ESPN Analyst Jalen Rose Previews NBA Playoffs

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ESPN Analyst Jalen Rose Previews NBA Playoffs

Jalen Rose
Jalen Rose

ESPN analyst Jalen Rose offers his perspective on the start of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, which tip off with five games across ESPN outlets this weekend.  Rose identified his top breakout players this postseason, along with storylines he’ll be following, and the biggest surprises looking back at the season.  He also ranks the playoff teams based on championship potential.  Rose will contribute to ESPN’s news and information shows on television and radio throughout the postseason.

Top three breakout players this postseason:

Antawn Jamison

“Antawn has been a legitimate performer throughout his career, but now has the opportunity to do it on a championship stage.”

Caron Butler

“If the Mavs hope to push the Lakers in the West, Caron will have to contribute much-needed size, toughness and versatility.”

Jamal Crawford

“Jamal has the longest tenure in the league without postseason experience.  The likely candidate to win sixth man of the year, he finally gets the opportunity to shine in the playoffs.  He is capable of giving the Hawks some scoring punch in crunch time.”

Top storylines heading into the postseason:

Injuries

“Injuries could play a major role, particularly those to Shaquille O’Neal and Andrew Bynum.  If the Cavs and Lakers meet in The Finals, the player – O’Neal or Bynum – who has the better series will lead their team to the championship.”

Can the Magic repeat as Eastern Conference champions?

“It will be interesting to see if Vince Carter can perform the way Hedo Turkoglu did last year in the playoffs and help Orlando defend the Eastern Conference crown.  If he plays at an efficient, All-Star level, he will give the Magic a chance to return to The Finals.”

Biggest Surprises this season:

The 50-Win Oklahoma City

“They are the youngest team in the league, and coach Scott Brooks is my coach of the year.  Kevin Durant developed into an MVP candidate.”

NBA rookies

“Heading into the Draft, a lot of people thought it was Blake Griffin and everyone else.  The rookie class has proven them wrong.  Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee) and DeJuan Blair (San Antonio) are key contributors to playoff teams, and there were stellar seasons turned in my Tyreke Evans (Sacramento), Stephen Curry (Golden State) and Darren Collison (New Orleans).”

Rose Rankings (Jalen’s list of teams most likely to contend for title):

East – 1) Cleveland, 2) Orlando, 3) Boston, 4) Atlanta, 5) Charlotte, 6) Miami, 7) Chicago, 8) Milwaukee
West – 1) L.A. Lakers, 2) Dallas, 3) Denver, 4) San Antonio, 5) Utah, 6) Phoenix, 7) Oklahoma City, 8) Portland

“Milwaukee would rank higher in the East, if not for the injury to Andrew Bogut.  In the West, Denver has to overcome injuries and the health concerns of coach George Karl; Utah has been inconsistent on the road this season; Phoenix has to overcome the loss of Robin Lopez; Oklahoma City is young and inexperienced; and Portland’s best player – Brandon Roy – is battling an injury.

“The Lakers maintain pole position as the defending champs and they have home court advantage in the West; Dallas has Dirk Nowitzki and a lot of depth; and San Antonio has that championship pedigree.”

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