Monday, December 31, 2012

11 Year Old Ankle Breaker

Around the Arc is a little late to the posting party with this one, but better late than never.  Check out the handles on 11 year old point guard prodigy Julian Newman.  The footage found in this video is apparently Newman playing at the varsity level and having his way with kids that are both bigger and older than him. 

Either these varsity players have zero concept of defense, or they were all just in awe of the kid's abilities at such a young age.  Either way, it's always cool to see such talent in a preteen, and this video is definitely worth a watch. Clink the link below to jump to the video.

11 year old ankle breaker

Friday, December 28, 2012

Harden goin' Hard

Despite early concern surrounding the trade of James Harden (including from yours truly) the Oklahoma City Thunder seem to be doing pretty well so far this season without the bearded one providing instant offense off of the bench. They are still the team to beat in the West, and have a great shot at a return trip to the Finals this coming summer.  Kevin Martin has provided solid O off the bench, and has taken off some of the scoring load that weighs heavily on Durant and Westbrook.

With that being said, James Harden seems to be doing pretty well for himself.  It seems that maybe Harden felt he couldn't develop into a full-fledged superstar sharing the shine with Russ and KD, and that he was capable of being a team's go-to-guy, which he has done his best to prove correct so far this season.

Harden is straight beasting in Houston, finally giving the League a glimpse of his full ability, as he seems to be thriving as the focal point of the Rocket's offense.  Yes, both sides seem to be doing fine so far this season despite doubts that the sides needed each other to succeed.  While OKC may be a couple steps closer to championship contention than Houston, Harden has the squad looking like a contender a lot quicker than most expected, as he and Jeremy Lin of "Linsanity" fame have formed one of the League's best backcourts. 

The Thunder are headed straight to the playoffs and are an early favorite to make a return trip to the Finals.  While Houston isn't at that level yet, they have made some big strides already this season with Harden at the helm.  In fact, don't be surprised to see these two sides, which once fit together so well, facing each other in a playoff series come spring.


For proof of Harden's developing dominance, take a look at this video from the other night of him closing out the Timberwolves with 17 4th quarter points: Harden dominates T-Wolves.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Unwilling or Unable: Dwight's Disappointment so far

Dwight Howard has been disappointing in Laker Land to say the least.  Rather than stepping into the team's superstar role and taking just a little pressure off of Kobe's ever-aging body, Dwight has all too often faded into the background, and hindered the team with poor free throw shooting and decision making in crunch time. 

Kevin Ding, from the Orange County Register has a nice take on the Dwight situation in L.A. thus far, clink the link below for a jump to his piece.

 Howard: Unwilling or unable.

The season is still relatively young, but Dwight's legacy is being built, and up to this point, it doesn't read quite the way Laker fans would have liked.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

NJ teen asks gold medalist Gabby Doubglas to Prom?

New Jersey teenager Leon Purvis is hoping to strike gold with his prom date next year.  Leon, who gained mild internet fame last year with his YouTube video asking Justin Beiber to his junior prom, is at it again.  This time, the target is gold medalist Gabby Douglas.

In a Youtube video posted last week, Purvis asks Douglas to prom, stating "It will be an honor if you went to my senior prom with me, as my date.  Not only is your story incredible and you are an amazing person, but your work ethic really inspires me."

Purvis, who attends Glassboro High School in New Jersey, has yet to hear back from Gabby Douglas, but remains hopeful.  "I'm hoping to get her to be the date to my senior prom," he states.

If successful, Purvis won't be the first high school student to secure a professional athlete as a prom date in 2012.  In May, high school senior Joyce Grendel went out on a limb and asked Cleveland Brows cornerback Joe Haden to her prom via Twitter, and was extremely excited when he accepted the invitation.

There was also fellow olympian, Lindsey Vonn, who agreed to attend a sophomore's homecoming.
So, Purvis' request isn't completely unusual, but you can't help but keep your fingers crossed for the kid.  If his invitation gets denied however, at least he has a backup plan in place.  "This year Gabby is my first choice," he explains. "All the other girls will be the backup if she doesn't go."

Can't fault the kid for trying.

P, Not Always so Swaggy

Nick Young, the Sixers’ exciting swingman, has the rare ability as a basketball player to make you want to hug him one second, and then choke him out on the very next play. Watching Young can be fun, fulfilling, and frustrating all at the same time for a Sixer fan.

Nick has unlimited range and can light it up in a second. He provides instant offense off of the bench, and his array of deep threes and off-balance shots often serve to fire up and energize the crowd. He can swing momentum in the Sixers’ favor with a single swish, and has the ability to run off nine straight points before the defense even knows what hit them.

The problem with the player dubbed as “Swaggy P” however, is that he also often lacks a conscience. This is not necessarily a surprise, as it is the case with many great shooters, but at times it presents a problem. Nick knows how good he can be when he is hitting his shots, but the problem is he often forces up many ill-advised shots in an effort to obtain that hot streak. Too much of Young’s shot selection doesn’t come in the flow of the offense, and this is when his unlimited range and confidence can become detrimental.

A more well-rounded player with Nick’s same scoring ability would be an almost unstoppable weapon. If instead of forcing up some of those shots that have you scratching your head and screaming at your television, Young instead swung the ball to another open shooter, or dropped it inside for a potentially easier shot on the kick back, he could be an extremely versatile offensive option.

Instead, as a guard, Nick has never averaged more than 1.2 assists per game, and thus has never been a viable starting option; he has started in only 106 of his 376 career games. Nick continues to fill that instant offense off the bench spot for each squad he lands with, and while his highs are very high and he is a threat to have on the court, his inconsistencies and inabilities are often extremely frustrating, and place quite a cap on his overall versatility and usability.  Too often he forgets about the 'swing' in swingman.

So while Nick has brought some excitement and scoring support to the Sixers, he is largely a one-trick pony that lacks true depth to his game.  He can score with the best of them, has a bright personality, and some of the best taste in sneakers in the League, but due to his inconsistency on the court, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him shipped somewhere else next season. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bynum Beware

It’s unfortunate really, given the amount of excitement surrounding his singing, and his ability when he is actually able to perform.  Bynum could have been a franchise-changing piece for the 7-6, but given his past injury issues and the struggles he has faced throughout this season, Philadelphia cannot justify singing him to a long-term deal after the year.  Bynum, an all-star caliber center, is a free agent next summer after his first season in Philly, and leaves potential suitors in quite a quandary.

At his singing many figured he would be the long-term solution for the Sixers at center, providing them with both the low post presence, and all-star, go-to-guy mentality that they have long been lacking.  However as the season has gone on with one setback to Andrew’s knees followed by another and no guarantee that he is even going to step out onto the hardwood this season, the Sixers find themselves in a very interesting spot.
It would have been nice to have a clear centerpiece, literally, to build around, especially one as potentially potent as Andrew, and especially considering the Sixers’ recent identity struggles since the days of A.I.  Bynum, knees willing, could have been the central part for the franchise going forward, with which additional parts were pieced in around.  The Sixers took some strong steps to compete in a sort of shallow Eastern Conference this offseason, surrounding their new center with shooters and scorers, which has allowed them to remain competitive, even without Andrew out there. 

However, without him out on the court to judge what he can possibly produce and provide for the franchise, and no clear timetable for his return, the Sixers can’t justify bringing him back.  Injuries aside, Andrew would be in line for a max deal, as he is one of the best and most capable big men in a League where such players are few and far between.  In other words, Andrew would be in line for quite a pay day, were his knees not made of Doritos.  

Some team in need of a big will undoubtedly sign him, maybe even with a high price tag, due to his huge potential when he plays.  Unfortunately, the Sixers cannot be that team.  The Sixers have been stuck in mediocre mode for a decade now, and financially handcuffing themselves to a player handicapped by his knees is not a smart move to help further the franchise.  If the Sixers sink big money into Bynum and he is only able to play half of each season (half a season seems generous at this point), then they will not have gotten a wise return for their investment.  The size of the contract which Bynum will presumably be seeking would hinder the mid-level spending Sixers from following other free agents; ones that while maybe not as productive as Andrew, will actually be able to contribute on the court.  A team that is not so precariously placed on the border between lottery bound and true contender as the Sixers are, can take a risk on singing the bewildering Bynum, as his presence may not be as central to such a team’s success as it was supposed to be for this seasons’ Sixers.  

That’s what makes this whole thing so frustrating.  For once it looked like the Sixers had things figured out.  They had acquired one of the League’s best bigs and surrounded him by capable shooters and scorers.  With Andrew in the lineup the Sixers are a serious threat to take a top three seed in the East.  Without him unfortunately, they look a lot like they have in the past several seasons, and unless serious progress in made in Bynum’s knee saga, or a trade is made, it’s back to the drawing board in the offseason.  The Sixers, in their current state, just can’t risk sinking money into another Greg Oden.  

The trade, although far from what the Sixers hoped it would be at this point, isn’t all bad however.  It allowed the team to finally unload Andre Iguodala, maybe a season or two too late, with minimal backlash from fans, as they actually received solid compensation in return (had he been healthy).  Worst case scenario; Bynum doesn’t play all season, the Sixers don’t resign him and instead have a lot of cap room to go after other players.  Yes, in that case, this season may be viewed as a waste, but nothing about the trade cripples the franchise going forward, as long as the team doesn’t resign him in the offseason.  Such a large-scale singing would make the future of the franchise as shaky as Andrew’s knees.