Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dwyane Wade is overrated, etc.

You cannot call Dwyane Wade the next Michael Jordan

Every couple of years, it's always somebody the media and fans dub as the next Michael Jordan. From Grant Hill to Kobe to Vince to Lebron. I'm sure I'm forgetting others. Now it's Dwyane Wade. They keep harping on that ad nauseum. While I admit that Wade is becoming/has become one of the top ten players in the NBA, I'm getting sick of hearing about how he's the greatest player. First of all, there are at least two players who are closer to MJ than Wade. At the top of my head, they are Lebron and Kobe. I'd take Lebron over any player in the league if I were to choose one player to start a franchise. I don't know if I'd even put Wade in the top 5, but that's another story. As much as I can't stand Kobe Bryant, he has been and continues to be the closest thing to MJ. It just shows how everybody has the shortest memories. Before annointing Wade as MJ's heir, let's not forget how he has Shaq, even though Shaq's not the truly dominant player he was a few years ago. However, he still commands double and triple teams that free up others, including Wade...just like when Kobe played with Shaq. At least Kobe got three straight championships. Let's at least wait until Wade wins a couple of championships before calling him MJ's heir. Really, the only thing I can think of why people have the perception Wade is better than Kobe is that Shaq likes Wade but doesn't like Kobe. Does it really matter if Kobe and Shaq like or don't like each other? I'd argue that even with them not liking each other, if Kobe still had Shaq, the Lakers could in the finals right now playing the Pistons. My point is: Wade is an awesome player, but how can people annoint him as the next MJ when he's not better than Lebron or Kobe?

Why the Pistons imploded during the playoffs

As much as I love Larry Brown and how I think he's the best basketball coach in the world, it was obvious that he and the Pistons wanted to separate after the 2004-05 season. And it was a mistake on both sides. Maybe it was because suburban Detroit is a white, middle-America suburbia without the cosmopolitan flair of a New York, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles. (I don't believe for a minute he would've gone to Cleveland of all places...I think it was a ploy to get the Knicks to offer and offer big.) Maybe it was because of Brown's neverending itch to move to a new gig every few years. Whatever it was, Brown chose New York over Detroit, obviously thinking that he could work the same magic he's worked throughout his career. Obviously, New Yorkers thought the same thing. Conversely, the Pistons thought that they learned everything they needed to learn under Brown and thought they could do everything better if freed of Brown's control. Everybody thought the Pistons were right because of the regular season. I was cautiously excited, but I had my doubts. And my doubts were realized during the playoffs. I do think Flip Saunders is a decent coach, especially as an offensive mind. On the surface, it seemed like he and the Pistons were a perfect fit. But playing in the playoffs is a totally different beast than the regular season, where you might play team A one game at home at the tail end of their 5-game roadtrip or after that team played a team with a totally different system the night before and was not as prepared to play the Pistons. During the playoffs, you play the same team up to seven times. The teams start to figure out each others' tendencies and make adjustments. The Pistons, with their new-found offensive freedom, lost sight of their hard-nosed defense, and in turn, lost sight of playing team ball on offense, all of which Larry Brown harped on constantly. Even in games in which Billups scored 25 and had 10 assists (or something to that effect), I saw him play too much one-on-one and take bad shots, missing many and making some, which encouraged him some more to take those bad shots. Same thing with Rip Hamilton. (The only players that played consistently hard and smart were Tayshaun Prince, Antonio McDyess, and Lindsey Hunter.) If Larry was still coaching, he would've chewed out Billups even if he made those bad shots. Larry Brown would've taken command and made the proper adjustments to counteract whatever Mike Brown or Pat Riley threw at them. I believe if Larry Brown was still with the Pistons, they'd be playing in their third consecutive finals. It's too bad neither side could see that a year ago.

Welcome to Columbia, Mike Anderson

Missouri AD Mike Alden has been good at raising money for new and improved facilities for MU. But in many ways he's been a bad AD. The hiring of Quin Snyder was a prime example. The bumbling of Snyder's dismissal/resignation is another example. Many Missouri people do not like him, and they have good reasons. However, I have to give credit when credit is due. The hiring of Mike Anderson as the new basketball coach was a good move. It's not the splashiest move, but good nonetheless. After seeing how Rick Majerus is still not coaching anywhere, in hindsight it was probably a good thing MU didn't roll the dice to hire him. And even if Bob Huggins takes K-State to near the top of the Big 12 and into the NCAA tourney, I'm relieved that he wasn't hired by Missouri. Same thing for John Calipari.

I don't expect immediate results from Mike Anderson, at least in terms of making the Tiger basketball program back to arguably second in the Big 12 behind KU overnight. But Anderson seems to have potential to do some really good things. I don't blame Mizzou fans for being optimistic, especially after seeing how Quin Snyder dragged the school through the mud both on-court and off-court. But maybe they're being overly optimistic. Honestly, I don't think you can realistically expect MU to be a nationally-known and respected program for another 3 years, maybe 5. They have the potential, with state of the art facilities, playing in a major conference, and being relatively close to urban areas of KC and St. Louis. The 40 minutes of hell Anderson inherited from Nolan Richardson sounds exciting, but I'm not convinced it's the cure-all that some are expecting. If this system itself were that great, why aren't more programs out there mimicking it? I only know of two coaches in the past 15 years who have utilized this: Anderson and Nolan Richardson. However, I admit that it does sound exciting, and if it even comes close to mimicking Arkansas' success in the early-to-mid nineties, then that would be great. As long as Anderson does things the right way, unlike Quin, and puts out a product that is good on the court and off the court, I'd be happy with that. And also beat KU.