Thursday , Jan , 22 , 2009 Christopher Sells

Can LeBron Improve, Should Starbury Ready his Passport and Are the Magic for Real?

Also, what’s with the Mavericks and Phil Jackson gets the privilege/curse of coaching in the All-Star Game.

Can LeBron Improve, Should Starbury Ready his Passport and Are the Magic for Real?Rick Rolled
Rick Barry isn’t just some nobody from off the street. He’s not a reporter that wants some attention or a blogger with a vendetta. He’s an NBA champion, a Finals MVP, an eight-time All-Star and a member of the NBA’s 50 greatest. He also has sons, most notably Brent Barry and Jon Barry, who have played in the league. So we can deduce that if this man has an opinion about something basketball related, it might hold some validity. This is why I’m not too incredibly alarmed that he’s saying that LeBron James’ game needs improvement.

"He’s got major flaws in his game," Barry said. "He’s six years into the NBA. How can a man six years into the NBA with his talent have a major flaw in his shot? How can he not use screens effectively? ..I watch the game very carefully– he doesn’t use screens effectively and this is not LeBron’s fault. It’s the fault of the people who are teaching him…. There is no doubt in my mind that LeBron, if shown these things would them, because he wants to be a great player, he wants to win a championship. As great as he is, he should be better."

Valid points, perhaps. James’ shot from deep is suspect and you don’t really see him using too many screens. There could be some truth to that. Worth pointing out is that Barry doesn’t really attack LeBron as much as he goes after the Cavs’ coaching staff. They’ll probably bristle initially at someone telling them about a perceived shortcoming, but here’s hoping that they listen and take a closer look at what they’re doing. Because it would be a shame if these things were true and LeBron left in 2010 because he felt he wasn’t getting coached up properly.

Starbury to Greece?

In the latest twist to the already bizarre yet hugely entertaining Stephon Marbury saga, the Greek club Olympiacos is reportedly interested in bringing the Knicks guard. How interested? About $15 million worth. Marbury tells the NY Post that he’ll listen to what the team has to say. The Knicks will listen because they want to get some money back from this whole ordeal, at least more than the $1 million that Marbury has been offering them. Stay tuned.

Do You Believe in Magic?
No doubt you’ve heard everyone commenting on Orlando and trying to figure out if they’re a legit contender or just the flavor of the month. Their record says they’re one of the league’s best. Their run and gun, live by the three style suggests that they may have some vulnerabilities. Dwight Howard says the team has the stuff that makes them special.

"All of us have superpowers," Howard said. "I have the weakest superpower. I can just fly and shoot hook shots. Jameer, heart of a lion, strength of a tiger, can shoot the ball. And, Rashard, we call him the eagle man. He can fly, he can shoot. He has the sharpest eye on the team."

Howard then switched to a deep, cartoonish voice, saying, "Our powers combined, we are the Orlando Magic!"

Howard is clearly doing some joking, but the team does have a solid core. They have some depth issues and lack a bit of muscle upfront, excluding Howard, of course. (Hedo Turkoglu is  far more muscular than TV makes him out to be. Check it out some time.) We’ll see as the season goes on if they are deserving of the praise they’re now receiving. You can check them out against Boston tonight to see how they stack up against one of the best in the East.

The Maverick Mystery
If you’ve watched the Mavericks this year, you might have seen a team that gets up and down the court well, that scores in a lot of different ways and can string some wins together. Or you might have seen a team that can’t always rely on its superstar, that plays some questionable lineups, isn’t committed to defense and can string some losses together. Despite this inconsistency, the Mavs are sitting at six games above .500. Of course, in the West, this means they’d be sitting at home watching the Playoffs like the rest of us if the season ended today. Still, the powers that be aren’t worried, particularly not Mark Cuban.

"In the West, there’s nobody running away with it. Every team except the Lakers has had a bad stretch. We’re what? Four games out of first in our division? That’s adter a four- and a five-game losing streak. We haven’t lost ground. I’ll put it that way."

Cuban also says he has no plans to trade Josh Howard, as the rumors allege he has been looking to do ("You can quote me on this, I’m not trading Josh Howard."), so the recent trade that sent Sagana Diop to the Bobcats for Ryan Hollins and Matt Carroll might have been the last roster change that the team makes before trying to put everything together for a playoff run. And after all of these things were said, the Bucks spanked the Mavs by more than 30. So, who knows what’s really going on?

ASG Notes
With their handling of the Clippers last night (in which Andrew Bynum went for 42 points, 15 boards and three blocks and Kobe Bryant rolled off a triple double) the Lakers clinched a seat for Phil Jackson and the rest of the coaching staff on the bench during the All-Star Game. According to reports, one of the players Jackson coaches will be Amare Stoudemire, who may have passed Carmelo Anthony for the starting spot in the All-Star voting. The starters will be announced tonight on TNT, before the aforementioned Boston/Orlando game.

[image:http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwbaker/]