Sunday, February 28, 2010

Future Title Contenders in the NBA

While we are two months away from the 2009-10 NBA Playoffs, let's fast forward to the future five to seven years from now on and see what teams will be having the most potential with their current lineups.

Any team with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade - With James and Wade finally in their prime during these years, they'll look to contend and head for at least a couple of years to leave the NBA with their own legacy.

Atlanta Hawks - Although five years from now, their youthful team will be almost past their prime, I guess they should still be worth looking forward to. The surprise playoff contenders three years ago will become a force to reckon with in the Eastern Conference if Joe Johnson resigns with them and they get a decent young point guard to run their offense once Mike Bibby retires. Already, they are conference contenders with their athletic young lineup growing more mature with strong playoff experiences behind them building.

Oklahoma Thunder - The trio of Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook has proven to be something to look forward to. And it's fascinating that they have built a strong chemistry and a humble team with the right attitude. Of course GM Sam Presti's youth movement wonders are yet to be put to test unlike that of the Blazers but with a wise combination of key role players and just a starting center and shooting guard/ point guard away, their guaranteed to be a force to reckon with. Dropping from the playoffs this season is near impossibility since the Blazers, Rockets and Hornets were injury-plagued but imagine having a shot at John Wall or Evans Turner and they'll likely be unstoppable in the future given they can both fill in the gaps for the Thunder quickly. Wall will be their starting point guard while Westbrook will slide to the shooting guard spot.

Portland Trailblazers - The Blazers started with the right formula for the youth movement in this era by carefully making wise decisions on draft picks. However, with Greg Oden's injury-riddled career, it's all up to Brandon Roy if he'll become a legitimate superstar in the years to come. The center position is still something that needs to be filled given Greg Oden's status but like the Thunder, they also need a point guard badly who will complement Roy. Signing Andre Miller is still a wrong move for me because it hindered the growth of Jerryd Bayless who may or may not be the future point guard they're looking for. It also served as a panic cap space filler made by GM Kevin Pritchard. Bayless is a scoring point guard and while he has shown flashes of brilliance, what Roy needs is a pass-first guard. Given a slim chance at getting John Wall, it can be an option should they continue to falter in the playoff race.

New Jersey Nets - Even with the worst NBA record this season and probably will be the worst record in the NBA history, this team has a lot of potential to look forward to espcially with Brook Lopez, Courtney Lee and Devin Harris as their core players. Should LeBron James or Dwayne Wade or Joe Johnson decide to leave their respective teams, they should consider joining the Nets especially if they get the No. 1 Draft Pick for the 2010 NBA Draft. The only problem I'm seeing here is if Lee never surpasses the slump he's currently experiencing right now given his displeasure with him being traded by the Orlando Magic and if Harris ever gets a full season without having any major injuries occuring.

Minnesota Timberwolves - GM David Kahn and Kurt Rambis are still yet to find the right roster for this team given the abundance of talented players they have. Amongst all the young teams today, they have the most important pieces which are hard to find in this league - the big men. Kevin Love, Al Jefferson and even an intriguing potential for Darko Milicic makes them an envy of other young teams. As they wait for the right go-to guy which won't be the case should Ricky Rubio decide to play with them in the next two years, they'll still be in the bubble as an eighth seed for the playoffs in the future.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

A Golden Era of Point Guards in the NBA

I saw an article in RealGM explaining in detail how to deal with trades and lineups of lottery teams when all of a sudden the projected 2010 No. 1 NBA Draft Pick John Wall falls into their hands and I was excited about the prospect.

In this article, I'll write about the great deal of abundance of quality point guards that NBA is currently experiencing. Who knows, maybe the NBA won't be able to experience this kind of abundance of competitive on-the-floor generals.

We'll start of with the veteran point guards. While they've lost a lot of they're flashy penetrations and were way past their primes, they make it up with a richer NBA court vision experience.

1. Jason Kidd (9.8 PPG, 9.2 APG, 5.2 RPG, 1.9 SPG) - I'm a Mavericks fan and while it's tough to swallow the trade for giving up Devin Harris, I must say as seasons go by, Jason Kidd has become the much needed pass-first point guard of the team. He might not be an offensive force as he once was but his brilliant court vision has led them into proper execution of the Mavs' offense.

2. Steve Nash (17.6 PPG, 11.2 APG, 3.3 RPG, 0.5 SPG) - The run and gun Suns have been kind of rejuvenated this season with Steve Nash resigning for the Suns for three more years. It also benefitted Nash's stats as well. He was one of the reasons why Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson, Quentin Richardson, Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and even coach Mike D'Antoni became popular and received quite hefty contracts for themselves with his penetrate, pass and shoot offensive prowess. Although, most of the players mentioned above are now in their own different teams, it is clear to see that only Joe Johnson has been stellar and others struggled to find their rhythm because they miss the run and gun system that Nash runs in the Suns. This will also be a good reason to note that maybe Amar'e Stoudamire will also struggle if he ever leaves the Suns.

3. Chauncey Billups (20.2 PPG, 6.2 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG) - Despite the recent injury, his career revival in his hometown Denver has been amazing. He helped quickly transform the Nuggets into title contenders in just a couple of years. His instant offense and clutch shooting have been the biggest factors along with his transformation of Carmelo Anthony into a more mature franchise player.

4. Tony Parker (16.5 PPG, 5.8 APG, 2.4 RPG, 0.6 SPG) - Parker has been a key part of the Spurs Dynasty. He's torched other teams at the latter part of his career because of his improved jump shots. He is considered as one of the best point guards during their dynasty and underrated too although he has this season fading because of his recent injuries.

5. Mike Bibby (8.7 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.3 RPG, 0.9 SPG) - It's worth noting that while his numbers are low, he has at least stabilized and help establish Atlanta as a key playoff contender in the Eastern Conference together with Joe Johnson.

6. Andre Miller (13.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.0 SPG) - With his recent acquisition by the Blazers, it is unclear why GM Kevin Pritchard chose him to spend the $10M of cap space given Steve Blake's (who was recently traded) effective chemistry on the floor with their franchise player Brandon Roy and burgeoning scoring point guard Jerryd Bayless. But as the injuries take a toll in the Blazers, he provided a cushion for the team with his offense judging from his 52 point career high performance against the Mavs.

Starting with Chris Paul, here are some of the steady point guards that NBA teams have come to rely on:

1. Chris Paul (20.4 PPG, 11.2 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG) - Playing only 38 games this year and still injured, Paul has helped transform the Hornets into playoff contenders. He also revived the career of Peja Stojakovic and David West. Despite the watered down lineup of New Orleans, he is still considered as the best point guard in the NBA today that every team wants to have.

2. Deron Williams (18.4 PPG, 10.0 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.1 SPG) - While currently, Utah's lineup is better than Paul's Hornets. It's clear that Deron is what the Jazz needed - a big physical type of point guard. Besides, his numbers are clearly almost evenly matched with Paul's.

3. Rajon Rondo (14.1 PPG, 9.8 APG, 4.4 RPG, 2.5 SPG) - With the Big Three slowing down, he has blossomed into a legitimate franchise player for the Celtics. He peaked in last year's playoffs and averaged almost triple-doubles with Garnett's absence. His defensive awareness has led him to lead the point guards in steals. Despite all these, many still question his maturity off the court and his outside shooting.

4. Derrick Rose (20.0 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.9 RPG, 0.8 SPG) - The 2008 NBA No. 1 Draft Pick and Chicago's starting point guard has definitely become a luring factor for Wade to return to his homeland should he leave the Heat.

5. Jameer Nelson (12.1 PPG, 5.1 APG, 2.7 RPG, 0.8 SPG) - The starting point guard of the Orlando Magic became quite a sensation even getting an All-Star consideration before getting injured during their championship run last season. Despite being small, he has been the Robin of the Batman tandem with Dwight Howard although he often gets injured which is why the Magic always relies heavily on veteran backup point guards.

6. Aaron Brooks (19.4 PPG, 5.1 APG, 2.6 RPG, 0.9 SPG) - Brooks has definitely reaped in the absence of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming on the floor for the Houston Rockets. Despite his size, his scoring instincts has made him his team's go to guy with only Luis Scola and Trevor Ariza as complementary scorers.

While Paul and the gang are definitely much more experienced on the NBA floor, these are the point guards of the future to watch out for:

1. Russell Westbrook (16.5 PPG, 7.7 APG, 5.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG) - Westbrook is following the footsteps of Paul who's following the footsteps of Kidd. Although he isn't the franchise player of their team, he is doing everything else as the complementary Robin for Durant. He is averaging almost triple doubles with only his sophomore year in the NBA. A highly underrated player especially in the competitive list of top-notch point guards in the West.

2. Tyreke Evans (20.3 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.8 RPG, 1.5 SPG) - The top candidate to win, and almost guaranteed to, this year's Rookie of the Year award has proven to his team, the Sacramento Kings, that he is their franchise player and it was proven even more with Kevin Martin's shipping to the Rockets. What has gotten more interesting about this guy is he's a hybrid of a point guard and shooting guard and already even in his first year in the NBA, he has developed a killer instinct to close out games and still has the humility which is important during a player's early years in playing in the NBA.

3. Brandon Jennings (16.4 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG) - His 55 point career high game in his early rookie career proved that he is definitely legit. Despite foregoing a year to stay and play in NCAA and instead play in the Euroleague where he can earn money, he proved that playing with real men instead of playing with ballers at his age is a valuable experience which carried over in the NBA. Since his dazzling performance, he settled down and probably has hit the rookie wall today with opponents already prepared for their game plan against him. Nevertheless, I still can see Allen Iverson in him and his somewhat erratic shots.

4. Stephen Curry (15.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.8 SPG) - Curry has been known as the scoring point guard even before coming to the NBA. His outside shooting is superb for a player who's in his first year in the NBA. Because of his small size, Monta Ellis has criticized the Golden State Warriors for picking him up and not picking a complementary player to play alongside him who is currently the franchise player of the team. But now, he's proven he can co-exist with Monta even averaging a whopping 35.2 MPG on the court which was expected of Don Nelson for his habit of overstaying quality players on the court evidenced by Monta.

5. Jonny Flynn (13.8 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG) - The absence of Ricky Rubio has definitely earned him the starting point guard of the Wolves. While even he himself fancies on being together with Rubio on the court, he has been a sturdy point guard for them. Anyway, if Rubio will come in to join them, Flynn will slide on to the shooting guard spot which is quite intriguing since he also said he can do it himself.

6. Ty Lawson (9.2 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.1 RPG, 0.8 SPG) - Despite only logging the fewest minutes, 22.0 MPG, in the top draft picks, he is almost surely to be the Nuggets' starting point guard as Billups gets ready for retirement. His speed has killed teams with older point guards in which he compensates to with his small size. He has proven to be a great backup point guard today who provides instant offense off the bench for the Nuggets which was proven when Billups got injured.

7. Darren Collison (9.8 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.4 RPG, 0.9 SPG) - No one totally knew who he was until Chris Paul got injured. Don't be fooled by his stats here as he has proven to be a very good starting point guard for the Hornets while Paul is currently injured. Posting numbers of almost triple-doubles almost makes me disappointed that he should be starting for other teams like Indiana who badly needs an upgrade in the point guard slot.

While these players haven't played in the NBA, they're still worth mentioning here:

1. Ricky Rubio - Rubio is perhaps the most intriguing foreigh prospect to ever want to play in the NBA today. The young Spanish guard has torched players of his age with an astonishing quadruple double in the championship game of the FIBA Europe Under-16 Tournament. He is also a backup point guard in the official Spanish team and has already fought against Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Jason Kidd in the basketball championship of the Beijing Olympics 2008. Despite his very wide court vision and defensive prowess, he is still a question mark to scouts to the point of questioning whether he can fit in to the physical game that the NBA offers and handcheck fouling which is prohibited in the league in which he is very good at as an onball defender.

2. John Wall - Callipari, his head coach at University of Kentucky, has spoken glowingly of him. The projected and almost surely to be the No. 1 draft pick of the NBA 2010 Draft has even been told to not need instructions from his coach to run the offense of their team. He is often compared to Derrick Rose and what surprises me is that they say he's better than Rose.

The theory of every team getting topnotch quality point guards is coming closer to becoming true with the large number of guards more prepared to play in the NBA while centers are proving to be a rare gem these days as they often become injured or proven as not living up to their potential. The only problem for the GMs would be to find a perfect fit of core players to surround and complement them.

*Stats were take from Yahoo Sports from the 2009-10 NBA Season as of February 27, 2010.
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dissecting the Anatomy of Modern Programming Languages

If you're new to programming and you're having a difficulty learning the current mainstream languages, chances are, you've hit a wall and haven't gotten an idea on where to start. Hopefully this article will help you lower that wall and better understand the concepts surrounding these languages.

Having been into development as a profession for almost five years now and as an avid fan of programming languages, despite all these new languages constantly being released, there are only two core syntax you need to learn and these are the following:

- C/C++
- Basic

Having yourself enriched with the fundamentals and mastery of these two core syntax, you'll most likely achieve an ease of understanding with almost any new programming languages being released in the computing industry.

C is a very old and yet one of the most influential language of all time. Of course having limitations of its own, it has evolved into C++, hence the "plus plus" sign. With the demand for object-oriented programming style rising and a variety of flavors of operating systems and platforms coming out, Sun has developed a multi-platform language based on C++ popularly known as Java. With a syntax very much close to the heart of a lot of developers, and a nifty feature in which you can run a compiled version of your source code basically on any platform as long as you have the Java runtime installed in it, Java has been successful in the revival of the C syntax as the premiere language of choice by the developers.

Microsoft, who has been on the background with Sun's success and having been developed Visual Basic, Visual FoxPro and Visual C++, attempted to encourage developers to migrate to Microsoft products by implementing Visual J++. However, of course with Java's main advantage of running executable programs on any platform and J++ unable to bring this advantage to other platforms, it has been short-lived. But all this changed with the advent of Microsoft's .NET framework. Embracing the C++ syntax, Microsoft developed perhaps one of the most influential languages they've ever developed, the C#. C# is a language also based on the C syntax. And with the .NET framework and almost similar approach to Java, the company has finally and perhaps successfully attracted Java developers to shift into C#.

With Java being stagnant for quite some time now and programming on the internet increasingly becoming popular, some developers were not ready to jump into the C# bandwagon. Hence, PHP emerged. PHP is a server-side scripting language which is open-source meaning anyone can fork, view and modify the language itself to suit for themselves. It mostly resembles the C syntax and is quite a popular choice as it is the cheapest to maintain in terms of development costs for companies investing in the internet. And with PHP becoming a force to reckon with, of course companies have offered their own brand of server-side scripting. Sun released JSP (Java Server Pages) which resembles Java, only an implementation on the internet and Microsoft released what many of us know now as ASP.NET.

Still doubting on studying the C/C++ syntax? How about searching for Google's new programming language - Go and Microsoft's "Adobe Flash"-killer Silverlight? These two are also great grandsons of the C family and will presumably be something worth watching out for.

On the otherhand, while C has been embraced by most of the developers, many have still yearned for a syntax which is English-like and that of COBOL. BASIC was developed by a variety of companies but one of the most common was of Borland's implementation. BASIC stands for Beginner's All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. One of the most popular implementation of it was Microsoft's Visual Basic. With Windows becoming more and more popular as a household operating system, developers wanted a rapid application development language and Visual Basic was the right tool for them. It even evolved into developement of Macros which are small snippets of implementation of Basic into Microsoft Office products which were for the purpose of achieving automation.

Although Basic was quite frankly less popular than C, Microsoft has still been its advocate even implementing it on the web through ASP (Active Server Pages) and even on the advent of the .NET framework, they've improved the support for Basic with the implementation of Visual Basic.NET which was a popular choice for developers who were Visual Basic developers and at the same time haven't been ready enough to jump into C# during those times. Quite a handful of development tools have evolved from Basic and one of the popular ones was Mercery QuickTest Pro which was an automation tool used mainly for testing purposes.

As years go by, the emergence of a very powerful and dynamic language known as Python was released. It is an open-source language which I'd like to categorize as a mixture of C and Basic. As a friend of mine suggests, it is a cleaner version of Java, hence many developers were quick to embrace it and one of its proud customer? Google. I'd probably say it's quick to learn Python for its strict advocacy for readability but you have to give it a try for yourself and see how great and promising this is.

C/C++ and Basic. If you want to go and delve deeper into the world of programming, welcome aboard. Embrace these two syntax and you'll likely be quick to learn new programming languages surfacing every now and then. Hope this article provided quite a heck of a history to prove that these two are the foundations of modern programming languages.
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Friday, February 5, 2010

The Sims celebrates its 10th Anniversary

Just a quick look and tribute to the Sims franchise. More power to the Sims franchise and hope it goes a long way!

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Mike Wang returns to 2K Sports

Articles can be found here:

The moment I read the title of this GameSpot article, I saw images of the NBA Live franchise fading as one of my favorite video games. Clearly, if there is a definition of being a loyal gamer to NBA Live, I think I belong to that category. But this has to be one of the most disappointing moves by EA Sports.

Just when they were on the verge of righting its ship and redeeming the legend that NBA Live once was, they let Mike Wang slip away. And the reason for his leaving? OperationSports has got it covered. 'Nuff said:

"Mike: After NBA Live 10 wrapped up and we started going through the pre-production planning phase for '11, we held several meetings to discuss the future of the franchise. After going through those meetings, it became very clear that the vision I had for the game was different from where the leadership wanted to take it. I parted ways with EA shortly after and came back on-board with the NBA 2K team last November."

Definitely, the EA Sports management does not care about bringing quality back to its basketball video game franchise. Mike Wang was the lead game designer of NBA Live 10 and obviously it has gotten really good reviews and there is now a bright future for the franchise. Sure NBA Live 11 will still have Beluba's (Mike Wang) influence in the game but with his departure, what will NBA Live 12 look like? Obviously, in the last decade while being a loyal fan of NBA Live, the game has progressed very slowly. It came to a point where it needed pirating of the competitor's lead designer to radically influence the entire staff to overhaul NBA Live as it is.

This has to leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Probaby NBA Live 11 will still look good but Beluba's departure and his reasons of leaving will make me shift to NBA 2K. Even my fellow OperationSports forum posters were definitely upset about it.

So what do we expect of NBA Live on the future? Unless Mike Wang's departure didn't make a slap on the face of reality in their quality of video games and make an effort to completely turn around their games, they will continue to have just gimmicks and shallow gameplay on their video games.
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Microsoft VIP Blogger's Night


January 28, 2010 - 16/F 6750 Microsoft Office and Exchange Room - This was the first time I have attended a Microsoft event so I was excited about this one. I really didn't know what to expect in these types of events that Microsoft offers monthly. Luckily, I didn't feel like a first-timer after the dinner. Bloggers were invited as their audience and the speakers told us that this was also a first to them - bringing an audience of consumers instead of MIcrosoft technology developers attending. It was the other way around as I thought many of the bloggers knew each other before the event because they've been attending blogging events together as a fellow blogger thought of the fellow blogger attendees as "regulars". And I thought they were also developers as well who were "regulars" to Microsoft talks.

Judging from the audience, it was quite obvious that the product of showcase by Microsoft would be its latest Microsot Office release - the Office 2010 which is only in beta. Some of the features that very well interested me about their product was MS Powerpoint's ability to do on the fly photo editing ala Adobe Photoshop and video editing ala Adobe Premiere/ Windows Movie Maker. Incorporating the basics of these two make Powerpoint even more powerful with its multimedia capability. One thing which interests me most about the video feature is its ability to be embedded on the fly on the slides and actually play them without opening Windows Media Player. The only thing bothering me is why do you want to edit the video on the fly in Powerpoint when there's the built-in quite handy Windows Media Player?

Other products such as Office Web Apps and Windows Live Essentials were also promoted. Now, these products I think will definitely help the bloggers as well. You don't need to have Microsoft Office installed in your PC. You are actually editing the Office documents on the fly on your browser. What's even more good about it is the ability to share content and work on the same file simultaneously. As you all know, this feature is also similar to Google Docs and Google Pack but hey who doesn't use Microsoft Office and who doesn't want Office to go online?

Bloggers attending also received a Microsoft Office 2010 Beta installer with an Internet Explorer cap. Well, I guess that's about it. I'll definitely be looking forward to attending more Microsoft seminars. To wrap it up, I guess Microsoft has been aligning its products into what the trend is all about - going online and making the browser one of the most powerful software ever developed.
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