Saturday, August 24, 2013

Allen Iverson retires a legend

Allen Iverson is a sure first-ballot Hall-of-Famer that has made his mark on the history of the game.  Sure, A.I. may not have ended his career on the note he would have liked to.  However, a superstar status like Iverson truly can’t go a whole career without receiving criticism and making a few poor decisions.
For the majority of his career, Allen Iverson was fantastic, to say the least.  “The Answer” was definitely one-of-a-kind with his lethal combination of blazing speed and scoring ability.  That brings me to an interesting point.
Zach Tennen on Allen Iverson
Iverson came into the league as pure a scorer as they get as he averaged 23.5 points per game his rookie season (that’s harder than it sounds).  A lot of great players take a few years to become first-class bucket-makers.  Even rookie LeBron James didn’t quite have the touch to consistently put the ball in the basket like Iverson could (excluding LeBron’s strength to get to the line).
At his peak, A.I. averaged 31 points per game and he did that three different years.  Unfortunately, Iverson wasn’t able to stick around as long as Kobe Bryant as an elite superstar.  Had Iverson been in the same situations as Kobe, maybe he would have.  Regardless, it was almost impossible to make a gameplan to stop both Kobe and Iverson.
Allen Iverson managed to reach the Finals only once and lost in five games to the Kobe & Shaq-led Lakers.  You can’t hold that against him, though.  There were definitely times Iverson could have been more mature in the locker room.  However, all-in-all, Iverson ultimately brought his team to another level (2001 76ers).
It wasn’t only about skill and craftiness for A.I., though.  He had that hunger almost nobody else played with.  His mentality to carry his team and be that guy is what brought him to the top of the NBA.  His swagger and mean attitude to go along with that, Iverson would never go unnoticed by his NBA peers.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

NBA All-Underrated Team

There are always NBA players that are overlooked and regarded as just ordinary bench players.  I always keep an eye out for those type of players; the players that aren’t recognized enough for the impact they make on the court as well as players who have the potential to be solid players for their team.  That said, let me introduce you to my NBA all-underrated squad:

Zach Tennen on Reggie Jackson
Courtesy of
PG: Reggie Jackson (OKC) 
Jackson is a very athletic, well-rounded player that probably is capable of being a starter.  Playing behind Russell Westbrook, it’s difficult for Jackson to expose his talent.  Jackson actually had the chance to prove himself when OKC was hit with Westbrook’s season-ending injury.  While it’s unreasonable to expect Jackson to replace Westbrook, he did do a quality job of stepping up as the team’s starting point guard in the playoffs.
Although there’s the possibility of him being stuck behind Westbrook for a bit longer, there’s also the possibility of the two starting together at some point.  Point guard isn’t Russell Westbrook’s natural position.  However, OKC loves the advantages they have by putting him there.  Assuming Westbrook continues to start at point guard, Jackson will be a key contributor off the bench for a contender like the Thunder.

SG: Evan Fournier (DEN) 
Zach Tennen on Evan Fournier
Courtesy of
The 20-year-old from France isn’t talked about a whole lot outside of the Nugget organization.  Fournier is a really smooth player who has the ability to play both the two and three.  When given the opportunity to play last season, he showed his ability to be a dynamic offensive player.  He has a really nice stroke and he’s also capable of getting to the basket.
With the departure of Andre Iguodala, Fournier could start to see some more time at small forward.  Denver signed two guards in Nate Robinson and Randy Foye so they are pretty guard heavy.  Don’t expect Denver to utilize Fournier to his fullest just yet.  He is still very young and they will probably keep their focus on developing him for the future.Zach Tennen on Quincy Pondexter

SF: Quincy Pondexter (MEM)
One noticeable trait about Quincy Pondexter is his work ethic.  Pondexter isn’t up there with the best wing players, but he works harder than almost all of them.  That, alone, should allow him to have a successful NBA career.  Quincy does what is asked of him and keeps his mouth shut.  Not only is he a hard worker, but he has a dependable long-range jumper from the corner.
After a few great seasons, Memphis has the potential to start slipping a little bit.  They traded Rudy Gay which freed up a ton of room for Pondexter last season.  As Zach Randolph and Tayshaun Prince continue to age, Memphis is going to turn toward other players.  If Prince continues to start, they will depend on Pondexter as sixth man where he should excel.  Quincy brings tremendous energy to a team that thrives off high energy.Zach Tennen on Patrick Patterson

PF: Patrick Patterson (SAC)
Patterson is a face-up power forward who has the ability to stretch the floor.  Just looking at him, you wouldn’t think he’s a shooter.  But Patterson can hurt you if you give him too much space.  Although Patterson likes to face up, he can play the post as well.  He has a big, strong frame at 235 lbs. but he can also put the ball on the floor and attack the basket.  Patterson reminds me of a young Al Harrington with a little less versatility.
I have no idea what Sacramento’s rotation is going to look like.  They have about 12 players that are worthy of getting playing time.  The only sure starter on the whole roster is DeMarcus
Cousins.  Other than that, these players all have to prove themselves.  Patterson has stiff competition at power forward: Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, etc.  We’ll have to see if Patterson can make his way into a comfortable role this season.

C: Derrick Favors (UTA)
Favors was a highly sought big man coming out of Georgie Tech.  Thus far in his pro career, he has played behind two very good bigs, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.  Since being drafted, talk about Favors has quietly dwindled.  Favors is one of those guys that puts on a show in practice and only his team knows about it.  Favors has an excellent body and he has solid post skills to go with that.
Now that Al Jeff and Millsap have both departed Utah, Favors’ big opportunity starts now.  The NBA no longer has many players than average a double-double.  Favors is definitely capable of doing so in the near future if he keeps improving.  Utah has an unbelievably young starting lineup: Burke (20), Burks (22), Hayward (23), Favors (22), Kanter (21).  Don’t be surprised to see strong production out of Favors as early as this season.
Zach Tennen on Derrick Favors
Courtesy of

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs

1. Adrian Peterson
2. Arian Foster
3. Doug Martin
4. Marshawn Lynch
5. Ray Rice
6. Jamaal Charles
7. LeSean McCoy
8. CJ Spiller
9. Alfred Morris
10. Maurice Jones-Drew
11. Trent Richardson
12. Matt Forte
13. Chris Johnson
14. Stevan Ridley
15. Frank Gore
16. Stephen Jackson
17. Reggie Bush
18. DeMarco Murray
19. Lamar Miller
20. Darren Sproles
21. Ryan Mathews
22. Eddie Lacy
23. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
24. Montee Ball
25. Darren McFadden
26. David Wilson
27. Daryl Richardson
28. Chris Ivory
29. LeVeon Bell
30. Ahmad Bradhaw
31. Shane Vereen
32. DeAngelo Williams
33. Rashard Mendenhall
34. Mark Ingram
35. Ben Tate

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Kobe Bryant is the generation’s greatest

I’ve been watching basketball since the day I was born.  When I say the day I was born, I mean the day I was born.  If you’re a little older than I am, you’d probably say you’ve never seen anyone like Michael Jordan.  I wasn’t quite old enough to clearly remember Michael Jordan.  Therefore, it is my privilege to say that I’ve never seen a player like Kobe Bryant, A.K.A the Black Mamba.
Kobe Bryant is the best player I have even seen play because, well, just because he’s Kobe Bryant.  Mamba’s combination of unbelievable skill, extremely rare clutch genetics, and number one assassin mentality have made him the most unbelievable player I have ever seen.  Of course, the only other man in this debate is LeBron “King” James.  As I see it, there are two significant differences between the two.
Zach Tennen on Kobe Bryant
Courtesy of
Although James may not be done, the first difference is ring count: five to two.  Killer mentality was a huge force that drove Bryant to his five championship trophies.  Mamba has always been determined to be the best of the best.  Sure, it’s awesome to be remembered as one of the greats of a generation.  But there’s nothing better than being remembered as a champion.  Both Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have that label while James still has to prove he can win with an older team or, perhaps, a change of scenery.
The second difference between the two greats is coming through in the clutch.  James may have an everlasting highlight reel of vicious dunks and unbelievable plays, but he doesn’t have this: Kobe Bryant’s career game-winning shots.  This video shows Kobe’s 28 game-winning shots at the last second.  Kobe and Jordan somewhat resemble each other in the aspect of being clutch and hitting game-winners.  There’s no defending Kobe Bryant when the clock is about to strike zero.  The opposing coach could never expect his team’s defense to cause Kobe to miss.  However, all he could ask for was 100% effort in trying to stop the cold-blooded mamba.
As explained in Phil Jackson’s novel, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, Kobe and Jordan were uniquely different in how they succeeded.  However, I can tell you that both players absolutely killed to win.  They did whatever they had to do get the job done.  In fact, both would get the job overdone.  Both Kobe and M.J. would push their teammates to the point their teammates could no longer stand them.  At the same time, everyone understood they had no choice but to respect the game’s greatest because it would only help.
I’m not, by any means, writing off the possibility of LeBron James being considered the best player of the 21st century.  But as it stands today, Kobe Bryant sits on the throne and James has a lot of work to do in order to overtake it.

Follow me on Twitter @ZJTbasketball11

Monday, August 5, 2013

Greg Oden regenerates the Heat

A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article about Greg Oden and the impact he could make as ahealthier player (he likely won’t be anything near what he would have been).  I had suggested some possible teams that would benefit from signing Greg Oden since it was a low risk-high reward situation.  The Miami Heat was the first team I brought up, and the Miami Heat it will be.
The one and only phrase that comes to mind about Miami’s signing of Greg Oden is ‘why not?’  Think about it; why on earth shouldn’t the Heat have signed a rehabilitated Greg Oden?  The 2007 first pick will make just over a million dollars in his first year of a player option.  He’ll make about $1.15 million his second year, if he exercises that player option.  In today’s NBA, it’s pretty easy for any team to sign a player to a near-minimum or substantially cheap deal.
A big man in the middle, such as Oden, was exactly what Miami has been craving ever since the “big three” has come together.  Not only does this greatly benefit the Heat, but this destination could very well be a turning point in Greg Oden’s career.  Oden will not be expected to play 20-25 minutes every game.  Those expectations would be too much to ask for.  He’ll have to ween his way back into the game and start by playing about eight minutes per half.  On top of that, Miami will likely allow Oden to sit out the second game of back-to-backs.
Zach Tennen on Greg Oden
Courtesy of
Being cautious is the first step for Miami and Greg Oden.  The two sides will have to work together to do everything they can to make him a healthy, effective player again.  Although Greg Oden joining the back-to-back champions is a jolly story, don’t get your hopes too high.  One could only guess if Greg Oden will be able to stay on his feet for very long.  Injury-prone players to the extent of Oden are just unpredictable so we’ll have to wait and see how this works out for Oden and the Heat.
Let’s look at the hypothetical situation of Oden being able to play a comfortable 60-plus games: Like I said before, Miami hasn’t had a real starting center on this championship team.  A man with the build and skill of Greg Oden makes life a lot easier for an NBA team.  Centers like that just don’t come around too often and that is the reason the Portland Trail Blazers selected Greg Oden with the first pick in the 2007 draft.
Although Oden won’t make the impact that the pre-NBA Greg Oden was expected to make, he does have the potential to be a big difference maker for this Miami Heat team.  Miami’s roster is not very young.  In fact, they are the definition of a veteran team.  Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be a year older and slower (LeBron won’t because he’s LeBron).  Role players such as Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, and Shane Battier are toward the end of their careers.  That’ll make Oden one of the youngest players on the team, in company with Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.
LeBron gives Miami unbelievable floor spacing and that is the reason that Miami has been the most dominant team for two years straight.  Their floor spacing couldn’t possibly be better, right?  Wrong.  Now that they have Greg Oden, their floor spacing has the potential to be even better.
The thought of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh on the same team was pretty scary.  The three envisioned championships for years to come and two of them have been delivered.  With a rejuvenated Greg Oden, Pat Riley’s ultimate squad is even scarier.  With the addition of Greg Oden, Miami’s title window may have just opened for a little bit longer.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receiver

1. Calvin Johnson (DET)
2. AJ Green (CIN)
3. Brandon Marshall (CHI)
4. Demaryius Thomas (DEN)
5. Dez Bryant (DAL)
6. Roddy White (ATL)
7. Victor Cruz (NYG)
8. Julio Jones (ATL)
9. Andre Johnson (HOU)
10. Wes Welker (DEN)
11. Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ)
12. Vincent Jackson (TAM)
13. Randall Cobb (GNB)
14. Jordy Nelson (GNB)
15. Dwayne Bowe (KAN)
16. Reggie Wayne (IND)
17. Marques Colston (NOR)
18. Eric Decker (DEN)
19. Torrey Smith (BAL)
20. Steve Smith (CAR)
21. Mike Wallace (MIA)
22. Pierre Garcon (WSH)
23. Danny Amendola (NWE)
24. Stevie Johnson (BUF)
25. James Jones (GNB)
26. Hakeem Nicks (NYG)
27. Antonio Brown (PIT)
28. Greg Jennings (GNB)
29. DeSean Jackson (PHI)
30. Cecil Shorts (JAC)
31. Miles Austin (DAL)
32. Tavon Austin (STL)
33. Mike Williams (TAM)
34. TY Hilton (IND)
35. Anquan Boldin (SFR)
36. Justin Blackmon (JAC)
37. Lance Moore (NOR)
38. Darrius Heyward-Bey (IND)
39. Brian Hartline (MIA)
40. Denarius Moore (OAK)