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January Mailbag

 

Way better than paying bills

 

By Adam Hoff

 

Let’s just skip the intro.  I’ll pretend I wrote a clever lead-in and you pretend to care either way.

 

Kevin C. writes, “Did you see the AP recap of the recent Knicks-Hornets game?  It looks like your boy Dan Dickau is playing some ball.”

 

In case you missed it, the Associated Press write up of that thrilling 78-72 game featured the following: “On the diagram board in the Knicks' locker room, the game plan called for keeping the Hornets off the offensive glass and slowing down Davis and Dickau.  New York did neither.”  I didn’t know whether to start laughing or shake my head in admiration.  On the one hand, it’s hilarious that the Knicks would focus on a 6’0” backup point guard as a key to victory, but on the other hand, it serves as a perfect indication as to how far Dickau has come.  He was the best player in the state of Washington in high school, one of the best college players in the country at Gonzaga, and a first round draft pick.  But then he got to The League and was promptly buried on the bench in Atlanta of all places.  He battled some nagging injuries and the perception that he was too slow to guard anybody.  Despite some impressive cameos (11 assists in a single quarter, 19 points in 12 minutes three nights later), his career as a Hawk was notable primarily for a hideous red afro he unveiled for about a month.  Not the best of times.

 

Midway through his second season, Dickau was dealt to his hometown team, the Portland Blazers.  Could this be the place where he evolved into a cross between Tim Legler and Scott Brooks?  Negative.  He got shipped to Golden State as part of the perplexing Nick Van Exel trade.  Prior to the start of the season, he was on the move again, this time to Dallas as a throwaway piece in the Erick Dampier deal.  25 games later and he was packing his bags yet again.  New Orleans became his fifth team in less than three years and the first organization to give him any playing time whatsoever.  In 20 games with the miserable Hornets, Dickau is averaging 26 minutes, 11 points, and 4 assists per night.  He’s a threat from three, picks a few pockets, and knows how to run a team.  A wonderful passer and a fearless shooter, Dickau is showing that he belongs.  Whether that continues and he can become a role player for a winner remains to be seen, but so far he’s proving to be both a great example of perseverance and a pretty darn good player. 

 

Trent B. notes, “Pretty impressive picks in the first round of the playoffs.”

 

Thank you, Trent.  This was one of many emails about my fortuitous playoff picks from wild card weekend.  Not to go into too many details here, but let’s just say I should have gone to Vegas (or gone online) put everything I had on these games.  I’ll let you read the column for more details.

 

As for this coming weekend, I think we could see some great games.  The Vikings will give Philly all they can handle, but will have a hard time coming out with a victory if Moss is less than 100%.  There is no doubt that they can win though.  They had enough talent to be my preseason pick to win it all, so it’s not like this is all that surprising.  The other NFC game feels as if it is completely up for grabs.  Nobody knows how Vick is going to feel.  The usual road disadvantage for the Rams is mitigated by the fast turf of the Georgia Dome.  St. Louis has their offense in high gear.  Then again, they aren’t playing the bumbling Seahawks anymore.  The Falcons are well coaches, have an underrated defense, and a terrific rushing attack.  If Atlanta can sustain at least five drives of seven or more plays, they will win.  That’s the magic number.

 

Over in the AFC, three of the four teams playing are the top three favorites to win the Super Bowl.  If you do the math, you can see that someone is going home disappointed.  If you believe my prediction that the Jets are going to beat Pittsburgh, two favorites will be out of it.  However, after watching New York teeter their way to a first round victory, I have some serious doubts about their ability to win in Pittsburgh.  That said, the weather won’t affect them, their defense is playing well, Pittsburgh will need to shake off the rust of a week off, and I actually think Chad Pennington will be the better of the two quarterbacks.  I guess this game really comes down to how well the Jets are able to contain Jerome Bettis.  I have a feeling that the winner is going to be aided by either special teams play or a defensive score.  Just a hunch.  In the huge Colts-Pats matchup, everything looks good for New England.  They are rested, ready, and as healthy as they are going to be for this season.  They have Corey Dillon.  They OWN the Colts.  However, this is starting to feel like “the year” for Peyton.  I’m staying with the champs with very little hesitation, but I will no longer be surprised of Indy wins on Sunday and goes on to win it all.  Dwight Freeney is making me a believer. 

 

Mo R. asks, “Randy Moss’ fake mooning … jacked up or blown out of proportion?” 

 

I have to say, my impression is that the only people terribly upset about this move are: A) Packers fans, B) Moss haters, C) Joe “Captain Sanctimonious” Buck, and D) writers that are looking to “get their preach on” about the state of sports in America.  I personally thought it was harmless and kind of funny, considering the tradition in Green Bay for fans to moon the visiting team bus after a victory.  I mean, don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.  Yes, Randy Moss is a clown with no clue how to conduct himself in the national spotlight, but this was really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  If only it was hockey, we could have gotten a little pressed ham on glass.  Then we’d have something to talk about. 

 

Mike T. asks, “What do you think of Seth Davis’ statement that the Missouri Valley Conference and West Coast Conference should get a minimum of five teams between them into the Big Dance this year?”  (I paraphrased that one … I lost the original email.)

 

I totally agree with SI’s college hoops expert.  I think we are all sick and tired of seeing 17-13 teams get into the NCAA Tournament over solid “mid majors” with 23-6 records.  Utah State’s exclusion from last year’s pool was an absolute crime.  And while some middling teams from power conferences (Alabama comes to mind) make dangerous #8 seeds and probably belong in the field, I have a big problem with brutal teams from conferences like the Mountain West and Conference USA getting the nod, because they supposedly play in a better league.  So, yes, I think they should get at least five between them.  Not only that, but I bet that if Gonzaga, Pepperdine, St. Mary’s, Southern Illinois, and Northern Iowa all get bids (dream on, huh?), that combo will win no fewer than eight tournament games.  Three wins for one, five between the other guys.  Bare minimum.  But I can feel pretty good making such a guarantee knowing that the big conference suck-ups on the committee will never allow such a thing. 

 

James P. weighs in: “The NBA MVP debate heating is up.  Who do you like?  I still say it’s got to be KG.” 

 

It is hard to argue with the reigning winner.  He is the most complete player in the game, he’s the best fantasy player for about the fourth year in a row, and he gives his team 100% effort on every play of every game.  He’s throwing up a 24-15-6 nightly and is one of the best defensive players in the game.  Let’s face it, he’s the only thing keeping the Wolves afloat.  Other names that come to mind are the Three Suns (Stoudemire, Nash, and Marion cancel each other out), T-Mac (25-6-6 and has been the best player in the world since his 13 points in 34 seconds miracle), Dirk (27-10 with improved D and leadership), Ray Allen (24-4-4 for the upstart Sonics), Iverson (league-leading 28.4 points per game to go with 7.2 assists a night, plus improved shooting and incredible floor leadership), Wade and Shaq (also cancel each other out), and Tim Duncan (boringly steady). 

 

However, there’s only one choice for me.  LeBron.  I’m convinced he is on the path to becoming the greatest player in NBA history.  His maturity, leadership, physical presence, and clutch ability are all so advanced that it’s scary.  Plus, his hoop skills are pretty decent as well.  The guy’s putting up a 25-7-7.  He’s second in the league in steals at 2.3 per game.  He’s hitting a three and blocking a shot every game.  Perhaps most impressively, he’s improved his field goal percentage from .409 his rookie year to .493, good for fourth best among all perimeter players.  Not bad for a guy that supposedly couldn’t shoot.  To top it all off, the Cavs boast the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.  That’s the MVP.

 

Devin Q. asks, “So, any movie recommendations?”

 

I haven’t seen many movies lately but I’m excited to get out and see The Aviator, Sideways, and Life Aquatic.  We also have this gem to look forward: Karate Dog.  You have to read the plot summary to believe it.  When LAPD computer expert Peter Fowler (Simon Rex) investigates the killing of an old man in Chinatown, he finds the only witness is his dog, Cho Cho. But Fowler soon discovers Cho Cho is the only dog in the world who can speak to humans ... not only that, Cho Cho is an expert in martial arts. When they join forces to track down the mastermind behind the death of Cho Cho's master, it leads these unusual partners into uncovering a dangerous conspiracy that puts both of their lives in danger.” 

 

Matthew P. asks, “What did you think of the BCS Championship game?  Did Oklahoma choke or is USC just that good?”

 

It was nice to see all of the Big 12 lovers get smacked down by the “overrated” Pac-10 champs from South Central.  For all the talk of Oklahoma being beyond reproach in regard to their BCS status, they sure looked like crap against USC.  Jason White the better Heisman winner?  Give me a break.  He looked older than Brent Musberger (who looks like the guy who gets melted by the Holy Grail in Raiders of the Lost Ark, by the way – man that guy has aged) out there.  The vaunted defense?  They allowed 45 points in the first half alone.  If you wonder why I’m being so hard on the Sooners, it has everything to do with the lack of class exhibited by Stoops during his brief halftime interview in last year’s title game against LSU.  In a mere thirty seconds he managed to look like an idiot by correcting Lynn Swan (“Well, LSU might have the best scoring defense in the country, be WE have the best total defense!”) on a point of reference, blame the officials for their halftime deficit, and then dismiss LSU by saying that all their offense was purely the result of poor tackling by the OU defense.  Then this year he spent his halftime interview saying that Oklahoma was simply beating themselves with turnovers.  Yeah, USC had nothing to do with that 45-10 lead.  Way to handle failure, Bob.  (So to answer your question, USC is that good and Oklahoma is a bunch of babies that were overrated to begin with.)

 

Barry K. wonders, “Who is on your All-Just Needs Minutes Team?  NBA, that is.” 

 

I believe that aside from playing running back for the Denver Broncos, there is no better gig in the NBA than getting minutes on a team with Shaq in the middle.  Dwayne Wade is an all-league player now, Udonis Haslem has become serviceable, and Damon Jones is a legit fantasy option since being inserted as the point guard.  Even Eddie Jones’ Corpse is still playing pretty well.  Point being, I’m excited for the Dorrell Wright Adventure to being as soon as possible.  The word in Miami is that he’s not ready, but just look at fellow high schoolers Josh Smith, Dwight Howard, and J.R. Smith.  These guys are legit.  I’m guessing that Wright would be going for about 15 and 6 with steals and blocks if he were in Atlanta.  So he’s captain of this team.  The other four starters would be: Jumaine Jones of the Lakers (every time he gets over 30 minutes he hits at least five three’s), Earl Watson of Memphis (always dazzles when he gets a start), Juan Dixon of Washington (23.3 points per 48 minutes), and Al Jefferson of Boston (in top 10 in rebounds per minute). 

 

Thanks for the questions, keep ‘em coming!

 

Adam Hoff is a columnist for WhatifSports.com and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers of America.  He can be reached by email at ahoff@uchicago.edu or by sitemail at adamo112.

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