Sunday, 14 April 2013


Kobe, epitomised.
(Credit: Silver Screen and Roll, username: ________key)
I've been away from this blog for nearly a year. It's not that I've had nothing to write about... obviously, much has changed in the ten months between then and now - Nash's last game for the Suns, the Dwight trade, the Heat streak, and Phoenix's worst season in franchise history. Not to mention, life away from the blogosphere has played its part - I'm now nearing the halfway mark in my degree, and the writing I do there obviously needs to be the priority. Of course, that's an excuse - it's also laziness. I could write NBA daily if I wanted to. But now, to the point: Kobe Bryant has torn his achilles tendon, and could have possibly played his last game of professional basketball.

Monday, 11 June 2012

On the move: predicting trades

For the armchair GMs among us, the new CBA was a blessing in disguise. A bevy of changes such as the harsher luxury tax, raising of the salary floor and easing of restrictions on salaries being matched in trades all offer compelling reasons for front offices getting to know their contemporaries around the league. And if not them, then we'll gladly contribute via the blogosphere!

Before I get into things, I'll offer a brief explanation of why the above changes matter.

1. Harsher lux-tax: In the pre-lockout era, many teams chose not to spend over the luxury tax threshold. In many cases, it's understandable - the old lux-tax meant a team at the threshold looking to sign a player with their MLE might have signed a decent role player to a $5 million/year contract... but the tax meant that player really cost $10 million. Harsh. Now it's harsher. Need me to go on?

2. Higher salary floor: Now, there's almost no such thing as a contract that can't be traded. A team like the Hawks are probably interested in shedding Joe Johnson's behemoth of a contract, and a team like Charlotte might be interested in acquiring it. Why? Because teams have to spend a certain amount - 85% of the cap next season, 90% for the seasons after that. And, if a team is spending a large portion of its cap on one player then there's more room for young, cheap players - usually guys on their rookie scale contracts.

3. Pre-lockout, player salaries in trades had to match within 125% - now it's 150%. That's pretty significant - it's now perfectly legal according to the CBA to trade John Salmons for Marc Gasol (doesn't mean such a trade wouldn't be criminal!). Basically, there are many more possible trade scenarios (not necessarily probable or plausible) than there once was. Unfortunately, teams over the lux-tax still suffer the 125% rule. Otherwise, the Heat could trade Dwyane Wade for DeAndre Jordan! At least, the numbers would work if both teams weren't tax payers...

So, with that in mind, there are a number of teams that will be seeking trades for financial reasons. Obviously, in some cases on-court reasons apply, too.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

An NBA Mock Draft - Based On Team Needs

In the basketball blogging world, there are a handful of things absolutely everyone does, or wants to do. Among them are power rankings, season/playoff/trade/free agent predictions and, at this time of year - mock drafts.

Annoyingly, in most of these things you won't find much variety - that's why I've started moving away from the ESPNs and NBA.coms of the world, gravitating more toward places that I can find qualified information and qualified comment, sites like RealGM and the various SB Nation blogs.

Though it might not always show, I try to model this blog around that particular style - objectivity, research, making sure whatever I say has some sort of foundation. Every now and then I'll tap into a topic like Linsanity that might get me more clicks than my usual Suns-centric posts would, but if I do that, you'll notice it's never a rehash of the same argument somebody else has already made. This is an important skill in journalism, something I learned right near the start of my study, and something I try to abide by at all times.

So why is all of the above important? Because in doing this, a mock draft - especially at this time of year, I want to make a point of the fact that I'm not just taking Draft Express's rankings and changing the comments. This mock is based on two things - snippets of information I've picked up from RealGM and others sites (usually front office comments) and TEAM NEED. In order to make this mock different to all the others, I've decided to throw the "best player available" theory out the window - in a draft like this, with depth at most positions, I don't think it really applies. Without further ado, my 2012 NBA mock draft!

Hit the jump to see it!


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Short story I wrote for uni...

I wrote this about 6 weeks ago for a uni assignment - task was a 1000 word short story on a topic of your choosing. I had no idea what to wrote about, so I turned my writer's block into a distinction. Sometimes I wonder why I didn't do this from the start...

 Anyway, here it is - 

There it was again. A short burst of inspiration, immediately consumed into the vacuum of the blank page. With every passing minute, the emptiness staring back seemed to grow, almost infinitely.

That's it. There's no hope anymore. What on earth could possibly satisfy the thousand word hunger of the beast? Knowing that it had to be fed by Monday made the pressure even worse. Opening the floodgates to the dam of words wasn't an option - over feeding this beast was just as bad as not feeding it at all.
This monster required perfection.


Michael knew the responsibility was his. It was he after all that adopted the demon, accepting its care as part of his quest to become a Word Smith. it was a task that had to be done.

At first, he thought it would be simple. One thousand words is a barrier crossed very early for a Word Smith, aspiring or otherwise. Why should this be any different?

Michael soon learned that the appetite of the beast would not be quelled with random drivel - the script had to be of outstanding quality, anything less and the demon would regurgitate the work and force him to start from scratch.

First, he had tried a diet of simple poetry; then a fond memory, enhanced with fiction - all to no avail. The beast would not accept these half-hearted meals.

Several days ensued where pen did not meet paper. Michael reasoned that his best work usually came at the last moment, spurred by the do-or-die reality of the situation.

The problem was, this has been do-or-die from the beginning. Deep in his mind, Michael knew this, but refused to openly acknowledge it. It would take him too far from his comfort zone. He didn't like it, so he pretended to not know it.


Again, a flash of inspiration teased him. That was it, he'd had enough. Michael resolved to carry his writing pad everywhere he went, ready to record the thoughts that had previously escaped.

It wouldn't be that simple, of course. The ideas had a tendency to hide whenever pen and paper were nearby. Still, Michael reasoned that his mind couldn't lie dormant the whole time. Ideas were bound to come along... eventually.


The deadline drew nearer, and Michael still had blank pages before him. Rather than see another day wasted with no writing, Michael decided to spend the day seeking the counsel of his Word Smith peers and superiors. He had once read, "many minds are greater than one" and sought to apply that wisdom to his task.

Michael met with Seth, a senior Word Smith assigned to the Great Web. His advice was simple, saying to Michael "Don't try to outsmart yourself. Write within your limits; do it well and you will appear genuine, believable. Try to deceive your readers at your own peril."

Taking Seth's advice, Michael returned to his dormitory to give it a test run.

Consciously avoiding bombastic paragraphs, Michael soon wrote a short passage that for once, actually satisfied his standards. By shedding his lexiphanic nature he discovered his writing had become easier to read and subsequently appealing to a larger audience.

With three days until the monster's deadline, the feeling of relief at such a revelation was almost overwhelming. Michael's training had taught him caution, though, and he knew not to get ahead of himself. The task was not yet done. The celebrations will have to wait until the words are comfortably digesting in the beast's stomach.


The next day, Michael awoke with eagerness hoping to finally complete his task. The morning passed in a blur as pen scratched paper, the noise had a rhythmic quality to it that helped spur on Michael's progress. Further and further he was drawn into the 'zone', hypnotised by the repetitiveness of left to right. Michael had become so oblivious to the world around him that he failed to notice the sky darkening above, violent storms threatening to unleash themselves at any moment.

With a tremendous crash of thunder, the skies opened. The noise startled Michael, its sheer volume causing his ears to ring and the force of the sound making the floors around him shudder. Michael looked up to inspect the clouds that had apparently snuck up on him. Examining the strange detail in the contours of the water vapour led Michael to conclude something was... different.

Then with another violent clap, the dorm shook and the rain fell harder. Except, there was no flash accompanying the thunder. Michael pondered this for a moment, considering how this was possible. Then, with horror, he recalled the long-ago history lesson he'd sat for his entry exam. This was no storm of nature. It was the signal for the mysterious and evil Illiterati's imminent arrival.

Many years ago, a war took place between two warring factions - the Word Smiths and the Illiterati. The Word Smiths fought for the integrity of written language, while the Illiterati made it their agenda to butcher writing to irrelevance, preferring a world with only spoken language. Their motive seemed to be pure evil, and they were regarded as such. Still, they'd been in hiding so long that most except the oldest of war veterans and most attentive of students recalled their existence.

Even the beast feared their approach, almost succumbing to the inevitable doom that was looming above.
Michael panicked. What could he do? The last war ended with the greatest Word Smiths sacrificing themselves to drive off the Illiterati and banish them to the wilderness. Today, no great Word Smiths remained, at least none mighty enough to overcome the might of the Illiterati. Gone was JuVer, Tolk and Hemway. Contemporaries Meyer, Brown and Pattin are the most successful of their era, but stand no chance facing up to the likes of Illiterati goonies Sandykyle and Bushmaster, much less their leader, Shackle O’Kneel.

The clouds parted and the entire Illiterati force descended to wreak havoc. Almost without a fight, the Word Smiths were slaughtered and the Illiterati established their supremacy.

Michael threw his work into the fire in order to hide his identity, and then trudged outside to accept his cruel fate. Enslaved by the Illiterati to demolish the Grand Library, the last shreds of literal history disappeared before his eyes.

All hope for Michael's dreams were gone. Reluctantly, he whispered to himself, "Maybe I wasn't meant to be a Word Smith after all."

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Reviewing the 2011-12 Phoenix Suns...

Back in December, I wrote about three different scenarios the Suns could find themselves in at the end of the season. That post is here.

In that post, I mentioned that it's most likely the Suns will finish in the 7-10 range, which has absolutely turned out to be true. In that, I refute the notion this Suns team has overachieved - they're exactly where I, and many other Suns writers and fans expected them to be.

To get the best picture of the past 66 games, it's best to split this season in two - pre-All-Star break and post-All-Star break.

Leading into the break, the Suns sported a 14-20 record, hovering around 13th place in the West. The only consistent Suns during this time were Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat. Nash played well enough to earn his eighth All-Star selection, while Gortat received some backing from the media as a candidate for the reserve center spot. Everyone else struggled, to the point that coach Alvin Gentry resorted to starting the one dimensional defensive specialist Ronnie Price for a short stretch. The offense was stagnant outside of the Nash-Gortat pick and roll, and the defense was even worse. Pre-All-Star, the Suns were massively underachieving.

All-Star weekend treated us to four minutes and four assists from Nash, and allowed the rest of the Suns to get some rest. It was around this time that backup point guard Sebastian Telfair, seemingly out of nowhere and at the time, somewhat questionably called out the coaching staff and asked for more trust in he and the rest of the second unit.

As a result of this, or more likely Gentry thinking "Why the hell not?", the Suns bench started to see more minutes. With minutes came confidence, and eventually chemistry, resulting in pretty-good-for-backups play from Telfair, Michael Redd, Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris and Robin Lopez. Many will point to this as the turning point in the Suns' season, to which I have no objection. It was well established that the Suns starting five had no problems building leads, as their league-best plus-minus showed. Now with a functional bench, the Suns found themselves winning more games, leading eventually to a 19-12 post-All-Star record and finishing just three games shy of the playoffs, in a race that lasted until the second last game of the season.

The Suns threw together a rag-tag collection of role-players, prospects and has-beens on mostly one year contracts, hoping to compete while maintaining an eye (and the necessary flexibility) towards the bigger prize of 2012 free agency.

Before I delve into results at an individual level, I'll give your eyes a rest and offer you the following highlights of the 2011-12 Suns:

Steve Nash Birthday Game Winner

Markieff Morris Poster on Blake Griffin

Jared Dudley Gets Fired Up (What's Up?! What's Up?! WHAT'S UP?!)

Hakim Warrick, Dunker

Steve Nash Passes Oscar Robertson For #5 All Time Assists

Hit the link to keep reading...

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Mind blowing.

Every now and then, you'll come across something incredible. Sometimes it'll be a quote that really hits home, others a great coffee you can get only when you find the back-alley cafe. I found something incredible today, this time courtesy of YouTube.

Some of you will have seen this video already, owing to the 1,130,712 views it's already accrued and the fact it's been out since November last year.

Let me clarify that I'm not a huge fan of dubstep, or even shredding anymore. This, though... is pure awesomeness.

And yes, it's legit.


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Out of the ashes... again

Ball so hard mof***as wanna fine me
(Matt York/AP)

At the start of every NBA season, the Phoenix Suns consistently get labelled as a team with no chance - be it age has finally caught up with the ageless; the role players can no longer fill their role or that Robert Sarver is a meanie - that the Suns have battled through since as long as I have been following the NBA.

In the 2009-10 season, the Suns unexpectedly caught fire post-All Star break and stormed to the Western Conference Finals as the #3 seed, only to be ousted in six games courtesy of an other-worldly performance from Kobe Bryant and a then-Ron Artest buzzer-beater.

The following season, Amare Stoudemire had left for New York and again, the Suns found themselves on the outside looking in. A series of front office mistakes (trading for Hedo Turkoglu to play PF, signing Josh Childress to the full MLE) led to a major mid-season trade, with the hopes of making a playoff push only to see Channing Frye go down to injury and Vince Carter disappoint with his inconsistent play. The Suns scraped together a 40-42 record, finishing six games out of the final playoff spot and 10th overall, the lone bright spots being the stellar play of Steve Nash and Grant Hill, and the emergence of Marcin Gortat as an up-and-coming big.

The beginning of the 2011-12 season saw the departures of Carter, Aaron Brooks and Mickael Pietrus. Ronnie Price, Sebastian Telfair, Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris and Michael Redd were the newcomers, with all except Morris (draft) coming via free agency. Critics said the Suns were replacing a team of role players with more role players. For the first half of the season, those critics looked right - the Suns floundered below the .500 mark before finally developing some chemistry and finding a rotation that worked.

The Suns started beating teams they shouldn't be beating, defeating the Lakers, Mavs, Grizzlies, pre-Rubio-injury Wolves and the Clippers (twice); and beating comfortably the teams they're supposed to. Now, at 23-23 the Suns sit 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot behind the slumping Rockets and inconsistent Jazz.

The question must be asked: can this Suns team keep up their blistering pace and offer a repeat of the 2009-10 run?

The pieces are there - above average defense, potent offense and a deep bench. Detroit proved it's possible to have playoffs success without a superstar, so it's unfair to write this team off just yet. If Phoenix maintains its current pace, it would finish around 42-24 and project to make a run at a middle playoff seed.

Of course, there's a caveat - the Suns schedule down the stretch is tough, meaning they'll probably have to lift their play even further to maintain the pace they've set.

Eternally underrated, this Phoenix team is yet again rising from the ashes to prove their doubters wrong. This team is dangerous. Watch out, West. The Suns are coming.