Thursday, October 28, 2010

My 2011 Fantasy B-Ball Roster

All of my hopes rely on that loose ball
We got the league together a little late so my fantasy basketball season commenced this morning with a 5:00 A.M. auto-pick draft. I absolutely skewered my draft board, though, so none of these picks were accidents. I'm in love with my roster. Last year my consistent headliners were LeBron, Steve Nash, Monta Ellis, Amare, Russell Westbrook, Al Jefferson, Tyreke Evans, Marc Gasol, and Joakim Noah in a 6-person league, but this year we upped it to 10 players (all close friends). So obviously than nearly cuts my elite options in half and I have to go with more specialists than last year, but I gotta a killer base to build around.

PG: Chris Paul
SG: Monta Ellis
SF: Brandon Roy
PF: Danilo Gallinari
C: Andrew Bogut
G: John Wall
F: Luol Deng
Util: Kevin Martin
Util: Eric Gordon
Util: Yao Ming
Bench: Jose Calderon
Bench: Anthony Tolliver
Bench: Taj Gibson

Only transactions so far are picking up Tolliver and Gibson by dropping my last two automated picks, Jameer Nelson and Wes Johnson. I had all the multi-faceted point guards I needed already between Paul, Ellis, Wall, and Calderon, so Nelson was superfluous. And I'm stocked on scoring wings too between Roy, Gallinari, Deng, Martin, and Gordon, plus I just don't think Wes Johnson's gonna be that good in general.

The only guys I'm completely sore about not getting are Blake Griffin, Demarcus Cousins, and Russell Westbrook. I had all these guys skyrocketed up my draft board even before all of their impressive debuts. I actually drafted Griffin last year an entire day before he was announced a scratch for the entire season. That blew. My friend Jarod must've bumped them up even more than I did because he got Cousins and Griffin. Oh well.

I'm actually the league manager this season and I kept the same categories and rules we were under last season. It's a weekly head-to-head match-up with 10 categories: points, rebounds, assists, FGs made, FG%, FT%, 3-Pts made, steals, blocks, and turnovers. The only place I see myself legitimately struggling on a weekly basis is in rebounding and blocks. Since pretty much all of my forwards are of the small instead of power variety, I gotta rely on my monster guards to each collect those extra scrap rebounds to build on Bogut and Yao's production in that area. But if I can win the other 8 categories every single week I think I'll be content. Ha.

Last year I was the runaway regular season champion. I think it was something crazy like 23 wins ahead of second place. I never lost in points on the entire season, which made up for the fact that I only won the TO category a single time. But I actually went down in the playoffs in the championship round to my friend Ethan. He beat me 5-4. And there were three categories that were entirely and grossly winnable on my side. I'm pretty sure we tied on assists, I was literally .001 behind him in FT%, and he had 2 rebounds on me. For a basketball junkie/enthusiast/freak like myself, I couldn't have been more pissed off. But I still made some money off it since we agreed before the season to put half the pot on the regular season and half on the playoffs, even though I should've had all of it.

I don't know if it'll be interesting enough for me to throw up a bunch of updates on here, but I'll consider it. I definitely will be on here bragging if John Wall kills, Monta keeps spewing out 46-pointers, and Paul keeps dropping 16-dimers.

... and Free Enes.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NBA 2011 Opening Night Notes

Hand gesture ... TECHNICAL!!!
The Heat lost and the Lakers won. Get used to hearing that once the playoffs roll around.

With all eyes on LeBron for his Miami Heat debut, he proved the old adage that you can take the King out of Cleveland, but you can't take the underachievement out of his teammates. I've heard that since I was a kid and never quite understood it until last night. James attempted to carry the team with his shooting touch in the second half and wound up with 31 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 8 turnovers in a loss to the defending Eastern Conference champs. Those were the kind of stat lines that Kobe initially got killed for in his early post-Shaq seasons. But oh well, it was just one game against a tough defense and Miami's got 81 more games to figure out how to creatively come up short before the postseason begins. Having the rest of his team shoot a collective 38% from the field? That's just unoriginal. Props to Chris Bosh for being scared to death by his twin Predator KG (8 points on 3-11 shooting) and Dwyane Wade for having a rusty hamstring (4-16 shooting and 6 turnovers). With James Jones slated to get all of Mike Miller's shots, it's going to be a long road to recovery hinging on that thumb.

Two Celtics notes: Shaq gained 100 pounds since his Cavalier postseason debut and Paul Pierce pulled off a day one version of his oh-my-God-I'm-injured-and-embarrassed-in-a-heap-on-the-ground-so-I-better-be-dragged-back-to-the-locker-room-so-I-can-make-my-triumphant-reentrance-two-minutes-later-with-no-ill-effects-of-my-potential-career-ending-injury shtick. It's pretty much what he's known for now.

Now onto the Lakers-Rockets! Yao is gonna be good, even in his limited minutes. He managed to foul out in his short stay, but he did all of the incredibly Ming-y things last night that made him such a pivotal force before his foot collapsed. Kevin Martin will effortlessly thrive as mass point producer as long as he has Yao and Brad Miller at the high post looking for him on cuts. He's always been a great scorer, but now he'll prolly finally be efficient. Aaron Brooks resumed his role as a Laker killer with 24 points and 9 assists, so that was refreshingly painful.

But the Lakers found a way to prevail. Shannon Brown pulled off his best Kobe impression in the fourth and notched 4 threes to finish with 16 late points. Thankfully, Kobe also pulled off his best Kobe impersonation throughout the first three quarters and managed 27 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and only 1 turnover. I was gonna write a column about how stupid it was for everyone and their mom acting like KB's crappy preseason shooting was an actual issue that proved his decline with age, but Kobe replied last night with his game and a win so I wouldn't have to. They're the two-time defending world champions, three-time defending western conference champions, and now they've upgraded their roster. Steve Blake surprisingly took over for Derek Fisher in crunch time and knocked in the dagger to add to the last of his three triples on the night. Matt Barnes worked his butt off and forced some action while he was in there, pulling down 5 boards and finishing with a +12 plus/minus score in his 16 minutes of playing time. Theo Ratliff notched two blocks in his limited time and will continue to do that every night in relieving Pau until Bynum makes his way back. The Lakers have their eyes past the Heat already. Get ready for the three-peat.

Oh, and Gasol had 29 points and 11 rebounds. That's pretty good too. And nobody cares about the Suns-Blazers.

... and Free Enes.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 Blue-White Notes

What do we take from the UK-on-UK basketball tune-up for the 2010-2011 season? Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight are gonna be better than whoever you think is gonna be good from another team.

Everyone always gets in a tizzy whenever you attempt to extrapolate information from a practice/scrimmage/exhibition, but I'm just telling you what I see out of these guys' skill sets and level of performance in this Blue-White game. So ... don't tell me I'm looking too much into a game that doesn't count. Because I am looking too much into it.

It was basically the expected starters for the season versus the back-ups with a few minor trade tweaks throughout the game, which accounted for the Blue team winning 101 to 74. Even though Knight had an insanely efficient night of a sick 37 points (reinforcing his astronomical scoring potential that has now become an expectation since the Canada games), it was TJ who had me the most excited. He (don't kill me for saying it) reminded me of a 6'9" John Wall. If Jones got the ball on the run, no one had a chance to stop him from advancing the ball wherever he wanted. His speed and handle will leave no chance for anyone at his position to compete with him in open-court scenarios. He's ridiculously quick off his feet for on-ball blocks and aggressive on the boards. Once Jones got into the painted area, he consistently found a creative way to get the ball in the rim. He utilized pump fakes well (which you rarely see from young players) and showed a deft touch on close-range jumpers. He finished off three separate alley-oop lobs with the full-body flair and excitement that Wall exhibited on every dunk last year and tossed in a 3-pointer to boot. And to finish off the number-one-pick-in-the-2010-NBA-Draft comparison, Terrence pulled of a slick behind-his-back maneuver off a low-post catch that completely freed him for a vertical dunk. Terrence had the crowd at his beckoning with every amazing play and you could tell by his body language that he was feasting off of it. UPDATE: He had 29 points.

But now to the silent assassin who's prolly gonna match Jodie Meeks for UK's all-time single game scoring record at some point in the early season. If a box score becomes available then I'll update, but I'd venture to say that Brandon Knight made close to 70% of his shots tonight for those 37 points (UPDATE: 14 of 20 FGs). And he did it every way imaginable. He showed off the spot-up three point stroke off an interior pass as well as when coming off a pick and receiving the inbounds pass. He swished a rhythm step-in 18-footer with a hand right in his face. He showed his amazing ability to absorb contact in the paint despite his wirey frame and finished on both sides of the bucket with either hand. The game's almost too easy for him. And we saw both sides of Knight in this scrimmage: the facilitator of the first half who only scored 9 points while content to simply run the offensive sets and the unstoppable attacker of the second half who took every opportunity to create a great look for himself. With this year's team extensively lacking the depth of their '09-'10 predecessors, Knight will be needed to frequently channel his second-half mentality for us to have any hope as a top ten team nationally. It was only fitting that Brandon was also the alley to T-Jones' monster oops and that he finished off his own fastbreak jam in astounding fashion as well. Brandon won't have the SportsCenter coverage that our own John Wall had last season, but I'll be damned if he doesn't average over 24 points this year. Mark it. And I might still be underestimating the man.

Off course, all of these assessments and predictions come at the cost of Enes Kanter's assumed ineligibility. If he's cleared somehow, then this team's potential shoots up exponentially. But as of now, our only reliable big men are Jones and Darius Miller. Yes, you heard me right ... Darius the two-guard is our second best big man. Eloy and Harrellson are going to be contributors, but coming off a season where we had a trio of first round NBA bigs with a senior shot-blocker behind them, this year's going to be tough to watch in the paint. I expect Jones and Miller to fill in at the 5 spot quite a bit this season unless the opponent just has a big plodding Zydrunas Ilgauskas-type center that Harrellson could match up against perfectly. But Dexter Pittman's in the NBA now, so there aren't any guys like that left in college ...

He couldn't get a jumper to fall in the game, but trust in DeAndre Liggins' long range shot. In warm-ups, he was an absolute machine. He was dropping 22-footer after 22-footer after 22-footer with absolutely no effort. His form is still slightly jerky and erratic-looking, but he'll prove over the course of the season that his 66-threes-in-5-minutes drill wasn't a fluke. Beyond that part of his game that we can expect to skyrocket, Dre has shown that he'll be relentless in attacking the basket. He is making himself the prototypical Dribble-Drive athlete with his ability to force his way to the hoop and contort himself in a way to either finish or get fouled. But where his real bread and butter will continue to be is with his hyper-defensive instincts. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone else in college basketball who takes such visible passion in hounding his opponents. He's a scrapper who actually has other skills, which is innately rare. We're not talking Bruce Bowen, we're talking Ron Artest in his prime. (UPDATE: He had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.) That's why Liggins is going to be a proud UK alum in the National Basketball Association either this year or next.

Darius Miller inherited Patrick Patterson's "favorite child" status amongst UK fans this season. His cheers took it to another decibel level between Madness and this game. If Darius had shown this level of confidence last season, you would have seen him knocking down threes left and right against West Virginia and we would've been in the Final Four. But alas, now that he has the shadow of last year's freshman class off his back and two years of NCAA experience under his belt, this is his breakout season. Even though there will prolly be other guys surpassing in most all statistical categories, this is Darius' team. (UPDATE: He had 20 points and 6 rebounds.) When he gets rolling and controls the ball on certain possessions, you can just tell. He's a guard with the size of a forward who can score from anywhere and rebound against anyone. Between this, Madness, and the open practice last week, you can tell there's a great personal competition between Jones and Miller. They are almost always matched up against each other and are close to the same size. The both shared in moments of trying to force it against the other on the offensive end and getting blocked, but they also showed each other up on quick-trigger jumpers and blow-by drives. It's great to watch and will probably continue on over the season in a similar fashion to the way Daniel Orton and Demarcus Cousins continually made each other better. In a lot of cases, that practice match-up may be significantly tougher than the weekly game opposition.

To sum everyone else up ... Vargas showed off a nice interior passing touch but still can't absorb contact, Polson can't bring the ball up against NCAA defenses but he can surprisingly finish at the rim pretty well, Harrellson is confident with his hook shot from either hand but still can't seal in rebounds with consistency (UPDATE: hard for me to believe from watching it, but he apparently had 26 rebounds), Lamb will be an effortless scorer from day one but often attempts to be too creative and over-dribble (UPDATE: 16 points and 6 assists), Hood still has no stand-out skill and will likely see little playing time (UPDATE: shot 6-20), and Poole simply doesn't know where he can contribute to the team yet since he has a miserable long-range shooting stroke. There ya go.

... and Free Enes.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Comeback #8: So Like a Pip, I'm Glad it's Night

Even though 1/3 of them didn't rap on it, 2007 brought about a song combining three of the biggest southern hip hop groups ever. Too bad they didn't throw the Geto Boys on there somehow. Without even the slightest hint that Pimp C was on the last limb of life, UGK had the only charting hit of their career in "International Players Anthem (I Choose You)", which was produced by Three 6 Mafia and featured OutKast. Bun B x Pimp C x Andre 3000 x Big Boi x Juicy J x DJ Paul. Texas, Georgia, and Tennesse stand up.

In going the reverse order of UGK and OutKast's previous collaboration, Dre started things off before the drums even kicked it ...

UGK - International Players Anthem (I Choose You feat. OutKast)

So, I typed a text to a girl I used to see
Sayin' that I chose this cutie pie with whom I wanna be
And, I apologize if this message gets you down
Then I CC'd every girl that I'd see see round town and
Hate to see y'all frown but I'd rather see her smilin'
Wetness all around me, true, but I'm no island
Peninsula maybe, makes no sense. I know, crazy
Give up all this pussycat that's in my lap, no lookin back. Spaceships
Don't come equipped with rearview mirrors, they dip
As quick as they can. The atmosphere is now ripped
I'm so like a Pip, Im glad its night (Gladys Knight)
So the light from the sun would not burn me on my bum
When I'd shoot the moon high, jump the broom
Like a premie out the womb, my partner yellin'
"Too soon!
Dont do it! Reconsider!
Read some litera - ture on the subject."
You sure? F*** it
You know we got your back like chiroprac-
-tic. If that b***h do you dirty
We'll wipe her a** out as in detergent
Now hurry hurry, go on to the altar
I know you aint a pimp but pimp remember what I taught ya
Keep your heart 3 Stacks, keep your heart
Aye, keep your heart 3 Stacks, keep your heart
Man, these girls is smart, 3 Stacks, these girls is smart
Play your part, play your part

Only Dre can rub in the fact that he's leaving all these other girls dry and still sound like a gentleman. It's the same ole pimp-turned-husband story but 3000 articulates it better than anyone else ever could. The wetness/island/peninsula/makes-no-sense lines are ridiculous, the spaceships/rearview mirrors/atmosphere lines are monstrous, the premie/too soon lines are sick, and the sounding-out of Gladys Knight just takes the cake. It completely went over my head on first listen, which makes the replay value that much more enjoyable. And even though Big Boi pulls out the big guns with some chopped-n-screwed bars to close out the song, no one was able to steal the spotlight from Dre. It was his fake wedding, so it's only appropriate.

... and Free Enes.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Kanye vs. T-Pain

Once the year 2007 rolled around, there were two people dominating radio music with hit after hit after hit. It was the irrepressible Louis Vuitton Don and Teddy Penderassdown.

Though their early careers couldn't have been any more independent from one another, their unrelenting commercial stardom caused the crossing of paths. Now everyone can attach them effortlessly with the single degree of autotune usage. Simple enough. The first collaboration was gifted to us by Ye relieving Yung Joc of his "Buy U a Drank" rapping duties. Then when Graduation and Thr33 Ringz made their hyped releases, of course both men had to obligingly feature on each others' tapes. Understanding the resulting formula was a monster, DJ Khaled, GLC, and Rick Ross all managed to get the vocally adjusted duo on board for some tracks together before Pain went on his recent self-imposed exile. Who knows what the future holds for the two working together, but Kanye was adamant about making sure the world knew Teddy was a genius in his recording process, so the respect should always be there ... unless Pain's post-"D.O.A." Jigga shots muddied up the waters a little.

T-Pain - Buy U a Drank (Remix feat. Kanye West, UGK, & Trey Songz)
Kanye West - Good Life (feat. T-Pain)
T-Pain - Therapy (feat. Kanye West)
DJ Khaled - Go Hard (feat. T-Pain & Kanye West)
GLC - Flight School (feat. T-Pain & Kanye West)
Rick Ross - Maybach Music 2 (feat. T-Pain, Kanye West, & Lil' Wayne)

... and do the John Wall.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

UK-Associated Celebs

Ever since Coach Cal rolled into town, the University of Kentucky basketball squad has extensively added to its celebrity rolodex. Whether it's the fact that he's simply reignited the dormant part of the fan base or he just brought along a sizable bandwagon behind him, a lot of people have suddenly claimed UK as their own. I wanted to take some time to highlight those people.

1. Ashley Judd - She wins out because she's been the vocal celeb endorsement since day one. She was a French major at UK and found time to collect minors in anthropology, art history, theater, and women's studies. Well crap. And she's been hitting up basketball games ever since (whenever she could fit 'em in between filming Kiss the Girls and Double Jeopardy and getting her masters degree at Harvard and being a Global Ambassador for YouthAIDS and little stuff like that. Even though there's been intrapersonal fan squabbles amongst the mostly conservative fan base and her outspoken liberal support, she's still majorly beloved for the fact that she's always and will always claim UK as her home. Half the restaurants in Lexington have her risque hockey poster hanging on their walls, so I think pretty much all is forgiven when you're an attractive woman who wears nothing but a jersey in support for one of your college's obscure sports clubs. And she killed it with The Rock in that Tooth Fairy movie last (... which I haven't seen).

2. Drake - Canada's half-Jewish rapper son spent every free moment in his April 27, 2010 Memorial Coliseum concert shouting out Lexington as his "second home". It must be true then, right? Hip hop's newest poster child, between his So Far Gone mixtape and Thank Me Later album, made sure to be the head coach opposite Tayshaun Prince at 2009's Big Blue Madness and then attend four additional contests, including the Wake Forest NCAA tournament game, throughout the year. He started his relationship with the ball club through a chance hook-up with John Calipari through their mutual friend LeBron James. Yeah, that LeBron James. In the aforementioned concert, Drake brought all of Coach Cal, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson, Mark Krebs, and even former star Ramel Bradley out as "his family" for his performance of "I'm Goin' In". This relationship made its rounds on MTV and every major newspaper publication in the world. One of the world's biggest rap stars with the world's greatest basketball university? That's a big deal.

3. LeBron James - I'm pretty sure Coach and LBJ are simply BFFs. They meet on recruiting trips, summer camps, facility visits, playoff games, and one can only assume for $100 million buy-in poker nights switching back and forth between Jay-Z and William Wesley's houses. Once The King made his way to Lexington for the summer to hang out with the newly assembled ball club and tour the Joe Craft Center before they ever even had an official scrimmage, the "LeBron Watch" was on. He was supposed to make it for Big blue Madness ... but he missed it. And this isn't openly known, but I dead serious know for sure that it's because he stayed too late at a crazy Jay-Z party off on some tropical island the night before. Quote me. And then LeBron was supposed to make it for the big North Carolina game ... but he missed it. That one was during the regular season of the NBA, though, so it's a little more understandable. There were a few more false starts, but James finally made his way to Rupp Arena's front row for a publicity shoot during our Vanderbilt game, which completely (non)coincidentally coincided with the debut of the basketball team's official new kicks, the custom blue Air Max LeBron VIIs. I'm sure he didn't even know. Though Cal didn't quite leave to any random team that LeBron was randomly gonna sign with, they're insanely close and that sense of family extended down to Wall, too. I have a guess who the second-most called person on Wall's cell phone is after his mom. Drake's prolly third.

4. Magic Johnson - We'll pretend this one was strictly about basketball even though it wasn't. He was Kentucky that afternoon supporting a bill raising the HS dropout age from 16 to 18 in the Commonwealth and came to our home game against South Carolina as Governor Steve Beshear's guest. Magic's history of collegiate run-ins with UK is what makes this visit so intriguing. In his freshman year at Michigan State in 1978, the Spartans lost to UK (the eventual champions) in the Elite 8. What makes that sting even further is that just a month later, Magic was relegated to second string status to those same UK players on a team coached by Joe B. Hall in the amateur World Invitational Tournament. In Magic and Larry Bird's book When the Game was Ours, both speak very scathingly about Hall's neglect of reaching out to them and their lack of playing time whatsoever during that summer tournament. But that just shows you Magic's love of the game and maturity level at this point in his life. He spoke glowingly of John Wall after this game as "the best player in the country."

5. Mike Tomlin & Ben Roethlisberger - Even though the Cincinnati Bengals hold the hearts of the majority of locals, Calipari's Pittsburgh roots have brought around a friendship with that particular faction in the NFL. Tomlin may have been upstaged by Ashley Judd at the Georgia game and Big Ben may have been upstaged by Magic at the South Carolina game, but they still let their friendship to our Coach be known. And the best part? Both guys were halfway cheered and openly booed when they made it onto the Jumbotron. Big Ben may be the one guy moreso than LeBron that Kentucky may want to distance themselves from in the public's eye ... but oh well. Americans forgive everybody who's slightly famous, so it'll all be good. With Cal's recent visit to Bengals training camp, maybe he'll pull Ochocinco and other more locally favored footballers this upcoming year.

6. Josh Hopkins - Though I've seen a single YouTube clip of it, Hopkins stars in the ABC sitcom Cougar Town. He's a career TV film, short film, and guest starring actor who's finally been given his major break on the Courtney Cox-led major network show as a major character. He was born in Lexington and is the son of a former Kentucky Congressman. He's most famous for actually incorporating the "John Wall Dance" into an episode of Cougar Town, the aforementioned YouTube clip. And then he took it a step further and got a picture out in the world of Cox doing the signature arm move as well. But his highest form of UK fandom came when he followed Kyle Wiltjer, one of our 2011 recruits, to a high school Elite 24 game "just in case" he committed to UK that day at the event. Kinda creepy. Kinda awesome. Either way, the guy's a rising star who's got local roots, which makes him a big deal. I'll never watch the current show he's on, but I'll still vaguely care about him anyway.

7. Irv Gotti - Who even knew this guy was still alive? The guy who composed "Can I Get a ... **** You?" The guy who started Murder Inc. The guy who originally shoved Ja Rule, Ashanti, and Lloyd down commercial radio's throats. The Hollis, Queens producer donned his John Wall jersey and sat front row for College Gameday against Tennessee. Even though Irv got arrested and such on crack-related money laundering ... it's kinda cool that he's close with assistant coach Orlando Antigua, right? That's some heavy street cred. Sure, he hasn't made a hit in years, but when I walked out of the Wildcat Lodge that morning to see one of the biggest hip hop presences from the '90s cheesing like a mug while watching Coach Robic lecture the guys over some game tape, it felt pretty cool. Then he gave me a head nod. I'm pretty sure that means that he wanted to sign me.

8. Charles Barkley - It's pretty crazy, but Chuck (a very proud Auburn alum) decided not to travel a little ways over for the final game in his alma mater's ancient arena, the very one he spent his playing days in bulldozing over SEC competition in the early '80s. Instead, he visited Athens to see the Kentucky Wildcats. Undeterred by all of his DUIs and recurring mishaps, I was enlightened to the fact that he showed up to the game plastered. Even though he kinda talked us down after the game as still being a step behind Kansas and Syracuse, you can tell he was still there to witness the John Wall show. And I'll choose to assume that his later disparaging remarks about Cousins' readiness for the pro level were due to the same ethanol-related influence. But Charles did take the time to meet and take a picture with Coach in the tunnel, so all's forgiven.

9. Big Tigger - I just remember the guy from being the host of 106 & Park back when I used to watch BET for anything other than their award show cyphers. What he's known for now is being the Washington Wizards' resident in-game DJ. Hmmm ... now what is the connection between the University of Kentucky and the Wiz? Just a minute ago, Big Tigg hosted John Wall's personal professional Midnight Madness in the District of Columbia. So since Wall couldn't make his way back to Lexington other than by video message this last weekend for our Big Blue Madness, he sent the BET host to us in his place. And, in my professional opinion, he did a pretty great job. "Big Blue Nation" (as he called us a minimum of 75 times for response) approves.

10. The NBA - Kelenna Azubuike, Eric Bledsoe, Keith Bogans, Demarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes, Jamaal Magloire, Jodie Meeks, Nazr Mohammed, Daniel Orton, Patrick Patterson, Tayshaun Prince, Rajon Rondo, and John Wall. Enough said.

... and Free Enes.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Comeback #7: Take Your Corn on the Cob

After another super long delay and even three entirely new Dre verses making their way to the surface, I'm finally making my way back onto "The 3000 Tour".

Even though Devin the Dude is notoriously redundant, he's always got some super slick joint that creeps its way into the forefront conscious for hip hop heads. In 2007, that song was "What a Job". Off of his Waitin' to Inhale LP, this joint (no pun) was hailed as an instant classic by any and everyone in the know. While the initial breakthrough of this project was the Weezy and Bun B-featured "Lil' Girl Gone", it was quickly usurped by "What a Job" and two other legends who joined the Dude to lend their vocal prowess. It had the jagged off-key crooning sample laced in the easy riding beat, a smooth Devin chorus singing about (of course) the substances needed to get through the night of recording, one of the few recent inspired Snoop verses, and the already-assumed genius of a closing verse tinged with a couple falsetto bars by Dre. Plus it didn't hurt to bring together Los Angeles with Houston with Atlanta for creative hip hop's sake.

Devin the Dude - What a Job (feat. Snoop Dogg & Andre 3000)

We work nights, we some vampires
Aggins gather round the beat like a campfire
Sangin' folk songs, but not no Kumbaya my Lord
You download it for free, we get charged back for it
I know you're saying, they won't know, they won't miss it
Besides, I ain't a thief, they won't pay me a visit
So if I come to your job, take your corn on the cob
And take a couple kernels off it that would be alright with you
Hell no! Yeah, exactamundo
But we just keep recordin' and it ain't to get no condo
And Candy Bentley, fanny with no panties in Miami
And that cute lil' chick named Tammy that you took to the Grammys
See we do it for that boy that graduated
That look you in yo eyes real tough and say 'preciate it
And that he wouldn'ta made it if it wasn't for your CD number 9
And he's standing with his baby momma Kiki and she cryin' talkinbout
That they used to get high to me in high school
And they used to make love to me in college
Then they told me 'bout they first date, listenin' to my tunes
And how he, like to finger nail polish
I say hate to cut you off but I gotta go
I wish you could tell me mo', but I'm off to the studio, gotta write tonight
Hey, can you put us in your raps? I don't see why not
Devin, it's the Dude, you gon' probably hear him talking 'bout ...

I guess the key is that you're only able to not sound like a douchebag while complaining about illegal downloading if you sing about it and metaphorically compare it to corn kernels. Bingo. And who else could talk about some fans he encountered and how they wanted to randomly be dropped in his song ... thereby officially being randomly (yet seamlessly) dropped in his song! And then there's the implementation of different flows and shock bars that turn out to just be about ... nail polish. Crazy stuff. 3000 stays unblemished on his slow-rolling comeback tour.

... and Free Enes.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

G.O.O.D Music Cypher

Somehow the BET Awards outdid themselves on this year's incarnation of the Cypher series. No one else in the world, nor I, thought they could one-up the Mos Def/Black Thought/Eminem viciousness, but they did. I'm gonna start by going in on the world renowned G.O.O.D. Music cypher. BET definitely owes Kanye big for wanting to push his collective through their channel's otherwise crappy award show. And just to add a little flavor, I'll rank the performances of the emcees in each one.

Kanye West - Cypher 2010 #5 (feat. Pusha T, Big Sean, CyHi Da Prynce, & Common)

5. Common - Sorry, OG. The sucky thing is that I thought he performed an insanely great verse for seeming to be out of his element amongst these youngsters. The main thing he gets graded off for is the painful "the incomparable ... remarkable ... articles ..." dictionary reading in the early going. Ugh. But then he picks it up even with a recycled ESPYs bar. He personally struck a chord with the hardest with the "cold to myself" line. He ended it as strongly as possible "Requested from the the years I invested/Arrested, developed, addressed it, enveloped/the body of the black party from Farley to Bob Marley/Go home or go hard, at home is life hardly."

4. Pusha T - He did all he could, throwing around effortlessly smooth movie references (Book of Eli, Street Car Named Desire, Jerry McGuire) as well as slickly fluid song weavings of Bone Thugs, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, and even his new label head. But the competition was just that sick. He kinda left it hanging though without that one stand-out punchline that cypher audiences so sickly crave. And it also doesn't help that he was the first to be introduced and everyone else after was able to eclipse him. Newbies first, I guess. "With good company, and better jewelers/to the good life, we G.O.O.D. Music ..."

3. Big Sean - Even though I wholeheartedly disagree with his LeBron-related championship ring prediction, Big Sean killed it as Pusha's follow-up. At that point, I was feeling like Sean was going to go down as the champ, hands down. That's how dope this cypher event was. He even through in a little change-of-pace on his goofy motorboating line, and that's especially notable because Sean is famous for never switching up his flow ever. Add that into his shock "wet dream" opening, his sick banana clips/guerrilla warfare line, admitting he watched last year's cyphers on his couch, and his Mercedes 700 CLK nastiness and you got yourself some pre-debut album hype "I'm Big L, Notorious, Big Pun/Shawn Carter, Sean Combs, and Connery all in one/Whoever told you sky is the limit is lookin' dumb/Cuz I'm 22 and I'm moonwalkin' on the sun."

2. CyHi Da Prynce - While he started off a little too simple with the bread/Quiznos line, he destroyed every bar from there out. Major ups for referencing himself as "MJ with the big nose", making a dually hilarious hanky/lanky rhymed, the "can't bleep it out" genitalia line, and the run-off of eight straight bars of rhymes starting with "flexible" and ending with "federal". Intrinsic rhymers, take notes. This was as big a coming-out party as you could get for a slick street spitter like CyHi. I'm sure 80% of the audience had never heard of him before. Mission accomplished. "Let me stop it, I forgot this was a big show/If bein' dope made ya broke, I am piss po'/I'm Big Poppa plus I'm 2Pacalypto/My mind is a weapon, what I need to pop a clip fo'?"

1. Kanye West - Could it be anyone else? Even though he cheated by spitting a freestyled intro and a sick closing verse (assumingly one from his new album). Just focusing on his closer ... it was perfect. There's not a guy who can put together such relatable and sick sounding bars like Kanye does so consistently. I don't know if it's because he has such gifted lyricists around him again such as Mos Def and Pusha replacing slackers like Jeezy and Wayne, but whatever it is happens to be working. He sets up the sickest childhood metaphor to his life remarking on him being an only child lost in the world, asking where the lonely kids go when the bell rings, and saying if he didn't have ends then he wouldn't have as many imaginary friends. His deeply thought reflection as well as vocal inflection play up the performance to an unimaginable degree. It's not the normal cypher braggadocio, but it definitely is Kanye West. And there's nothing out at the current moment better than that. "Fresh air, rollin' down the window/Too many Erkels on your team that's why your wins low (Winslow)/I sold my soul to the devil, that's a crappy deal/Least it came with a few toys like a happy meal."

... and Free Enes.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bobby vs. Charles

Bob was prolly the only guy that Charlie wound up not getting pissed of at from the '09 Freshman Class. And Asher, too. I guess no one else wanted to hop on the "Change Gonna Come" joint with 'em. Regardless, you prolly already know that B.o.B and Charles hold high honors in my book as some of the freshest newcomers possible. And as soon as I type that I regret it and wanna throw KiD CuDi, J. Cole, and (most of the time) Wale in there. Dah ... the painstaking choices of doling out tips of the hat ...

Moving beyond the XXL cover, B.o.B and Charles shared some studio time and came up with "Fool for Love" off Bob's pre-Adventures mixtape, May 25th, plus CH's loose "Paperboy" joint back when he was temporarily playing the whole scarcity card. Now all that's come to the forefront of my mind due to the first incarnation of All City Chess Club being released on the masses with the newly minted "We Beamin'" remix. Enjoy.

B.o.B - Change Gonna Come (feat. Asher Roth & Charles Hamilton)
B.o.B - Fool for Love (feat. Charles Hamilton)
Charles Hamilton - Paperboy (feat. B.o.B)
All City Chess Club - We Beamin' (Remix with Asher Roth, Charles Hamilton, Lupe Fiasco, The Cool Kids, Blu, Diggy, Dosage, & B.o.B)

... and do the John Wall.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

2010-2011 Portland Trailblazers

The question: how many games is Greg Oden gonna play? The answer: who cares? The Blazers are made to be awesome with or without him. Of course they'd rather have him shatter all expectations and come through with abandon to be an MVP-caliber center, but that's probably never going to be in the cards. Honestly, Nate McMillan would be completely happy if he just got 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for 70 games.

2010-2011 Portland Trailblazers

Point Guard: Andre Miller/Jarryd Bayless/Patrick Mills
Shooting Guard: Brandon Roy/Wesley Matthews/Elliot Williams
Small Forward: Nicolas Batum/Dante Cunningham/Luke Babbitt
Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge/Jeff Pendergraph
Center: Marcus Camby/Greg Oden/Joel Przybilla

For all intentional purposes, Rudy Fernandez won't be a rotation player in Portland or any other squad on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. So they've pretty much swapped out him for rugged, fit-in-the-system wing defender Wes Matthews. Along with Nicolas Batum, that's quite the perimeter defensive combo. And even in his old age, Marcus Camby is still the best defensive mistake eraser in the game. With that core plus whatever spot minute contributions come from Oden and Joel Przybilla, the rest of the lineup can concentrate on the offensive side of things. And that's good, because Andre Miller, Brandon Roy, and LaMarcus Aldridge are definitely prone to focusing on that aspect of the game a little more intently.

The lead guard tandem of Miller and Jarryd Bayless brings a nice change-of-pace component to the Blazers' offensive attack. Miller is big bodied and pounds the ball with intent and makes the team run smoothly while Bayless is a speedy attacker who can force his way to the rim and finish with power. Both guys work well with Roy as the do-anything wing scorer to complement them, and Bayless is especially glad that Steve Blake slid his way over to the champs' roster to free up backcourt minutes. Coming back from a summer resting since his surgery, Roy should be able to get back on track as an elite all-purpose scorer. He's so hard to check for the fact that he came into the pros with an insanely balanced and smooth game and has steadily improved every aspect of it. If he can keep healthy, he fits flawlessly in with this group and makes everyone else a bigger threat. The one drop off on this year's Blazer squad is going to be the long ball with the departure of Fernandez and sharpshooter Martell Webster, so Roy will have to take the initiative to force the action and create even better opportunities for this team. With a lot to prove from not being able to effectively finish out last season's early playoff exit, Roy will be up to the challenge.

LaMarcus Aldridge is the most important guy during any given Portland game. If his confidence is high then he's capable of scoring every single possession. He puts up 18/8/2/1/1 on 50% shooting as a lanky 6'11" big who can maneuver his way inside just as well as step out with considerable range. It's a nightmare matchup for pretty much any squad he faces. With all the other bigs on the team more capable of tangling it up under the basket, Aldridge has free range everywhere else to mess up the defensive schemes. He's due for an even bigger breakout year to replace Zach Randolph as a natural All-Star forward in the Western Conference, minus all the known drug habit baggage. And the funny thing is that I think a healthy Greg Oden on the floor would make Aldridge's game shine even better. Their skill sets are so complementary of one another that you would think they should vie for top front court duo in the league. But nah, they're still behind Pau & Bynum, Yao & Scola, (one would assume) KG & Shaq, (one would assume) Griffin & Kaman, (one would assume) Boozer & Noah, and (one would assume) Big Al & Okur. So on second thought, maybe they're not even close to being the best ...

I think the no-longer-nicknamed-Jailblazers should improve about 4 games to be in the mid-upper tier of the West and get past the first round as a highly competitive dark horse. Roy should return to elite form, LaMarcus should up the ante, Greg Oden has about a 51% chance of playing 50% of the season, and the rest of the role players should all continue their seamless blue collar work under Nate McMillan's direction. So there ya go.

Regular Season: 54-28
Playoffs: Eliminated in Western Conference Semi-Finals

... and Free Enes.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Woody's Produce

The premier Demevolist producer just released a project called LoveLife and he's got a monster collection of blogosphere emcees gracing his instrumentals. Of course there's his running mates SHow TuFli, Yung Nate, and Charles Hamilton, but it certainly doesn't stop there.

Woody - LoveLife

1. What Would You Do (feat. SHow TuFli, Yung Nate, & Steve Wilkin)
2. Brand New (feat. Gerald Walker & Nero)
3. Leave Me Alone (feat. Casey Veggies)
4. Hey Girl
5. Racing
6. Over & Over Again (feat. ESSO)
7. Make-Up Sex (feat. JY & Kyle Lucas)
8. Summer's Day (feat. ADD-2)
9. LOVE Interlude
10. Puppy Love
11. Make Believe (feat. Charles Hamilton & XV)

... and Free Enes.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks

So they added Tyson Chandler and ... that's it. I just have an inkling that Mark Cuban blows this squad up '04-style sometime before the trade deadline. And it's absolutely crazy because this roster has two Hall of Famers, two additional All-Stars, and then even four other guys who could start on the majority of teams in the league. Along with the Lakers and Celtics, the Mavericks have talent oozing at least two deep from every single position. How did they get bounced in the first round last year again?

2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks

Point Guard: Jason Kidd/Rodrigue Beaubois/J.J. Barea
Shooting Guard: Caron Butler/Jason Terry/Dominique Jones
Small Forward: Shawn Marion/DeShawn Stevenson
Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki/Alexis Ajinca/Brian Cardinal
Center: Brendan Haywood/Tyson Chandler/Ian Mahinmi

90% of the Mavericks every single year is how much Dirk has left to contribute. The guy's an MVP (even though it should have been Kobe's first) and one of the most deadly efficient mass jump shooters ever. But now he's 12 years into his NBA career at 32 years old with mass extra mileage from pro teenage years in Germany and all the World Championships/Olympics he's participated in over that span. The good thing shown on his career stat sheet is that the only drop-off in production has been his rebounding slightly decreasing for five straight seasons now. He's the most awkwardly talented 7-footer ever and has been remarkably healthy, missing a whopping average of a 2.7 games per season. Defense has never been his calling, so the only thing that could hurt his game with age is if he can't get his lanky frame up and down the court for extended periods of time. His jumper will always be there and he'll always be able to get it off. And while it may seem like a great thing that he has so much firepower around him to help nowadays, it's been increasingly clear that no matter who's around him, the fate of the Mavericks is always defined by Dirk. It was Dirk who missed all five of his overtime shots in the deciding game against the Suns in 2005. It was Dirk who was singled out for losing his confidence after Dwyane Wade began his 2006 Finals onslaught to come back after a 2-0 Mavericks lead. It was Dirk who couldn't averaged under 20 points on 38% shooting against the Warriors in the first round loss of his 2007 MVP season. So ... if he doesn't have an interstellar campaign, the Mavs find a way to lose. It's that simple.

Jason Kidd is still sick. He may never take a shot besides spot-up 3s anymore, but the guy averaged 9.1 assists with a 3.71 assist-to-turnover ratio. He runs the team perfectly. Jason Terry is in the upper echelon of the sickest scorers ever to be constantly withheld on the bench, averaging 19.6 just two years ago, even though he's regularly timid in crunch time. Caron Butler and Shawn Marion are two swiss-army wings who can each slide in wherever necessary. Look for them to be much more efficient and comfortable with a year of continuity under their belt (unless everyone gets traded like I previously mentioned). In all honesty, they should never leave a possession without a made bucket between Kidd's passing, Dirk's shooting, Terry and Caron's general bucket-making ability, and Marion hustle.

At the center position, Haywood and Chandler make a very intriguing combo. Both are high profile shot blockers, but Haywood's more proficient at creating his own occasional offensive opportunities while Chandler's specialty is finishing lobs and outreaching his competition for every rebound. Health has been a plaguing issue recently for both guys, but together they should be 48 minutes worth of quality center play. That's something Erick Dampier definitely didn't give them.

So why do I think they actually do worse in the regular season this year and repeat their first round blunder? Because the Mavericks are prime time underachievers. Since 2001, they've lost in the Semis, Semis, West Finals, first round, Semis, NBA Finals, first round, first round, Semis, and first round. All of those seasons they won at least 50 games, six of those at least 55, and three at a clip of 60 or more culminating in the monstrous 67-15 season where they had the best record in the league. In my little glass ball, I see a lot of injuries in their short term future and a general sense of malcontentedness. Marion's been a baby his entire career and he's not gonna enjoy losing minutes in favor of Butler when certain line-up adjustments are going to be made. Rodrigue Beaubois is as intriguing a young point guard prospect as their is the NBA, but Rick Carlisle inexplicably gave the kid no minutes once the playoffs came around until the elimination game, which he responded to by putting up 16/5/1 in 21 minutes. Carlisle can't make that mistake again. But in that same sentence, how do you still keep Jason Terry's minutes high enough to take advantage of his offensive production when you also gotta keep your resident Hall-of-Famer Jason Kidd (who chose to finish out his career in Dallas instead of signing elsewhere) happy running the squad? I don't know. This team literally has too much talent. But, unlike the players that make up the exceedingly deep Lakers and Celtics squad, this isn't the personnel who's going to be content with compromising roles. That's why I have them on the brink of a highly entertaining implosion and first round exit. Sorry, Dirk. Should've made Dwyane Wade or Joe Johnson go with you to Chicago.

Regular Season: 51-31
Playoffs: Eliminated in first round

... and Free Enes.


More Sir Lucious Left Foot

Today's "Bonus" segment takes us to the newest output by half of OutKast. The album would have featured both halves, but you know how label politics go. Good thing we got the internet giving us the concealed collaborations for free, right? Since Sir Lucious Left Foot was rumored to be almost-released for three straight years, there were plenty of tracks that fell through the cracks of getting stale or simply replaced. This is the place for those tracks. And I decided to throw in "Lookin' 4 Ya" as track 10, which Big said on Twitter is where it should have been anyways. Adjust everything else accordingly, Kast heads.

Bonus Tracklisting
10. Lookin' 4 Ya (Jedi Remix feat. Andre 3000 & Sleepy Brown)
17. Theme Song
18. Shine Blockas (Remix feat. Gucci Mane, Bun B, & Project Pat)
19. Royal Flush (feat. Raekwon & Andre 3000)
20. Sumthin's Gotta Give (feat. Mary J. Blige)
21. Dubbz (feat. Backbone)
22. Follow Us (Remix feat. Vonnegutt)
23. Tangerine (Remix feat. Rick Ross, T.I., Bun B, & Khujo)

... and do the John Wall.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2010-2011 L.A. Clippers

It seems like "this year" has been the year for the Clips every single year for the last 15 years. Years years years, in case I didn't have that word enough in the last sentence. With only one playoff appearance to show for it in the Elton Brand era, Blake Griffin is looking to define the franchise in a completely different fashion. It sucks that he lost an entire year of professional experience because of a fluke (cursed) injury, but he can still go a long way towards making this year the year for the Non-Lake Show.

2010-2011 Los Angeles Clippers

Point Guard: Baron Davis/Eric Bledsoe
Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon/Randy Foye
Small Forward: Rasual Butler/Ryan Gomes/Al Farouq-Aminu
Power Forward: Blake Griffin/Craig Smith/Brian Cook
Center: Chris Kaman/DeAndre Jordan/Jarron Collins

Let's start with the fundamentals for this money-pit franchise. Shooting: Davis, Gordon, Butler, Gomes can all extend to the 3-line. Rebounding: Kaman, Griffin, Smith, and Jordan are all workhorses on the glass no matter how many minutes they get. Ball-handling: Davis, Bledsoe, Gordon, and Foye can all get the ball up and down the court whenever needed. Now let's turn towards the potential (and probable) issues. Turnovers: all of those ball-handlers I just mentioned are all majorly TO-prone. Iso-Scorers: all the proven scorers on the squad (Davis, Gordon, and Kaman) are known for over-pounding the ball. Defense: nobody on the team plays any. This team can't be an selfish, isolation squad who turns the ball over every third possession and doesn't ever dig in for a stop. We already tried that with Team USA for about a decade a little while back. The Clippers definitely have all the talent you could want from top to bottom, but it's all on Vinny Del Negro to get them to actually work together. Hopefully Baron Davis understands this and pretends he's got Stephen Jackson and Jason Richardson flanking him. That way he might actually try to ... you know ... win a game or something.

Even though it's only his re-try at a rookie season, the success of the team really does hinge on Blake Griffin. He has All-NBA potential a few years into his career if he stays healthy and can build on the insane amount of game he showed at Oklahoma State. What's an even better sign for him is how meteorically he rose the level of his game from high school to his freshman season and then again for his sophomore year. The guy puts in the gym time, understands the game, and wants to improve. He probably would have been the runaway Rookie of the Year over Tyreke, but now he has to vouch for that title over the two UK guys. A little stiffer competition. But anyways, Griffin should seamlessly fit in with anybody on the floor. You don't come across many big men with his agility and speed who also know how to go through people to the basket. He should be able to be everything that Elton Brand was and significantly more for this franchise if he sticks around for awhile.

The guy who absolutely refused to wait on Blake Griffin was Eric Gordon. Gordon was a breakout star on the Olympic squad, with Russell Westbrook, of guys that the public had been highly underestimating. Yeah, he's undersized, but there's pretty much nothing else in Gordon's game that you can knock him for. He's got a sweet jumper improved to the point that he can shoot it from anywhere and he's a fearless attacker of the rim. He's got a strong frame at the two-guard, especially for his age, yet still has quickness to use in tandem with it. Gordon's been ranked as an elite wing man since high school, but it was never guaranteed that he would translate as well as he has to the pros. All you gotta know is that he can hoop. If him and Blake are still teammates four years from now, the Clippers will be a serious threat.

Why shouldn't the Clippers be able to sneak into the playoffs out West (besides the fact that they're the frickin' Clippers)? They're main obstacle to overcome is balancing their youth with their veterans. Eric Bledsoe and Al Farouq-Aminu can't come in thinking that they're the number 1 or number 2 (or number 3, 4, or 5) option. And along the same lines, Baron Davis and Chris Kaman need to know that they can't hold the ball for 19 of the 24 seconds and create everything on their own. If this team gels, they're insanely dangerous. I'm talking take-the-Lakers-to-seven-games-if-they-happen-to-meet-up-in-a-backyard-series dangerous. But if they don't gel ... then they're the Clippers. What did you expect? I personally think they make the playoffs and get bounced in the first round, but they're definitely on their way to assembling a power house. Mark it down.

Regular Season: 44-38
Playoffs: Eliminated in first round

... and do the John Wall.