Super Team Update: Melo to OKC, Wade to Cavs

Written by :
Published on : October 2, 2017

 

 

The biggest story in basketball right now is that Dwyane Wade has opted out of his contract with the Chicago Bulls and will be joining his former teammate and best friend, LeBron James, on the new look Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are stocking up talent with the hopes that they have enough firepower to beat the Golden State Warriors.

 

This isn’t anything new. Seems like every owner/GM these days is trying to build a “super team” to stop the Warriors. Speaking of, Carmelo Anthony has been traded from the New York Knicks to the Oklahoma City Thunder. These are both huge moves that dramatically reshape the world of the NBA. Let’s dive into the mantle of this earth shaking news and see what it means for everyone else. Without any ranking, these are our super teams as they currently stand:

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Warriors: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

 

Cavaliers: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Love,  Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose.

 

Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams.

 

Rockets: James Harden, Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Nene, and 7’2″ Chinese star Zhou Qi.   

 

Celtics: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris.

 

Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford.

 

That’s a lot of firepower on a small number of teams. Despite OKC’s big addition, it still looks like the Cavs added the most since last year. Right now, it’s on the rest of the league to stop a fourth installment of Warriors vs Cavs in the NBA Finals. Because they still look like the two best teams on paper. But who knows what the next season holds? I think many folks would love to see some new faces in the championship. Rockets vs Celtics anyone?

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

The world of the NBA is seriously changing. Being good isn’t good enough anymore. The money is too big for all of that. The stars are aligning, literally. Basketball stars are picking sides and gutting the middle class of the league. The new normal is you either have 2 or 3 superstars or you are looking to draft one. The only thing that’s clear in 2017 NBA ball is that one star can’t win a trophy alone. Best to team up.

 

Also, playing total dick-devil’s advocate, Golden State still was the edge because their roster has played together. All these other squads have just been pieced together. Those crews are going to need to time to gel. Just like the LeBron Heat didn’t win their first year. We shall see.

 

Deals.

 

 


Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas trade places

Written by :
Published on : August 23, 2017

 

Breaking news out of the NBA is that the Cleveland Cavaliers have traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizec and an unprotected 2018 1st round draft pick (from the Brooklyn Nets). This is huge. We all knew something was brewing after Irving shocked everyone by asking to be traded. Since that announcement, it was only a matter of time before Kyrie found a new home but no one could have guessed the deal would be this juicy. This is everything you need to know about the big move.

 

The Cleveland fanbase has to love this trade. Kyrie Irving wants to leave but you want to get some value for him. The Cavaliers get the offensive spark in Thomas, a solid defender and scorer in Crowder and big men depth with Zizec. But the reason this deal looks so good from the Cleveland side is because of that draft pick. It could be the number one overall depending on where the Nets finish. This is the critical part. That pick is the future of the franchise. Maybe that future rookie plus the existing core will be enough to keep King James in town after next year. The Cavs might not be done adding pieces. Rumors continue to swirl. The most recent gossip is that D Wade could be joining his BFF LeBron for another title run. Maybe they get Melo too.

 

 

The folks in Boston are doing backflips right now. They traded in their 29-year-old guard with a hip injury for a 25-year-old superstar with a championship ring. The Celtics are getting younger. Their new roster will feature Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Morris and rookie Jayson Tatum. That’s a ton of talent. Plus Boston has a stock pile of upcoming lottery picks so losing the 2018 1st rounder isn’t a backbreaker. You can see the plan here. Build the core that will eventually take over the eastern conference after LeBron James leaves or goes on the decline. It feels like the Celtics gave away a lot but they are really focusing on the long term. But don’t be fooled, this crew will be in the playoff mix from the jump.

 

The craziest aspect is that two teams who are direct rivals in the east agreed to a deal with each other. It’s one thing to ship pieces across conferences but to make a deal with your own road block? Seems perverse. Only time will tell who won this trade. It was a blockbuster to be sure. Cavs open their season at home versus the Celtics on October 17th. Should be a good game.

 

Changes.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 3

Written by :
Published on : May 27, 2017

 

 

Welcome back to Sweeps and Creeps, a quick update on all things NBA playoffs. Catch up on the previous entries HERE and HERE. Now, to the court!

 

The Warriors stay golden and undefeated after doing their sweep thing all over the San Antonio Spurs. They are now 12-0 in the playoffs this year. That’s a new record. Also, Golden State is entering the NBA Finals with the highest winning margin in playoff history. To say they have breezed their way back to their third straight Finals appearance diminishes the great team effort we’ve seen but yeah, the Warriors are cruising. They did benefit from playing some teams missing key members due to injury but they can’t control that. All they can do is beat the pants off whatever starting five they’ve seen. This squad is straight Monstars. They are moving the ball well and both Durant and Steph are healthy. Oh god, could we see another sweep?

 

Enough sweeps, here come the creeps. The Cleveland Cavaliers somehow lost to Boston in game 3. None gave the Celtics much of chance in the contest considering the they lost by 44 in game 2. Game 3 was in Cleveland plus Boston’s best player, Isaiah Thomas, was out with an injury. Seemed like a forgone conclusion. But some crazy stuff happened. LeBron James only had 11 points on 4-13 shooting in 45 minutes of action. Then Avery Bradley hit the game winner. A shot that just barley fell in.

 


Game 4 in Cleveland. James and the gang got it back in gear with some big big help from Kyrie Irving. The Cavs guard dropped 42 points on 15-22 shooting including 4-7 from three point land. Kyrie was the real x-factor when LeBron headed to the bench with 4 fouls. Without this performance, this series is mostly likely tied. For reference, Irving had 21 points in the 3rd quarter while no one on the Celtics scored more than 19 points in the game. That makes the 42 points (career playoff high) look gigantic. LeBron had a very respectable 34 points. Cleveland now back in the driver’s seat heading into the potential closeout game 5 in Boston.

 

Game 5 was never close. Cleveland was on top from the tip and never looked back. Final score 135-102. Cavaliers scored 43 in the first quarter and had 75 at the half. James would not be denied. He also passed some guy named Michael Jordan for the most points scored in playoff history and is headed to his 7th straight Finals appearance. No words can follow that.

 

LeBron post up boston

 

Well, we all got what we wanted. Cavs vs Warriors part 3. The ultimate rematch. I can’t wait. The NBA Finals start June 1st on ABC. Until then.

 

Creepshow.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: the NBA playoffs

Written by :
Published on : May 10, 2017

 

 

We are knee-deep into the NBA playoffs and some strange trends have emerged. Most notably, all the sweeps. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are 8-0 in the postseason so far. That’s never happened before. Meaning, both teams have swept through the first two rounds. It almost seems inevitable that they will meet in the NBA Finals for a third straight time. But before we get there, let’s meet the rest of the creeps still fighting it out for a chance to make history with a championship run.

 

San Antonio Spurs vs Houston Rockets

Everyone may be focused on the star power of LeBron or the Warriors roster but this Western conference matchup features some MVP candidates in James Harden of the Rockets and Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs who have been giving their all in this back-and-forth battle. Currently, San Antonio has a 3-2 edge and look to close out the series with a win on Thursday. The only problem, Leonard suffered an injury that held him out of the end of game 5. The level of severity of the injury isn’t clear yet but this is horrible timing. The winner of this showdown gets a date with the Golden State Warriors. Good luck.

 

Harden Leonard

 

Boston Celtics vs Washington Wizards

Out east, the series is tied 2-2 after some serious heroics by Wizards’ star, John Wall. This will probably come down to game 7 which will be in Boston. If that’s the case, then look for Isaiah Thomas to go off and lead the Celtics to a dramatic win. But don’t get too excited Boston because a rested Cavs team is your next hurdle. And we all know that LeBron James goes to the Finals, every year. No joke, Cleveland will streamroll whatever squad makes it to the Eastern Conference Championship. More sweeps!

 

NBA Finals

Cavs vs. Warriors part 3. Like some insane boxing pay-per-view. This one should settle the argument of who is better but these teams will likely meet in at least another NBA Finals. It’s so clear that these two franchises are heads and shoulders above the rest of the field. Together, they have some of the best players on the planet and both really know how to win. All this time off is nice for aching muscles but it can ruin momentum. The team that best manages this extra waiting period may have a real leg up on the competition.

 

It’s hard to pick against LeBron James and his sheer will to win. But this Warriors team is maybe too deep to lose. Golden State nearly beat Cleveland for a second straight year only to see James change the course of history. The Warriors then added Kevin Durant in free agency to join the already mega-talented Splash Brothers. All this is setting the stage for a big event. I’ll even go so far to say that the rating for the Finals will the the highest of all time.

 

lebron curry handshake

 

Some have complained about all the one-sided contests, calling them boring. Others say they are excited to see the game being played at such a high level. I think we can all agree that we want a NBA Finals that will go to game 7. And Cavs vs Warriors will be the best possible scenario. Leave your comments below, you creeps.

 

Sweeps week.

 

 


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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