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.

 

 


Kevin Durant and the Era of Emo Athletes

Written by :
Published on : September 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Makes a decision to change teams.

 

Claims to be sleepless, days after making the decision.

 

Responds to critics on social media.

 

Comes out with shoe detailing many negative insults hurled at him.

 

Continues responding to critics by using several ghosts accounts.

 

Handles criticism by overeating junk food.

 

This is the new age athlete. This is not Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, or Reggie Miller. Gone are the days of newspaper articles slamming players, with the only retaliation from the players being to address the reporter personally. The previous era of players did not have to worry about branding, social media, and approval from their peers. Maybe it’s a millennial thing. Maybe it is the fact that money is making these athletes more vulnerable and emotional.

 

I simply see it as being soft.

 

The actions of Kevin Durant over the past year further proves that he is emotionally fragile. I’ve speculated that the reason Durant decided to leave Oklahoma City is that he did not want to play for coach Billy Donovan. This was evident to anyone that follows the NBA. We all could see that he was close to Russell Westbrook. He did so many positive things for the city and even opened a signature restaurant in Oklahoma City. The issue with Durant is with the move to Oakland he exposed himself emotionally. He went from superstar on an underwhelming team to bandwagon star looking for an easy championship. Once the big brother and protector of Westbrook he now is in a culture with players that have their own agendas; far more than just dealing with Westbrook.

 

                                                                                      The way we were.

 

The paradigm has shifted from him being protective of Westbrook, to now being on his own and needing a shield of his own. In Oklahoma City, he spent so much time deflecting criticism from Westbrook that he never had time to check his critics and his own demons. Maybe there was value in protecting Westbrook. In doing so, he bought more time from those expecting him to lead his team to a championship. He has never faced the criticism of LeBron James despite losing one championship to James and failing to capitalize on a 3-1 lead against his current team.

 

Durant used several Twitter accounts to defend himself. The effort to make several accounts, and post from them consistently, is childish. I also question his intelligence. Did he not think that someone would find this out? The same amount of effort he took to make the account, with all the obligations he has, he did not stop to think what some person with more time can figure out about him?

 

It’s not only Durant that suffers from this soft mentality. Dwight Howard recently stated how he feels he’s misunderstood and what he has had to endure as a player. Once one of the more marketable players in the NBA, Howard, is now a running joke among his peers and has changed teams three times in five years. Other players have displayed behavior that is soft as well. I can’t say definitively if it’s just the new era of players or if social media has changed how players conduct themselves. It is a slippery slope. Most of these players NEED social media to promote their brand and increase their revenue.

 

                                                                                   How far we’ve fallen.

 

Most companies have to employ people primarily to run their social media accounts. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is not going to run the team’s social media account. The NFL Commissioner has not taken over the NFL Twitter account. If the players view themselves as CEOs of their brand opposed to merely players then I think that they would have less issue with social media. There is the desire to communicate with fans but when it becomes a detriment to what the athlete is trying to build, that is a problem.

 

Luckily for Durant, he is young enough to learn from his mistakes. I believe this may be his last season with the Golden State Warriors. At some point, one of their core four players will have to leave. This may be Durant’s LeBron/Miami experiment. He may have to move on sooner than later. Unfortunately, due to his posts, he can’t return to his original team. Durant should look no further than Dwight Howard as a cautionary tale of what not to do. I believe Durant is still respected by his peers but he is also a few years younger than Howard. This is the time to mature and define what he wants in the league. Calling out critics and former teammates is a loser move and no championship will ever erase that mentality.

 

 


Ranking the NBA’s Super Teams

Written by :
Published on : July 12, 2017

 

It looks like every GM in the NBA is trying to build a monster that can challenge the Golden State Warriors. That means packaging multiple stars on one roster. These super teams are popping up all over thanks to the recent moves in free agency. This a current ranking of the top super teams in the league.

 

7. San Antonio Spurs

Not exactly a true super team but they do have Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay. More importantly, the coach is still Gregg Popovich who has the power to make any 5 players look like all stars. San Antonio doesn’t normally make big flashy deals but it wouldn’t be surprising if they added another name at some point this year. They need something to help them get past the Warriors, beyond the starters staying healthy.

 

6. Oklahoma City Thunder

This roster is by no means loaded but it now features two of the league’s premier scorers in Russell Westbrook and newly added Paul George. That alone is enough for the Thunder to make this list. The hope is that George can help carry the offensive weight so Westbrook isn’t forced to do everything himself. The real question remaining is will this be enough firepower to get Oklahoma City back to the NBA Finals?

 

Russ and PG13

 

5. Minnesota Timberwolves

The cinderella super team. Minnesota has been slowly building a contender and this offseason they really turned up the aggressiveness about adding talent. As of now, the Timberwolves will feature Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford. Not a bad group. Lots of upside with enough vets to keep the team grounded. Wolves will make the playoffs and maybe even surprise some people.

 

4. Boston Celtics

Marquee names were falling fast off the big board but Boston waited for their guy. When the time was right, they finally sprung into action and acquired Gordon Hayward (formerly with the Utah Jazz). They had to deal Avery Bradley to make room for his contract but the Celtics think they now have the pieces to get past LeBron and the Cavs. The Boston roster will feature Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward, rookie Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris. That’s a deep crew that should prove to be a real challenge for any Eastern Conference squad.

 

Isaiah-Thomas Hayward

 

3. Houston Rockets

Houston made two gigantic moves in the last few weeks. First, they added Chris Paul and changed the entire landscape of the NBA. Then they gave James Harden a record breaking contract of 4 year/$228 million. Holy hell. That’s a literal boatload. Rockets also added 7’2″ Chinese star Zhou Qi and got Nene a new deal. And let’s not forget about Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. But the really crazy part is that Houston is rumored to still be searching for another big time player. Carmelo Anthony anyone?

 

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs didn’t make any huge moves since losing the NBA Finals. They brought back Kyle Korver, added Jeff Green and Jose Calderon. Some hoped they would get Paul George but we know how that went. They still have Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, Kyrie Irving and most importantly, LeBron James. That is more than enough to be one of the NBA’s top super teams. Could Cleveland still get a big name to join them? Sure. But with no certainty that James will stay in town beyond 2018, their options appear limited.

 

lebron-james-cavs big 3

 

1. Golden State Warriors

There was talk that opposing GM’s were going to deliberately overpay the few Warrior free agents in an effort to breakup the team. Well that didn’t happen. Like at all. Andre Igoudala, Shaun Livingston, David West all re-signed. KD inked a new 2 year agreement and Steph got his $200 million max deal. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are both still under contract so this whole crewing is coming back for another run. Some of those guys could have cashed in elsewhere but it looks like they value championship rings over a few extra bucks. Oh yeah, they also picked up former Laker, Nick Young. Some of you may know him as Swaggy P. Either way, another weapon added to the ultimate super team. Good luck everyone else.

 

These rankings are by no means set in stone. Celtics add Marc Gasol and maybe they move up a spot. Carmelo could join one of the above crews and mess everything all up. Kobe could come out of retirement, who knows? All we do know is that as long as this Warriors team plays together, super teams are here to stay.

 

Super-duper.

 

 


The NBA Free Agency Mambo

Written by :
Published on : July 5, 2017

 

Welcome to the arms race that is NBA free agency mambo. Since the Chris Paul trade, many other big names have signed new deals. Time to review all the big action so far. This is not every transaction but all the important ones.

 

Paul George to Thunder via trade

George was one of the most sought after talents this offseason. Him joining Oklahoma was a bit of a shock but he adds a much needed second weapon to Russell Westbrook. If this keeps the Thunder will be in the hunt in the West.

 

Blake Griffin re-signs with Clippers

Many thought Blake was gone after Chris Paul left but instead he stays in town and signs a max deal for 5 years/$173 million. This is officially Blake’s team.

 

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers

 

Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson to Timberwolves

3 year/$57 million for Teague and 2 year/$28 million for Gibson. This Wolves team should be pretty fun to watch since they already added Jimmy Butler to the young roster.

 

Warriors keep everybody

Many thought some of the role players would leave the championship team to go get paid but this was not the case. David West, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala all re-signed. Plus Kevin Durant inks a 2 year/$53 million extension and Steph Curry gets a max deal of 5 year/$200 million. These moves keeps almost the whole crew together for another run. Scary.

 

Jrue Holiday gets paid by the Pelicans

5 year/$126 million. The deal could be worth up to $150 million if certain incentives are met. That’s big cash.

 

jrue-holiday

 

Chinese star Zhou Qi joins Rockets

He is 7’2″ and Chinese. Where else would he play? The Rockets love tall Chinese dudes. That’s their type. Let’s see if Qi is the next Yao Ming.

 

JJ Reddick to 76ers

1 year/$23 million. No, that isn’t a typo. Straight up, top 10 NFL quarterback level money. The NBA deals are off the charts these days.

 

Raptors keep Kyle Lowry

3 year/$100 million for the rising star. This ends rumors of him going to a new squad. Makes sense from Toronto’s point of view. They must keep Lowry and build around him.

 

lowry

 

Paul Millsap to Nuggets

3 year/$90 million to bring Millsap from Atlanta to Denver. $30 mil a year to bounce a ball? God damn I should have never quit playing basketball after 8th grade.

 

Kings add George Hill and Zach Randolph

Sacramento is in a tough spot in the West but these signings will make an impact day 1. Another two names off the free agency big board.

 

Nets offer Otto Porter Jr max deal

Brooklyn has a 4 year/$106 million contract on the table. It’s now up to the Washington Wizards to match or pass. Expect a resolution in the next few days.

 

Otto-Porter-Jr

 

Danilo Gallinari to Clippers after 3-way trade

Danilo will get 3 year/$65 million in Los Angeles. Atlanta gets Jamal Crawford, Diamond Stone plus a 2018 first round pick. Denver gets Atlanta’s ’19 second round pick. Complicated but interesting.

 

Gordon Hayward to Celtics

The last big name that many were waiting on. Hayward looked like he wanted to stay in Utah but the call to join a solid Boston squad was too great. He also doesn’t have to deal the Warriors in the playoffs anymore. The future is bright in Boston right now.

 

That’s all the action so far. There is sure to be some big moves on the horizon. Especially when you hear humors like the Cavs or Rockets are trying to trade for Carmelo Anthony. That’s just nuts. But who knows? Anything can happen in this new super cash era of the NBA.

 

Signing bonus.

 

 


Russell Westbrook for MVP, Mostly Very Petty

Written by :
Published on : February 23, 2017

 

 

I can imagine being Russell Westbrook, somewhere on vacation on July 4th, 2016. He’s probably picking out some USA themed crop top with skinny jeans, shoes are optional with this guy. As he is putting together this glorious outfit, he starts to get so many texts that before he has a chance to check his phone, the battery dies. He finds his charger, turns on the phone and before he sees his text messages, an ESPN alert pops up:

 

“Kevin Durant is taking his talents to the Golden State Warriors.”

 

Kevin-Durant-Golden-State-Warriors

 

I can imagine feeling betrayed by someone that at the very least I considered a friend. Nevermind that Durant affectionately called Russell his “little brother.” Disregard the fact Durant saved a big part of his MVP speech to thanking Russell for making him a better player. The fact that at every post-game press conference the two took questions from the media as a tandem, not individually. Clearly, Westbrook had to feel that all the years toiling with this guy, taking the blame from the media for the team’s chemistry issues while his ‘brother’ rose to stardom, was all gone.

 

On that day, Westbrook was in a relationship and found out on social media that he was the sidepiece.

 

There is no other explanation for the disdain Westbrook has shown towards Durant. He dismisses questions about their fractured relationship as professional as he possibly can. Well, except for his “Fashion Week” retort he said at the NBA All Star Weekend. The only interaction they’ve had publicly was their last game, in which Westbrook repeatedly told Durant “I’m coming.”

 

KD and russ All star

 

I don’t think that Durant went without texting Westbrook about the situation. I believe Durant possibly waited until the news went public, then tried to text Westbrook. By then, Westbrook deleted Durant’s info and off muscle memory of Durant’s number when he saw the text decided against a “new phone, who dis?” reply.

 

The thing that is in question is the actual depth of their relationship. My friends and I have had our fair share of quarrels over the years. Most of my friendships are 20 years long. In our early teens and young adult years, a disagreement would be settled with a quick shoving match or fist fight. Hours after we’d be playing video games like nothing happened. These days my friends and I are too old to fight. So, maybe a shoving match and some pointed words of anger but then you agree to disagree and move on.

 

Westbrook is acting a like a scorned lover. In my experience, when a partner is fed up they will do enough to get your attention but act as though they’ve moved on. Hence the some of Westbrook’s outfits before Thunder-Warrior games.

 

The credentialed photographer outfit: A play on Durant’s hobby of photography.

 

russ - willie beamen

 

The Any Given Sunday Willie Beamen jersey: now this one can be interpreted several ways. My personal take on it is Beamen was often blamed for the team’s shortcomings in the movie. He was considered a ball hog and me-first teammate. However, when the QB Jack Rooney was too hurt or considered too soft to play, Beamen lead the team to victory.

 

I don’t want to speak from both sides of my mouth but Russell Westbrook is one of my favorite players in the league. He’s fearless and he has endless energy on both ends of the floor. What Westbrook will realize is that this path was predestined just for him. His own team! James Harden was traded away years ago. Serge Ibaka is now in Canada. Durant is taking photos in San Francisco. Westbrook has everything he wanted through his actions but could not ever verbally say. He has his own team and he can do it his own way. All the aforementioned players will have some of the best years of their respective careers WITHOUT each other.

 

With Westbrook chasing history, averaging a triple double thus far this season he can be in reach for a MVP award. His actions will determine which “MVP” recognition he ultimately receives.

 

 


Being butthurt over Durant’s departure is not a good look for Westbrook

Written by :
Published on : January 20, 2017

 

 

In today’s professional sports landscape, loyalty isn’t something that rules supreme. With the salary cap, and the very limited window in which pro athletes have to capitalize on their talents, one can’t afford to risk being loyal to a team. It has been made clear over the last few decades that it is a business before anything else. And the players with real longevity and success do themselves the biggest favor by recognizing that fact. As an individual player, you have to do what is best for you and your family, whether that means chasing the money or chasing a title.

 

Aside from maybe your agent, no one is going to be looking out for your best interests. Not your teammates, and certainly not ownership or management. They are all too busy looking out for their own personal best interests. That’s why the narrative that Russell Westbrook was somehow betrayed by Kevin Durant seems like complete bullshit to me. And for some unexplainable, childish reason, Russell Westbrook seems to be buying into it.

 

 

Russell Westbrook is now the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder after years of being second-fiddle to Kevin Durant. When Durant chose to take his talents to Oakland, Ca and join the Golden State Warriors last offseason, there were groans in OKC and the rest of the country about having another “super team.” Russell Westbrook has been mostly silent on the issue but stated after the Thunder’s loss to Warriors a few days ago that he was not on speaking terms with Durant. This is despite the fact that Durant has maintained that he and Westbrook are still friends.

 

Westbrook is in the middle of an insane season in which he has posted an eye-popping 21 triple-doubles. In fact he had another one during the Thunder-Warriors matchup, but it wasn’t enough and the Thunder fell by a score of 121-100 behind Kevin Durant’s 40 point effort. After the game, Westbrook was so salty that he referred to Durant as a “bitch” when Enes Kanter made a move to speak with his former teammate while the players were leaving the court. Further evidence that Russ has some growing up to do.

 

 

I don’t understand what Russell Westbrook could possibly be so mad at Kevin Durant about. The guy made the best choice for himself and his career. Did he think that they were both going to stay on the same team for their entire careers? In today’s NBA, or any pro league for that matter, it doesn’t work like that. And the fact that he is obviously holding a grudge against his ex-teammate is making him look like a little baby.

 

He should grow up and start to worry about how he can take HIS Thunder team to a championship because Kevin isn’t coming back. And staying mad at him isn’t going to change that. Russell Westbrook is one of the greatest players and if he can become one of the greatest teammates then maybe he can help elevate the Thunder to the next level. Then maybe he will be healed because all the triple-doubles in the world aren’t going to fill the hole in his heart.

 

 


All I want for Christmas

Written by :
Published on : December 23, 2016

 

I already have two front teeth but there is plenty I still want. Mostly I want less credit card debt. Or clothes, I can always use clothes. I won’t leave a link to an amazon wish list because I’m not a stripper on twitter. Now, let’s turn to the world of pro athletics and I’ll go through my Christmas wish list, sport by sport. Get ready to have your stocking stuffed. With sports!

 

Baseball

For the Cleveland Indians to retire their racist mascot, Chief Wahoo. They are already removing him from all their hats for the upcoming season but he will still be featured on their sleeves. Baby steps aren’t good enough anymore. Just ditch the insanely racist cartoon completely. Please and thank you. I understand that fans in Cleveland may have fond memories of the mascot but their franchise was just in the World Series so they have that to think about it. It’s a perfect time to bury that bigot of an image.

wahoo

 

Football

Let’s keep the Christmas righteousness rolling. I wish that the Washington “Redskins” would change their name. I’ve said this many times and I’ll keep saying it. They can keep the logo for now but the name has to go. If they want to keep the Native American theme then they can pick something less offensive (maybe the Washington Warriors) or could rebrand completely. The Washington Wallabies. Or the Washington Washing Machines. I like that, not the toughest animal but it’s universally respected.

 

Oh, and quick side note. Dear Santa, if you aren’t too busy, please let the Lions win the Super Bowl. Love, Bruno.

P.S. I left you cookies and bourbon.

 

Hockey

All I want for hockey Christmas is for the Red Wings to make the playoffs again this year. That would make it 26 straight years with a postseason appearance. Which is nuts, because I’m 31, so most of my active memory includes the Wings being good. It’s already the longest active streak in any major sport but the real reason I want the playoffs this year is because it’s the last season the Wings play at Joe Louis Arena, the building where that streak started. Let’s see the stadium out with a bang, one last cup run. Let’s go Red Wings! #LGRW

 

redwings spirit 2002

                                                  Spirit of Detroit statue dressed for the playoffs

 

Basketball

I wish for Russell Westbrook to stay healthy all year. So he can get the most triple doubles ever and play the Golden State Warriors in the postseason. And If I’m being honest, I want for at least one moment, for Russ to drive and KD is the help defense that rolls over. Then, that moment will slow down as Batman guards Robin. I’m not saying who is better but I bet Westbrook either scores or get’s fouled. Just like if KD had the ball. But please let me have this moment. We all want to see that go down.

 

P.P.S.

Santa, there is a roast beef sandwich for you in the fridge. And if you make the Lions win the Super Bowl then you can also take a few beers. Hell, take the whole case. I’ll just buy more with my credit card. Love Bruno.

 

Eggnog.

 

 


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.

 

 


Durant decision screws up fantasy draft strategies

Written by :
Published on : August 6, 2016

 

 

If you pay attention to the NBA in the slightest, then you’d know that the biggest free agent name since LeBron James in 2010 has chosen to take his talents to Oakland, CA.

 

Kevin Durant, the 8-time All-Star, has moved from Oklahoma. His decision conjured up plenty of reactions from fans, analysts, active players and retired players. While some reactions were supportive, others expressed the very opposite.

 


Aside from the beautiful basketball we’ll be tuning in to watch from our couches and some from actual arenas, there may be a slight obstacle frequent fantasy basketball team owners may have to face. With “super-teams” already having a mixed reputation, it doesn’t look to get any better in the fantasy basketball community.

 

The Golden Sate Warriors finished the 2015-16 regular season off with a mind-blowing best regular season record in NBA history of 73 wins and only 9 losses. It included Stephen Curry leading the way with 30 points a night, Klay Thompson‘s 22 and Draymond Green doing pretty much everything else in-between. We saw head coach Steve Kerr and staff maximize the production across the roster. Now, with the signing of Kevin Durant not only do you have a super-team, but a potential dynasty, assuming Durant opts out and signs long-term.

 

Durant

 

On the other hand, with so much fire power from all angles, you may have to reconsider who you take with your first-round draft pick because of the expectation that players like Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and perhaps even Kevin Durant’s production may decrease the longer the foursome stays together.

 

Although, nothing’s set in stone and predictions in early August are anything but accurate, it’s best to stay on the safe side and at least explore some other options if you’re entering a competitive fantasy basketball season. That being said, enjoy the Rio Olympics.

 

Go USA!

 

 


How does joining the Warriors affect Durant’s legacy?

Written by :
Published on : July 8, 2016

 

Like many of you, I was expecting to wake up on the 4th of July and see that Kevin Durant had re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead, after I rolled out of bed and grabbed my phone and opened my ESPN app (because the SBS app hasn’t launched yet), I rubbed my eyes and did a double take and saw that Durant actually did sign a two year deal to play for the Golden State Warriors. This came as somewhat of a shock. When the rumors came out during the regular season that the Warriors were the biggest threat to steal Durant from Oklahoma City, it seemed like a pipe dream. But that pipe dream became a pipe reality, and the Warriors pulling off such an unlikely deal left me with several questions…

 

If it weren’t for two of the most incredible comebacks in NBA playoff history, do the Warriors land Durant?

 
When the Thunder took a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors, it looked like Oklahoma City had the series sealed up. But the Warriors fought back, winning the next three games to get back to the NBA Finals. All three of those wins were by single-digits. All three came down to the final minutes, with the Thunder having several opportunities to close out the series, in particular in Game 6 when they blew an 8-point fourth quarter lead on their home court. In that fourth quarter, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for seven threes, while Durant and Russell Westbrook gave up six turnovers.

 
In the Finals, the Warriors got a taste of their own medicine, as the Cavaliers orchestrated an even more shocking comeback after also trailing three game to one, then winning the next three led by unbelievable performances from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to give the city of Cleveland it’s first championship in 52 years.

 

 

Much like the Thunder in Western Conference Finals, the Warriors certainly showed they could beat the Cavs, they were just outplayed by a very slim margin over the course of seven games. It’s hard to think that Durant and the Warriors would make such major decisions based on losing by such a slim margin. But it’s even harder to imagine that Kevin Durant would have joined the Warriors if he and the Thunder had just defeated them, or that the Warriors would risk messing with a team that has such great chemistry to spend a ton of money on Durant if they had just won their second straight NBA title. If it weren’t for Splash Brothers shooting the lights out in the 4th quarter of Game 6 in the West Finals, OKC’s turnover-filled collapse in the same game, LeBron’s amazing block and Kyrie’s amazing three in Game 7, along with several other incredible events that led to slim margins of victory, Durant would still be wearing a Thunder uniform next season.

 

Was Durant move more about hurting Thunder than helping Warriors?

 
After relying on an amazing comeback to beat the Thunder, then losing to Cleveland in the Finals, Golden State had a reality check: despite breaking the record for most regular season wins, there was one team in each conference that would pose a serious threat to them for many years to come. The Warriors wanted to do everything they could restore the notion that they are lightyears ahead of any other team in the league. The best way to do that was not only to get the best player available in free agency, but take the best player away from their toughest competition in the Western Conference. Sure, this trade made the Golden State much better, but more importantly, it made Oklahoma City much worse.

 

Does this help or hurt Durant’s legacy?

 
As a player, Durant has every right to sign with whatever team he wants. As a fan, you have every right to lose respect for him as a player. I personally want to see the top players in the league battle against each other rather than join forces and create nearly unbeatable teams. Kevin Durant is one of the three best players in the league and he is good enough to lead his own team to a championship, rather than joining a team that won a championship without him just one year ago and already has the best roster in the NBA, including the two-time MVP.

 

 
Sure, NBA greatness is measured mostly by rings, but many people will see Durant’s potential rings as somewhat tainted by riding the coattails of Curry and the already dominant Golden State squad. Just one championship for Oklahoma City could earn him even more respect than three or four in Golden State, where he will always be viewed as Sideshow Bob instead of Krusty the Clown. Because the Batman and Robin metaphor is just played out… Although Durant never tried to murder anyone, so lets go with Cameron Frye and Ferris Bueller…

 

How is Durant’s decision different than LeBron’s?

 
Naturally there’s comparisons to LeBron leaving Cleveland for Miami. While Durant learned from LeBron’s mistake and made his decision quietly, the real difference here is the supporting cast. In LeBron’s first seven seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs best effort in finding his Cameron Frye was bringing in Mo Williams and a washed up Antwan Jamison. That’s not quite Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter.

 
Oklahoma City improved last year’s roster with a great trade on draft day, sending Ibaka to the Orlando Magic in return for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Domantas Sabonis, who the Magic took with their first round pick. The deal gave OKC a much needed third scorer and ball-handler in Oladipo and the depth to make up for parting with Ibaka. It was widely expected that the Thunder would trade one of their three very talented big men, but no one saw them getting this big of a haul in return. If Durant had decided to return to Oklahoma City, he would have the supporting cast in place to contend for a championship. The same cannot be said for LeBron when he first left Cleveland.

 

What are the Warriors risking?

 
I don’t think they have much to worry about in terms of on-court chemistry. Although they all like to shoot, Curry, Durant, Thompson and Draymond Green are all very unselfish players who don’t seem to be concerned with their numbers taking a minor hit in exchange for winning. The real concern is when the egos start to kick in off the court. The NBA announced today that the projected salary cap for the 2017-18 season is currently $102 million instead of $107 million, which was the previous projection.

 

warriors-trio

 
The Warriors were counting on using every dollar of that initial $107 million (perhaps even more) when they signed Durant, knowing that Steph Curry will hit the free agent market next summer. Curry will obviously demand a massive contract and Durant will likely decline his player option to maximize his earnings as well. There’s no way the Warriors will let Curry get away, and he probably isn’t interested in leaving a team and city that has been so good to him. This means the Warriors could face the dilemma of either accepting Durant as a 1-2 year rental, or essentially gutting their entire bench and completely letting go of their “strength in numbers” identity to retain their big four. Whether or not they can keep this together long term, the Warriors are riding on the logic that it will be worth it while it lasts.

 

Can anyone compete with the Warriors?

 
Probably not. Certainly not in the West, where the Warriors just beheaded the Thunder (I’d throw in a Game of Thrones reference here, but I’m the one guy in America who doesn’t watch the show), the Spurs are getting even older and slower, and the Clippers have done nothing to improve a roster that has already failed to compete with the top teams in the conference. A third straight Finals matchup between the Cavs and Warriors almost seems like a guarantee at this point.

 
It took unbelievable performances by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to lead Cleveland to their miraculous comeback this year. It could take that and even more next year, which is a lot to ask, even for players of James and Irving’s caliber. For the Cavs to have a serious chance at repeating, they might have to bank on an injury to Curry or Durant, who both have had some injury problems in their careers. Even then, the Warriors still have a good shot at reclaiming their status as NBA Champions. Since we basically already know who will play in the Finals in 2017, it’s pretty hard to get excited about NBA basketball until next June. But that’s only 11 months away…

 

 


Oklahoma City should trade Russell Westbrook

Written by :
Published on : July 7, 2016

 

 

Kevin Durant chose to leave a title contending Oklahoma City Thunder team to form a Big 4 with the Golden State Warriors. Typically when a team loses a player of Durant’s stature it leaves the team reeling in mediocrity for years. Luckily, the Thunder have an All-NBA point guard in Russell Westbrook. He led the league in triple-doubles last season. The year prior he willed the team to the playoffs without Durant (Durant had surgery on his right foot causing him to miss most of the season). The team built around Durant and Westbrook, adding skilled big men and floor spacing shooters. With Durant gone, the Thunder could continue to add players to keep Westbrook in playoff contention.

 

Or they would be wise to trade Westbrook now.

 

The team gambled with Durant during free agency, hoping that his loyalty to Westbrook and the OKC fans would stave off the allure of winning a championship next year. Even though the Thunder had the Warriors down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals and were within minutes of going to the NBA Finals, Durant clearly decided that his union with Westbrook had reached its peak.

 

Apr 23, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) and guard Russell Westbrook (0) react at the end of the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

 

With that in mind, we must consider Westbrook as a trade asset in order for the Thunder to start a rebuild. Here are some deals I believe the Thunder should take a look at to upgrade their roster:

 

1. The Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram or D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle. Protected 2017 1st round draft pick

 

This trade would benefit both teams immediately. The first priority for the Thunder is to see which teams would Westbrook commit to long term. I see the Lakers as a potential fit, as Westbrook is a Los Angeles guy (he played for UCLA). The Thunder would have to decide if they want Russell to be their future point guard or Ingram as the next Durant. The Lakers can’t totally gut their team because they need pieces around Westbrook to be competitive. The key to this trade scenario is that the Thunder have to wait until right at the trade deadline. They have to let the Lakers accumulate as many losses as possible before Westbrook arrives, so they can get the best use of the draft pick they would acquire.

 

d'angelo russell

 

For the Thunder, a team with D’Angelo Russell, Victor Oladipo, Julius Randle, and Steven Adams is a pretty good start to a rebuild. Once they add a player from a 2017 Draft that is rumored to be one of the best in recent years, that is quite a rebound from the heartbreak Durant inflicted on the franchise.

 

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

Timberwolves Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, and Ricky Rubio. Minnesota 2017 and 2018 first round draft picks.

 

Now on paper this looks like a steal for the Thunder. They would be getting a young, proven wing player in Wiggins, a freak athlete in LaVine, and the draft picks are a nice throw in. There may be room for Rubio on the roster but the team would be better served it they traded Rubio for another wing player. The Timberwolves would be loaded with backcourt talent, with rookie Kris Dunn and Westbrook. Pairing those two players with Rookie of the Year Karl Anthony-Towns would give the Timberwolves a pretty good team. Also, head coach Tom Thibodeau would get the best out of Westbrook defensively and give him the freedom to create for himself offensively.

 

karl-anthony-towns-andrew-wiggins

 

Although Andrew Wiggins has shown improvement his first two years, there are no signs pointing to him being a superstar. I have his floor at Rudy Gay and ceiling at Vince Carter. He’s still young but giving him a new start in OKC with LaVine could possibly unlock his full potential as he would undoubtedly be the face of the franchise.

 

3. New York Knicks

Knicks Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Derrick Rose

 

This is the biggest gamble of all. Westbrook for Rose may seem like a crazy trade. However, if you follow Westbrook you know he is into bright lights and big cities. The move would cater to his modeling and fashion vices. It would also give him a better team than what he’s currently on when you account for Carmelo Anthony, Kristap Porzingis and Joakim Noah. Getting Westbrook to commit to an extension after the season may not be as difficult when you consider Anthony’s contract will be off the books in two years and Porzingis can be a building piece going into the future. Rose would ultimately be the loser in this scenario but he would have a young team to play with for a season to prove he can return to MVP form. Sharing the spotlight with Porzingis and Anthony is more cumbersome than playing with Enes Kanter and Oladipo. Maybe the Knicks attach some future draft picks to sweeten the deal but the Thunder have to make a move on Westbrook soon.

 

 


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.

 

 


Why they can win: NBA Conference Finals Edition

Written by :
Published on : May 25, 2016

 

 

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of a couple of exciting and jaw-dropping NBA Conference Finals series. There have been blowouts, big shots, big fouls and enough big surprises to make this round of the NBA Playoffs exponentially more exciting than any of the preceding ones. We are left with four very talented teams, any of which could win their respective series and advance to the NBA Finals. Let’s take a look at each series and talk about why any of these teams could potentially be headed to the Finals.

 

Western Conference Finals:

The Western Conference Finals features the record-setting Golden State Warriors against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This series is not going according to plan for one of the teams, and the Thunder are currently up 3-1, but it is far from over. Let’s check out the teams.

 

Golden State Warriors

steph

 

The Warriors are sitting in a deep 3-1 hole right now and seem to be in some serious trouble, but that doesn’t mean that they are done just yet. This is still a team that won 73 games in the regular season and one that has the reigning two-time MVP. They just need to find their groove again. After that game 3 loss we were pretty sure that the Warriors couldn’t possibly play worse than that. Then they did in game 4. In order to come back from what seems like an insurmountable deficit, they need to calm down and take it one game at a time. Scratch that, one shot at a time. Game 5 is at home and if they can get a much needed boost from that Oakland crowd and take that one, then they might just have a shot at it. They’ve proven that they can rattle off a ridiculous amount of consecutive wins already this year. If they can do it again, they can win.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

russell-westbrook

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder have beaten the defending champions by 20+ points in two straight games. That’s something that hasn’t happened since 1984. Russell Westbrook has been on fire in this series and has really taken it to the Warriors, posting a triple-double in game 4. In order for the Thunder to close out this series and head to the NBA Finals they just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing. They need to continue to stifle the defending champs with their defense, hold them to uncharacteristically low shooting percentages, create turnovers and out-rebound the Warriors. If they do that, then they’ll be headed to play the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Eastern Conference Finals

At first, the Eastern Conference Championship seemed like it was going to be another cakewalk for the the Cleveland Cavaliers. They won the first two games against the Toronto Raptors and looked to be on their way to sweeping a third consecutive series. Luckily for basketball fans, things have changed quite drastically and the series now sits tied at two games a piece. Essentially it’s a whole new best-of-three series. Let’s see why either of these two teams could take it.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Bron

 

Up until the last two games, the Cavaliers have looked dominant throughout the NBA Playoffs, and they had yet to lose a single game. They definitely aren’t sitting in the same kind of hole as the defending champs, but they have finally gotten a little taste of what adversity is like. That being said, they are still the favorites to win the series and they still have LeBron James, as well as a healthy supporting cast and Kyrie Irving has shown up in a big way this year. It’s because King James finally has some help that the chances of a championship in the city of Cleveland are starting to seem much more feasible than any of LeBron’s other attempts to win it all in his home town. If they can get back to owning the paint and can improve their 3-point shooting marginally then they should win the next two games and advance to the NBA Finals.

 

Toronto Raptors

bismack-biyombo

 

In these last two matchups, the Toronto Raptors have Bismack’d the Cleveland Cavaliers. Center, Bismack Biyombo has kept LeBron James & Co from scoring at the rim in the same way that they were accustomed to in these playoffs. After spending the first two games of the series worrying about defending the three and paying little mind to points in the paint in losing efforts, the Raptors have owned that area of the floor over the last two games. And it has led to wins. The Raptors have adjusted to the speed of the Cavs, after looking visibly shaken by it in the first games of the series. With Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen scoring big points Cleveland hasn’t been able to push the tempo. If they can continue to keep up the pace and stay in a rhythm on both sides of the floor then there is a chance that they can shock the world and head to their first ever NBA Finals. They’ve proven they can beat the Cavaliers, now they just need to do it two more times.

 

 


3 Reasons the Thunder will beat the Warriors, and vice versa

Written by :
Published on : May 16, 2016

 

 

The Western Conference Finals begin Monday night, but it’s not the matchup everyone was expecting after the Oklahoma City Thunder upset the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semi-finals. The top-seeded Golden State Warriors have been taking care of business with or without two-time MVP Stephen Curry, ousting the Blazers in just five games. While the Warriors are the overwhelming favorites, no one gave the Thunder a shot against the Spurs, so I wouldn’t rule them out against Golden State either. This a series featuring two extremely talented teams with completely different playing styles. There’s a lot of different ways this one could play, so I’ll make a case for both sides. Let’s start with the underdogs…

 

3 reasons the Thunder will upset the Warriors as they did San Antonio:

 

 

1. Durant and Westbrook are locked in

KD Russ

 

After getting blown out by the Spurs in game one, much due to uncharacteristically bad performances by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder’s lethal duo bounced back with authority. In games two-through-six, Durant averaged 31 points, while Westbrook put up his usual ridiculous numbers, averaging 27.4 points, 10.8 assists, and 7.4 rebounds. Of course, we all know these two rack up incredible stats, but it was the way they took over the series and continued finding ways to generate offense against the best defensive team in the NBA that made this so impressive.

 

Durant and Westbrook are playing with better rhythm and harmony than ever before. Rarely have these two stayed healthy deep into playoff runs, and when they have, they’ve made it to the conference Finals or beyond. Right now, they are healthy and clicking better than ever. Westbrook is dialing back on the circus shots and over-dribbling, and Durant is proving he can handle the pressure on the biggest stage. While Golden State has quite possibly the best player in the NBA, Oklahoma City is the only team in the league that can truly claim to have two of the best five.

 

2. Size matters

Adams Ibaka

 

After Durant and Westbrook, the Thunder’s next three leading scorers in the playoffs are all traditional big men (power forwards and centers): Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, and Enes Kanter. Very rare for the current NBA era, where teams are going with smaller, more athletic lineups stacked with three point shooters that can run, spread the floor and hit open shots. While there is certainly a reason to be concerned about OKC’s ability to handle Golden State’s speed and shooting, they should be able to cause equally difficult matchup problems with the post-scoring, shot-blocking and rebounding abilities of their three big men.

 

No matter how tempting it may be for OKC to go small to try to run with the Warriors, they can not beat Golden State at their own game. The Thunder have to play into their own strengths, and that means giving plenty of minutes to Ibaka, Adams and Kanter, often playing two at the same time. They will have to deal with giving up some fast break points in exchange for getting some offensive rebounds and easy post-up baskets, but Oklahoma City has to stay dedicated to beating Golden State with size and physicality.

 

3. Curry’s injuries could still be a problem

Curry hurt

 

While two weeks of rest is plenty for a grade 1 MCL sprain, the fact that the Warriors took such a cautious approach with their superstar, combined with the fact that he missed two games in the first round due to a sprained ankle in the same right leg, suggest that Steph Curry might not be entirely in the clear. Typically when the team favored to win it all sits their best player for two weeks in the playoffs, it’s a somewhat serious injury. Obviously he’s still capable of playing as well as anyone in the league, as proven in games four and five against Portland, but there’s still fear that at any moment he might tweak, twist, or turn something in that pesky right leg again and need to hit the bench for extended time or even miss more games. This wasn’t a major issue against mediocre competition like the Blazers and Rockets, but if Curry isn’t on top of his game against Oklahoma City, the Thunder will be moving on the Finals.

 

C’mon man! We’re talking about the defending NBA Champions, who are fresh off the best regular season in league history. The Warriors are a damn-near unstoppable force, led by back-to-back MVP Steph Curry. You’re just gonna throw out three half-assed reasons on why the Thunder will beat them and say that’s a wrap?!

 

Calm down angry Warriors fan who doesn’t understand the concept of my fair and balanced article. First of all, I’m using my whole ass. And now, without further ado…

 

3 reasons the Warriors will beat the Thunder and get back to the NBA Finals:

 

 

1. Recent history

Golden State

 

The Warriors had the best record in the NBA last season and went on to win the championship. They had the best record in NBA history this year and they coasted through the first two rounds the playoffs, despite missing their best player for much of the run. That player is also just won his second straight MVP award. These things tend to mean something. In this case, it means they deserve to be considered the best team in the NBA, and they should be favored in any series.

 

Sure, Oklahoma City just knocked off a tougher opponent than Golden State has faced in the playoffs this year, which makes the Thunder a little hotter in the “what have you done for me lately” department. But there’s a reason OKC had to face the Spurs in the second round; they were the three seed and the Warriors were the one seed. Golden State won 18 more games than the the Thunder this season. That’s a lot more wins. Even if Oklahoma City somehow bought all of the Lakers wins in the 2015-2016 season, they would still have one less than the Warriors. The Warriors have the much more impressive track record over the last two years, and one impressive series win does not make the Thunder the favorites.

 

2. They have creators

Warriors high five

 

The Thunder’s biggest strength are listed in points 1 & 2 in the section above: They have Durant and Westbrook, and they have three really good big men. But their weakness is just as glaring: lack of players who can handle the ball, create space and get open shots and generate offense for others. It’s nice to have bigs that can get you double-doubles, but those guys generally need help from guards and wings to get them the ball in position to score. In the playoffs, Golden State has six players in the small positions (point guard, shooting guard and small forward) that average over 6 point per game, and that’s not including Draymond Green who plays power forward, but can stretch the floor and do just about everything on a basketball court.

 

Oklahoma City only has three players at the small positions averaging over 6 points per game: Durant (27.4), Westbrook (25.5), and Dion Waiters (9.4). Looking at the assist numbers is even more alarming for Thunder fans, as they only have two players averaging over 2 assists per game in the postseason: Westbrook (10.8) and Durant (3.6). Dion Waiters is their third assist leader with a measly 2 dimes per game. Golden State, meanwhile, has five players averaging over 2 assists per game. The Warriors as a team are dishing out a league-leading 27.1 assist per game to the Thunder’s 20.2 (9th among the 16 teams in the playoffs). The Warriors also have the edge in three point shooting (12.2 per game vs. OKC’s 8.5).

 

What this means (for those of you who haven’t figured it out) is Golden State can move the ball and shoot regardless who’s on the court, giving them the freedom to give Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson some much needed rest. Oklahoma City on the other hand, will struggle to score and be very turnover prone any time Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook are on the bench. If either of these guys have an off night, or get into early foul trouble, it will be nearly impossible for the Thunder to find a way to win.

 

3. He’s back baby!

curry steph

 

You may have read my article a few weeks ago explaining why Steph Curry’s injury was more serious than the team lead on. While that could still be true, he showed no reason for concern in games four and five against Portland. Curry logged 37 minutes in each contest, the most he’s played since April 5. In game four, he came off the bench, looking rusty for much of the game, until he got hot in the fourth quarter, then got hotter in overtime with an NBA-record 17 points, finishing with 40 in the game. He looked like his usual self again in game five as well, scoring 29 with 11 assists and helping put the Blazers out of their misery. Yes, he just sat out for two weeks with sprained right MCL. Yes, he missed two games before that with a sprained ankle in the same leg. And yes, it’s possible that he’s in a fragile state right now and has some nagging injuries, but he certainly gave us the confidence that he is back to MVP form. He also gave himself another four days of rest by finishing off Portland in just five games.

 

Three of the best players in the world will be on display. Both teams will cause matchup problems for the other: Oklahoma City with their size, and Golden State with their ball movement and ability to spread the floor and shoot. In the end, I think the Golden State will have the edge. They just have more guys at the wing and guard positions that can create offense. The Thunder will demand a little too much out of Durant and Westbrook, and the Warriors will be more consistent and efficient on the offensive end. This could all change depending on the status of Steph Curry’s right leg, but until then, I’m picking the Warriors in seven games in what should be the best series in of 2016 playoffs so far.

 

Enjoy.

 

 


Thunder Bounce Spurs

Written by :
Published on : May 12, 2016

 

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder won the all important game 5 on Tuesday to take the series lead 3-2 over the San Antonio Spurs. Game 6 in OKC saw the Spurs battling for their playoff lives. This is a team that many picked to win it all. But the Thunder would not be denied in front of their home town crowd. They went up early and held off a valiant comeback to secure the big win, playing like they truly understood that a game 7 back in San Antonio was too dangerous a proposition. Oklahoma is now headed to the Western Conference Finals where they will face the Golden State Warriors. But before we get into that, let’s examine the details of their series clinching win in game 6.

 

The stars shined

thunder KD 2

 

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook look like the best one-two punch in the league. Durant had 37 points, 9 rebounds and hit all 12 of his free throws. Westbrook had 28 points, 12 assists and was also a perfect 6 for 6 from the line. If you are going to win then your best players need to come up big and that’s exactly what happened. There were many times during the past where this duo has not always meshed together. But no longer. They are sharing the ball and forcing opposing defenses to pick their poison. Double one star and the other will gash you. Try and lock down both and you leave super easy buckets for the other starters. If KD and Russ keep up this pace then they have a legit shot at a title.

 

Spurs showed their age

Beyond Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs seemed just a bit slower. Tim Duncan wasn’t much of a factor until too late and Parker and Ginobili weren’t creating as normal. Ibaka’s block on Duncan’s slam late in the 4th was a telling moment. Maybe we are finally seeing the end of this power trio that has dominated the NBA over the last decade. San Antonio is a powerhouse organization and they will retool as needed but the vets of the Spurs were no match for the young guns of the Thunder. I could see coach Popovich and company recruit another all star in the offseason to join Leonard and Aldridge. This could be the new ‘Big Three.’ Only time will tell. Either way, hats off to Tim Duncan, a class act and an all-time great.

 

Thunder role players stepped up

THUNDER SPURS BASKETBALL

 

Adams, Ibaka and Roberson all had big contributions on both sides of the court. Each time OKC needed a play, there was a block, steal, or offensive rebound that kept the Thunder playing with a lead. It’s these extra possessions and baskets that make the Durant and Westbrook team so lethal.

 

Now the Thunder move on to meet MVP Steph Curry and the red hot Warriors. If Oklahoma is to advance to the NBA Finals then they need to aggressively guard the three point line and keep their foot on the gas pedal. I expect some high scoring games with the league’s best on display. This could be KD and Russ’ last series together as Durant may walk in free agency. The ‘last ride’ theme is fueling this squad and they have all the tools needed to claim a trophy. I truly like this Thunder team and I would enjoy seeing them win a title but I just can’t pick anyone to beat Golden State with a healthy Steph.  

 

 

Warriors in 6.

 

 


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