Every Monday during the NBA season The Hoops Manifesto and its Bloguin bredren team up to answer some of the burning questions from the world of the NBA. In this edition we determine if the Spurs are being dissed, decide if the Knicks have turned the corner and debate Chris Mullin’s entry into the Hall of Fame.
Contributors: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, Diego Quezada from Hot Hot Hoops, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily and Don from With Malice.
1) The San Antonio Spurs have had the league’s best record all season long, yet you’d be hard pressed to find a pundit that is predicting them to win the NBA title (let alone beat the Lakers) – are the Spurs being underestimated?
“I’m one of those “pundits” who aren’t picking the Spurs to get by the Lakers. The Lakers are too big (not to mention too talented) for most, if not all, teams to beat this season. While I’m extremely impressed by San Antonio’s play this year, and you can’t count out their talent and experience, I’d be surprised (not shocked) if they won the whole shebang this season.” – Jeff Fox
“Yes and no. San Antonio is still San Antonio – you know, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and the like. This is still a good team and Gregg Popovich is a master at managing his team. But this is also a very different Spurs team. A Spurs team that wants to push the pace and uses Ginobili more as the fulcrum of the offense than Duncan. So, in essence, this is a brand new Spurs team too. I do not put anything past San Antonio, but I also think it is clear the Lakers know what they are doing and who they are more.” – Philip
“The pundits are not underestimating the Spurs. Until a team knocks off the Los Angeles Lakers, the two-time defending champs are still the team to beat. The Spurs may have the best record, but I don’t see them getting past the Lakers. Why? They don’t have the size. Look at the reason why the Lakers won Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the Finals despite having Kobe Bryant shoot 6-for-24 from the field: the Lakers were the tougher team in that game, largely due to Kendrick Perkins‘ absence. Many pundits have emphasized that the Spurs are offensively potent this year. That’s true, but they’ve given up a lot on defense. Matt Bonner may be a great three-point shooter, but he cannot guard anyone down low. The Lakers’ size of Bynum, Gasol and Odom will lead them past the Spurs.” – Diego Quezada
“To an extent… maybe… but over the last few months, they’ve – at least at times – looked somewhat fragile. Additionally, Timmy and Manu – two of the guys they are going to rely on - aren’t exactly “spring chicken” any more. Pop’s there, and so are Timmy/Manu/Tony – so I wouldn’t bet against them. But they don’t fill me with confidence as to their ability to make the Finals.” – Don
2) The Knicks have won seven straight – have they turned the corner after slumping immediately after adding Carmelo Anthony, and is there any chance they can make some noise in the playoffs?
“They may have turned the corner, but I still don’t think they are that great of a team (in fact, I liked their team a lot more before the Denver trade). They might be able to win a playoff series this year, but it will be tough. And I really don’t see them winning a title at any time with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony as their cornerstones (good thing they gave both of them max money!).” – Jeff Fox
“Personally, I am still not sold on New York. The Knicks have gotten better thanks to a number of different things. Undoubtedly playing together more has made them better. But so has playing some weaker competition — and some competition that has its mind elsewhere. Now beating Philadelphia was a big feat for the team. Carmelo Anthony is enough almost on his own to keep a team in a playoff series. But New York is also very predictable and far from a complete team. I do not know how far the Knicks can take the Heat. But nothing would surprise me.” – Philip
“In the winning streak, the Knicks have defeated the Orlando Magic (without Jameer Nelson) and the Philadelphia 76ers; that’s two quality wins. New York may be coming together, but I don’t see them making any noise in the playoffs, not when they have to face the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat in the first round. They may make the series interesting, but I’d be shocked if they win it. The Knicks have two superstars in Amar’e and Melo, but they need to get a better supporting cast than this collection of misfits. They should also move away from Mike D’Antoni, whose offensive-minded system has only won him championships in Italy. In fact, the Knicks’ fate for doom was sealed when they signed Stoudemire to that huge contract. He’ll get paid $23 million in 2014-15. How do you think his knees will be holding up then, especially after playing 40 minutes a night now? ” – Diego Quezada
“Quite possibly. I wouldn’t pick ‘em to make the Finals, but as far as “being noisy” goes… absolute chance of that. As it is now, they’d face Boston. Honestly? Of all the teams ranked 5-8 in the East, the Knicks are the last team I’d want my team matched up against.” – Don
3) Chris Mullin – Hall of Famer – really?!
“I wouldn’t have voted him into the Hall myself. He had about four really good seasons in the NBA and none of those were with a good NBA team. He was a two-time All-American in college, Player of the Year and played in one Final Four. Nice, but not anything numerous other collegiate players accomplished in their careers also. He also won two Olympic gold medals, but he wasn’t exactly the team’s star in 1984 (Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing were) nor on the Dream Team in 1992. A very nice career, to be sure, but not one of an immortal.” – Jeff Fox
“Yeah, I am curious about this one too. I am not 100 percent sure what he accomplished in college and in international play, but I am not sure his NBA body of work is enough to get in. I remember him more for his marksmanship in NBA Jam than his play on the court. Really that should be the measure of a Hall of Famer. Someone who you can easily remember. Thank god Artis Gilmore got in, that is all I can say. It was a long time coming for him.” – Philip
“The Basketball Hall of Fame has reached a point where they could probably just randomly draw names out of a hat, and it’d be just as effective as the system they have now.” – Diego Quezada
“Sheesh… if you only look at his NBA career, hell no. But the HoF is for his entire basketball career… and then, yeah: maybe. But it’s a near thing. The two Olympic gold medals probably push him over. Just.” – Don
4) Game of the Week – pick the winner – Tues, Apr 12th – San Antonio @ Lakers
Record so far: 10-10
Consensus: Lakers (unanimous pick)