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NBA Weekly Roundtable, Week 5: The King And Slam Dunks

Michael Huettner, Annette Irwin, Andrew Seah |
February 14, 2013 | 3:45 p.m. PST

Staff Writers

LeBron James never ceases to amaze, but how long can he keep it up? (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
LeBron James never ceases to amaze, but how long can he keep it up? (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
The All-Star Weekend is neigh, the trade deadline is coming up sooner than you may realize, but all anyone can focus on this Valentine's Day is one LeBron James. No, he's not going to be in the slam dunk contest, but he'll be at All-Star Weekend once again, as will the rest of the best players on the planet. Tune in, starting Friday.

1) LeBron James is on a hot streak for the ages, scoring 30 points in each of his last five games despite not taking more than 18 shots in any of them. How long do you see this hot streak lasting, and which teams (if any) can challenge the Heat come playoff time?

Michael Huettner: I really don’t think there’s anyone in the league that can stop LeBron James.  With his ability to get to the basket at will and his improved jump shot, he’s almost impossible to guard. With that being said, scoring 30 points in a game at such a high percentage is very difficult to do, and I would be surprised if this streak lasted more than 3 or 4 more games. A game may call for LeBron to get his teammates more involved, and that could be the streak-breaker.

Annette Irwin: All good things must come to an end at some point, right? Somehow I don’t see LeBron slowing down anytime soon, as he is in a zone, lighting up every opponent the court. After Tuesday’s win over the Blazers, LeBron is now the first player in NBA history to shoot at least 60% from the field and score 30-plus points in six consecutive games. Even better, the Heat has yet to lose in those six games. The streak could be in serious jeopardy tonight though, as I don’t see the Thunder giving Miami any love in Oklahoma City. The same goes for the playoffs, where the only team that can compete with the Heat will be the Thunder, who have a definitive advantage in rebounding, where Miami ranks last in the league at 38.7 rebounds per game. 

Andrew Seah: There are unsustainable hot streaks (think early season Jamal Crawford), which are, well, hot streaks, and then there is protracted efficiency found on smart shot selection and undeniable relentlessness. LeBron James falls in the latter category. Every time you think he's reached his peak, he pulls off something new. But don’t call it extraordinary - nothing is extraordinary about LeBron anymore, only different shades of brilliance. He may not make more than half of his threes for the rest of the season like he has over the past few games, but right now only LeBron can stop LeBron. 

The Heat, when fully engaged, suffocate defensively and are the epitome of 'pick-your-poison' on offense. No team's best can match the   Heat's, but, if any, the Oklahoma City Thunder are their biggest contenders to the crown. The everlasting San Antonio Spurs and Chris Paul's Los Angeles Clippers come a close second. 

The Hawks' Josh Smith could be in a new uniform this time next week (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
The Hawks' Josh Smith could be in a new uniform this time next week (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
2) The NBA Trade Deadline is just over a week away. Which teams do you believe need to make a trade the most, and which players do you think are most likely to be dealt?

Huettner: It would be smart for the Hawks to move Josh Smith at this point.  It doesn’t appear as if he is going to sign long term in Atlanta, and they need to get something in return for him. The only problem is that there aren’t many solid offers out there for him. The Nets seem to be the only team interested, but Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks just isn’t enough.

Irwin: I think the San Antonio Spurs need to make a trade if they want to keep up with the younger, dynamic teams like Thunder and Clippers. Al Jefferson has been a name floating around, and the Spurs could use him to add more offense and rebounding, especially since Tim Duncan should play fewer minutes after his injury. San Antonio is one of the most experienced teams in the league, and trading for Jefferson could propel them to a deep playoff run.

The Nets could also benefit, as they need more scoring from the power forward spot. Utah’s Paul Millsap played with Deron Williams for over four years in Utah, and fit in nicely in Brooklyn if the Nets can offer enough to pry him out of Utah.

Seah: The Nets. Rumors were swirling recently about two potential Kris Humphries trades. One would send the 28-year-old to Charlotte for shooting guard Ben Gordon; the other would see him packaged with MarShon Brooks (and possibly a draft pick) for perennial All-Star Josh Smith. Both trades would accomplish two things: Eliminate the deadweight that is Humphries and more importantly, free Gerald Wallace to log more minutes as a small-ball '4'. 

On the trading block, the Magic’s J.J. Redick has developed into a fine, rounded sharpshooter who's more than capable of running the pick-and-roll in a pinch or serving as a secondary ball-handler. These are extremely valuable skills that would be welcome on any contender. His trade value is as high as it's ever been, and, if offered the right mix of youth and talent, Orlando would be wise to deal him. 

Half Man, Half Amazing's 2000 performance is one of legend (Steve Lipofsky/Creative Commons).
Half Man, Half Amazing's 2000 performance is one of legend (Steve Lipofsky/Creative Commons).
3) NBA All-Star Weekend is upon us, which means the Slam Dunk Contest is here once again. What's your favorite slam in Dunk Contest history?

Huettner: Mine has to be the Jordan dunk from the free throw line.  Not only for the difficulty of the dunk, but also for its significance. It has to be the most famous dunk of all time, giving us the logo for the Jordan brand.

Irwin: The 2000 competition with Vince Carter is my favorite overall, but the best contest dunk in history is one that didn’t need to use props to get the crowd on their feet. Jason Richardson’s final dunk to win the 2003 All-Star Slam Dunk Contest was one to be remembered. He finished with a reverse dunk in one motion, backwards too! It definitely was 10 out of 10 from me in the “Wow!” factor. 

Seah: Vince Carter. 2000 Slam Dunk Contest. He didn't just compete; he electrified. There was his iconic between-the-legs dunk, and then there was the rest. The gulf was huge, and the plaudits well deserved. The man single-handedly rejuvenated the then-flailing competition that, in years past, elicited more half-hearted fist pumps than full-body adrenaline rushes. Forget rings, he's a true champion in the field that truly defined him: dunking. 



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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