Its New Years Day and Jack Armstrong is here with his first thoughts of 2015 on the high-flying Portland Trail Blazers, the Toronto Raptors current road trip, the return of Kevin Durant, Jared Dudleys impressive first year in Milwaukee and the injury to Al Jefferson. Greetings from San Francisco! I can think of a lot worse places to be, thats for sure. Happy New Year! My Best Wishes to each of you and I hope you have a wonderful 2015. FIVE QUICK NBA THOUGHTS: 1. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Im really impressed. They have a very nice team and a big factor that jumps out at me is that they have four above-average perimeter defenders in Damian Lillard, Steve Blake, Nicholas Batum and Wesley Matthews. All do a solid job in making you earn everything you get. Not many teams in the league that have a perimeter corps that prides itself on being two-way players. This team is sound on both sides of the ball. 2. GREAT CHALLENGES FOR THE RAPTORS: It was a sensational game in Portland on Tuesday night between the #2 and #3 teams in the NBA in overall record. There was a terrific atmosphere and, even though Raps ran out of gas late, it once again proved to me that theyre growing as a team and are capable of playing with anyone. Another awesome test awaits on Friday against the top team in Association and the Golden State Warriors. I cant wait. These are the games that Raptors fans having been waiting to experience for years. Enjoy it - win or lose. Its all part of the journey of this team figuring out how to become a contender. Its not there yet, but this is what shapes and tests you for future improvement. There are many more ups and downs coming, but its nice to have true meaning each time game night arrives. 3. KEVIN DURANT (Thunder): A quiet night for Durant against the Suns on Wednesday with only 44 points, 10 boards and with seven assists. Eh, the guy is decent. The Thunder are only a game-and-a-half back from the final playoff spot in the West. If these guys stay healthy, watch out. Imagine being a top-three seed and having a sensational season and then being stuck having to play the Thunder as a bottom-three seed. Itll be fun to watch the elite Western teams in early April try to avoid a first-round match-up with these guys. Scary opponent. 4. JARED DUDLEY (Bucks): Ive always been a huge fan of his. Dudleys a no-frills, hard-working guy, who gets a lot out of his abilities. He does whatever you need to win. The Bucks second unit has been a huge plus this season and a big reason is his team-first approach. A winning player, Dudleys bounced back from a tough year and Im sure the Clippers miss him. 5. AL JEFFERSON (Hornets): What a nightmare season. Josh McRoberts bolts to Miami (and they miss him), Lance Stephenson has been a bust, chemistry has been shaky and now the big fella is going to miss some time with a groin injury. Jeffersons a force inside that you cant replace. Its a tough blow for Coach Steve Clifford, one of the talented young coaches in our game. Its been a brutal year for Charlotte after such a fun one last season. Winning, health and chemistry are a very fragile thing. Jabrill Peppers Jersey
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. -- A year ago, Flavia Pennetta was close to retiring from tennis.RENTON, Wash. -- Doug Baldwin does not want to be in the middle of this debate. On one side is his guy from college, Andrew Luck, whom Baldwin believes will one day be recognized as one of the all-time great quarterbacks. On the other is the guy delivering passes to Baldwin now, Russell Wilson, who is enjoying just as much success as Luck, both in their second NFL seasons. Two great QBs, two decidedly unique talents that will meet on the field for the first time on Sunday when the Colts host the Seahawks. Of course, the first meeting between the two leads to comparisons and discussions of what traits or skills one has that the other doesnt. It makes for great debate and was not a path Baldwin wanted to go down. "Theyre both very, very good quarterbacks," Baldwin said. "Highly intelligent. Both can make plays with their feet. Both have great arms." And then Baldwin paused and chuckled. "I dont want to take it any further than that," he said. Luck and Wilson are part of a quarterback class that will always be linked and overanalyzed, even if they are all very different players. While Robert Griffin III won the rookie of the year award, its been Luck and Wilson who so far have enjoyed the most overall success. Seattle is off to its first 4-0 start in franchise history. Indianapolis is 3-1 and sitting on top of the AFC South along with Tennessee. Sunday would be a big game without these two quarterbacks involved. "They vary in some ways, but theyre also very similar in some ways," Baldwin said. "The cerebral part of the game, they are definitely similar in, and they both study the game of football tremendously and take different aspects of players they have watched like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers. I know Luck loved watching Aaron Rodgers and I think the cerebral part of the game is very similar." Luck is the prototype, the guy who fit the mould of how a quarterback should look, how he should analyze the game and how he should lead a team. The one who was calling his own plays in college and amazes teammates past and present with his knowledge of the game. "Hes an incredibly perspicacious guy. Hes incredibly intelligent at the line of scrimmage, he uses great verbiage, he recognizes defences quickly," said Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, a teammate of Lucks at Stanford.dddddddddddd "Hes probably one of the most intelligent quarterbacks out there in the way he reads coverages and the way he reads the games." Wilson is the outlier, who breaks convention with his lack of size, but makes up for being vertically challenged with his smarts and the athletic ability to keep plays alive when nothing is there. "Hes a phenomenal playmaker when things go south. NFL arm strength, you can make every throw, you see him spinning out, running backward, and chucking the ball 70 yards down field in stride to someone running, which is incredibly impressive," Luck said. "So when things sort of go south or guys run free, his ability to extend plays and make something happen is very impressive." Statistically, both are about even early in their sophomore seasons. Luck has thrown for more yards, although with an improved running game in Indianapolis hes not being called upon to pass as much as he did last year. Wilson has a slightly better passer rating and has thrown for one more touchdown than Luck. Even what would seem to separate the two, doesnt. Wilsons improvisation when a play breaks down is part of the Seahawks offence. While Wilsons need to scramble for safety has happened more than Seattle would like -- especially last week against Houston -- hes escaped a number of potential negative yardage situations and has only been sacked 13 times, a number that for most quarterbacks facing the pressure he has would be higher. That has led to Wilson rushing for 131 yards so far this season, good for fifth in the league among QBs. But right behind him is Luck, with 126 yards rushing. "When I have watched him, seems like he does a great job staying in the pocket, stepping up sliding and just extending plays. Finding a way. Hes so athletic for how big he is, I think thats the thing that impresses me the most about his game in general, hes a very athletic football player," Wilson said. "My creativity, I just try to extend the play. I try to keep my eyes downfield. Try and facilitate the ball to the right guy at the right time, and if its not there then try and make something happen." Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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