Without a doubt, one of the worst rap groups of all-time...I call them a rap group because I refuse to call any group that includes Mack 10 and WC a "super group", though watching WC do the crip walk in all of their videos was pretty super...nevertheless, we continue on with my thoughts on some deserving Western Conference reserves:
Steve Nash: I have discussed the Santa Clara Alum in this space numerous times this year, so my affection for his game and its impact on the league's most exciting team has been covered. Simply put, my pick for the MVP thus far.
Ray Allen: I must admit, that I've never been a big Ray Allen fan. Even back in his days at UConn, I could never develop much affection for him or his game. I was always partial to Big East rival Allen Iverson during this time because Iverson seemed to play with more heart and took the ball to the rim much more often. Allen, along with Mike Miller, has one of the two prettiest jumpshots in the league and he clearly knows how to use itbetter than Miller. I just always wished that he'd diversify his game a little more by driving the ball. Well, this year he has started going to the hoop a bit more often and has embraced the leadership role (finally) which is something he never really did in Milwaukee and his team has flourished as a result. Along with Nash, deserving of a start in the All-Star Game. Quick note: I thought that Allen was bound for Denver this off-season but now that Kiki has hired George Karl, I'm not so sure as I heard that they couldn't stand each other in Milwaukee. If Ray is smart, he'd take a little less money and team up with Lebron for the next 6 years.
Dirk Nowitzki: He has ascended to another level this year and I, for one, do not think he is even close to his ceiling as a player. He has become the kind of guy who can take over games with his entire game, not just his shooting, which is crucial if you want to lead a team deep into the playoffs. By the time Dirk reaches 29-30, you could be looking at the MVP of the NBA. Just an amazing skill set for a seven-footer and he finally looks to be embracing the role of go-to-guy.
Lamar Odom: Doesn't deserve an All-Star selection, but that's not his fault. If the Lakers ran their offense through him, not only would he be averaging 20-10-6 but the Lakers would be about two or three spots higher in the West. The only other big man in the West who has an all-court skill level on par with Nowitzki, though their skills are much different. I'm hoping that the ankle injury has allowed Kobe to realize exactly what he has in Odom and he comes back determined to make the most of his teammate.
Amare Stoudemire: Most athletic big man since a young Shawn Kemp was flying around Seattle. Has the potential to be the best player in the NBA by the time he is 26. Most people don't realize that because of issues with some school transfer (his mom was in jail at the time) that this guy only played two years of high school basketball, even sitting out his entire senior year. He hasn't even begun to scratch the surface of his potential. Its easy to say that his improvement is a direct result of Steve Nash but that would be shortsighted. Stoudemire's jumpshot is dramtically improved as is his ballhandling. If he continues to improve each offseason and doesn't decide to have 16 kids from 9 different mothers, you're looking at a multiple winner of scoring and rebounding titles.
As I said before, these aren't the only guys I think are deserving, just the ones who intrigue me the most at the current time.
The University of Florida basketball team goes into Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY tonight which has been a house of horrors for the Gators of late. The last time the Gators won in Rupp, Jason Williams was dropping 25 pts and 11 assists on a shellshocked UK team. Of course, Williams was dismissed for Billy Donovan's program about two weeks later and Tubby Smith has dominated the Gators ever since. I like this Gator team alot more than either of the previous two teams who got bitch slapped in Rupp. With that said, I am not confident in tonight's matchup. If UF played their best game of the year, they'd have a shot at a somewhat vulnerable Kentucky team. Unfortunately for the Gators, they played that game on Saturday versus Alabama. I'll be rooting hard for Roberson, Lee, Horford and Co. but I can't say I'll be surprised if Ashley Judd is dancing around like a lunatic by the midway point of the second half.