Chris Paul joins the Houston Rockets

Written by :
Published on : June 29, 2017

 

The breaking news out of the NBA is that Clippers guard, Chris Paul, has been traded to the Houston Rockets. This is huge. CP3 is a big name and makes any team he joins instantly better. Let’s take a closer look at this league shake up and see exactly what this all means.

 

The deal

These are the terms: the Rockets get Chris Paul in exchange for a top 3 protected 1st round draft pick in 2018, plus the contract rights to Sam Dekker, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard, Montrezl Harrell, and Kyle Wiltjer. Wow, that’s a lot of names for just one guy. Oh yeah, there is also the $661,000. You know, to sweeten the pot. Because, why the hell not. Chris Paul is dope and still has many years of great basketball left in his career. Most franchises would move huge assets to get a player of his caliber. Talents like Paul’s don’t come around that often.

 

chris-paul-james-harden

 

What now?

Well, the first and most important thing to note is that Chris Paul is joining James Harden’s team. On paper, that seems like a killer backcourt. Those two are some of the best in the game and it seems like you need to be building a super team if you want to compete against the likes of Golden State or Cleveland. The real question is, will these two be able to play together? Only time will tell. But there will be some sort of learning curve because both like to handle the ball. A lot. But both also know that they have no chance of winning a championship alone. Are they a super team? Not yet. But maybe if they add Blake Griffen or Carmelo Anthony or Paul George. Then they would definitely be in the conservation.

 

Who gets Paul George?

His name is attached to any team looking to make a big move. Already we’ve seen interest from the likes of the Cavs, Lakers, Celtics, Rockets, Knicks and many others. Rumor has it that the Dallas Cowboys made a call too to see if he wanted to play wideout. The two big factors in landing PG13 are: does the team in question have enough to offer to make a competitive deal? And second: where does George think he has the best chance to win? The best place for Paul George, if he wants to win, is the Golden State Warriors. If that’s not an option then the Cleveland Cavaliers. After that, Celtics, then Rockets, then Lakers and everyone else.

 

Paul George

 

Quick note. At one point, Chris Paul was rumored to be headed to the Spurs. Which seemed like a great fit but we know now that he is a Rocket. But maybe that opens a weird door for Paul George to join San Antonio. Just think, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul George. Now that might be a super team.

 

Chris Paul is a Rocket. That’s the headline but the story is far from being over. The world is waiting to see what will happen next in the wild world of professional basketball. As of now, the future is bright in Houston.

 

Take off.

 

 


All Joke NBA Free Agency Tracker

Written by :
Published on : July 12, 2016

 

In the wake of the trillions of dollars already spent in this madness known as NBA free agency, we bring you a satirical look at the current free agent market with our All Joke Free Agency Tracker. These are jokes people, so don’t get all butt-hurt. Well, until they come true.

 

– President Barack Obama signs with the Washington Wizards. When asked about the 4yr/$83 million contract, the small forward said “I love the city, I love the game but I told them it’s gotta be a four year deal, with an option for four more years.”

 

-Air Bud joins the New York Knicks. Listed as a power forward, how will Bud fit in with Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah and Kristap Porzingis? More importantly, can Air Bud stay out of legal trouble in the big city (lots of cars to chase if you know what I mean) to earn his massive 3yr/$61 million dollar contract?

 

Air_Bud_Header

 

– The Los Angeles Lakers finally get their big man of the future in Dwight Howard. But before Dwight can sign his 6yr/$153 million dollar deal, he is informed at he has already signed with the Atlanta Hawks and that he already came to LA and it didn’t work. Bummer.

 

– LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh all opt out of their deals to join the Toronto Raptors at the veteran minimum. Sources say Bosh only ever agreed to go to Miami if the Big 3 would eventually go to Toronto to finally bring home a championship to Canada. As rapper Drake requested.

 

– While at a Brooklyn Nets charity event, actor/comedian Adam Sandler is mistaken for a pro hooper because of his basketball shorts and athletic physique and offered 1yr/$8 million deal. Nets need another ball handler and scorer but Sandler is not the solution. Thankfully for the Nets, Sandler turned down the deal stating “I can take a crap in a red envelope and send it to Netflix and they pay me $80 million dollars. Shabadadooooo!” 

 

sandler hoops

 

– LeBron opts out of his Toronto deal and announces he is “coming home” to Cleveland. Again. To help restore the city back to its 2016 glory. Because in those few minutes he was gone, fans set his jerseys on fire and those flames spread downtown and destroyed most of the skyline.

 

– Reggie Miller comes out of retirement to give the Indiana Pacers another quality shooter to help star, Paul George, get into the playoffs. The offer is a reported 2yr/$17 million. After hearing details of the contract, sister Cheryl Miller works out for the Pacers and is quickly signed to a 3yr/$27 million sheet.

 

– Ice Cube had at least four teams including Golden State, Houston, Dallas and Detroit interested in him after he “messed around and got a triple double” but it has been revealed that those stats were inflated. Cube did record 21 points, 11 rebounds and 23 blocks in one game, but he was playing one-on-one with Kevin Hart. At this time no one is offering Cube a deal, other than TBS. But that’s for a family TV show.

 

cube hart

 

– Trickshot experts Dude Perfect sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. The amount is undisclosed but I’m not sure the front office understands that they are a crew of guys and not just one player. Either way, Dude Perfect should bring some much needed three point shooting and entertainment to the Clip Show.

 

– And the last thing off the Free Agency Tracker isn’t a major contract but some juicy breaking news. It is being reported that NBA analyst, Stephen A. Smith, has lost his cell phone. Please help him find it. It’s a black iphone 4S with a cracked screen and Buzz Lightyear case. He needs it for work so please help. Until it shows up, just message him on Facebook.

 

That’s all for now. Keep your ears to the hardwood for more news, gossip and bullshit from the All Joke NBA Free Agency Tracker. Who knows who will be on the move the next? Only God and Larry Bird know for sure.

 

Track, don’t stalk.

 

 


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: NBA Logos

Written by :
Published on : June 21, 2016

 

 

 

We’re back for the newest edition of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and this time we are focusing on NBA logos. This is a pretty difficult one for the simple fact that almost every NBA logo is some variation of a basketball. I’m going to have to get pretty creative with my reasons here, but it will probably revolve around the fact that I hate your teams colors. Here we go…

 

The Good

HeatLogo

 

Miami Heat- The flaming basketball going through the hoop is totally badass. He’s on fire!

 

Detroit Pistons- It may be simple but it’s a classic. The red, white and blue is perfect for the city that built America. I talk a lot of trash about teams with simple basketball logos in this piece, but my hometown team gets a pass here. Sorry, not sorry.

 

Golden State Warriors- Not normally a fan of the color yellow, but for the Golden State Warriors it works. And the silhouette of the bridge is just beautiful.

 

Celtics Logo

 

Boston Celtics- This logo features a totally chill leprechaun spinning a basketball on his finger while smoking a pipe. I hate the team, but I love this logo.

 

Chicago Bulls- Another team I hate that has a logo I love. Pissed off bull with no basketball in sight. Once upon a time this was the most feared logo in sports.

 

Memphis Grizzlies- Imposing grizzly bear. Love it.

 

San Antonio Spurs- This logo turns the ‘U’ in the team’s name into a spur, which is the team’s name. Genius. And the black and silver colors are tough as hell.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves- That wolf looks meaner than fuck! That alone wins me over.

 

The Bad

Rockets

 

Houston Rockets: What’s going on here? It’s uninspired and boring. Just change it to a silhouette of James Harden’s beard already.

 

Utah Jazz- One of the NBA logos with mountain in the background. Nothing to do with Jazz music. Fail.

 

Sacramento Kings- I guess there’s a crown there, and some lances crossed in the background. And the purple makes me think of Prince, not a king.

 

Portland Trailblazers- I really like the colors red and black, but that’s about all I like about this thing. What is it, and how does it relate to blazing trails?

 

Los Angeles Lakers- Just a basketball with the name. And the colors of gold and purple are hideous. Sorry Mr Johnson but there’s no magic here.

 

Pacerslogo

 

Indiana Pacers- Hey guys, what if we make the logo the letter ‘P’ with a basketball in the middle!?! Piss off…

 

Denver Nuggets- Another team with a logo featuring a mountain. I think they could have done better here. Give me a grizzled old prospector holding some gold nuggets or something.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers- Once again, you guessed it, a basketball. But this time with a sword going through it. It’s red and yellow but they try to class it up by saying “wine and gold.” Who are they fooling?

 

Brooklyn Nets- The simple black and white looks pretty clean but other than that it’s another lame ass basketball logo.

 

washington_wizards_2015_logo_detail

 

Washington Wizards- The old Wizards’ logo featured this weird looking wizard. I would much rather have that than this oddly phallic current version featuring the Washington Monument.

 

Atlanta Hawks- The old logo was a Hawk with a basketball clutched in its talons. Not bad right? The new logo fails to impress.

 

Phoenix Suns- Another color scheme that doesn’t really jive with me. Plus this thing looks a lot more like a shooting star than a sun.

 

The Ugly

Clippers logo

Los Angeles Clippers-  The newest edition of the Clippers logo blows. Its a ‘C’ with the ‘LA’ inside. Great.

 

Milwaukee Bucks- The Buck kind of sucks. And the colors are garbage.

 

New Orleans Pelicans- A pissed off pelican featuring the colors red, blue and gold. They should have been called the New Orleans Dogs, because this thing is ugly. Woof!

 

Thunder logo

 

Oklahoma City Thunder- How do you make a visual representation of thunder? I have no idea and neither do the Thunder.

 

New York Knicks- These colors are hideous. Enough said.

 

Philadelphia 76ers- Red, white and blue, and some stars. And and awful basketball team. The logo is kind of ugly but not as ugly as the product they put on the court every year.

 

Dallas Mavericks- Another basketball with a weird looking profile of a stallion inside of it. No thanks.

 

Raptors logo

 

Toronto Raptors- Another team that totally fucked up by ditching their old logo. It used to be a totally rad, basketball-playing, cartoon raptor. Now, it’s a weak basketball with three claw marks going through it.

 

Charlotte Hornets- Sure, the old Hornets’ logo was pretty cartoonish but it was far superior to what the team has now. This attempt to looking threatening falls far short of scaring anyone. Except for those colors. Those are pretty awful.

 

Orlando Magic- Nothing magical here.

 

I would have to say that overall, I think most NBA logos kind of suck. There’s just too many basketballs. We know you’re a basketball team, why don’t you be more creative with your logo. Props to those teams that do have something cool going on, and feel free to tell me why you think I’m full of shit down in the comments section.

 

 


SBS Remembers: Malice at the Palace

Written by :
Published on : April 15, 2016

 

I still remember exactly where I was when it all went down. It was freshmen year and I was in my dorm room at Central Michigan University. Underage drinking was probably involved. Then the phone rings. I can’t recall who exactly was on the other end, but they told me I needed to go to the TV immediately and turn on the Pistons game.

 

When we found the appropriate channel, it was clear that there was something big going down. Players were in the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills fighting fans. Fans were on the court getting annihilated by players. By the time we were tuned in, all hell had broken loose. It later became known as “Malice at the Palace” and it was NBA pandemonium unlike anything the world had never witnessed. Let’s take a minute to remember an event that the league would rather forget.

 

The Kindling

 

The Malice at the Palace featured a Detroit Pistons team that was in the midst of a pretty heated rivalry with the Indiana Pacers. The date was November 19, 2004 and it was the first time that the two teams had met since the Eastern Conference Finals the previous season, when the Pistons defeated the Pacers in six games en route to their first NBA Championship since the ‘Bad Boys’ were a thing. These teams were familiar with each other and there wasn’t a lot of love lost there. Both played the game hard and psychical, and in a manner that lent itself to frustrating the opposition. The Pistons were down big in the game and it was all but over. Yet for some reason, the starters were still on the court, even within the last minute. That would prove to be a very bad idea.

 

The Spark

 

The Pacers were up 97-82 with 45.9 seconds left in the game. Ben Wallace was fouled hard from behind by Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace), who slapped Wallace across the back of the head on his way to the basket. There’s no reason that the faces of each franchise should be on the court still in a game that is so far out of hand, but they were. Big Ben, in all his glory, retaliated by shoving Artest in the face with both hands.

 

MaliceAtThePalace

 

The result was a bit of fray in the middle of the court as the two players got in each other’s faces and the rest of the players tried to separate them. No big deal right? This kind of thing happens all the time in sports and it’s usually over as soon as it begins. But this time Artest went over to the scorer’s table, laid down and put on a headset in order to talk to some radio folks. Those same radio folks later said that the headset wasn’t live because they knew Artest and that would be crazy to let him on the airwaves when he was all wound up like that.

 

Anyways, all of this went on for a few minutes and the refs were getting ready to eject players who wouldn’t calm down. Wallace threw a towel at Artest, causing him to stand up briefly before returning to his more relaxed position on the scorer’s table. Then it happened. Some moron named John Green threw a Diet Coke at Ron Artest, hitting in him the chest. Instead of calling on the security to escort the man out like an adult and professional, this maniac ran into the stands and set off perhaps the greatest (or worst, depending how you look at it) brawl in sports’ history.

 

The Fire

 

As Artest ran into the stands and attempted to seek out the fan who had thrown the offending sugary soft drink, he grabbed the person he believed to be responsible. Of course, it turned out to be the wrong person but that didn’t really matter at that point because all hell had broken loose. Artest didn’t actually throw a punch at this point but was grappling with the same person as another fan threw another drink in his face. That’s when Stephen Jackson, who had unwisely followed Artest in the stands, laid that fan out and then shit really got out of hand.

 

Players and fans were trying to hold Pacers players back as other, less intelligent fans were punching Pacers players. A couple of morons actually went down onto the court where they were swiftly dispatched by members of the Pacers. Like these two idiots seen below who decided it was a good day to get thier faces re-arranged by multiple NBA players.

 

 

It was utter chaos as security, team officials and broadcast professionals all tried to break the brawl up. There was no precedent for anything like this ever happening in pro sports and people were lost as they tried to defuse the situation. Eventually the Pacers were escorted from the court as drinks and debris rained down on them from the fired up fans.

 

 

Once in the locker room, police tried to enter in order to arrest Artest but the other Pacers players got him onto the team bus and refused to let the police enter. The police decided to safely see the Pacers out of the building and review the game film before bringing up any criminal charges.

 

In the end, multiple fans were charged with crimes in addition to five members of the Pacers. Ten players were suspended for varying amounts of time, including the rest of the young season for Ron Artest, totaling loss of salary in excess of $11 million. The incident led to a reexamination of the close to the action nature of NBA games. Players around the league expressed concerns for their safety should anything similar ever happen again and the league instituted restrictions on the amount of alcohol that could be sold at games. People who were present describe the moment as terrifying and nothing on that level has been seen since. I would never want something like this to happen again and I don’t condone violence, but you have to admit it’s some must-see TV. Watch the full brawl below and judge for yourself.

 

 

 


5 Most Disappointing Players in Fantasy Basketball

Written by :
Published on : April 11, 2016

 

As you know, the 2015-16 regular season is sadly nearing its end and so is the trash-talking and nail-biting nature of fantasy basketball. Some teams have reached great heights and others — buried under injuries, but maybe you had high expectations for your squad and those expectations weren’t quite met, so you spent the majority of the season raging and cursing players out on social media.

 

Anyhow, here’s a look at some of the players who might’ve not produced as much as you expected:

 

Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert

 

What may have seemed like a breakout for the long athletic big man toward the end of the 2014-15 season averaging 10.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in between months February and April translating into 35.5 daily fantasy points, per basketball-reference.

 

The young center hasn’t seemed to build on the momentum over to this season averaging just 9.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. The reason for the let down? Gobert did miss a significant amount of time due to a knee injury back in November. Or it could be that due to such a crowded roster filled with so much young talent. Making it difficult for him to actually have a presence offensively.

 

Despite Gobert’s lack of production on some fantasy box scores, His presence is felt around the rim continuing to cast back shots that come near him. Rudy Gobert is certainly an important piece to Utah going down the road with his abilty to protect the rim and be a defensive anchor for the young and surging Utah Jazz.

 


Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis

 

The 30-year-old vet is definitely well traveled around the league. He makes most of his money being an instant offense scorer. For the most part averaging around 18-20 points per game in his career, this season has come a little differently to the 6’3″ guard, averaging just 14.2 points with the Indiana Pacers.

 

This chapter in Ellis’ career has come as a surprise to loyal fantasy owners who usually look for his 20 point game outings, but that hasn’t been the case this year.

 

After declining his $8.3 million option with the Dallas Mavericks and agreeing to a four-year deal with Indiana, Ellis joined a team with NBA star Paul George who is already quite the scorer. Not to mention playing for a defensive oriented coach in Frank Vogel might just inadvertently take away some of his scoring opportunity. Of course it could be a number of things to factor in, but bottom line, Ellis let some people down.

 


Kenneth Faried

Kenneth Faried

 

After making an appearance in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, many thought the “Manimal” was due for a breakout year.

 

With Brian Shaw and his half-court offense out, the new more fast paced offense should be more suitable for his style of play. The athletic forward was projected one of the players bound to have a great year around numerous fantasy basketball outlets. Sadly, there’s a reason he’s on this list. Faried has struggled greatly this year and has failed to stay consistent, mainly due to his series of back injuries reoccurring all season long.

 

The 26-year-old was subject of trade talks around the deadline, so it’s interesting to see whether Denver values him as a piece moving forward. It’s also intriguing to fantasy league owners to see if a different environment will cause him to be more productive, until then, it is hard to say whether or not to be patient with the young athlete. “The Manimal” doesn’t have much of a solidified offensive game to have faith in yet.

 


Serge Ibaka

ibaka

 

Going into this season, the 26-year-old may have been too overvalued. Ibaka, a year removed from a knee procedure, is having quite an underwhelming and inconsistent season thus far, averaging 12.7 points 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. With his noticeable drop in averages from his best season (’13-’14)  when he averaged 15.1 points 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, the elite shot-blocker doesn’t play with the same passion and intensity as he did a couple years back, seeming lackadaisical out there on the court.

 

Despite the issue of enthusiasm, it may not be his fault totally. A teammate of his, Russell Westbrook, has been playing out of his mind as of late, having an Oscar Robertson-like season racking up triple-double after triple-double.

 

Even with the regressed play of Ibaka, the Thunder don’t look to be slowed down one bit. Being carried by two of the best players in the league, the Oklahoma City Thunder stand at the 3 seed in the western conference.

 


Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay

 

While never being an all-star, the 6’8″ forward out of the University of Connecticut has been quite the scorer over his nine years in the league. Averaging 18.4 points and 5.9 rebounds for his career, the 29-year-old hasn’t seen too many shots he hasn’t liked. But the problem this year which translates to his fantasy basketball production is that he’s not seeing too many shots, period. New teammate, point guard Rajon Rondo is a pace-controlling player who plays with the ball in his hands.

 

While labeled a “true point guard” and facilitator, Rondo is a player who spends a lot of the shot clock “reading” and evaluating the defense. Okay, being really nice right now. If you want it in simpler terms, Rondo has a lot of possessions where he may dribble the air out of the ball for 14 seconds which ultimately takes shots away from Rudy Gay.

 

This season, Gay is averaging 17.1 points a game, the lowest he’s ever scored in a season and 2 shot attempts less than before Rondo arrived in Sacramento.

 

 


2015 NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEW

Written by :
Published on : October 13, 2015

 

Fall is by far my favorite time of the year. We get football, the October Classic in baseball, and now NBA Basketball. What’s more is that we’re only about 2 weeks from Opening Tip Off! Last season was great in terms of team play and the evolving spread-the-floor/”3 and D” tactics. Although there was no major shifting of power between the two conferences, the Eastern conference hierarchy changed with the relocation of LeBron James from South Beach to Cleveland. The conference was also hit hard with injuries to their stars in comparison to the West. Assuming everyone is coming back at full health, here are my preseason Power Ranking for the Eastern Conference.

 

*Note: This is not an indication of playoff seeding

 

15. Philadelphia 76ers

Coach Brett Brown has his work cut out for him but will be given time to make it work.

 

“Trust The Process” is the slogan in the City of Brotherly Love. The team began that process roughly three seasons ago, trading away All-Star PG Jrue Holiday. Since then the team has drafted big men in three consecutive drafts, while acquiring draft picks to build their team cheap, while staying away from free agency. With Joel Embiid on the mend, the team drafted Jahlil Okafor 3rd overall in the 2015 Draft. Paired with Center Nerlens Noel, Okafor stands to see significant time at the power forward position. With a “replacements” cast around him and Noel, they will be a sub-20 win team for yet another season. Coach Brett Brown has a long leash that many coaches don’t get due to the rebuilding process. Hopefully, the process ends sooner than later for all parties involved.

 

14. Orlando Magic

A lot of young talent on this team with no coaching to spearhead their development. Shooting guard Victor Oladipo came out of college with Dwayne Wade comparisons. He is a good player but has to take his game to the next level for the team to crack the top 8. Elfrid Peyton meanwhile has the make up of a young Rajon Rondo, sans the attitude. This team will be competitive in many games and may even win 30. However, coach Scott Skiles must take advantage on his 3rd opportunity to lead a team. With no veteran presence I think this is a bad fit.

 

13. Brooklyn Nets

Will the Nets continue to squander Joe Johnson’s talent?

 

The fire sale is just getting started. With PG Deron Williams gone, the team must decide what to do with SG Joe Johnson. He has thrived in great offensive systems in Atlanta and Phoenix but has struggled in Brooklyn. He is not a clutch player and is too mild mannered to lead a team. Center Brook Lopez has struggled to stay healthy and most of his work comes underneath the basket. Coach Lionel Hollins of Isley Brothers fame (ok, I couldn’t resist! He does look like he will do a spin and sing ‘For the loveee of you!’) is a good coach but he needs his own players. When in doubt pass the ball to Andrea Bargnani, said no one ever.

 

12. Charlotte Hornets

When an injury to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist during the preseason is breaking news it says a lot about the lack of talent on your roster. Think about this; the Hornets acquired Jeremy Lin this summer. I could end my analysis there but I digress. Center Al Jefferson has been a solid player in the league since coming out of high school. He is an offensive force and I would argue that if he had not gotten hurt last season, the Hornets would have made the playoffs. I do like the addition of Nicholas Batum and the draft pick of Frank Kaminsky. It does not help to have Kemba Walker as your starting point guard and I think that will keep them out the postseason.

 

11. New York Knicks

With Carmelo at the helm, this ship will continue to sink.

 

I’ll make this one brief. Unless Phil Jackson can turn water into wine, make that roster into the 12 Disciples, and make Carmelo Anthony into a person slightly interested in defense, this team will be taking trade inquiries for Anthony by Christmas. There’s no way this team, as currently constructed, will make the playoffs with Anthony as the primary player.

 

10. Detroit Pistons

Coach Stan Van Gundy is making this Pistons team in the image of the Orlando Magic team that he led to the NBA Finals with a young Dwight Howard at center. Andre Drummond has unlimited potential as a defensive force in this league. Whereas Howard had limitations offensively that were masked by putback dunks, Drummond will have time to develop as Van Gundy places offensive weapons around him. Van Gundy still has to acquire more 3-point players to create the spacing needed to have the team where he would like it. PF Marcus Morris is capable of shooting mid range shots but Van Gundy must get a true stretch 4 in the mold of a Ryan Anderson. This team is on the cusp of being in the playoffs this season with some more roster movement.

 

9. Indiana Pacers

Can Paul George coexist with Monta Ellis?

 

There’s a lot to like about this team. Small forward Paul George will come back a more efficient player after that devastating leg injury. Although there’s speculation that he will play more 4 this year, he is best suited to defend the 3 position, as well as facilitate the offense from the perimeter. The team drafted Myles Turner but it will take time for him to develop into a solid center. I have never liked George Hill as the primary ball handler and point guard. He is not remotely close to a competent point guard and the team has failed to address that position. The addition of SG Monta Ellis will give the team another scoring option but how will that mesh with George’s touches? This team can be supplanted by The Pistons or Hornets if it fails to address the point guard and power forward positions.

 

8. Toronto Raptors

Despite having one of the best fan bases in the league this team will take a fall in the hierarchy of the East, but I still feel it’s a good team. The problem is that all their star players have reached their ceiling. PG Kyle Lowry is what he is now, a pitbull defender and an emotional leader. There is no improvement on the offensive end of the floor and I think the ball is glued to his hands at times. SG Demar Derozan is another player that has reached his peak far too early in his career. He is a solid 20 point per game player but does not offer much more than that. Outside of a 51 point game last season, SF Terrence Ross is merely a slasher. Collectively, this team has had chances the past two seasons with injuries on opposing teams to make a charge for the Finals and failed to do so. Coach Dwane Casey has to be exasperated with the lack of talent he has to work with. Anytime you trade one number 1 bust pick (Bargnani) with another (PF Anthony Bennett) you are in a world of hurt.

 

7. Milwaukee Bucks

Jason Kidd has a very young and talented team. Now he just has to lead them.

 

Coach Jason Kidd has to be the luckiest son of a gun ever. He walked in to an abundance of riches in talent and potential. His starting lineup last season had an average height of 6’6″, best in the league. The average age of his team is 25. This is without having arguably his best player in SF Jabari Parker. With his team intact, I think they can land from 3 to 8 in playoff seeding. They’re scary good. In a league where offense is the focus, his team was near the top in several defensive rankings. The length of his team starting with PG Michael Carter-Williams, SG Giannis Antetokounmpo (6’11”), and the addition of C Greg Monroe will make this team a tough matchup. Monroe is an underrated low post passer who will create more opportunities for the offense. Overall, if not for inexperience I’d have them in my top 4. They’ll be that good this year.

 

6. Boston Celtics

This team’s ranking is because of one man, Brad Stevens. Making the playoffs last year, albeit with a losing record, says a lot about the coaching of this young team. Whereas the Bucks have a talented roster and sufficient coaching, the Celtics have great coaching and decent talent. Acquiring PG Isaiah Thomas was a good pick up and the ongoing development of PG Marcus Smart will make for an interesting pairing in the back court. I am curious how Stevens will foster a good front court between PF Jared Sullinger and C Kelly Olynyk. SG R.J. Hunter is an intriguing draft choice and he fits Stevens profile for a scorer. If this team makes the playoffs it will be a credit to the coaching staff as there is no Alpha Dog on the team speak of. Maybe Evan Turner can truly blossom this year and live up to his 2010 2nd overall draft pick status.

 

5. Chicago Bulls

Jimmy Butler is making the Bulls his team.

 

I prefaced this article by stating my rankings depended on players remaining healthy. At time of publishing, former league MVP PG Derrick Rose will be on the mend from an orbital fracture injury. SG Jimmy Butler benefited most from former head coach Tom Thibodeau’s tutelage and he’s a hard nosed two way player. There’s reports that Butler is not enthralled with Rose’s work ethic. Butler is primed to become the unquestioned leader of new head coach Fred Hoiberg’s team. Center Joakim Noah is the same kind of grit and grind player and will eventually become his counterpart over Rose. Hoiberg will allow young players to do what they do best. SF Doug McDermott and PF Bobby Portis will get enhanced roles on the team and will likely lead to the departure of fan favorite PF Taj Gibson. This team will go as far as Butler will take it. Hopefully, Rose will follow.

 

4. Atlanta Hawks

Owners of the conference’s best record last year, the Hawks will take a step back to familiar territory this season. The Hawks have been a perennial playoff team but not contenders. Coach Mike Budenholzer impact has San Antonio Spurs written all over it. The team spreads the floor and plays unselfish ball. They were the first team to lead the conference in wins without a 20 PPG scorer. Absolutely amazing results last year. This year they’ve added some role players to a team of role players. PG Jeff Teague and C Al Horford will lead this team to playoffs again but there’s no player that can match wits with the top three teams of the conference. Coach Bud caught a lot of teams by surprise last year sadly by just playing team ball. This year with several roster changes and players coming back from injury the Hawks will go back to what they know best, a team that’s good but not good enough to win it all.

 

3. Washington Wizards

John Wall and the Wizards will pick up where they left off last season.

 

The back court of this team can rival any in the league. PG John Wall and SG Bradley Beal are growing together and I think will come to fruition this season. Beal was hurt for an extended time last year which led to some losses that otherwise would have propelled them to a better seeding in the playoffs. SF Otto Porter is turning the corner from being a potential bust to a solid contributor on this team. Having former teammate Paul Pierce for a year seems to have stoked his competitive fire and may lead him to a better role on this year’s team. Coach Randy Wittman has to demand more front court depth. The East isn’t deep with prominent front court players but having the depth may put the Wizards over the hump. Definitely keep an eye out for SF Kelly Oubre Jr as he gets minutes behind Beal and Porter.

 

2. Miami Heat

The Heat are by far the deepest team in the Eastern Conference. They’ve kept most of their team intact from their championship run. This year PF Chris Bosh will be healthy after a life-threatening blood clot ailment. PF Josh McRoberts is coming off a season ending injury. C Hassan Whiteside has gained nearly 15 pounds of muscle over the summer. PG Goran Dragic signed a new contract over the summer and the team still has SF Luol Deng, C Chris Anderson, and PG Mario Chalmers. Add the addition of draft pick SF Justice Winslow and you have a very deep roster. The success hinges on the health of SG Dwayne Wade. He showed flashes of “Flash” last year while playing a good number of games. If he can remain healthy and if there is any slippage of the #1 team in my ranking, the Heat will advance to the NBA Finals. They have one of the most underrated coaches in the league in Erik Spoelstra. He has done a phenomenal job of working with the talent he has regardless of the circumstances. If he has a healthy team come June then he has the tools to shock the world.

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

It’ll be Lebron’s conference to lose once again.

 

The Cavaliers returning to the Finals has everything to do with one thing, chemistry. The same core players are set to return. The competition shouldn’t differ much from last year. The underlying issue at hand is the chemistry and cohesiveness of it’s Big Three. LeBron James, PG Kyrie Irving, and PF Kevin Love have been great when on the floor together. Although Love has griped about his role in the offense, he can contribute in other ways than he’s accustomed to. Love is an excellent spot up shooter. When LeBron played with Bosh, Bosh was better when he expanded his game outside the paint. It provided LeBron more opportunities near the basket and allowed Bosh to pick and pop for easy 18 footers. It would behoove Love to follow that model. Irving simply has to remain healthy. Many people are quick to write him off as injury prone. Those detractors said the same about PG Stephen Curry when he battled ankle ailments early in his career. Irving must also facilitate the offense and not hog the ball. LeBron is better as a primary decision maker but Irving is a better ball handler. Add in PF Tristan Thompson, SG J.R. Smith, and PG Mo Williams and you have a championship quality team. They have a championship caliber coach in David Blatt (albeit with only international experience) and would be wise to trust in his in-game strategy. If James and Blatt can marry their philosophies they will win the championship this season.

The Eastern Conference will go through Cleveland, Ohio again. Maybe some Heat and Wizard-ry can derail a James 7th Finals appearance.

 

 


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