1. Of the players on Chad Ford's big board heading to the Final Four (Michael Carter Williams, Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III, Mason Plumlee, Gorgiu Dieng), which, if any, will be an NBA star?
NUBYJAS WILBORN: Trey Burke will have more NBA success than the others. He’ll always make a roster because he has good handles, plays defense and has great court awareness. He may not be the best shooter but he’s fearless and comes up big in the clutch. He will have a long career.
SANDY DOVER: With today’s NBA, Burke definitely has the greatest potential for success. Being a fast (and quick), physical guard (a la Baron Davis and David Wesley) allows for him to have the ability to do damage physically and be a freelancer as a playmaker, something that he is excelling at right now in Michigan.
MAURICE BOBB: I guess I’ll have to be monkey see, monkey do on this one because I’m a Trey Burke fan, too. I think all of the aforementioned players will make an NBA squad, but Burke has the most potential to become a star. Of course, I’m not sure he’ll be an All-Star, but he will, at least, come into his own and be someone we’ll all enjoy watching on the next level.
JAMES CARR: There may not be a star in the 2013 NBA draft, let alone the Final Four. I’m going with the legacy, Glenn Robinson III.
RICHARD BOADU: Define NBA star? None of them have star potential to me. They’re all very good players but the none of them pass the eye-test. I want to say that the most successful player will be Michael Carter-Williams who reminds me of Jeremy Lamb, but even Lamb can’t even get on an NBA court.
2. Should the Heat shut injury-prone Dwyane Wade down for the rest of the season?
WILBORN: There are nine games left, so you can’t shut him down totally. We’ve seen too many teams get rusty after extended playoff layoffs. Wade will play reduced minutes, but he needs to keep the rhythm going.
SANDY: Unless Wade is totally bad with his health, he’ll need some action to keep away rust and not make LeBron vulnerable with his energy output. The problem with Wade in general is that his body isn’t equipped to handle the full 82, so he probably needs to start getting the San Antonio treatment for the rest of his career. No heavy back-to-backs and some occasional games off. Of course, because Pat Riley is hardheaded, this isn’t likely to be.
MAURICE: From the outside looking in, it makes sense, but you’d be surprised how rusty a player can get just from missing a small amount of games. I think the Heat should rest Wade only when he says he can’t go. This team is not built on size or play-calling, it’s built on chemistry, especially when it comes to the combo of ‘Bron and Wade. These two need to continue to share court space if they want to bulldoze their way to the Finals and another Larry O’Brien.
JAMES: Nah, but he doesn’t need to be seeing more than 20-25 minutes a game. The Heat rely on instinct and timing when they’re running the court. They need Wade out there to stay in rhythm.
RICHARD: No. Although Wade is often injured he’s finally been healthy this season and it’s shown. Yes, he hurt his ankle last week, but sitting him would throw him out of his rhythm. If you’re worried about Wade’s health control his minutes on the floor but do not totally sit him out of games.
3. The Mavs are 1.5 games back of Utah for the 8th seed. Out of the three options, with the Lakers being the third, which has the best shot of upsetting the Spurs in the first round?
SANDY: Utah has the size of its frontcourt and quickness of its backcourt to hurt the Spurs, and would be the most likely to upset them. The Lakers are basically a lost cause due to their weak bench and the decayed team morale, while the Mavericks are still establishing a winning identity with new players and honestly don’t have the strength of an elite post defender and offensive playmaker to make an upset seem likely.
WILBORN: I’m probably being foolish, but I still believe Kobe and Dwight can get it right. It would be easier if Metta World Peace were healthy and playing instead of playing the Easter Bunny. But, it wouldn’t be the Lakers this year if there wasn’t extra drama.
MAURICE: Truth be told, I’m a Laker fan, but even I can’t roll with the idea that they’ll upset anyone, especially the Spurs. I think Utah and Dallas both stink like hot garbage, but if I have to choose one of ‘em, I’m giving it to the Mavs. At the very least, they have Dirk, who willed his team to the championship two years ago. He’s lost a step, but that German can still pull rabbits out of his hat.
JAMES: The fact that all three answers above are different, tells me that none of these teams stand a chance at upsetting the Spurs. That said, I’ll take Dirk. The Lakers can’t hang with the fundamental toughness of San Antonio, and young Utah isn’t ready.
RICHARD: I want to say that Utah will do it, but something inside of me says the Lakers could do it. It’s not like the Spurs’ big three are spring chickens. Regardless of what we’ve seen all season, anytime you have Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasoil on the floor at the same time the fear of domination should be taken seriously.
4. If Miami hadn’t big brother’d the NBA for 27-games, would this go down as the most boring NBA season in recent memory?
SANDY: No way! Even without the streak, the level of play around the league has truly been elite. The Heat streak is a highlight, but what profound greatness of this streak would be evident if not for the high level of play of the New York Knicks, the Spurs, the L.A. Clippers…? I can go on and on.
WILBORN: This has been an excellent year of basketball. The Warriors have become a factor with Curry becoming a star and Mark Jackson coaching like a veteran. Not to mention, the NBA is approaching another renaissance with so many great players all over and LeBron as the top dog.
MAURICE: I can’t ride with this one. The Heatles definitely served up some filet mignon for this year’s feast, but I enjoyed the appetizers, too. Chris Paul and Lob City have kept it ESPN over in LaLa Land, Steph Curry and the Warriors are Golden for real and let’s not forget about Denver and what they’re doing. If you’re bored with this season, maybe the NBA is not the right restaurant for you.
RICHARD: Nope. Have you watched college basketball? There hasn’t been a bad NBA season since 1994 when Michael Jordan first retired. It just seems boring because all the media has talked about was the Lakers losing and the Heat winning, but there have been several other storylines this NBA season and it’s only going to get better once the playoffs start.
JAMES: It’s been a fun ride, but only with the gnawing sensation no one can touch the Heat – certainly not out of the East. Derrick Rose didn’t return. Phil Jackson didn’t get back into coaching. Dwight Howard didn’t take over LA. Two of the most fun teams in the league, the Knicks and Clippers, didn’t do enough to prove that they’ve made it to an elite level yet. I need someone to disrupt the power circle of the Spurs, Thunder and Heat before I get truly excited.
5. Kobe just stepped passed Wilt. He’s currently at 31,434 points…can he also catch Karl Malone’s 36,928? What about Kareem (38,387)?
SANDY: Kobe definitely CAN, but it’s about whether he stays in the game long enough to accomplish the feat. I don’t think Kobe is so egomaniacal as to play beyond helping his team for the purpose of the streak, but Jim Buss has been a mess in Los Angeles, and I don’t think Kobe would stay if the team continues to be weakened for the sake of scoring alone.
WILBORN: Dover hit the proverbial nail on the head. If Kobe wants to he can. However, I don’t see him being a guy who hangs around just for records. He’s already said next year will be his last and, quite frankly, what else does he have to hang around for?
MAURICE: I don’t know if I believe Bean can pass Kareem, but I know he does. The only thing that could ever stop Mamba is Father Time. Like Charles Barkley said, though, he’s undefeated. We’re seeing Kobe continue to fight through injuries, etc. but I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to do so. He’s done everything you can imagine on a basketball court. Chasing some “number” is pointless. I mean, as great as Kareem is, people hardly even talk about him as being the G.O.A.T. now and I’m sure Kobe knows that. If he can still be the Kobe we all know and love, I think he should keep playing, but I trust that he’ll know when to hang ‘em up.
JAMES: Father Time is undefeated, but it seems to be taking him awhile to figure out how to beat this German knee surgery. Kobe is still dropping almost 2,000 points a season. That’s probably four seasons to beat Kareem, if he’s still scoring at a high clip — and that seems unlikely. With his recent comments about retirement, Kareem is safe…but The Mailman should watch his back.
RICHARD: Catching Karl Malone won’t be a problem for Kobe, but catching Kareem is not happening. Kobe’s passion for the game and pride are interchangeable. The minute Father Time starts calling Kobe’s name is when you’ll see Mamba hang it up. He’ll be damned if he’s a subpar player.