Which player who is or at some point was a star, has most exceeded expectations this year?
Franklin Mieuli: Tim Duncan no doubt. After a few years of declining averages, this year his Per 36 Minutes numbers are right in-line with his career averages, which if you need reminding, led to four championships and a top 20 player of all time designation.
Omar Bagnied: It's gotta be Paul Pierce. He just dropped 43 on New York and has Boston at the 4-seed. Who had that before the All-Star break? Most of us thought Boston was going to fight for their playoff lives. It's especially impressive considering Ray Allen's been out.
John Reyes Nguyen: I'm gonna go with Steve Nash. He's 37, 2nd in the league in assist, and playing at a high level. Also playing a position where a players skill rapidly decline with age.
Andrew Snyder: I love to see the love for my teenage heart-throb Paul Pierce (what's up 2002 Eastern Conference Finals Losers Boston Celtics!), but I'm going to have to go with Sebastian Telfair.
I'm going to cheat and go with Brandon Bass - he wasn't ever a star player (except at LSU), but he's been a great fill in for KG at the 4 now that he's playing center for the Celtics.
Jacob Greenberg: The Big Ticket (remember when people called him that?). KG was written off after he was slow to return from a 2009 knee injury, but he's been playing better since the playoffs in 2010. His much publicized shift to the "5" has opened up the Celtics offense, and they haven't missed his defensive production. His 16 and 8 per night are his highest numbers in four seasons, and dude was Eastern Conference player of the week last week. Not bad for 35 (turning 36 during the playoffs).
Which player who is or at some point was a star, has most failed expectations this year?
|One of these things is not like the others|
Franklin Mieuli: Carmelo is the easy answer but I never thought he was a star, so I'm going with Deron Williams. Yeah, I get that his Nets team is terrible, but can you honestly say that they are that much worse than all of those Hornets teams CP3 dragged to the playoffs IN THE WEST?
Omar Bagnied: What the hell happened to Chris Bosh? Do we remember how good he was in Toronto? All his numbers have dropped, they look similar to his stats as a sophomore. The ultra ball hawks buried him.
John Reyes Nguyen: Dirk Nowitzki. A professional athlete should never come into season so out of shape he has to sit out games because he's not in playing condition. Especially an elite athlete of his caliber, ring or no ring.
Andrew Snyder: Steph Curry. Steph. I've sprained my ankle before. Stop trying to come back a week after it happens. Give yourself enough time to properly rehab your gnarly ankles, and then swish all the sweet 3's you want when you're healthy. I'm mostly just bitter because I picked him in the first round in fantasy though. Way to be Steph. Go Warriors!
Jacob Greenberg: The Black Mamba. Everyone and their mama knows it -- it's time to shift the pecking order in LA. Bynum needs to get the most touches. He's ready for the job. Then probably Pau if you want to get the most out of him (not too long ago he was considered to be the best offensive 4 in the game). Kobe should be redefining himself as a defensive closer (remember the 2008 Olympics?) and a deadly perimeter threat. His shooting numbers are the lowest they've been in four years, and his 21.9 PER is tied for his lowest since 1999-2000. Yet, he leads the league in scoring. Something's wrong here.
Which team that you thought might be pretty good this year has most exceeded expectations?
Franklin Mieuli: Indiana Pacers. A lot of people thought they were going to be decent, but a 3-seed and a very real potential to give the Heat a hell-of-a series? That's some good ball.
Omar Bagnied: I'm going with Indiana. The jump from 8-seed to 3-seed is impressive. They have a solid team, most improved from last year for sure. They've also benefited from how inconsistent most East teams have played this season.
John Reyes Nguyen: As much as I hate the Celtics, they've surprised me this year. Some analyst thought they wouldn't make the playoffs, but they put something together. I hope the Lakers meet them in the finals so we can beat them again.
Andrew Snyder: The Phoenix Suns. I didn't think they'd be in playoff contention until the last week of the season with an aged Steve Nash and a bunch of role players. The Suns organization needs to do the Ray Borque thing and trade Nash to somewhere (MIA, OKC, LAL, PDX, ORL) where he has a chance to win a ring in the next few years.
Jacob Greenberg: Though they didn't make the playoffs, I have to tip my hat to the Houston Rockets. My bona fide man-crush on Goran Dragic is well known, but I really like what this team did with their season. They were one of the few "star by committee" teams to succeed for the vast majority of the season, and their selfless, hard-nosed brand of ball won me over. Hat's off to Kevin McHale. Fun fact: the Rockets are the first team in NBA season to miss the playoffs three years in a row with a winning record.
Which team that you thought might be pretty good this year has most failed expectations
Franklin Mieuli: Frankly, the Heat. I can't tell you how many stories I read about Erik Spoelstra "opening up" the offense and letting the Heat run, and yet we still see the same "Dwayne's turn or LeBron's turn?" boring offense.
Omar Bagnied: Oh man, Portland. They had all the potential in the world last season. They put up a better fight against Dallas than LAL or OKC did. They were forced to waive Brandon Roy in December, then quietly waived Greg Oden last month. The 6-seed last season, they could possibly finish 12th this year. This team's had rotten luck.
John Reyes Nguyen: The Clippers. They were supposed to win the West, dominate Staples, and make Lob City a household name. Instead, they don't even have as many alley oops as the Lakers and almost ran their coach out of town (well this is still to be decided).
Andrew Snyder: How has nobody said Portland so far? [editor's note: Omar did. You were on the e-mail chain where he wrote that.] This was a team with LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace, and a host of other good role players that took the Mavericks to a Game 6 in the first round of the 2011 playoffs. This year, they stunk, traded away veterans, fired Nate McMillan, tanked, and is currently 28-37 and on a 6 game losing streak. At least they'll get a lottery pick?
Jacob Greenberg: The Mavs. I didn't really know what to expect when they trotted out a 2003 Former All Star Reunion Tour team. I guess I assumed they'd play with some pride, as most other defending champions do. But it was clear they were just trying to get to the playoffs. No one cared, and the team was mostly unwatchable. Pretty pathetic stuff out in Big D.
Finally, what has been the most unexpected, pleasant surprise of the season?
Franklin Mieuli: The compressed schedule. We've seen some of the downside in the last couple weeks, with player getting "maintenance", not flying to back-to-backs etc., but for the first three and a half months of the season, it was like a normal season except there was ALWAYS a good game on EVERY night.
Omar Bagnied: There have been a few. Jeremy Lin. Shortened season translating into more frequent quality match-ups. Watching brash owners like Dan Gilbert and MJ suffer. The glimmer of hope we got for basketball's return to Seattle.
John Reyes Nguyen: Jeremy Lin. I know this is an easy one. But as an Asian American I have never had a pro basketball player who looked like me to admire. What makes this better is he has game and can have a good career.
Andrew Snyder: Linsanity. He gave us an excuse to make a bracket.
Jacob Greenberg: The fact that the season happened at all.