Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NBA Season 2008-09: The Balance between Eastern and Western Conference

I just watched a Yahoo Sports interview with Kenny Smith and Marc Spears regarding the top teams in the NBA. To my surprise, what I was supposed to be writing a few months ago was exactly what Kenny Smith has been talking about in the interview. Well, I guess every avid NBA fan knows about it though but I just would like to stress out that what Kenny has been telling us is a fact thru statistics.

In the last regular season of the NBA, teams get to play with their conference opponents 52 games out of a possible 82 games while the 30 games are against opponents outside their conference. Combining these simple statistics with the knowledge of the rosters in the NBA for both conferences, I'd say it's pretty obvious that an NCAA format of tournament rankings should have been implemented instead. Of course if this would be possible, in which I doubt would be happening in the soonest possible time, conference games would be narrowed down. But in reality, it's more than just a mere tweaking of the playoff arrangements. Of course that format will cost way lots of money than the current conference and division set-ups.

Going back, I think the only way we could see the balance between both conferences now would be on the emphasis on the quality of the GMs in their respective conferences and salary cap of course. Taking a look at franchise building, it's amazing how the Portland Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder have delighted us by turning their teams to playoff contenders especially in the Western conference. Kevin Pritchard and Sam Presti have done remarkable jobs at constructing their teams. Sam Presti is deserving to win this year's GM of the Year if not for Daryl Morey's surprisingly better team Houston Rockets riding oft-injured franchise players Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. Teams from the Eastern Conference, with the emergence and downfall of the Detroit Pistons and the rising of franchise players such as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson and Chris Bosh, have done simply nothing to improve their teams except for the almost effortless Boston Celtics reconstruction. Instead of taking advantage of the predictable decline of the Pistons, Eastern conference GMs were contented with minor tweaks and settling for a subpar record but a playoff opportunity. Chicago Bulls should have been strongly contending, so should the Toronto Raptors and the disappointing Washington Wizards who gave up tons of money for a fake franchise player Gilbert Arenas. And while many people and analysts consider Atlanta Hawks as a powerhouse team, I don't. This team should have also taken care of its homework. With its current roster, it's impossible for them to compete against the Celtics, Magic and the Cavaliers. They are happy to be bullying the Eastern conference with their lineup and beat playoff contenders such as the Miami Heat. This team is supposed to be strong but put it in the Western conference and it's just an eighth-seeded team going into playoffs.

Western conference GMs took the other way around. While the Los Angeles Lakers have been consistently beefing up their roster, other teams took the challenge head on and beefed up their rosters too. After Shaq got traded to the Eastern conference, many would have thought the Texas triumvirate San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets and the Phoenix Suns would have clearly dominated the NBA but things have changed pretty fast when Memphis Grizzlies threw away Pau Gasol for the younger Marc Gasol which is now actually starting to pay off. Denver Nuggets went from first round playoff contenders to a sudden conference finals contenders by acquiring Chauncey Billups and finally a healthy roster. The Spurs are again a team to watch out for after having been acquired Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess. A lot of Western conference GMs took no season to relax their budget by making bold moves in their roster as they attempt to squeeze out the best out of their franchise players during their primes such as Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Roy, Kevin Durant and an already declining Spurs dynasty.

Having these things been pointed out, Eastern conference powerhouse teams Magic, Celtics and Cavs will have fresher legs come Finals time since their starters are well-rested while developing their bench players as the season goes on. The trend for lower tier Eastern conference teams will still be the same for the years to come unless they start on not relying too much on the NBA draft. They've got LeBron James and Dwayne Wade and have the up and coming Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings but the Western conference still have gotten the better of these recent drafts - Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, Andrew Bynum and Tyreke Evans.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Canon Powershot G11

The new top of the line Canon point and shoot camera has been released. The review can be found here.

Here's my two cents about the camera:
1. Trimming down of 14.7MP to 10MP. While an ordinary user may always tend to max out the image size to 14.7MP, users with past experience of using cameras may tend to disagree about it. It's a good idea to focus on the other functions of the camera but the trimming down will lessen its attraction to a newbie to cameras. Ordinary users do not usually go to Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop to post-process their still images. The highest possible megapixel resolution is advised for users who do post-processing and cropping of pictures. Let's face it, while you always have the largest resolution of photos taken, other people won't be able to see it online because photo sharing sites won't allow you to store very large photos unless you have premium accounts or viewers won't always zoom in and take that in-depth look at every photo. So what's left? A thumbnail resolution - trimmed down version of your photo. So for me, it's okay to have the megapixel trim down.

2. Low light mode. I actually haven't used and seen this camera yet but I'm looking forward to using this mode. It's a great thing especially for those users who often take shots at night.

3. Finally, with all the hype surrounding Panasonic LX3 and the arrival of G11 and other high-end point and shoot cameras, if you love to shoot to places where a DLSR is prohibited, compact cameras are the best option and love taking whatever has captured your attention, then go for these cameras.
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