What happens when two Cafe members go heads up on a variety of topics where their opinions differ? You wind up with some very good information. Right here, Nene & Rizzo take different sides on five stirring debates, so buckle up and enjoy the ride!
1) HOWARD VS AMARE
Nene: Dwight Howard – Dwight Howard is a better rebounder, a better defender, and has more potential. No one not named Dennis Rodman has been a better rebounder and consistently pulled down 20+ boards. Dwight is blocking four shots a game this year and has shown the committment to be the best defender in the league. One can only wonder how much more he would score than Amare if he had Nash passing to him instead of JAMEER NELSON (blah!). The only thing Amare does better is shoot… and that’s barely relevant for big men in today’s NBA. Look what Shaq did with no jumper. Enough said.
Rizzo: Amare Stoudemire – I know defense wins championships, but when there’s no defense to stop Amare, does it really matter? In all seriousness, Amare Stoudemire is probably as close as it comes to being unguardable at the center position without going Shaq Diesel and bulldozing your way to the hoop. Also, watching the highlights from his 49 point performance the other night, it seems Amare has extended his range on his jumper to 18-20 feet, which would make him an absolutely lethal offensive option. He’s a great help-defender in the paint with his athleticism and if he can learn to become a good on-ball defender, he could not only be the best big man in the league, but the best player overall.
2) MOST CAREER ASSISTS: CP3 vs Kidd
Nene: Jason Kidd – Chris Paul is a great passer, don’t get me wrong, but the sheer number of years that Kidd has played at a high volume of assists is going to make it difficult for any young player today to pass him. His career assist per game is at 9.3 assists per, for over ONE THOUSAND games, not to mention the 105 playoff games that he got another 961 assists in. He’s been going strong for 14 years and every year has been solid. Even now at almost 35 years of age he is still putting up 8.8 assists per game. He’s closing in on 10,000 career assists. Even if Chris Paul maintains his 10 apg he is going to have to do it for twelve seasons to eclipse Kidd.
Rizzo: Chris Paul – Chris Paul will definitely finish with more career assists than Jason Kidd, barring any tragic injury. In only his 4th year in the league, Chris Paul has a career average of 9.5 assists per game, already better than Kidd’s average of 9.3, and it continues to grow as he is constantly averaging over 10 assists a game. If Paul’s career matches the longevity of Kidd’s, he will have no trouble compiling more assists than Kidd. Also, the game is played at a much faster pace now than it was even five years ago, so that will allow Paul more opportunities to lend out a few helpers throughout his career.
3) BETTER TRIO: Celtics 3 (KG, Allen, Pierce) vs Bulls 3 (Pippen, Jordan, Rodman)
Nene: Chicago Bulls – Few argue that Jordan is the best player in the game in NBA history. He scored almost at will and was as clutch as Jerry West. If he didn’t waste a couple years playing baseball, he would have won more championships than anyone besides Bill Russell. But he didn’t do it alone. Pippen was also rated one of the greatest 50 players to play the game, and just like Jordan, he played suffocating defense. It’s easy to look at all their dazzling moves and conclude they were great, but when you look at the defense they played, it takes them to the stratosphere. Add to these two legends Dennis Rodman, and you have a trio that does it all. Rodman was 6′8″ and averaged over 15 rebounds a game six times in his 12 full seasons played. In his season with the Bulls he coralled 16.8 a game. Like Jordan and Pippen, he also played sick defense. The Bulls won the most games in NBA history that year for a reason. Their trio was unstoppable. I don’t think the Celts have a chance of eclipsing the Bulls 70-12 record, much less put two more seasons together after that with 68 and 62 wins. That’s an average of 66 wins a season for three straight. The Celts can’t touch that.
Rizzo: Boston Celtics – There really isn’t much a debate here, but I’ll try to make one. The Celtics’ Big Three may not have the most dynamic player to ever step on to a basketball court, but they have three players that bring totally different games to the table. Ray Allen is one of the best shooters in NBA history. He has hit over 2,100 thee-point shots in his career and still counting. He’s a very cerebral player and has a knack for hitting clutch shots game in and game out. Paul Pierce is one of the most versatile offensive players in the league. He’s got range outside the tree-point arc, can post up and back down smaller defenders, and take just about anyone off the dribble. Add to that his ability to finish with contact (at the rim or on his jumper) and he’s a defender’s nightmare. His defensive game has stepped up tremendously now that he doesn’t have to carry the offensive workload game in and game out. Kevin Garnett is perhaps the most unique player in NBA history. He was one of the first kids to ever jump from high school straight to the pros and he made an impact early and often. He’s a seven footer that has about as automatic an 18-foot jumper as anyone in the league. He can take any big man off the dribble and slip his way to the rim. He also has a quasi “Dream Shake” on the blocks that is unguardable. His defense is top-notch across the league, as his Defensive Player of the Year award would tell you. He hits the glass hard and is a defensive deterrent on and off the ball. Also, the energy Garnett infuses into the rest of his team is contagious and usually gets his teammates to play better on a nightly basis.
4) Best Defender in the last 15 years
Nene: Dikembe Mutombo – Many remember the scene of Mutombo clutching the ball above his head in celebration as he lay on the floor in Seattle. The Nuggets as an 8 seed had just brought down the 1 seed, the Sonics. And they did it because of Deke. During their run that year, Mutombo averaged 5.8 blocks a game and 12 rebounds per. He solidified himself at that moment as one of the greatest NBA defenders ever, perhaps only bettered by Bill Russell himself. Mutombo then went on for the next seven seasons after that to average 3+ blocks per game and won the Defensive Player of the Year four times in a span of six seasons. The only player to do that since has been Ben Wallace, who could be in the discussion, too. The center position affects the game so much because it is the heart and soul of the defense. Rebounding and shot blocking anchor the guards and provide the basis for team defense, and no one did it better than Mutombo. He averaged 10+ rebounds for eleven seasons straight, as well. Defense and rebounding is what wins games, and Mutombo has been in the playoffs twelve times in his career and been an 8 time All-Star, and he wasn’t selected by the coaches for his offensive game. It takes a special player to be an All-Star for their defense, and Mutombo was one of those players.
Rizzo: Gary Payton – Tru Warier, Zo, Deke. Those are all good nicknames (I guess) but doesn’t describe your game at all. When you get a nickname like “The Glove”, you know you’ve earned it. Gary Payton is third all time in steals, behind only the likes of John Stockton and Michael Jordan. Having a big man in the paint to block shots is nice, but how many times does he actually deter a shot a game? Maybe 10 times? Gary Payton was harassing the point guard every play of the game and, for the most part, disrupting their offense. And if he wasn’t swiping the rock away from you, he was getting to you mentally with his trash chatter. Not only could he demoralize you on defense, but he also averaged 20 points a game in seven different seasons. Payton was always there to break you down physically and mentally and will go down as perhaps the best defender of all time.
5) Rookie of the Year
Nene: OJ Mayo – Throw out a 5-20 shooting night, and Mayo is shooting a blistering 47% from the floor, and he’s shooting plenty at 16 shots a game. That’s what it takes to win rookie of the year in the NBA – scoring. In his first six games, he is averaging 17 a game, and who knows if he can up that a notch and be the one of the few rookies to average twenty a game. He’s also nailing down the threes at a 39% clip and grabbing 5 rebounds a game. But that’s not what will win him the award; it’s his scoring. Mayo will lead all rookies in scoring while losing a lot of games in Memphis, but in the end his high points per game will notch him the trophy.
Rizzo: Derrick Rose – Derrick Rose is averaging 4.5 assists on a jump shooting team that isn’t hitting many jumpers so far. More impressive is his scoring numbers as he is averaging 17.8 points a game on 48.8% shooting. He’s been working his jumper into his arsenal the last couple games and gets to the rim at will. He’s long, tall, and athletic and is an almost impossible guard for many point guards in the league. With Larry Hughes already missing some time and Kirk Hinrich now on the shelf for 3 months, there will be endless of opportunities for Rose to work his magic.
Brett Roberts is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Brett in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Nene.
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