2016-17 NBA Western Conference Preview

Written by :
Published on : October 27, 2016

 

The NBA season is underway. I’ve already given you my forecast for the Eastern Conference, so let’s head to the Western Conference and see where it stands. There are some new faces in new places that may alter the pecking order of the conference.

 

15. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are a team without a clear leader or direction. Head coach Michael Malone has a tough task ahead of him to get some production from often injured stretch 4 Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari has been viewed as a player with the potential to be one of the best shooters in the game. He has yet to live to the hype. Kenneth Faried has been in the rumor cycle for years and has yet to be traded. This year would be the best year to start a total rebuild with second-year player Emmanuel Mudiay and rookie Jamal Murray developing chemistry in the backcourt. Nikola Jokic has shown promise and received votes for rookie of the year last year.

 

14. Los Angeles Lakers

walton coach

 

Head coach Luke Walton has several pieces with which to implement the scheme he learned from the Golden State Warriors. Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell were selected number two in the past two drafts. Russell is expected to lead the team under Walton’s system. Once the team trusts in Walton and Russell they will start to vie for a playoff berth. It may take a few seasons but the team is young and athletic. Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle will help keep the team competitive. The best outcome is a year to let this current roster gel and build through the draft.

 

13. Phoenix Suns

A team with a ton of young talent at nearly every position. Also a strong Kentucky Wildcat presence with four former players on the roster. The team has NBA Champion Tyson Chandler on the team and he has always been respected as a leader in the locker room. Devin Booker was the youngest player in the league last year and his post All-Star break stats were great. If he can build on his rookie season and new coach Earl Watson can learn quickly on the job, this will be a very competitive team. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of offense Watson will implements with rookie Dragan Bender in the lineup.

 

12. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs benefited last year from a top-heavy Western Conference. The team was not good and squeaked into the playoffs. Now with various players moving to different teams within the conference (including former Maverick, Chandler Parsons) it will be very hard for the Mavs to make it to the playoffs again this season. Dirk Nowitzki is in the final years of his Hall Of Fame career. Unfortunately, the roster is void of a star player to lessen the load on the aging Nowitzki. The team paid Harrison Barnes a max salary to become the focal point of their team. Unless he becomes the next Kawhi Leonard, that money will become another example of the Mavs wasting away the years of Nowitzki.

 

11. Sacramento Kings

demarcus cousins

 

This team is so dysfunctional that I have to be equally crazy to give them a ranking this high. The Kings could very well be the worst team in the league even with DeMarcus Cousins. The saving grace is that I believe they picked up a good coach, in Dave Joerger, that willed a depleted Memphis Grizzles team to the playoffs last year. Cousins is becoming legendary for his coach killing ability. At some point, he will be held responsible for all the bodies that were laid to rest on his watch. The team does have some good veterans as well as some intriguing young talent. It could make for another interesting year in “Boogieworld.’

 

10. New Orleans Pelicans

Aside from the horrible team name, this team should be better under second-year head coach Alvin Gentry. The main issue is the health of Anthony Davis. If he is healthy, this is a team that could contend for a playoff spot. Without him they’re looking at a top 3 draft pick. Another team with some good veterans to go with some talented young players. Will Buddy Hield become the scorer they’ve been looking for?

 

9. Utah Jazz

I had Jazz fans coming for my neck last season because I picked them to be last in the conference. I do feel head coach Quin Snyder is on the hot seat this season if he does not get this team to the playoffs. Gordon Hayward is regarded as one of the most underrated players in the league. If he can bring his level of play up this season I think this team may sneak into the playoffs.

 

8. Memphis Grizzles

mike conley

 

A veteran team that got annihilated by the injury bug last season. They went into this offseason with a new coach (David Fizdale), gave Mike Conley the richest contract in history, and acquired Chandler Parsons in free agency. This team, when healthy, is easily a contender for the Western Conference Finals. The Grizzles still have to acquire someone who can score on the perimeter and create his own shot. Having Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the frontcourt has proven successful but at some point, the style of play of their competitors will make the two big men nonfactors.

 

7. Minnesota Timberwolves

The death of Flip Saunders last year possibly derailed this team from making it to the playoffs. I’m very intrigued by this team and the hiring of new President of Operations/Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. This team will make the playoffs. A few years ago Anthony Davis was expected to become the premier big man of the league. Due to injuries Davis has since been supplanted by DeMarcus Cousins and Timberwolves center Karl Anthony-Towns. Anthony-Towns is the reigning rookie of the year and a franchise talent. Add in former rookie of the year Andrew Wiggins, Slam Dunk Champion Zach LaVine, and point guard Ricky Rubio, this team has the legs to endure the push of Thibodeau’s system.

 

6. Houston Rockets

Moving James Harden to the point guard position and adding Mike D’Antoni to coach the team will be a fun car wreck to watch. The uptempo system of D’Antoni will surely help put Harden in the MVP race. While the team will suffer defensively, they will be able to run a tempo that will rival that of the Golden State Warriors.

 

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell-Westbrook-Desktop

 

Russell Westbrook or die. That sums up the roster. Head coach Billy Donovan does not seem like a good fit for the NBA but he would be wise to just let Westbrook go to work. They do have two quality big men in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter that can cause problems for opposing teams. Victor Oladipo may be the shooting guard this team has needed since the departure of James Harden. Westbrook will put up amazing stats but the team will have to monitor his health over the course of the year.

 

4. Los Angeles Clippers

This team has one more year to make a championship run or it will possibly start over. There have been trade rumors for years around Blake Griffin. This season may be the year that he and Chris Paul could be moved in order to start over. Team President and head coach Doc Rivers has yet to deliver on championship promises despite having a pretty stacked roster. It’s put up or shut up time for Mr. Rivers and Co.

 

3. Portland Trailblazers

Last year, everyone wrote the Blazers off (including myself). They were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. They overachieved and made it to the playoffs with one of the youngest rosters. This year they’ve added some veterans and re-signed some of their own to contract extensions (Allen Crabbe and C.J. McCollum). Damian Lillard is out to prove he’s one of the best point guards in the game after being snubbed of an All-Star berth last year. They’re young and athletic. Most of all, they’re coached well by Terry Stotts. This team will shock a lot of people and possibly upset the Spurs or Warriors.

 

2. San Antonio Spurs

kawhi-leonard-1

 

Life post-Tim Duncan. No one knows how it will unfold but Kawhi Leonard looks as if he is ready to take over the franchise. He’s only 25 years old and they’ve added superior front court help in consecutive seasons (Lamarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol). The most boring yet consistent team in league history will continue to give people fits.

 

1. Golden State Warriors

Last tear this team won 73 games. It is now a league record. They lost in the NBA Finals after being ahead of the Cavaliers 3-1. They let the majority of their role players leave via free agency (including Harrison Barnes). Then they added Kevin Durant. Stephen Curry took the summer to get healthy after battling knee problems during the playoffs. Oh and they still have Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Head coach Steve Kerr will probably scale back the minutes to preserve his players for a long playoff run. This should be the first of a few championships for the new look Warriors.

 

 

There you have it everyone. That’s how the NBA Western Conference will shake out come playoff time. Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy some basketball. Drop a line in the comments and tell me where you think I’m on point and where you think I’m way off.

 

 


DeMarcus Cousins Needs to Chill

Written by :
Published on : March 1, 2016

 

 

 

It’s been pretty common knowledge for quite a few years now that DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most dominant and physically talented big men in basketball. He is in his sixth NBA season and has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in that time. The Sacramento Kings have made him the centerpiece of their franchise, despite the knocks on him coming out of college. The main knock being that he is a little bit of a hothead.

 

I’m sure the Kings figured he would cool off with age, that most people tend to chill out as they get older. Well, it’s becoming increasingly clear that DeMarcus Cousins is not one of those people. In the last few days, NBA fans have a had a chance to see some vintage DeMarcus Cousins antics and let’s just say that he is not the kind of guy you want to mess with. The first exhibit is from last Saturday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.

 

   

 

Let’s start by making it clear that this is pretty much a clean play, technically speaking. When you’re falling out of bounds in basketball, you do your best to throw it off of an opposing player. That’s something they teach you when you’re a kid. But when you see this video you’ve got to admit that it looks kind of nasty. He is obviously going for the back of Chris Paul’s head with the ball.  Okay, so maybe that was just a little bit of frustration and bad aim on Boogie’ part, no big deal. Then the Kings played the Thunder yesterday, and Angry Boogie returned for a second showing.

 

 

The first incident occurred when the teams’ two biggest stars got into a little bit of a confrontation. Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins exchanged a few words and then briefly got into some light shoving before teammates rushed in to break it up. This type of thing happens pretty often between players in every sport, so it’s understandable if you think I’m reading too much into it. But let’s check out his highlight from later in the game and see what we think about it.


 

Now this one really takes the cake. DeMarcus Cousins gets tangled up with Thunder center, Steven Adams and comes alarmingly close to punching him in the back of the head. Sure, he restrains himself and I suppose he deserves a bit of credit for that, but the fact that he was even considering delivering that haymaker to an opposing player on the ground is pretty scary. And pretty indicative of the anger management problem that Cousins has. If he doesn’t pull up and actually connects with that punch then he has a chance to do some serious damage to Adams, and is probably looking at a very, very long suspension.

 

So I think it’s time that the Sacramento Kings and DeMarcus Cousins seriously address his anger issues before something really bad happens on the court. It’s been well known that the issues are there and in the last week it seems as though they have risen to the surface.  He should chill out and remember that it is just a game. A game that he is getting paid millions of dollars to play. For most people that is an opportunity that they never get. So he should appreciate it and make sure he doesn’t mess it up by doing something stupid out of anger.

 

 

 


NBA MIDSEASON REVIEW

Written by :
Published on : February 20, 2016

 

 

Boy, was I wrong about a few teams and players in my 2016 NBA Preview (East & West).

 

I missed the mark, much like Kobe Bryant is missing three pointers, free throws, and dunks this season. After watching a lackluster All Star Game, arguably the BEST dunk contest ever, and a little more than half a season of NBA Basketball, I’ve come to eat my crow in front of you all.

 

The Lakers REALLY Stink

 

My favorite team sucks. Where did we go wrong? Perhaps giving Kobe a two year deal that has handcuffed their salary cap is a start. Also, letting Kobe’s influence drive Dwight Howard away is another point. Overall, they should not be confused with the Philadelphia 76ers; at least they have a plan. With only eleven wins on the season and fighting desperately to lose as many games as possible to secure their top three NBA draft pick, the only thing to look forward to is the countdown to Kobe’s last game. I’m sure I’ll cry as he walks off the floor for the last time as a player, but by June I HOPE the Lakers start the rebuild they’ve been holding off for three seasons.

 

I Underestimated the Will of a Champion

 

I thought that the Golden State Warriors would suffer from a championship hangover. I picked the Los Angeles Clippers to be a better team and have a better record than them. Well, clearly I was wrong with this one. Other than the San Antonio Spurs (whom I picked to be the best team in the league this year) there’s not a team that can challenge the Warriors. The Clippers aren’t a bad team as they have 35 wins thus far. Blake Griffin has had a hand (pun intended) in the team’s success thus far. The Warriors and Stephen Curry have a chance to make major history as the team is en route to a league record in wins for a single season and Curry can become a MVP in consecutive years. I am sorry Based God Chef Curry.

 

Why would I believe in these teams?

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks had the makeup of playoff contenders. The Timberwolves have Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns as the face of their franchise. The Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker in tow to lead theirs. Both teams are 13th in their respective conferences. Both teams have dealt with absences by a head coach but for different reasons. Flip Saunders, formerly the head coach of the Timberwolves, passed away shortly before the season began. Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has missed games due to health issues. Perhaps with those two coaches at the helm the teams would be better at this juncture. That’s not the case and hopefully the teams can fulfill their potential next season.

 

Will the Cleveland Cavaliers make it to the Finals?

 

There is no team in the Eastern conference that can stop the Cavaliers when fully healthy. By keeping their core intact and going to an up-tempo offense, the Cavs may make a deep run into the playoffs. The one concern is that the team is working with another rookie head coach in Tyronn Lue. Whereas injuries played a significant role in not getting a championship last time, this year the assertive Lue and LeBron must be on the same page. Former coach, David Blatt, was merely a minutes and timeout specialist. Will Lue have the respect of LeBron to make the important decisions to get the team its first NBA championship?

 

The Detroit Pistons…might actually…be good this year?

 

I’ve been in a constant back and forth with one of my best friends over the current state of the Pistons. I do not believe in the team nor do I believe in coach Stan Van Gundy. My friend however thinks that the Pistons have a legitimate shot to go to the playoffs. He likes that Van Gundy has started to build the team around Andre Drummond. I hate to admit it but my friend may be right. Van Gundy is making the team in the mold of his Orlando Magic tenure. Getting players that can space the floor and shoot is what will propel this team in the top 8 in the Eastern Conference. They’ll likely get swept by the Cavs or Toronto Raptors but they are an improved team.

Quick Predictions on NBA honors

 

Rookie of the Year: Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves

 

The kid is getting better as the season progresses. He is a double-double machine and he is getting more comfortable with his mid range shot. He is even taking 3s. I don’t know if we’ve prematurely crowned Anthony Davis of the New Orlean Pelicans as the next great big man. Anthony-Towns seems to be just as skilled and may have the more talented team in the long run. He’s definitely worth watching out for.

 

MVP: Stephen Curry

 

I don’t think I have to make much of a case for Curry. The sad part is he’s sat out roughly 15 4th quarters thus far this season. Even if games get more competitive for the rest of the season he’ll likely increase his already league leading scoring average. Sick! I will throw LeBron James and Chris Paul in the mix as potential MVP winners but it’s Curry’s trophy to lose at this point.

 

Defensive Player of The Year: Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors

 

This is a tough one to call. I think the voters will lean toward either Green or San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard. Leonard won last year despite Green receiving more first place votes. With both teams having not reached double digits in losses thus far, this award may be decided by team success. Whichever team has the better record may be able to catapult their DPOY candidate to the honor.

 

 


Wait, Remember The Clippers New Logo?

Written by :
Published on : July 24, 2015

It has been a little under a month since Clippers owner Steve Ballmer unveiled the team’s new logo to a less than stellar public reaction. After the team’s 2nd round collapse, Ballmer was hoping to energize a fan base while also moving forward with the rest of NBA’s new trend of simplistic uniform designs. Unfortunately, that design has led some to question why it happened in the first place.

 

A USA Today poll shows that 9,245 people (73.59%) gave a vote of ‘No’ when asked whether or not they liked the redesign.

 

ConanLogo
Even Ballmer can’t hide his look of regret.

 

 

In a stroke of luck, however, the logo, which looks like it garnered a C+ for effort in an intro to Photoshop class, was greatly overshadowed by the recent DeAndre Jordan controversy.

 

But because of Jordan’s front-page decision to ignore a not-to-be-named Dallas Maverick’s owner, the public never truly got a chance to potentially change the nature of the Clipper’s logo. After all, there were different designs all over the Internet that could have worked much better.

 

For instance, in 2011 San Francisco based graphic designer Michael Weinstein drew up a logo that played into the Clipper’s nautical theme while still maintaining a clean look overall.

 

To add on to that, Reddit user R_E_D_D_I_T made a redesign of his own which included not only a logo, but also a proposal for a full court redesign which can be found here. Like Weinstein’s design this one was also released far before the new logo was most likely even thought up.

clippers
           Look at that!  LOOK AT IT!  How do you not go nautical?!

 

 

So, my question to readers is this: why not let the people decide? What better way to re-energize a fan-base that has been disappointed by their team’s postseason losses and free agency fiascos than to re-introduce the idea of a logo change that can be voted on? Perhaps the citizens of Clipperland will want a logo that actually shows what a clipper is. According to dictionary.com, a clipper is, “a sailing ship built and rigged for speed.” So, let’s open up those sails, and checkbooks, and give the Clippers a new logo that they can actually be thankful for.


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