Coach Swap 2012

The LA Clippers and Orlando Magic are in quite the predicament, they are both playoff caliber teams, with coaching conundrums.

The Situations

The LA Clippers;

The LA Clippers were just swept by the Spurs, now in their defense, they were in a position they’re not quite use to… The second round of the playoffs. Now most people would be content with this finish, but the Clippers have the talent to make a title run, the thing that is holding them back is their coach, Vinny Del Negro. VDN is a great players coach, but lacks the ability to teach core fundamental basketball, this will greatly affect the Clippers. “Lob City” doesn’t win championships, fundamental basketball does, the Spurs are living breathing proof of this. So if the Clippers wanna win an NBA championship, they gotta get rid of VDN and bring in a coach prepared to coach the fundamentals of basketball.

Orlando Mgic

As of today the Magic fired their coach Stan Van Gundy, SVG was fired after a long marital spout with all star/diva centre Dwight Howard. This past season Howard had been taking in the sites of all the potential teams he’d like to play for and ridiculed his coach the entire time. This led to a lot of tension and a few awkward interviews. Howard and SVG never seemed to get along, probably because Howard is a laid back guy who wants a laid back coach. SVG on the other hand is an old school basketball coach who likes to play fundamental basketball (you can see where there might be a clash). All this tension and so forth led to the ultimate firing of SVD, even though Howard will probably leave during the Offseason anyway.

The Proposal;

Although you can’t actually trade coaches per say, plus SVD just got canned. I propose a coach switch, where SVD would coach the Clippers and VDN would coach the Magic. SVD could teach that fundamental basketball I was preaching and turn the Clippers from just a highlight reel to a real contender. WHile SVD would be contending for championships, VDN could be cheering up a bummed out Dwight Howard. VDN is a players coach and exactly the type of coach Howard would want if he were to ever stay in Orlando.

-McFultz

NBA Playoffs Round 1

The shortened NBA season has ended and the playoffs are upon us, so it’s time for me to make my picks.

Eastern Conference

1. Chicago Bulls vs 8. Philadelphia 76ers

Pick: Bulls Vernon Smells pick: Bulls

 I don’t think theres much debate in this game. The Bulls are the heavy favorite and will win. I can see the 76ers winning 1 or 2 games but without Allen “We talkin’ bout’ practice” Iverson, the Bulls should take this series pretty easily.

2. Miami Heat vs 7. NY Knicks

Pick: Heat Vernon Smells Pick: Heat

The knickerbockers had a great finish to the season that put them in the playoffs. They were able to get to a 7th seed and are looking to make a mark in the playoffs and avoid and early exit. The problem for them is that they’re playing the Miami Heat (whom I believe will win it all). The Heat will win this series 4-2. the reason they’ll win is because Lebron is going to have the greatest playoffs of his career, he is just gonna go out and completely dominate. Plus with a missing Jeremy Lin, the Knicks will once again be faced with PG problem throughout the playoffs

3. Indiana Pacers vs 6. Orlando Magic

Pick: Pacers Vernon Smells Pick: Magic

The Magic recently lost star center Dwight Howard, and this will prove to be a critical blow. Howard is one of the best centers in the NBA but for the rest of these playoffs he will be resting on his couch in LA watching his team play. The Pacers are also a team that has been looked over due to their “boring” play style. But they are a team who should not be looked over and will be looking to make a deep run this year. I see the Pacers winning 4-1. Paul George is serious, watch out for him to be a superstar in years to come

4. Celtics vs 5. Hawks

Pick: Celtics Vernon Smells Pick: Hawks

You’d think the Celtics would finally turn over due to their old age, but one again the Celtics are in the playoffs. i think this will be the last year for the original big 3, so they know whats at stake. the Celtics should be able to take the Hawks. I have very little faith in the Hawks actually winning the series but I think they’ll give the Celtics a run for their money due to their young and agile play. They remind me of an Eastern Conference version of Lob City. The Celtics will take this series 4-3

Western Conference 

1. Sacramento Spurs vs 8. Utah Jazz

Pick: Spurs Vernon Smells Pick: Spurs

The Spurs are not looking for a first round exit like last years playoffs, luckily for them they aren’t playing the Grizzlies again. The Spurs will win this series, the Jazz are a young team and still learning the ropes so these playoffs will be a good learning experience, but thats it. The Spurs will take this series 4-1

2. Oklahoma City Thunder vs 7. Dallas Mavericks

Pick: OKC Vernon Smells pick: OKC

 The Thunder have this series in the bag. Dallas looks old, Dirk is not looking like the Dirk of old (which really affected my fantasy team, in which Vernon Smells won with an undefeated season). The Thunder will dominate this series and hopefully it will be in this series where Westbrook learns to dish the ball to star player Kevin Durant. The Thunder will take this series 4-0.

3. LA Lakers vs  6. Denver Nuggets

Pick: Nuggets Vernon Smells Pick: Lakers

This is my first upset pick of the playoffs and it could be completely wrong. I think the main reason I chose the Nuggets is that I just can’t stand Kobe and the Lakers. I do think the lack of a PG on the Lakers will affect them and that Kobe is going to see that he really can’t do it all by himself. The Nuggets have been a great team all year and they think they could really pull this upset off. I see the Nuggets taking this series 4-3

4. Memphis Grizzlies vs 5. LA Clippers

Pick: Grizzlies Vernon Smells Pick: Clippers

I have the Grizzlies going to play the Heat in the NBA finals, so they must beat the Clippers. Both these two teams were in my original bandwagon article and after last seasons victory over the Spurs, I knew the Grizzlies were a team to be reckoned with. Although the Clippers are the most exciting team to watch they lack defense and basketball fundamentals, many attribute this to VDN who refuses to teach them more than how to just dunk the ball and do alley-oops. I see the Grizzlies winning this series 4-2.

Check in after the first round to see how my picks played out.

 

-McFultz

30 Teams In 30-Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers had a pretty solid season last year. Their starting pitcher won the NL pitching triple crown and their star batter won the NL MVP award. Now there is one certain problem, they don’t have an owner and are ran by the MLB, sooooo they could become the New Orleans Hornets of the MLB.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 82-79
Finish: 82-79
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw (NL Pitching Triple Crown) 21-5, 2.28 ERA, 248 SO
Top Hitter: Matt Kemp (NL MVP) .324 AVG, 39 HR, 129 RBI
Manager: Don Mattingly
Important Acquisitions: Adam Kennedy, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Jerry Hairston. Jr
Important Losses: Casey Blake, John Garland, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jamie Hoffmann

I have reason to believe the Dodgers are going to be a contender throughout the whole season. Their biggest loss would be relief pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo (who had the longest tenure for the Dodgers). The Dodgers just 3 years ago, made it to the playoffs and can still be in contention. With Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, they are surely to give any team a run for their money. Now to clinch the NL West they will have to beat the reigning division title winner, Arizona Diamondbacks and the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants. I do think they could do this, there’s no reason to believe that Kemp and Kershaw won’t be able to produce. An interesting backstory is the fact that the Dodgers don’t have an owner. The team is currently owned by the league, so there is some fear of uncertainty. They could implode and become the NO Hornets of the MLB. People interested in purchasing the team consist of Magic Johnson and Mark Cuban

Prediction
Record: 90-72
Finish: First NL West
Playoffs: Eliminated in NLDS
Top Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw 19-7, 2.40 ERA, 248 SO
Top Hitter: Matt Kemp, .314 AVG, 32 HR, 120 RBI
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/criticsfromthecouch
Follow us on Twitter: @CriticsFTCouch

-McFultz

 

30 Teams in 30 Days – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

This article was written by Simple Jack, not Vernon Smells, as the web site may suggest. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim…..Wait are they still called that? I don’t even know anymore. Well anyway the LA Angels will be one of the most interesting teams to watch going into the 2012 season (if you know what I mean. Ahem, Albert Pujols). Anyway here’s how they stacked up in 2011.
Los Angeles Angels 
Record: 86-76 (6 game improvement from 2010)
Finish: 2nd AL West
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Jared Weaver, 18-8, 2.41 ERA, 198 SO
Top Hitter: Mark Trumbo (Seriously?), .254 AVG, 29 HR, 87 RBI
Manager: Mike Scioscia
Important Acquisitions: Albert Pujols, Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, Albert Pujols, Chris Iannetta, Albert Pujols, Jorge Cantu, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Isringhausen, Jorge Cantu and of course Albert Pujols
Important Losses: Jeff Mathis TOR, Tyler Chatwood COL and not Albert Pujols

The Los Angeles Angels had a disappointing season in 2011. The once perennial power of the 2000s failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year and watched their division rival Texas Rangers make it to the World Series two consecutive years. It’s been 10 years exactly since the Angels knotted their last and only World Series title, and based on the moves they have made during this free agency it looks like they’re determined on making another title run. The Angels finished the 2011 season struggling, 11 games before the season ended they were only 3.5 games out of a playoff spot. Throughout much of the second half of 2011 they were within striking distance of the Rangers, most of the time within 2 games or less, however the Angels just couldn’t get over that hump and capture the division title. But 2012 will be a new era for the Los Angeles Angels and will be a year for them to most definitely assert themselves a powerhouse in the league and a force to be reckoned with. With arguably the strongest starting rotation in the majors which includes Jered Weaver (a competitor for the Cy Young in 2011), Dan Haren, newly acquired CJ Wilson, Ervin Santana, with Jerome William most likely assuming the role as the fifth starter. To put this rotation in perspective, in 2011 none of these pitchers had an ERA above 3.70 , four were below a 3.40 ERA, and two were below a 3.00 ERA. Together they post a combined record of 65-37 in 2011. The Angels starting pitching core is most certainly stronger and has more depth than any other aspect of their team (which considering their addition of you know who is saying a lot). The Angels pulled off the biggest free agent acquisition of the 2011 offseason and probably the biggest one since Alex Rodriguez signed with the Rangers back in 2000, with their signing of Albert Pujols. There really isn’t anything more to say. Along with signing Pujols the Angels were able to retain their core of strong hitters, despite most of whom posting a poor 2011, still have potential to return to prominence in 2012, who include Howie Kendrick 2B, Alberto Callapso 3B, Vernon Wells OF, Torii Hunter OF, Erick Ayber SS, Mark Trumbo 1B, Kendrys Morales 1B and even Bobby Abreu OF (well maybe not so much him). The only weakness that may be in store for the Angels is their bullpen. Without an established closer or setup man and some new faces such as LaTroy Hawkins the Angels bullpen has a lot of adjusting to do (but hey, who needs a bullpen anyway when you have 3 guys who can go 8 innings?). Anyway, I foresee the Angels will be a powerhouse in 2012 and in years to come and most certainly post one of the best records in the league.
Prediction
Record: 98-64
Finish: 1st in AL West
Playoffs: World Series Appearance
Top Pitcher: Jered Weaver, 21-6, 2.63 ERA 214 SO (Cy Young Winner)
Top Hitter: Albert Pujols, .314 AVG, 41 HR, 126 RBI (MVP candidate)
Like our Page on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/criticsfromthecouch   
and Follow us on Twitter: @CriticsFTCouch

-Simple Jack

A Tale Of Two Nashs

This year in both the NHL and NBA, Phoenix Suns’ point guard Steve Nash and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash are involved in major trade talks.

Steve Nash has been with the Phoenix Suns since 2004 and has given them all he has to offer, winning two MVP awards and leading them to several playoff appearances. Nash is now 38 and closing in at the end of his career. There is one thing Nash is missing though and that is an NBA championship. The Suns are not in the hunt for even a playoff spot let alone a contender for the championship. So what many people including me think they should do is trade him. The Suns need young players to rebuild their franchise. Steve Nash has done everything he possibly could for them, so why not give him the chance to end his career on a high note. Now there is a problem for getting a deal done, there aren’t a lot of teams who are willing to give up young players or picks for a 38 year old point guard. With that being said there are three teams that I can think of that could use Nash and possibly make a trade for him.

1) The Los Angeles Lakers, The Lakers need a point guard, badly! Without a point guard the Lakers have a slim chance of winning the NBA championship. However, with Steve Nash they have a solid chance of if not winning the championship at least making it there. The Lakers are a team who wants to win and would likely be willing to give up a draft pick  for a future Hall of Famer. Also after seeing them willing to give up Gasol for CP3 they may be willing to give him up for Nash. Nash would also be more willing to play for two or three more years.

2) The Indiana Pacers, the Pacers made the playoffs last year and should make it again this year. The Pacers have some decent point guards, including Darren Collison. However, they don’t have a true leader or man to run the court. Steve Nash is that. The Pacers could give up a second round pick, a future pick and one of those point guards.

3) THE BOSTON CELTICS! I have not heard this team named yet and I’m very surprised to say the least. The Celtics have had continuous problems with Rondo. Nash would give the Celtics the consistency that they so desperately need. The Celtics also are the type of team that I could see giving up draft picks for an old player. With Nash, the aging Celtics could make a legitimate run for the NBA championship.

 

Now for Mr Rick Nash, Rick Nash is latest man to be put on the trading block. He is also the biggest name out of all of them, and the most enticing. A lot of teams are interested in Nash. One team that could trade for Nash is my hometown Leafs, the leafs could make a deal for Nash getting rid of Nazem Kadri and other loose ends or draft picks. The Leafs have the GM to do so as well. Brian Burke has been able to muster up plenty of trades this would be one I’d like to see. Other teams Included could be the struggling Habs, The Penguins, pending a trade for Staal amongst other players and picks. We brought in one of our hockey experts, Vernon Smells, for his take.

Rick Nash was asked to make a list of just 5 teams, so it has to be a team he’s willing to go to. So as McFultz said, Toronto is a possibility, with Nash being a Brampton boy and all, I’m sure he’d love playing in front of all his friends and family, but will this deal get done? I doubt it, mostly because the asking price for Nash is huge, they would probably have to trade away multiple prospects and probably a 1st rounder to get him, and they aren’t willing to bring on that much of a cap hit when they already have 2 first line wingers. They’re still in desperate need of a center. As for Pittsburgh, I don’t think they have the cap space or the assets to pull this deal off. Montreal is an interesting choice, I can’t see him going there, as that Hal Gill trade sort of proclaimed that they were sellers, but they swear they’re not. They could probably muster up the assets(P.K Subban, Pacioretty, some prospects and maybe some draft picks) but they don’t have the cap. I also don’t see why a team out of the playoff picture would trade away their future for 1 player, or why Nash would want to play in Montreal, but it’s possible. Here’s my list of the 3 most likely teams Nash will be dealt to before the deadline.:

1) Los Angeles Kings. The L.A Kings have been looking for a star winger for a while now, they tried and failed with Kovalchuck, and now that Nash is available, they’re going to be trying harder than ever to acquire him. The most interesting part of this story is that they have the assets, the most likely trade is Nash for Bernier+Johnson+picks and/or prospects. As long as they move Bernier and Johnson, they’ll also have the cap space to get this deal done. The other side of this story is that the Jackets also want to move Carter, and the Kings may be one of the few teams interested, so maybe move Carter to the Kings and Nash elsewhere, but for the Kings, an organization in dire need of a cup, they will try their best to get Nash.

2) New York Rangers. The Rangers have shown great interest in Nash, and to be honest I’m really not sure why, they already have a high-scoring winger(Gaborik), and they’re second overall in the the NHL and a Stanley Cup contender, why mess with that chemistry? They do have the assets to get this deal done, but they’d have to give up Dubinsky, Del Zotto, Hagelin maybe, along with multiple other prospects and picks. I understand that he has nobody good playing with him, and he’s had much better years, but  essentially your giving up that much for a 27 year old on pace for 55 points and a -33 on the season. However, they do have high interest and are a front-runner to land him.

3) Philadelphia Flyers. The Blue Jackets and Flyers have been in major talks over the last week, Blue Jackets GM, Scott Howson, is reportedly trying to orchestrate a deal with Sean Couturier and/or Brayden Schenn, however, Paul Holmgren, the Flyers GM, is reluctant to give them up. There may also be a deal in the works including Bobrovsky, Van Riemsdyk and a draft pick. However, The Flyers are still more interested in acquiring another Defenceman, with the absence of Chris Pronger.

To me, the most likely scenario is that he doesn’t get dealt until the off-season. There will be more teams interested, such as The Red Wings, The Bruins and The Sharks, and more teams means higher return.

-McFultz & Vernon Smells

The key to picking a bandwagon for the 2012 NBA season

Image

As a casual NBA fan, every year I have difficulty choosing which bandwagon to hop on for that season. I’ve gone from the Suns, Raptors, Cavaliers and yes, the Heat. So the top 4 bandwagons this year are:

 

 

 

1) The Los Angeles Clippers

PPG:96.92

The LA Clippers are the ultimate bandwagon team, they’re full of points and highlights…And you clearly only like them for that fact; there’s no emotional attachment at all. The Clippers had a great team even before the almighty Stern granted them CP3. With Blake Griffin (easily the most exciting basketball player in the NBA right now), Deandre Jordan (whose been known to put in some highlights of his own), Chauncey Billups (a man who couldn’t take the New York lifestyle so he decided to move to the small town of Los Angeles) and Eric Bledsoe. Even that team right there would’ve been a highlight factory but then they added CP3 and created Lob City. With a name like that you know they are worth your time as they just Dunk!

 

2) The Miami Heat

PPG: 107.23

The Miami Heat… The Dream Team… The greatest team ever assembled… The team that went 82-0 and and won the NBA championship 200-10 over the old Dallas Mavericks. Oh wait sorry, those last two things never happened, ANYWAYS, the Miami Heat is a highlight factory of their own with the big named stars; Lebron James (one of the greatest NBA players of all time), Dwayne Wade (easily in the top 3 for best shooting guards in the NBA) and Chris Bosh (Although Bosh has gotten flack from writers and Shaq; let’s not forget this is the man who single handedly brought the Raptors to NBA playoffs. Let me say that again the Raptors.) There is only one major flaw for liking the Heat. You clearly jumped on their bandwagon last season and most fans will see you as a total DICK.

3) Memphis Grizzlies

PPG: 93.54

The Grizzlies had a beautiful Cinderella story last year knocking off the Spurs in the first round playoffs. But beyond that there isn’t much other than having Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol’s less attractive and less talented brother. They’re like Rick Santorum; they’ll have a nice Cinderella story but you know there’s no way they’ll win.

PPG: 94.57

The Timberwolves are by far the team I’m most excited about. This team consists of Kevin Love (who dominates in almost all stat categories), Ricky Rubio (who is the #1 rookie at the moment), Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams. Now this bandwagon can be the sleeper pick of the year or could easily miss the playoffs. The real beauty of hopping on this teams’ bandwagon is the fact that no one will EVER call you on this. Who would doubt a Minnesota Timberwolves fan? Are they supposed to call you on the fact you like a team that went 17-65 last season?

-McFultz