Monday, June 30, 2008

Andre: Heart of a Giant

Check out this movie coming out in October. I love the Junkyard Dog reference. RIP Sylvester Ritter.

The Andre actor sound a lot like him.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The DL on JJ

The Cleveland Cavaliers tonight passed on both "local hero" (as called him) Kosta Koufos, and sinking-fast-in-the-first-round forward Darrell Arthur, went with a freshman out of North Carolina State, whom (nearly) all media reports seem to think has tons of athleticism and tons of potential.

Some pre-draft rundown on the newest Cavalier, J.J. Hickson.


J.J. Hickson
Athletic big man with an NBA body. Explosive leaper. Physical.
Good finisher around the basket. Does most of his damage inside the key. Can hit the midrange jumper. Can put the ball on the floor and create his own shot. Excellent rebounder. Good shot-blocker.

Negatives: Still lacks some basketball IQ. Post moves are raw. Not especially quick.

Summary: A rising young player who has had a stellar freshman season for NC State. Teams love his body and athleticism. One of this year's draft sleepers. A mid-first-round pick if he stays in the draft. A potential lottery pick in 2009.


NBA Comparison: Chris Wilcox
Strengths: Very strong and mobile big man ... In addition to great upper and lower body strength, he has a very long wingspan, making his package that much more promising ... He has a nice first step that he utilizes effectively from the high-post, where he faces up and takes the ball to the hoop ... Shows nice patience and understanding of how to get open in the post, working from block to block to receive a pass in the best possible scoring position ... His repertoire in the post is decent and has shown some nice development; he can throw a variety of hook-shots, spin moves and up & unders at his defender from the block ... He has a fadeaway that is very difficult to defend because he gets it off with a mix of shoulder fakes ... Can be a difficult match up for bigger post players, because he has the body to mix it up inside, but also the speed and willingness to run the floor effectively ... Uses his length to block a number of shots and alter many others around the basket ... His broad shoulders allow him to clear space in the paint giving him a big advantage when it comes to rebounding ...

Weaknesses: Is still not ready for the next level, could use an extra year or so of college to mature further and develop his game ... Does not have the great leaping ability that so many other young 4 men in the league possess ... Although he shows a strong preference towards operating from the high post, his almost non-existent jump shot and subpar ballhandling will initially restrict him to the low blocks ... The limited range on his jumpshot can be attributed primarily to his flawed mechanics, as he does not square up to the basket and his elbow goes out too far on the release ... His touch around the hoop is very unrefined and he struggles to catch passes while on the move, which raises some questions about his hands ... He was able to get away with a lot offensively in college because he could always overpower the defender with his strength, but until he develops a dependable and consistent post up game he will struggle against the more athletic/aggressive players in the league ... Although he has been able to limit his fouls, his defensive game has shown minimal growth ... He is very undisciplined, leaving his feet to try and block every shot that is put up, he also gets out of position frequently, allowing his man to score with ease ...
Borko Popic - 5/26/2008

Strengths: Powerful, athletic forward with intriguing upside ... Has a great combination of agility and strength potential , appears as thought he'll be able to add another 20 pounds to his frame without losing much if any mobility ... Already has good strength with powerful legs and a solid upper body ... Has a very strong base with thick legs that make him tough to push around ... With his long wing span and strength/athleticism he has the potential to become a dominant rebounder ... Bouncy four-man who runs the court well, and finishes well above the rim ... Shows solid fundamentals shooting mid range jump shots ... Has soft hands and good touch ... Has above average ball handling ability and likes to face the basket and take opponents off the dribble ...

Weaknesses: Needs to develop his offensive post moves ... Must learn better footwork inside on both ends of the floor ... At times he appears to have mental lapses ... Needs to gain better focus for entire ball games ... Must learn how to use his great strength without drawing fouls. Improved footwork and concentration on fundamentals will help him. Not falling for ball fakes ... Can dominate opponents with sheer athleticism, but that won't be the case in the ACC next year, must gain better skill level ... Has a tendency to wander away from the basket for mid range jumpers, but is more effective using his strength inside ... His heavy legs give him great strength inside, but limit his lateral foot speed and may eventually slow him down some in transition ...
Aran Smith - 12/8/2006


Considering that he didn’t play in the three on three portion of the workouts in day two, there was really only so much we can say about what we saw here in the shooting drills. His bread and butter will always be the work he does with his back to the basket around the paint, so trying to judge him off his perimeter shooting doesn’t do him a lot of justice. Hickson is not at the same level conditioning wise as his workout partners Joe Alexander and Marreese Speights, but he looked extremely focused and resolute on executing everything he’s been taught by the people here. His length and athleticism are clearly terrific, and he looked very good using the glass to finish around the rim and even stepping out and knocking down shots out to 17 or 18 feet. He has a tendency to fade away excessively and sports an inconsistent release point, but his touch isn’t bad and it seems like he shouldn’t have a problem developing an effective mid-range game if he can clean up his shooting mechanics.

Joe Abunassar’s take: “Powerful and explosive with great size. Skilled both facing and on the block. Reminds me of a young Al Harrington the way he can take bigger players out on the floor and face up and out-quick them, then bury smaller players with his strength in the post. Also working really hard on his conditioning and body and has trimmed up quite a bit. “


An interesting high school recruiting video:


Scouting Report: A strong, athletic big man from a tough conference.

Strengths: Strong finisher – can absorb contact and still score. Nice hands. Long wingspan. Strong, thick frame. Nice post moves. Great shot-blocker. Great rebounder – had 10 double-digit rebounding games his freshman year. Very accurate from the field. Was “the man” on a team that plays in one of college’s best conferences. Athletic for a big man.

Weaknesses: Will be too small to play center in the NBA. Undersized – might only be 6’8”. Needs to develop range on his jumper. Relies too much on size/athleticism to score in college, but needs to diversify game to succeed at pro level. Very inexperienced. Needs to get in better shape. Is he quick enough to cover NBA power forwards?

Projected 2008 Draft Range: Late first round pick.

Consensus: There is no way Hickson should remain in this deep draft considering he is only a borderline first round choice. He needs to go back to school and develop more of his game and try again next draft.


An early entry candidate for the 2008 NBA Draft.

Career Highlights: Earned ACC All-Freshman Team honors after leading all conference freshmen in scoring, rebounding and double-doubles. Also named Honorable Mention All-Conference. Earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors three times.

Freshman (2007-08): Led the team in scoring (14.8 ppg, ranked 10th in the ACC) and rebounding (8.5 rpg, second). Paced the conference in field goal percentage (.591) and ranked sixth in blocked shots (1.5 bpg). Scored 20 or more points seven times. Posted 10 double-doubles. Registered career-high 33 points on 10-for-11 shooting and added 13 rebounds vs. Western Carolina. Recorded 31 points on perfect 12-for-12 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds in his collegiate debut vs. William & Mary. Notched 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots at Michigan State. Set an ACC single game freshman record by pulling down a career-high 23 rebounds, while adding 13 points and four blocked shots vs. Clemson. Posted a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds at Duke. Grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds vs. Wake Forest. Logged 14 points and eight rebounds at North Carolina. Registered 27 points and 14 rebounds vs. Miami in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

High School: Earned Second Team Parade All-American honors and was named to the McDonald’s All-American Team, scoring an East team-high 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting and grabbing six rebounds. Tallied a team-high 24 points and eight rebounds at the Roundball Classic in Chicago, earning co-MVP honors. Averaged 25.9 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots as a senior. Averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots as a junior and 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots as a sophomore.

Strengths: Athletic interior player who effectively uses his length and lower body strength to finish around the basket. Can face up and hit the mid-range jumper efficiently.

Personal: Favorite NBA player is Kevin Garnett. Favorite possession is his Ipod.


And...ouch! Not a pre-draft outlook, from the live draft blog on

19. Cleveland Cavaliers: J.J. Hickson, N.C. State, F, 6-9

DeCourcy's take: It's understandable why somebody would take him with a late pick. He's tall, athletic and reasonably skilled. But he did not dominate players whom he should have dominated. He did not make his college team better; it's not unfair to say he helped make it worse. There are more desirable players still on the board. A lot of people thought the Cavs would pick Kosta Koufos, which would have been the worst pick of the first round. Instead, they chose Hickson. Still the worst pick of the first round. If I'm LeBron James, I'm checking condo prices in Brooklyn right now. Is that Jay-Z on the phone?

Scout's take: I'm not jumping up and down about him. He looks good. He's a Tim Thomas-type. But there is nothing out of the ordinary about his game. He's one of these young players -- a freshman -- who declare for the NBA draft still living off their AAU reputations. He needs a lot of work.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brian Windhorst

I know a lot of us are big fans of his and some of you may have read this on Truehoop, or somewhere else but I thought I would post this from Truehoop for the people who haven't heard.

Think Good Thoughts for Brian Windhorst

June 24, 2008 6:27 PM

Brian Windhorst is, hands down, one of the best and hardest working writers in sports. His work for the Akron Beacon-Journal (and here on is a must-read for me, every day, and his book about LeBron James and the Cavaliers is tremendous.

He is a great guy to know away from sports -- funny, smart, warm.

He has honored TrueHoop more than once by sitting in for me when I have been on vacation.

And at the moment, Brian Windhorst is also in the hospital and pretty sick.

Some people close to Brian have asked a small favor of TrueHoop readers: Pray. Think good thoughts ... do what you can to send good optimism and love to Brian in the hospital.

It just might help.


Hopefully, he can make a full recovery. I did some googling to see what the medical condition was and from what someone posted on a message board it's double pneumonia. The post said he was in critical condition, but I'm not sure if that's true or not. He is by far one of the best beat writers and one of the best on the NBA, his insight with the draft and potential trades will be missed this week.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If he's freestyling maybe he should retire from the NBA

Damn Shaq you don't have to dis Ewing and Kareem along with your boy Kobe!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


  1. ESPN commercial about the NBA Finals that says "After one of the biggest comebacks in playoff history..." ONE OF??? It's the NBA Finals. They were up by 24 AT HOME. 20 in the third quarter. Why not just call it the biggest comeback in NBA playoff history? I'm not positive if there was ever a bigger point deficit, but I think I heard it's the biggest 2nd half Finals comeback.
  2. While the Euro 2008 soccer tournament is great, the Macarena sounding club scene music ESPN uses for it is like fingernails on a chalkboard.
  3. The Stacy Keibler, Matt Hasselbeck, Chad Johnson, Tory Holt Reebok commercial. At least once a year you ask yourself "why would a famous person do a commercial like that?" (Rothlesberger Fathead commercial for example) This year it goes to Matt Hasselbeck. In the words of a close friend "I wanna shake the sh!t out of him" every time I see him dance in that commercial.
  4. The stomach flu or similar. I felt like I was hit by a truck for the better part of a week.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What a Choke Job

I don't know if the Cavaliers would have faired better in the West than the Lakers... I'll "go out on a limb" and say they wouldn't have finished with the top seed. But don't tell me from watching the Finals that the Cavaliers couldn't have beaten the Lakers had they made it to the Finals. The Lakers are as soft as sponge cake and the Cavs "great", "good", or "average" as some say, defense would've been way too much for the guys from LaLa Land to handle.

As a side note... Is Paul Pierce the biggest drama queen ever? Did you guys catch his Game 4 post game interview court side, where he looked up to the heavens almost in tears to explain how the Celtics were able to come back? This after "tweaking" his knee...errr...ankle after a missed jump shot 10 minutes earlier. Anyone who calls out Lebron for whining and selling fouls, needs to watch Pierce take a little contact. And count how many times MVP Kobe whines to the refs.

This also shows that everyone may be wrong in saying the West is so much better than the East. It may be more competitive because the teams are more even, but it isn't better. Now I don't mean from top to bottom, but the top teams in the East are as good as the top teams in the West. I like the Cavs, Pistons, and Celtics over the Lakers. If Lebron doesn't go into a historic shooting slump for two plus games, we might be on the verge of our first NBA championship.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lesser of two evils

Of all the possible matchups to crown an NBA champion, the last I wanted to see was Lakers v. Celtics. This despite knowing Boston and L.A. are the best two teams in their respective conferences and a clash between them was by far the most intriguing pairing possible - not to mention the sideshow created by the franchises’ four decades of basketball rivalry.

However, my singular sickness as a bitter Cleveland fan simply will not allow me to enjoy the rich getting richer. I cannot abide Boston winning their 17th championship or the Lakers their 15th. Who wants to deal with the lovefest after the idiotically named “Boston Three Party” gets a ring? Who wants to hear about the genius of L.A.’s front office ripping off Memphis in a sweetheart deal to get Pau Gasol? Does Phil Jackson really need more accolades? Do New England-area sports fans really need another championship parade? Can I root for both teams to lose?

I personally don’t care much about the history, the rivalry, the big market teams going at one another; all the hype-driven melodrama that ESPN and David Stern have been prayerfully anticipating since the beginning of the playoffs. There hasn’t been a Lakers-Celts championship series in over 20 years, and I’m too young to remember much of what transpired. The only good thing to come out of that long-ago series was the Sega Genesis game entitled, understandably enough, “Lakers versus. Celtics.” If I’m not mistaken, it was the first basketball video game to keep assists. So at least the rivalry has contributed something to popular culture.

Ultimately, I will watch this series, if not from wire-to-wire. It hasn’t been that hard to pick a side either, which initially surprised me. I will be rooting for the Lakers, the lesser of the two evils. I’m no fan of Kobe Bryant, but the man is an assassin, the type of cool on-court killer I’d love to see LeBron become. I wouldn’t hate seeing Kobe get a ring without Shaq. Plus the Lakers have better celebrity representation than Boston: Jack Nicholson may have been annoying in “The Departed,” but he was mesmerizing in one of my favorite flicks, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The Celtics don’t have a visible star at courtside, ala Nicholson or Spike Lee. However, the Red Sox are represented by the loathsome Ben Affleck, so his detestable specter automatically hovers over Boston's other teams as well.

Really, my rooting interest comes down to Boston’s whiny fanbase, who had the gall to cry about their World Series woes pre-2004, an era in which the Patriots were winning three of four Super Bowls. The region’s teams have won five championships in the past decade, and played for the title in all three major sports during the last nine months. If Cleveland fans are the Israelites trudging through the sports’ desert, than Boston fans are some other biblical figures quietly reposing in a green pasture where there’s plenty of water and food. (I could not think of a specific analogy here.) You get what I’m saying: They are comfortable and arrogant and I don’t like it.

I can't remember the last time I was interested in boxing enough to make a plan or pay to watch a fight. It was probably back around the Tyson Ear Eating Era. Even then it was more about watching a trainwreck. I seldom had an rooting interest in a particular boxer.

That being said I really do enjoy Kelly Pavlik. I and I genuinley root for him. I am sure it mostly due to geography. I/we don't consider Youngstown really being part of Cleveland untill it's convenient, i.e. Tressel, Springsteen's song, now Pavlik).
It's easy to love this guy:
Wearing the Buckeye shorts.
He's from a small blue collar town.
Skinny white guy.
He sleeps on his parents tiny couch in thier tiny house before the fight.
And he's a true Cleveland Fan.

The fact that he is about as tall as Pucky, and weighs slightly more than me is stunning.

I think one of my favorite things about him is that he is one of us, in the sense of being a Cleveland Sports Fan. Seeing him throw out the first pitch at the tribe game, the toin coss (Inside Madden joke from 1995) at the Browns game was pretty cool. But interviews after showed he is a true fan of these teams and these athletes, just like us. He has grown up with the same sports heartache's as us, and he is from a town that gets no respect.

In that way it makes him more like me than Lebron is. It's that, that I enjoy about Pavlik, and that, that bugs me about Lebron.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stark runs through the Indians...

Jason Stark today runs through the AL Central teams and here's his take on the Indians. Personally I think the bats have to come around, right? Right? I would love to have CC back but it's looking less and less likely.


We expected this to be the deepest pitching staff in baseball. We expected this relief crew to be the best bullpen in the AL Central. We expected Travis Hafner to bounce back. And we expected a team that won 96 games last year to take that next step. Hey, it all seemed logical at the time.

The best starting pitcher in town has been -- who else? -- Cliff Lee. C.C. Sabathia has almost as many starts in which he's given up nine runs (two) as he has wins (three). Injuries (Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook and Joe Borowski) have tested that pitching depth. The bullpen has the second-highest ERA (4.44) in the AL. And Hafner (hitting .217, with 2 homers) headed for the DL last week with a sore shoulder -- and a lower OPS (.677) than Marco Scutaro or Jack Hannahan.

Even though Westbrook figures to be out indefinitely, this rotation is still as good as any in baseball. Carmona (hip) returns by the end of the month. Sabathia (2.08 ERA in his past eight starts) is himself again. And this team's sixth and seventh starters -- Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers -- are better than some teams' third and fourth starters.

BEST REASON TO THINK THEY WON'T WIN: You think the White Sox have trouble scoring? Sheesh, the Indians hit just .218 for the entire month of May. They've already played 30 games in which they scored three runs or fewer. (They only did that 56 times all last year.) And their rotation injuries might make it impossible for them to deal a starting pitcher for an impact bat. "They've got problems," said one scout. "[Victor] Martinez is playing hurt. Asdrubal Cabrera hasn't done anything. Casey Blake is really just a bench player. And [Ryan] Garko and Hafner aren't hitting a lick. Their whole lineup is scuffling at once. And they don't have enough pitching to overcome all that."

Could this team really unload Sabathia? Only if it thinks it has no shot to win. But clubs that have spoken with the Indians report they're already floating Sabathia's name just to "measure his value," even though they're also saying they're not ready to open the shop yet. So clearly, it's not impossible. "There's no other pitcher who could get traded in July who can impact the postseason like him," says an official of one team.