Sheridan’s MVP Rankings, March 19 Edition: Blake Griffin > LeBron James

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blakefunkThe readers have spoken … and the readers are thinking the same thing I am thinking: Blake Griffin is a stronger MVP candidate than LeBron James.

We published a poll late last week asking readers to chime in on the question of who should be sitting in the No. 2 spot beneath Kevin Durant, and Griffin drew 61 percent of the vote.

Yes, it seems sacrilegious to list LeBron third-best at anything – especially after he had another one of his freakish performances last night in Cleveland, dropping 25 in the first quarter and finishing with 43.

But how come he only seems to have those nights when Dwyane Wade is sitting out?

Remember when Bron-Bron went for 61 against the Bobcats a couple weeks ago? Yes, we all remember, because it was one of the more unforgettable nights of this season by any player from any team. But in the seven games afterward, he never scored more than 24 (or fewer than 17) as his team lost five of those seven games.

LeBron had 27 turnovers (against 47 assists) in that seven-game span, which is Westbrook territory when it comes to leading your team to empty possessions.

Most importantly, that seven-game stretch marked a period in which the Heat squandered an opportunity to quit looking up in the standings at the Indiana Pacers, who were having problems of their own. Miami and Indiana will play each other two more times – the next matchup coming a week from tonight – and those games will go a long way toward determining which will enter the postseason with a decent head of steam.

So whether we are talking playoff positioning or the MVP award, the race is far from over. This week’s rankings are only a last-day-of-winter heat check.

But for now, LeBron’s failures during March outweigh his triumphs.

And that means he drops one spot behind Griffin, who hasn’t scored fewer than 20 points since Jan. 18. That’s 28 in a row for those who may be wondering. Oh, by the way, the Clippers have more victories (48) than the Heat (46), in case you needed a little extra convincing.

So on to the rankings we go …

1 KEVIN DURANT, F, OKLAHOMA CITY: How long until we start hearing conjecture about him joining the Lakers … or the Knicks. His contract is up in 2016, and all that hoops journalism is about these days is speculating about what will happen on July 1 — of this year, or beyond. Yes, I am overdramatizing. But free agency speculation is waaaaay out of control. 1
2 LAC_Griffin_Blake BLAKE GRIFFIN, F, LA CLIPPERS: Besides the intro, here’s another factoid: Griffin is a better endorser than James when it comes to selling cars. Just ask the folks at Kia. But in all seriousness, Griffin has scored 20 or more points 46 times to LeBron’s 52. But in 2014, Griffin leads ‘Bron, 40-39. 3
3 LeBRON JAMES, F, MIAMI:  I am not hating on him, OK? If I was starting a team from scratch, he’s the first player I would take because of his overall skills and his astounding level of confidence — a trait that has only has manifested itself in the past two years. But let’s face it: ‘Bron’s team should be playing at a higher level, kicking things into gear the way they did last season. 2
4 Charlotte Bobcats AL JEFFERSON, C, CHARLOTTE: Once you get below No. 3, this exercise gets tricky. So what puts Big Al in this slot? Two words: Mike Dunlap. You want a further explanation? Folks … this team was 21-61 a year ago, OK? The East’s POW is the linchpin in one of the biggest franchise turnarounds we’ve seen in years. 7
5 Chicago Bulls Media Day JOAKIM NOAH, C, CHICAGO: This podcast veered toward Coach of the Year, and a strong case can be made that Tom Thibodeau is the most deserving man out there — largely because of this guy, the best passing big man I have seen since David Robinson. The William Hill betting offers include a 70-1 price on the Bulls winning the title. 5
6 TOR_Lowry_Kyle KYLE LOWRY, TORONTO: Every week someone breaks in with a bullet, a testament to me being fickle and running super hot and super cold. Yes, it seems there should be someone from the 50-win Spurs in this slot, but that team is a special case. This guy has been spectacular since the Rudy Gay trade, especially lately. He’s going to make big, big bucks as a free agent this summer. -
7 JAMES HARDEN, G, HOUSTON: When we get down to seventh and beyond, there is very little differentiating the candidates, all of whom will draw fifth-place votes when the ballots are sent out. One of the most interesting subplots will be who is fourth and who is fifth. By the way, I know it is old news and all, but WHAT THE HECK WERE THE THUNDER THINKING WHEN THEY TRADED THIS GUY?! 7
8 Warriors STEPHEN CURRY, G, GOLDEN STATE: The best golfer on this list, which is worth something, right? Or maybe it’s just that my golf deprivation is so acute as the endless winter that has gripped New York shows no signs of abating. On a more serious note, the Splash Bros. – Curry and Klay Thompson – are the first teammates to combine for 400 3-pointers in consecutive seasons 6
9 WAS_Wall_ John JOHN WALL, G, WASHINGTON: Fouled out in overtime vs. the Kings on Tuesday and looked like the second-best point guard on the floor. But that is a testament to the skills of Isaiah Thomas, who rang up a triple-double and gets his share of love in our Most Improved Rankings. As for Wall, he’s shooting 48 percent in his last 10 games, and Wiz still have a chance at a top 4 seed. 9
10 Carmelo_Anthony_Headshot CARMELO ANTHONY, F, NEW YORK: Yes, you may recoil in disgust – especially those in Indiana who are witnessing the first of these rankings without Paul George. But the fact is that NY takes straight wins into tonight vs. the Pacers, and Melo has been carrying them. By the way, my take on Phil Jackson’s newser was that Mike Woodson is out if Knicks miss the playoffs. -

DROPPED OUT: Goran Dragic (8), Paul George (10).

MORE RANKINGS: Rookies | Most Improved | Sixth Man | Power Rankings


March 12 Edition: Kevin Durant is Still No. 1 For Me
March 5 Edition: What Do the Readers Say?
Feb. 26 Edition: Why The Knicks Stink and ‘Melo Isn’t Worthy
Feb. 19 Edition: Who is the LeBron James of NBA Writers?
Feb. 12 Edition: Like a Frozen Block of Ice
Feb. 5 Edition: The Benefits of Riding Solo
Jan. 29 Edition: Is The Race Over?
Jan. 22 Edition: KD Rocks the Hard Rock
Jan. 15 Edition: Where Will Adam Silver Be Hated First?
Jan. 8 Edition: Vegas Baby, Vegas
Jan. 1 Edition: Good Riddance, 2013
Dec. 25 Edition: LBJ and Wi Tu Lo
Dec. 18 Edition: Aldridge Moves to No. 1
Dec. 11 Edition: Still Limited Love for LeBron
Dec. 4 Edition: Paul George Back at No. 1
Nov. 27 Edition: Viva Tony Parker
Nov. 20 Edition: Durant takes over No. 1 spot.
Nov. 13 Edition: Paul George is No. 1.

Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter.

PODCAST: Phil Jackson Isn’t The Only Item Up For Discussion


Phil Jackson to the Knicks was definitely the story of the day. When a guy with 13 championship rings takes on a new job, there’s no getting around the importance of the moment.

But there are 29 other teams making news of one kind or another, and I found time on 1280AM in Salt Lake City to deviate away from Jackson and discuss Coach of the Year, the sleeper teams in the East and the West, and the debate over whether Blake Griffin has become a more worthy MVP candidate than LeBron James.

Popular Basketball Internet Radio with Sheridan Hoops Radio on BlogTalkRadio

How Did Most Improved Player Candidates Fare in March Madness?

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andredrummondIt’s March Madness, and that can only mean one thing.

I just spent the past 48 hours writing three paragraphs on all 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament for my blog, If I have to hit the parentheses button one more time, I’m going to lose my index finger (I put a lot of the stats in parentheses). Dammit.

In the spirit of the Big Dance, I’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the greatest March Madness moments from each of our Most Improved Player candidates. Lord knows it’s a better idea than putting them all into a fake tournament.

So without further paragraphs, let’s take a look at each player and how they fared in March Madness:

Goran Dragic: OK, bad start. Dragic didn’t play college basketball because he’s from Slovenia. But if he had, I think he would’ve gone to St. Mary’s, and led them to the Sweet 16. There, his Gaels would have gotten hosed on every call and subsequently lost to an overseeded Duke team led by a bunch of future crappy NBA players. I think Jay Bilas would have described him as a “really good” point guard with “excellent ball skills.”

Andre Drummond: UConn was a disaster the only year Drummond was there. The Huskies lost to Iowa State in their first game and Jim Calhoun’s last one. Andre averaged 10 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 Calhoun Panic Attacks per game that season. He was way too talented for those numbers.

Lance Stephenson: He played one season at Cincinnati, which didn’t make The Dance. “Born Ready” was probably outstanding in the NIT, even though the Bearcats bowed out in the second round.

Anthony Davis: The ‘Brow is the clear winner here. He’s a college legend for his ridiculously successful freshman year at Kentucky in 2012. Davis won the National Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year awards. He also won the national championship and ended up as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, something no one else in NCAA history has done. Other than that, he sucked.

DeAndre Jordan: A Jordan-led Texas A&M team almost upset Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love’s UCLA squad in 2008, falling 53-49, in a second-round heartbreaker. I can remember Jordan holding onto his shorts in the lane as the camera panned to him immediately after the buzzer sounded. It was a heck of an effort. Jordan only spent one season at A&M and averaged just 7.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

Isaiah Thomas: The Hustlin’ Husky was a star at Washington, where he played in the Big Dance each of the three years he was there. UW hasn’t been back since. The best tourney moment for Thomas had to be when he led the 11th-seeded Huskies to the Sweet 16 in 2011. That Washington team manhandled Darrington Hobson and No. 3 New Mexico, 82-64, in the second round.

Well…that was fun, wasn’t it?

And the best part? No Rony Seikaly Region.

On to the rankings.

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From the Clouds: This Week’s Most Improved Player Rankings

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A well-proportioned, wise Italian man with a radio show in New York once told me and a listening audience of probably hundreds that the NBA “goes into the clouds” in February and March. I can’t really remember his name, OK? So let’s just call him Ike Manfresca.

Manfresca’s quote has always stuck with me, because:  (a) it was so strange and (b) it’s the perfect way to describe the seasonal malaise that rolls in around this time of year, like a warm front heading northeast from the Great Basin.

In March, the NBA exists in a dream-like state, as players shuffle through the hazy backstretch of the season, traveling from city to city to city almost on muscle memory.

They box out, fill fast break lanes and take contested jump shots without even thinking, like you getting off that exit you always get off on your way to work. You know what I’m talking about. Sometimes you sit there and think, How did I get here this morning? I don’t remember anything from the minute I remote-started my car.

It’s the same with coaches, who will complain to referees and shout nonsensical jargon at their players without using the frontal lobe of their brains.

How did we end up in a 3-2 zone?, they wonder. I don’t even remember anything I said in that second quarter timeout.

For fans, March is the time when you stop listening to the guest speaker and start to wonder how many bananas you’ve eaten in your life.

Casual fans have already turned their attention to college basketball, which is infinitely more exciting this time of year. It’s easy to tune out the professionals and happen upon scores while looking up at TV screens at the bar, or by accidentally clicking “NBA” instead of “College Basketball” on your smartphone app.

Sure, many teams are fighting tooth and nail for the posteason, and some, like the Pacers (who have lost four in a row), might be sleepwalking as home court advantage – and ultimately the Larry O’Brien Trophy – slips through their fingers, eyes glazed over.

But for most fans, the games have gotten repetitive and redundant. Bobcats-Nuggets in November is exciting and intriguing. Bobcats-Nuggets in March i

Sorry, I lost interest in that last sentence.

It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just that the NBA season is like a movie that waits too long to get to the climax. We get it. The East sucks, LeBron is awesome, Kevin Durant might win MVP, and Kels Dayton is an up-and-coming sportswriter.

Enough cheeky dialogue. Get to the part where people start jumping out of planes!

It’s going to happen soon, but first we have to take a trip through the clouds. Call it the calm before the storm. Or call into Ike Manfresca’s radio show.

Wake me up when we get to April.

Until then, I’ll be watching the MAAC championship.

On to the rankings.



Whoa….how did we get here? I don’t even remember typing any of that.

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Tweet of the Night: Brent Barry impressed by the Suns despite their loss to the Clippers

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Blake_Griffin_with_ball_20131118_Clippers_v_GrizzlesMonday’s contest between Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns looked to be over early when Blake Griffin was having one of those games where he simply could not be stopped by anyone.

Griffin scored 22 points in the first quarter alone on an array of shots and moves around the basket and even payed a little homage to Karl Malone on this breakaway dunk. He shot a ridiculous 14-of-16 from the field for 37 points, and the Clippers got out to a 62-45 lead at half time. The Suns, however, kept clawing away at the lead despite the power forward’s dominance and eventually brought the game down to a single-digit lead for the Clippers in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately for both teams, things had to get real feisty before that happened.