Chris Paul and Tyler Hansbrough and some D-Leaguer...

...are the best three basketball players at their respective levels. I'll randomly say Morris Almond but can't support it for player number 3. For the first two I can.

But before I do that, one of the reasons I blog is instead of writing emails too long for my friends to read, I thought I could better not reach the masses by writing long blog posts that are too long for my friends and the casual visitor to read. At least more people can chose to skip over the content. So skip away. The intention of this blog was to also keep the focus on poker but ramble on about other subjects that interest me and the gulf. Well, I haven't done a good job about writing about sports recently and as my GCP profile sez I would, so here's my thoughts on New Orleans best athlete and the best players in basketball.

I have a lot to say about Chris Paul (CP3) and Tyler Hansbrough and I'll get to them. Morris Almond, is a bit of a different nut entirely. I think he went to Rice. I think he shoots well. He seems like he should be related to Morris Chestnut. And I think he's in the D-League. If so, I can probably say he's the best player in the league since nobody actually watches it. Okay, enough about him because that's all I got.

Let's get to the New Orlean's best athlete: I thought CP3 was probably the second best pg prospect in his draft maybe third. Raymond Felton (winner, national champion, heart of a lion, and the fastest baseline to baseline in a long time), CP3 and lastly Mr. 2nd place Deron Williams all came out together. I ranked them Felton, CP3, Williams. The NBA drafted them inversely to my rankings.

Deron Williams right now is probably the second best player of the three, fitting because just like his Illinois squad finished second to Felton, just like his NBA team Utah has never been better then second best, and for three years in college he was second fiddle to possible D-Leaguer Dee Brown, D.Will is Mr. 2nd place. Ray-Ray is third, but still has tremendous upside. At this point CP3 no doubt about it, the best of the bunch. I was wrong about the guy who turned out to be New Orleans best athlete, yes Reggie Bush, I said New Orleans' best athlete and I was talking about CP3 and yes, I've said that twice now. The kid astounds nightly.

Now to put some poker in the conversation. Paul is a decent 1-2 poker player. He's cerebral and could be very good if he wasn't busy being the best basketball player on the planet right now. He, Jemaro Pargo, and some guy that doesn't play much for the hornets, who is a very decent 1-2 player can sometimes be seen on the felt. Bobby Jackson is also decent but now that he has been traded who cares. I'd love to get into their home game. Actually I Have to get in that game. CP3 would scoop a lot of pots. He's as savvy on the felt as he is on the hardwood.

As a college player, I privately thought Ray Felton was the sort that could be in the conversation for league MVP, I was that high on him, in fact, yet, as an NBAer Paul has done everything I thought Felton capable of. He's carrying a lesser team to unseen heights. Apparently, Paul always had the intangibles I thought Ray-Ray had or at least CP3 found them as a pro. Die-hard New Orlean fan legend, the MOOSCH, advocated Paul's ascendency from the very beginning. The Moosch is known for being wrong. This time he was right.

Injuries have somewhat hurt Felton, who is a great pro, and along with Rashad McCants one of the league's most underrated and devalued players, yet it is Paul who is exceling quicker than I ever expected. Paul is outplaying Nash, Kidd, and any stud that lines up against him. He's the MVP. There's not even a debate in my opinion. Kobe Bryant? As the lone ranger said to his horse, "Trigger Please!" Paul plays big in the biggest games. Look at his supporting cast and where the Hornets are in the rankings and then look at Kobe's.

David West is a solid player, but all-star or not, and don't kid yourselves he's an all-star because of Chris Paul, there are about 10 other guys I'd take at his position. If challenged I'll list them but I'm not trying to denigrate West I'm trying to tout Paul. West is a lot better than he "should" be. He and Tyson Chandler are playing at a level well above themselves. Peja is capable as well, and the Hornets are a complete team, but the engine of the sportscar is clearly Paul.

The last time I missed so badly on an NBAer's prospects was when I thought Antwan Jamison couldn't be an All Star. Which brings me back to the Tarheels. Everybody is saying their current stud, Tyler Hansbrough, will be "serviceable" or a "role-player" in the NBA. An opinion prior to this season I shared, because much like the flaws in Jamison's college game despite being a National Player of the Year, Tyler has a lot of things that make me question him at the next level.

Yet, Pyscho-T is absolutely dominating college basketball. Why it's not a done deal he's national player of the year amazes me. The more I watch this kid, the more I remind myself not to question him ever. Everything about Tyler Hansbrough says NBA stiff. Yet, his intangibles are unlike any I've ever seen. He barrels through 3 big guys nightly. When Ty Lawson, their star point guard went down, all TH did was raise his scoring average to 27+ per. He's a stud. His most effective shot, the Hans-throw, a hip to shoulder shovel shot over taller guys with a shorter guy draped on him, seems like a steal waiting to happen at the next level, but I don't know anymore. Just like the shot, which has as a high a degree of difficulty for a go-to shot I've ever seen, is reflective of his ability to adapt, and find ways to succeed when only given a sliver of opportunity, Hansbrough takes an inch and makes a yard.

I no longer question him at the next level. He'll do whatever it is he needs to succeed. Just like Jamison "found" a jumpshot, Tim Duncan adapted to size differential, and Elton Brand developed a game to counter his undersized matchup, Hansbrough will be successful. I thought before this season he wouldn't even be an NBA starter and might go the way of Joe Forte, but now I put no ceiling on him. CP3 doesn't have one, and Hansbrough, dubbed as competitive, if not moreso, than MJ himself, doesn't have one either.

His limitations should catch up to him. But they haven't. Just like limitations never found Larry Bird. He'll be at a minimum a pro's pro, and with the right situation... why not, he could be all NBA. Somebody made a comparison to Louisiana Tech alumni Karl Malone, which is a bit much because Karl's just the greatest power forward ever, though I do see similarities. The Mailman also employed the Hans-throw, but of course TH would have to start mainling HGH to fill the lane just by standing there like Malone did. He'll also need a point guard like John Stockton to constantly get him the ball in scoring positions (CP3 to David West anybody) but TH will be a solid pro and could be great.

As far as poker, I bet Hansbrough is a terrible player. He wears his emotion on his sleeve, usually next to his own blood after barreling through an elbow, and his aggressive style is so relentless, he'd probably be busted out of a cash game within an hour (or on his lucky nights he'll have everybody's chips in the same time period). He'd be an intimidating presence and his vacant eyes probably would portray little, yet he'd be the bull and his chips would be the china shop.

As for Morris Almond's poker skills? He's the D-League's best player on the felt and off.

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