: The signs are obvious-Ohio State center Greg Oden will likely declare for the upcoming NBA draft.
Oden’s family furthered speculation he would turn pro by speaking to the media.
Reaction of Greg Oden Sr. on his son’s decision:
"He’s the kind of kid that, even though he’ll have a lot of money, he needs to do more than just basketball. They had an exciting season, but why take the chance on him getting hurt?" (ESPN.com)
Reaction of Oden’s mother on her son’s decision:
“Greg told me he wasn’t ready to talk about it just yet” (ESPN.com)
As I reported in previous Wrap-ups, Oden is a lock for the draft. Family friends say he’s declaring. And now his own family says he’s declaring.
Only one question remains: will NBA franchises throw games to improve their chances at the big center? I guess will see.
3) CNNSI weighs in on Nash or Nowitzki as MVP
What Happened: Right now, the NBA is still debating this question: Steve Nash or Dirk Nowitzki for most valuable player?
Do you recognize the table-setting point guard or the best player on the league’s best team?
This question will be debated until the official results are released during the playoffs. Until then, the talk will continue. CNNSI has winning 2-1 over .
Reaction of CNN reporter Jack McCallum on picking Nash:
“I tried to think of a reason not to vote Nash both because he has won the last two and because Nowitzki has had a great season with a great team. But at the end of the day, I just can’t see anyone as valuable to his team as Nash is to Phoenix. He is not only the on-court QB but also the off-court psychologist/diplomat who keeps the Suns together. And his play has picked up over these final two months, particularly in head-to-heads against Dirk and in a recent win over Kobe and the Lakers.” (CNNSI.com)
Reaction of CNN reporter Ian Thomsen on picking Nowitzki:
“Nowitzki is shooting career highs from the field (49.9 percent), three-point range (41.2) and the free throw line (90.2) to go with a career-best 3.4 assists and his typical 24.7 points and 9.1 rebounds. It’s his leadership of the league’s dominant team that gives him the tiebreaker over two-time MVP Nash, who is producing career highs in scoring (18.8 points), shooting (46.4 percent from three, 53.3 percent overall) and assists (11.5).” (CNNSI.com)
Reaction of CNN reporter Marty Burns on picking Nash:
“It’s difficult to pass up the best player on the best team (Nowitzki), but I’m going with Nash because he means more to his club. Nash just makes everyone around him so much better. Nowitzki is a double-double machine and a go-to guy, but he doesn’t propel the Mavs like Nash does the Suns. Also, Nash schooled Dirk in their most recent head-to-head meetings. That’s good enough for me.” (CNNSI.com)
This is the closest MVP race I’ve seen in any sport. But, right now, I’ve got to take Nash. For most of the season, I had Nowitzki as MVP.
Here’s why I changed my opinion and went with Nash:
- Nash is the Phoenix Suns. Without him, their offensive system ceases to exist.
- Nash makes everyone around him better.
- Nash isn’t a natural defender. But he’s taking charges and playing better defense.
- Nash leads by example. The Suns players and coaching staff rely on him.
- Remove Nowitzki and Dallas’ defense keeps them competitive. Remove Nash and Phoenix completely collapses.
Both players have had MVP seasons. However, Nash has been a little bit better. Make it a three-peat and book his ticket for the basketball Hall of the Fame.
Come back tomorrow morning for another edition of the NBA Wrap-up, featuring Oly Sandor’s cutting-edge analysis. Got a comment or question? Use the comment box or email Oly at [email protected]