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Gary Busey

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Everything posted by Gary Busey

  1. important exclusions: -stan (i think nobody has mentioned him...) -seizure pig -krebs -sev (does he post here anymore?) -kristina -vanessav (belcher i know you remember her... giggity giggity) -ali
  2. Gary Busey

    The Stage

    this hypothetical stage being dead would be unfortunate. also, bring back vbulletin.
  3. byu ....on second thought, ah shit nevermind.
  4. Gary Busey

    espn insider

    The typical argument against draft grades is, "Mel, you can't grade a draft for at least a few years." And while that's absolutely fair for some obvious reasons, you can hand out grades based on how much value teams got during the draft based on where they picked. It's not called "Pick Your Favorite Player" -- it's called the NFL draft. There's a process to maximizing value based on where a team selects, and initial grades are all about that and the degree to which a team attacked needs, as well as other factors such as scheme fits, building depth and adding value from trades. But with a year of results, we can add some weight to the performance aspect people really think makes more sense. And I don't disagree. So let's see how the grades look after close to a year. Seattle Seahawks Summary: I loved the Seattle draft, not just because of the safe talent it acquired, but because it didn't trade away picks to maneuver within the first round and still got its guys. Russell Okung didn't have a dynamic season, but a lot of that is health-related. The guy should be an anchor for years to come. Earl Thomas racked up five INTs, and his development is extremely promising. Golden Tate struggled, particularly early. He showed some maturity issues, but the feeling is he can bounce back as his work habits get better and skills develop. There is not a lot after that, so the overall grade drops, but the top-two picks still look great. Draft grade: A | Current Grade: B-plus Baltimore Ravens Summary: As much as the Ravens got great value, this is one that backfired a bit. Sergio Kindle got hurt off the field, and it seems as though his career is in jeopardy at this point. Terrence Cody is blocked by the great Haloti Ngata, and even good value pick Ramon Harewood was on the injured reserve. I still think the tight ends the Ravens got in Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta can help out, but this class is off to a tough start overall. Draft grade: A | Current Grade: C-minus Tampa Bay Buccaneers Summary: Maybe my grade was too low. Tampa locked down a pair of long-term starters in wide receivers Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, and Gerald McCoy -- who will be unfairly compared to the dominant Ndamukong Suh -- had some growing pains but played pretty well overall. Even waiver claim Ted Larsen worked out. The cherry, of course, is the magnificent year turned in by LeGarrette Blount, a guy initially signed by the Titans. Draft grade: B-plus | Current Grade: A Philadelphia Eagles Summary: The Eagles drafted guys they felt could help right away, and it showed, because it seems like nearly every guy they picked started in some capacity. Highlighting that is the good season turned in by safety Nate Allen, a guy picked with the pick that Philly nabbed in the Donovan McNabb deal. (Allen got hurt, but he'll be back.) Riley Cooper was a surprise, Mike Kafka looks like a good bet to be a second-stringer soon and Brandon Graham will keep getting better when he's healthy. Another late steal was Kurt Coleman, who saw a lot of time at safety. Draft grade: B-plus | Current Grade: A-minus Arizona Cardinals Summary: Dan Williams was a pick I really liked, but he didn't add much to the equation in 2010. Unfortunately, the Cardinals were forced to rely on the undrafted Max Hall and fifth-rounder John Skelton far too much. Daryl Washington provided some starts, and I still think Andre Roberts can be a player, but the grade drops. Draft grade: B-plus | Current Grade: C-plus Detroit Lions Summary: Like Seattle, Detroit had two first-round picks (after a trade-up with Minnesota) and has scored with both. What else can be said about Suh, who flat-out dominated in a manner not at all befitting a rookie. Barring health, he looks like a penciled-in Pro Bowl D-tackle for as long as he wants to play. Jahvid Best didn't have a lot of running lanes, but he showed big-time toughness, playing hurt just about all year. The conversion of Amari Spievey from corner to safety looks like a smart move. Draft grade: B-plus | Current Grade: A-minus Pittsburgh Steelers Summary:The Steelers weren't loaded with holes, and they definitely made some depth and developmental picks in the middle rounds, but they also hit some home runs. Maurkice Pouncey is, to borrow a phrase, pretty much who we thought he'd be -- but he just got there faster. Already a Pro Bowl player, he'll be an anchor for years to come. His injury before the Super Bowl is the only downer. Emmanuel Sanders looks primed to develop, and how about the contributions of Antonio Brown, who looks like a total steal as the 195th pick? A solid draft gets better. Draft grade: B | Current Grade: A-minus Houston Texans Summary: Kareem Jackson was the first-round pick, an obvious-need choice after the departure of Dunta Robinson. While Jackson started, he did so for a secondary that was gashed pretty much all season. His development is key. Darryl Sharpton also got some work as a nice-value pick in Round 4, but it's was pretty quiet draft after that. Ben Tate, a second-round pick, hurt his knee early and paved the way for Arian Foster. Draft grade: B | Current Grade: C-plus San Diego Chargers Summary: The Chargers aggressively targeted Ryan Mathews, trading up for him and making him the first every-down back taken. But even after a decent year, Mathews didn't really produce the kind of totals most expected. Health was a factor, but San Diego's passing game simply took over, and Mathews never seemed like a big part of the plan. Donald Butler was expected to help at linebacker, but he got hurt in camp. After him, no rookie really contributed very much. This draft grade takes a hit. Draft grade: B | Current Grade: C-minus New York Jets Summary: The need to give a lot of playing time to first-round pick Kyle Wilson was mitigated by the acquisition of Antonio Cromartie, so while Wilson has a future his contributions to the team weren't really felt. I liked the Jets' draft because I thought they got good value with every pick and drafted players I thought they might use reasonably early. Since they really didn't use these guys, there's a question as to whether they simply had plenty of depth at those spots -- a fair question on a successful team -- or whether the guys simply didn't look good. Either way, a disappointing class so far. Draft grade: B | Current Grade: C San Francisco 49ers Summary:I thought the Niners showed a lot of conviction, aggressively targeting their offensive line. Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati got plugged in and started throughout the year, so you can't say the Niners didn't have a plan. Taylor Mays wasn't a big contributor. and NaVorro Bowman was a special-teams stud instead of a regular, but he has a chance to develop. No leaks with the top picks, however. Draft grade: B | Current Grade: B-plus New York Giants Summary: Jason Pierre-Paul was the first-round pick, a raw pass-rusher with immense physical skills. I predicted then that he'd need a lot of work to refine his technique and to work against pro lineman in practice but could help the Giants late. He did manage to get some sacks (4.5), but he never cracked the starting lineup. That's not a failure, though, considering the competition. I think they like his future. Elsewhere, there really wasn't much. Chad Jones was injured off the field in a car accident, and Matt Dodge was the much-talked-about punter -- but not always in a good way. Draft grade: B | Current Grade: C-plus Carolina Panthers Summary: The Panthers actually got some nice pieces out of this draft, but it was hard to see it considering how much the kids got thrown into the fire. Jimmy Clausen struggled, underperforming my expectations for him, but it was a battle as he worked with fellow rookie wideouts Brandon LaFell and David Gettis. Both of those guys look like keepers, and there are intriguing pieces such as Eric Norwood and Greg Hardy that should continue to develop on defense. The results didn't add up, but Ron Rivera has some young talent to build with. Draft grade: B | Current Grade: B-minus Chicago Bears Summary: The Bears nailed one of the top sleepers in the whole draft, when seventh-round pick J'Marcus Webb was thrown into action and performed pretty well. Suddenly, a draft that didn't see any picks until No. 75 overall (Major Wright) found some decent value. Corey Wootton also looks like a keeper as a defensive end out of Northwestern. The Bears saw value in him as a local guy who wasn't at 100 percent during his final season in Evanston, and it should pan out for them. There wasn't major impact, but given where they were forced to pick, Chicago did well. Draft grade: B | Current Grade: B New England Patriots Summary: It's one thing for so many picks to see the field, it's another when so many are immediate starters. So while there were a few value question marks, the Patriots were brilliant in terms of identifying fits. And it's not like Bill Belichick and the New England brain trust forced guys into action in an attempt to dignify their choices. No, these guys played early and played well, and the team was noticeably better because of it. Devin McCourty landed in the Pro Bowl. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were good enough that they seem to have shifted the whole offensive methodology, with more tight end sets than ever. Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham played a ton. Brandon Deaderick, the 247th pick, was called into duty and showed toughness. Even punter Zoltan Mesko was solid. Good picks all over, and the Patriots will have many more in April. Draft grade: B-minus | Current Grade: A-plus Dallas Cowboys Summary: People complained that I didn't have Dez Bryant among my Top 10 rookies. But how could I? He missed four games and had three with zero or one catch. While he showed flashes of what should be an electrifying career -- if he's healthy -- he certainly wasn't the cherry on top of a great season. Sean Lee should become a starter, but after that, the draft offered little. Undrafted pickups were a better part of the overall rookie picture for Dallas. That they got no real help for the offensive line is still an issue. Draft grade: B-minus | Current Grade: C-plus Green bay Packers Summary: The Packers' draft is looking better as the playoffs wear on, particularly because James Starks is contributing in the run game. Starks fell because he wasn't healthy in his final season at Buffalo, and Green Bay got great value because of it. Morgan Burnett got hurt, but Bryan Bulaga has become a starter and Andrew Quarless has seen action. Green Bay's attrition has opened up more opportunities than pure talent has forced its way in, but the results speak for themselves. Draft grade: B-minus | Current Grade: B Kansas City Chiefs Summary: Eric Berry was a home run pick at a need position, one of the more predicable outcomes in the whole draft. Dexter McCluster was a bit of a hit-and-miss guy. He wasn't a part of the passing game to the degree I thought he could be, but when a team has a versatile rookie that can affect multiple areas of the playbook, it's not a one-year plan. Tony Moeaki, who dropped after he dealt with some health issues at Iowa, became one of the steals of the draft. Javier Arenas was on the field early and often. Even fifth-rounder Kendrick Lewis became a starter. A big grade jump in a draft I underestimated. Draft grade: B-minus | Current Grade: A Tennessee Titans Summary: Alterraun Verner was still sitting there at No. 104 overall, and he becomes one of the big steals at that spot. He should be a longtime contributor for the Titans. Derrick Morgan was a guy I felt was really ready to contribute early because he's a versatile talent, but when he was lost to injury this draft class really lost points. Tennessee didn't get a lot out of Damian Williams, and I don't think anyone is under the illusion that Rusty Smith is the answer at quarterback. Draft grade: C-plus | Current Grade: C St. Louis Rams Summary: The first two guys the Rams took are among my top rookies of the year. Sam Bradford showed poise and resilience in the face of a dicey receiving corp, and he was healthy all year after his endurance was a big question mark. Home run, period. They also got a left tackle solution out of Rodger Saffold, a player I thought Dallas might take in the spot they landed Bryant. Michael Hoomanawanui is a keeper at tight end, and even 226th overall pick George Selvie showed that he plans to contribute as a pass-rusher. Draft grade: C-plus | Current Grade: A Oakland Raiders Summary: This is another team that gets a big bump up the Board, based on performance. As I wrote about Oakland midway through the season, its ability to get maximum value in "playing the draft" has been questionable, but what isn't in question is the eye for talent. Rolando McClain was a starter at linebacker, and a pretty good one; Lamarr Houston is a solution in the middle of the defensive line; and Jared Veldheer got moved around to start the season but found a home right where he was in college, as an athletic left tackle who should only get better. Then they got a steal out of Jacoby Ford as icing on the cake. His pass-catching skills are far better than his draft profile indicated. Solid work. Draft grade: C-plus | Current Grade: A-minus Buffalo Bills Summary:Considering the holes on the roster, Buffalo had to get players that could step in immediately and help. I like C.J. Spiller, but emphasized that I considered him a bit of a luxury pick, considering there are other options in that backfield. His season can only be considered a disappointment. Torell Troup and Arthur Moats saw some time, but is there one guy from this class who looks like an anchor? I questioned Buffalo's plan, and I'm not sure this draft shows it really had one. If it did, that plan went off course early. Draft grade: C-plus | Current Grade: D-plus New Orleans Saints Summary: I thought Patrick Robinson, the cornerback the Saints drafted in Round 1 out of Florida State, would give them more. He clearly still has some work to do. After that, this is a really lean class. Jimmy Graham is an intriguing talent and should continue to develop. He became a favorite target of Drew Brees later in the year, particularly as a red zone threat, but I don't feel any better about this draft today then I did in April. Draft grade: C | Current Grade: C-minus Cincinnati Bengals Summary: I wasn't sure what level of production the Bengals would get, and framed against the disappointment of their season, you'd assume this class didn't add much. But that's not the case. Jermaine Gresham shaved off the rust and led rookie tight ends in catches. Carlos Dunlap didn't see much of the field early but exploded late for 9.5 sacks and was among my top rookie choices. Jordan Shipley was dependable, even amidst the sideshow of that group of wideouts. Not a remarkable draft, but they got some real players. Draft grade: C | Current Grade: B Cleveland Browns Summary: It was a disappointing year, but Cleveland has a better roster because of some of these guys. T.J. Ward proved every question I had about him was wrong; he was fantastic, and did it all over the field. Joe Haden started slow and had to win over the coaching staff, but he'll be a long-term starter and still has Pro Bowl upside in my book. Colt McCoy got thrown into a starter's role and, amidst a lot of the usual rookie mistakes and misreads, showed the kind of toughness that teammates appreciate. I think he projects as the likely Week 1 starter in 2011, to little complaint, and that's impressive considering where the Browns got him. Draft grade: C | Current Grade: B-plus Indianapolis Colts Summary: I think everybody who followed prospects closely would be in agreement: We all saw Jerry Hughes as a guy who could really help the Colts and get into the pass-rushing rotation in 2010. And while that didn't happen, at least the Colts got some good value elsewhere. Pat Angerer became a solution at linebacker, Brody Eldridge got into the tight end mix and Blair White showed he has a future in this league after not being drafted out of Michigan State. Injuries led to some battlefield promotions, but on a pretty good team, like Indianapolis that counts for something. Draft grade: C | Current Grade: B-minus Miami Dolphins Summary: Koa Misi was a guy I highlighted early as one I thought would be an impact player early. He didn't come on to the degree I expect, but Miami definitely liked having him on the field. After that, Jared Odrick and A.J. Edds got hurt, leading me to think a more proper grade would be "incomplete." Draft grade: C-minus | Current Grade: C-minus Denver Broncos Summary: A lot of this grade would seemingly depend on what you think of Tim Tebow. If he's the future, maybe you prop up this grade. If you don't think he's shown enough and is still a work in progress, perhaps, at best, the poor grade remains. But that oversimplifies it because there were some good components to this draft. Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton are keepers on the offensive line, Demaryius Thomas is a starter at wideout and Perrish Cox played like the great value he was as the 137th overall pick. Then there's Tebow. Am I sold? Not yet. But the grade improves based on the overall depth added. Draft grade: C-minus | Current Grade C-plus Washington Redskins Summary: The Redskins got their current and future left tackle ... and that's about it. The disappointing thing is they lost a valuable second-round pick to Philadelphia for a franchise quarterback that seemed to cause a franchise-wide mess. Now they have to deal with the quarterback position again, and they still lack picks in the upcoming draft. After Trent Williams, only undrafted Brandon Banks is worth a mention. Not a good draft, and there is more work to be done. Draft grade: C-minus | Current Grade: D-plus Minnesota Vikings Summary: Chris Cook got some starts, and 199th overall pick ("The Brady Pick") Joe Webb came on late and showed some flashes, but it's a pretty disappointing group overall. Remember that Cook was taken after the Vikings traded away the pick that became Jahvid Best. Of course, they then moved back up to get Toby Gerhart. The problem? Gerhart doesn't help much on third downs, and Best would have. This still has an incomplete grade, but the draft, like the season overall, didn't impress. Draft grade: C-minus | Current Grade: D-plus Atlanta Falcons Summary: When I graded this draft initially, I said I didn't believe the Falcons had a lot of holes, and that would limit the grade they could get because it would be hard to get much impact. Corey Peters gave them some good work as the 83rd pick overall, but Sean Weatherspoon got just a handful of starts after going in the first round, and it was pretty quiet after that. Third-rounder Mike Johnson was inactive all year. In general, it was a to-be-expected and quiet class for a very good team. Draft grade: C-minus | Current Grade: C Jacksonville Jaguars Summary: I'll say it again: I think Tyson Alualu is a really good player, but this draft was panned because of the way Jacksonville didn't acknowledge overall value in making picks. But the Jags jump because, once those picks saw the field, some performed very well. Start with Alualu, who started all year. While third-rounder D'Anthony Smith got hurt, the Jags got some mileage from Austen Lane, a defensive end they got in Round 5. Deji Karim was a guy a lot of people didn't know about, and he helped in the return game. Still not a massive haul, but better than it looked last April. Draft grade: D | Current grade: C Keep up with Mel Kiper through the year via his home page.
  5. Gary Busey

    Bitme

    Will trade rep for an invite to bitme (or other good ebook tracker with textbooks).
  6. if i was a buyer, i would be interested in some kind of income verification other than kerp's word (as sterling as it is). maybe eapen is making his triumphant return.
  7. if people are serious about establishing an llc or some such to buy it, that ball needs to roll immediately
  8. Gary Busey

    NBA Playoffs

    me neither. your mavs going to win their series?
  9. i agree with ankur for the most part. for some context, here are a few other apache mounted camera videos that show how much those in the original video could have appeared to be insurgents: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRClIw2eJ5I http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ruc6jJeCh7o&feature=related
  10. is there anywhere reliable to witness this online?
  11. Gary Busey

    South Park

    so there's no element of culture or ethnic heritage involved? "hey, jews, y'all chose to be jews, so don't get so upset about holocaust jokes!" seems to be the only rational response to that.
  12. for me, this is the purest form of christianity. refusal to acknowledge the (im)possibility of an afterlife in favor of living a loving life now. i think that's pretty cool.
  13. thanks for this thread, it's made for an interesting read. i'll try not to be too heavy handed with the unique lds perspective of the atonement. the tl;dr of all this is i think the crucifixion of christ was necessary for the fulfillment of the law of moses, among other things. i think that can explain some of these questions. first, i agree with greg that the idea christ descended to hell to battle satan before ascending to heaven is silly and unfounded. it would render a second coming unnecessary and is scripturally baseless. 1 john 4:10, matthew 20:28, matthew 26:28. this is a tough question to answer in the context of a different conception of the godhead for my beliefs. the short answer is yes; it was the last sacrifice necessary to fulfill the law of moses. mormonism agrees with you what if the requirement of blood sacrifice for sin is not god's law? are there not laws even god must abide by? i know this question seems insane to christianity writ large, but i think it's probably valid. i'm not sure the human mind can comprehend questions like this, the origination of god, matter, energy, etc.
  14. Gary Busey

    South Park

    no sand here. i'm not saying the jokes don't have a place, but just pointing out that such jokes made towards other minority groups are received with people really getting uptight. i'm not criticizing your use of the word faggot. the irony you use in that past is criticizing homophobia, something that's no different than bigotry. i think the massive child molestation comment is about on the same level. look, it's fine to make jokes about things. just realize that when jokes are made at the expense of some minority, all minorities are fair game. will someone start making some jokes about the gay community now? what about jokes about black stereotypes?
  15. Gary Busey

    South Park

    from enterprise, no less! 2 3 4 and that could go on for a while. look, i'm not even necessarily against making jokes/saying things made in this thread. they're funny, true, semi-offensive, etc. just apply the standard equally. if making fun of a racial or sexual minority is not ok, making fun of a cultural/religious minority isn't.
  16. Gary Busey

    South Park

    if the bigotry in this thread would have been directed at some other minority group that has been historically oppressed, i think the response probably would have been different from "hurr durr more jokes." frankly, i'm disappointed. keep preaching open-mindedness and acceptance.
  17. itt: ankur defends competitive ice skating wait, what?
  18. e-blasphemy and having a moustache are both suspendable offenses.
  19. this has been the most fulfilling tournament since i've been alive. we broke the curse! and had a good game against a k-state team that had to play out of their minds and get a career night out of pullen to beat us. jimmer fredette is our god now.
  20. lebron is a publicity whore.
  21. the fact that we're stringing together some road wins (especially games where we're down at the half, and second halves of back to backs) is really promising for this team. but i'm predicting some idiotic move before tomorrow night that hurts us pretty badly out of greg miller.
  22. Gary Busey

    espnsider?

    When you look at the rosters of the two teams in the Rookie Challenge, there is a noticeable difference: The rookie class is dominated by guards, while the sophomore class features a lot of talented big men. However, when we combine these two classes, something else jumps out: The stark difference in talent level between the rooks and sophs. It's not a huge surprise since people talked about how talented the 2008 class was and how shallow the 2009 class was prior to each draft. But take a look at this list and you'll get a better idea. I'm ranking the top rookies and sophs together, based on the value I see in them now and going forward. Here's my top 20: Lopez 1. Brook Lopez, Nets It's almost ironic that the top prize from these past two classes is a starter on possibly the worst team in NBA history. But that's how rare and valuable a franchise center is. Don't let the Nets' record fool you; Lopez is good enough to push a lot of teams into title contention. Lopez does almost everything well on both sides of the court and has handled the mess in Jersey as well as can be expected. And there is still a lot of room for growth in his game. Over the next few seasons, I see him becoming a special player. Rose 2. Derrick Rose, Bulls Now that he's healthy again, we are reminded of what sets him apart from most other point guards. In terms of explosiveness and power, he's the LeBron James of his position. He has a great vibe about him, too -- he's happy to dominate the game but just as happy to watch a teammate take over. As Rose's court vision and jump shot improve, he'll only grow as a weapon for the Bulls. As it stands now, he's already an All-Star who can propel a team into the playoffs. Gasol 3. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies Gasol probably has less All-Star potential than some of the players listed below him, but no one doubts he can anchor a strong team. His skill set allows a coach to run any number of offensive sets because Gasol can be plugged into so many spots with varied roles. He's an excellent midrange shooter and a great finisher inside, and he'll be more athletic in the next few years as he learns to utilize his leaner body. On defense, he's a decent shot-blocker who also has an uncanny ability to rack up steals. Teams can spend years waiting to find a talent like Gasol at center. Love 4. Kevin Love, Timberwolves One way I like to categorize players is by asking, "Do teammates like to play with him?" For Love, I believe everyone in the league would say yes. His outlet passes are legendary, so sprinters love when he gets a rebound or takes the ball out after they give up a bucket. He's a great and willing screener, so scorers love using him to get free. And he's added a 3-point shot to his game, so now he helps his teammates by spreading the floor. Not to mention, he's a rebounding machine who can score 20 points in a game when necessary. Westbrook 5. Russell Westbrook, Thunder He can't shoot. And he's not a great finisher at the rim, either. But Westbrook still impacts and controls the game on a few levels and has proven to be a key factor in the Thunder's surge. Scary thoughts for the rest of the league. When a player is as productive as Westbrook is -- despite his youth and underdeveloped skill set -- it's a sign that his intelligence and athleticism are carrying him. As his skills improve, so will his overall impact. Evans 6. Tyreke Evans, Kings With the Kings sinking back to the bottom of the league (they are 4-20 since the miracle comeback in Chicago), questions are resurfacing about what position Evans should be playing. To me, it's not the appropriate question. Yet. On a team this bad, he certainly is not hurting the Kings with his ability to score, rebound and be the primary ball handler. If the team ever figures out how to defend the paint and begins to win half its games, then the question of Evans' best position has more meaning. And when that happens and he settles into whatever his permanent spot ends up being, he has the game to shoot up this list. Randolph 7. Anthony Randolph, Warriors Most 20-year-old basketball players in America are playing their sophomore season in college. Randolph, meanwhile, has been a very productive and efficient NBA player. If this list were based purely on upside, he'd be ranked even higher. Questions still exist about his lack of maturity and whether he's better as a 3 or a 4, but I love the improvement he showed before he got hurt. He's one of the most versatile big men in the game and, if he ever learns to shoot the ball well, could be an All-Star someday. Oden 8. Greg Oden, Trail Blazers Despite yet another season-ending injury, Oden is still highly regarded as a basketball player because we know what he can do in this league when healthy. He's like Yao Ming, who also has trouble staying healthy but won't be traded anytime soon because he's just impossible to replace. Oden can rebound, defend and finish in the paint. And he's a great teammate with a good-natured personality. That is a very rare package to find, especially in a 7-foot, 285-pound frame. Had Oden stayed healthy up to this point, he'd be No. 1 or No. 2 on this list. Beasley 9. Michael Beasley, Heat Beasley has settled into his role as a solid scorer and capable rebounder in Miami. But there are those of us who think he could be a high-level scorer in this league if he played in a different system that didn't feature one of the world's best offensive talents. However, that is not suggesting he'd be better off elsewhere. He is certainly benefiting from learning how to play a more complete game. After all, he has multiple 20-and-10 games this season and has made progress with defense, decision-making and ballhandling. Still, if he does not learn to compete on every possession, his potential decreases substantially. Mayo 10. O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies I'm not sure which of Mayo's talents is most impressive -- his ability as a deep shooter, his competitiveness or his willingness to play off of Gasol, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph on offense when he clearly could be a 20-plus ppg guy. Finding shooters who can defend with toughness and finish at the rim is not easy -- typically two of those three traits is the best a team can do. Mayo likely won't be the best player on a playoff team, but he's good enough to be the best player in a playoff series. And he might get that chance in April. Blair 11. DeJuan Blair, Spurs Blair's free fall to the No. 37 pick may go down as one of the biggest NBA draft blunders ever. Teams just couldn't wrap their arms around his ACL-less knees. For the record, doctors were more concerned with the long-term erosion of his cartilage due to having no ACLs than they were about him to potentially suffer a major injury. But now that teams see him doing what he has always done on the basketball court -- wreak havoc in the paint -- they realize their mistake. There are 29 other NBA teams that could use Blair as either a starter or an energy guy/rebounder off the bench. Lawson 12. Ty Lawson, Nuggets Lawson, like Blair, is so valuable because he can greatly help his team as a starter or a reserve thanks to his game and maturity level. The same can not be said for every talented player. Lawson's ability to shoot, distribute and handle the ball makes him extremely difficult to counter because he's just so fast on the court. It also seems likely that he'll be able to handle a slower game, so projecting him to manage the pace in a playoff game is easy. Jennings 13. Brandon Jennings, Bucks Who is the real Brandon Jennings -- the young man who tore up the league in November or the one who has struggled the past two months? I see it like this: If a player can play great for a month, then that is the goal to shoot for down the road, since he showed the ability to reach that level to begin with (as opposed to hoping a player can reach that level without ever seeing him do it). Jennings has grabbed a lot of attention in basketball circles, so consequently he will be very busy at All-Star Weekend in Dallas. Ironically, though, it's probably the worst thing for him. If any player needs time to catch his breath and re-energize for the second half of the season, it's Jennings. Thabeet 14. Hasheem Thabeet, Grizzlies Even though he has done little thus far, Thabeet has a spot on this list because he can be a game-changing presence on defense. You do the math: Four of the top five defensive teams in the league right now are title contenders, and the other is the league's most improved team (Thunder). Meanwhile, Memphis plays its best defense when Thabeet is on the floor. His minutes will improve as his offensive game develops, but he does not have to score much to be effective. It's very hard to find a player who can impact the game the way Thabeet has the potential to do. Curry 15. Stephen Curry, Warriors Curry is the toughest guy for me to gauge. I absolutely love his game and have always believed he could be an excellent point guard. However, I still see him as a bit unproven, simply because of where he is playing -- Golden State is so unlike any other NBA system. Otherwise, he'd be higher on this list. He appears to be a good playmaker and perhaps can become an excellent one. And, of course, he's a terrific shooter, so he can play in any system and with any players. Imagine him in a Cavs uniform. Or a Heat one. Wow. Speights 16. Marreese Speights, 76ers Before the 2008 draft, I wrote that the two biggest "upside/downside" guys were Speights and Randolph. In both cases, we're seeing why (although they both appear to have more upside than downside). Speights is an offensive phenom, kind of like Al Jefferson and Amare Stoudemire in that he can get buckets in a variety of ways in the paint. He's improved as a shooter from 16 feet to 19 feet too. If he rebounded better, he'd be higher on this list. But after a season and a half, it does not appear that this will be an area of strength for him. Still, players who demand a double-team in the post are rare, and Speights could end up being in that category. Gallinari 17. Danilo Gallinari, Knicks We all know what a sweet shot he has, but it seems Gallinari is more of a niche player than I'd like such a young guy to be. He's not asked to do much beyond shoot 3s and run, though he mostly just shoots 3s. It's possible he can do more, and it's also possible he is going to get much better, just as fellow Italian Andrea Bargnani has. But even if he just maintains his current level, he's a valuable player because he's such a good shooter and he's eager to show it. Flynn 18. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves I watched Flynn get benched the other night in favor of Ramon Sessions even though Flynn was not playing poorly. He responded by being the most animated cheerleader possible, celebrating loudly as his team came back and beat Memphis. After the game, it was reported that Flynn was asked to go back in but declined out of respect for how well Sessions was playing. That only solidifies my feelings that he would be an incredible option for a team as a sixth man. But in any event, an attitude like that, combined with his dynamic abilities to attack off the dribble and shoot, makes him an important piece to any puzzle. Harden 19. James Harden, Thunder Had the Thunder not acquired defensive ace Thabo Sefolosha last season, we'd be seeing more of Harden, who can help a team both as a scorer and as an all-around player, which is a rare combination. Harden is one of the top three passers on this list and, in a few years, should be one of the best defenders on this list, too. Because the team is built around Kevin Durant's talent, we don't always get to see Harden's gifts. But as the Thunder's young core grows together, I expect we'll see Harden's offensive production jump. If you told me that in two seasons he'll be second in scoring, assists and steals in OKC, it would not surprise me at all. Anderson 20. Ryan Anderson, Magic There is ample evidence that a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy exists in the NBA in the form of draft picks. Lottery picks, for example, are given far more chances to succeed than lower picks, even when it appears that should not be the case. Extra chances equal extra opportunities. So players like Anderson, drafted outside the lottery and stuck behind talented veterans, have to fight more to get the same treatment given to a lottery pick like Gallinari, a similar player in most respects. And it may never happen. But when Anderson started in place of Rashard Lewis early in the season, he was excellent. There are a number of big guys who can shoot, but not nearly as many who can play. Anderson can do both. Just missed the cut Roy Hibbert, Pacers; Eric Gordon, Clippers; Rudy Fernandez, Blazers; George Hill, Spurs; Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks; Omri Casspi, Kings; Taj Gibson, Bulls; Jeff Teague, Hawks.
  23. maybe this would be funny/impressive if they had a funny write in get like 85% of the vote. but it's not.
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