Super Team Update: Melo to OKC, Wade to Cavs

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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:

 

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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.

 

 


MVP or not, no one is more valuable than LeBron

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Published on : April 15, 2017

 

 

I normally don’t get too worked up about MVP awards in any sport. They are fun to argue about, and I’m sure they look nice in a man cave, but true great athletes strive for championships, not personal awards. And in the NBA, we’re reminded who the best player is in the playoffs and the Finals, and it’s pretty much always LeBron James. This year the NBA MVP conversation has been particularly interesting. No player has averaged a triple-double at the end of a season since Oscar Robertson in 1962. Russell Westbrook just did it while leading the league in scoring. James Harden’s stats were equally impressive (29.1 points, 11.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds). So they’re the top two scorers in the league, one averaged a triple-double, the other led the league in assists. One of these guys is going to win MVP. But should they?

 

First, let’s define the “V” in MVP. I often hear people claim that the award should go to the player who is most valuable to their specific team. In this case, it would be Westbrook, since he doesn’t have the talent around him that the other candidates do and his team would be out of the playoffs without him. I interpret the word “valuable” as the player who has the most value in the league in general, and that player is LeBron James. I think we all agree that the Thunder and Rockets would both be better teams if they swapped Westbrook or Harden for LeBron, and either team would make that trade in a heartbeat, because LeBron is simply more valuable than any other player in the NBA.

 

russell-westbrook-james-harden-960-e1482467995353

 

I know what you’re thinking, even though LeBron is the best player in the league, Westbrook and Harden had more impressive regular seasons. Just look at the stats! Not so fast.

 

In an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dennis called out Mac for only working out his glamour muscles. Much like Mac, Westbrook and Harden have been padding their glamour stats all year. Let’s just compare LeBron and Westbrook. It’s hard to get past the fact that Westbrook is ahead of LeBron in all of the three major categories (Westbrook: 31.6 points, 10.4 assists, 10.7 rebounds vs. LeBron: 26.4 points, 8.7 assists, 8.6 rebounds). But let’s take a closer look and find out who’s been working out their core. Westbrook is shooting 42.5% from the field vs. LeBron’s 54.8%. A pretty massive difference. Harden comes in at 44%, just under the league average of 45.7%. And while so much attention has been paid to Westbrook’s record-breaking year, LeBron quietly became the first player in NBA history to average over 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists, while shooting over 54% from the field. I know, that’s an obscure list of numbers to combine in order to create a milestone, but a triple-double is no more relevant to success in the NBA.

 

With all the positive milestones Westbrook and Harden have reached this year, there’s one record they would rather not hear about. James Harden’s 464 turnovers were the most in a single season in league history. In case you were wondering who was number two on that list, it was Russell Westbrook, also this year, with 438. That came out to 5.7 per game for Harden, and 5.4 for Westbrook, compared to 4.1 for LeBron. Typically the guys who lead league in turnovers are the guys who are asked to do the most on offense, so it makes sense that two players with such historic offensive numbers would break this record. On the other hand, if other players were asked to keep shooting and creating offense on every play, even if it meant shooting below the league average and giving the ball to the other team more frequently than anyone ever has, maybe we would see more players average triple-doubles.

 

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No, I’m not trying to discredit the incredible seasons Russell Westbrook and James Harden have had. Nor am I trying to claim LeBron James should win the MVP. If I had a vote, it probably would go to Russell Westbrook because he tried so damn hard to win it. My point is, if LeBron James really dedicated a season to averaging a triple-double regardless how many shots he missed, or how many turnovers he committed along the way, he would’ve done it three times by now. Russell Westbrook will likely win the MVP, but LeBron James is the most valuable player, and has been for over a decade.

 

Oh, and I almost forgot about the all-important “rest” debate. LeBron only played in 74 games out of 82 this year, while Harden and Westbrook both played 81. If he was more devoted to the game, and not so soft, he wouldn’t take so many games off, right? Let’s not forget, LeBron James has played 199 career playoff games, compared to 82 for Westbrook, and 77 for Harden. If resting in an occasional regular season game against the Hornets is what it takes to stay fresh for six-straight NBA Finals runs, I think we can all live with that. As for Westbrook and Harden, they’ll get plenty of rest after the second round, when they can kick back with a cold one and watch LeBron make yet another run at an NBA title. Sure, in the regular season it was all about Westbrook and Harden, but in the playoffs, it’s always all about LeBron.

 

 


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

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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.

 

 


The New Sports Rivalries

Written by :
Published on : November 6, 2016

 

 

Everyone knows about Yankees vs. Red Sox and Michigan vs. Ohio State. Those and many other old rivalries are classic. Important parts of the fabric of sports history. But what are the new beefs? The modern day feuds? We look in every major sport and highlight the contemporary era of rivalries.

 

Toronto vs. Cleveland

Hear me out, first the Cavs bounced the Raptors out of the playoffs last year and just a bit ago, the Cleveland Indians said goodnight to the Toronto Blue Jays. Maybe this rivalry is a little one-sided but be sure, Drake and all of Toronto are looking forward to their next chance to get revenge on Cleveland.

 

Patriots vs. Broncos

 

Want to win a Super Bowl? Chances are you have to beat one of these guys to do it. Things really started cooking when Peyton joined Denver. Manning vs. Brady part two. Featuring new team colors. Even with Peyton retiring, this matchup is still serious. I could easily see both franchises back in the AFC Championship game.

 

Detroit vs. Everybody

This attitude is almost out of control. And I’m part of the problem. The Detroit fanbase can be salty but it comes from a place of love. It just doesn’t always shine through. The vs. Everybody campaign has its merits, I like the galvanizing quality but it can get pushed into hostile territory that will leave us Michigan sports fans without any sympathy from anyone outside the state. NOTE, not really an issue in the Red Wing world. People hate us but that’s because we are awesome at hockey.

 

Russ vs. KD

It’s Batman trying to kill Robin. Kevin Durant and the Warriors are the favs in the west but don’t tell that to Russell Westbrook. This dude is looking to drop a triple-double in every game until he meets KD and company in the playoffs. Everyone wants to see that.

 

Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor

mayweather mcgregor

 

They have never fought. Probably never will. But they are rivals. No doubt about that. Since we may never get a pay-per-view, our only hope is that these two both meet in a Vegas nightclub and they fight on the dance floor. Video provided by iPhone.

 

Penguins vs. Capitals

This is more than just Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. These two crews have been battling it out for the last few seasons and it’s been some of the finest hockey you can watch. Not a huge fan of either team but the product they put forward is top shelf. But please, someone just put Crosby into the boards already.

 

Cavs vs Warriors

The best and most epic of the new school rivalries. They have met in back-to-back NBA Finals and a third meeting is inevitable. That win will end the argument until they met for a forth of fifth time. Right now, this is the greatest show on floor. Damn, that saying doesn’t really work in basketball.

 

All it takes for a new rivalry to be created is one great game. You can’t tell me the players don’t feed off that kind of stuff. Drop your favorite rivalries in the comments and let’s keep this conversation going.

 

Heated.

 

 


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.

 

 


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.

 

 


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.

 

 


5 Most Disappointing Players in Fantasy Basketball

Written by :
Published on : April 11, 2016

 

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

 

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

 

Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


Kenneth Faried

Kenneth Faried

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


Serge Ibaka

ibaka

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 


The Locker Room Recap with Patrick Harrell: UConn, RG3 and more…

Written by :
Published on : March 30, 2016

 

 

What’s going on ScoreBoredSports family? It seems like I’ve been away from you all for too long! I have a lot going and I’ve never been too good at multi-tasking. Even though I haven’t posted much lately I have been keeping up with the sports world. Let’s take a trip into the Locker Room and see what’s been happening.

 

 

Luigi Auriemma IS Women’s College Basketball

 

Yes, Geno’s birth name is Luigi. The Connecticut Huskies head coach has received some criticism for his team’s greatness. This past week I was at work and glanced at the television. The Huskies were beating the Mississippi State University Bulldogs by 60 points. It looked as though the team was trying to win by 100 points, as they had star player Breanna Stewart playing in the late stages of a lopsided contest.

 

As much as I can’t stand Auriemma for fielding an unbeatable team every year I must also state the obvious; there aren’t many great female basketball players. Once in about every five years, there is a player that the media brings attention to that is not a UConn player. For every Candace Parker, Brittney Griner, and Skylar Diggins that escape the recruiting grasp of Auriemma there’s a Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, or Diana Taurasi to lead the charge. Let’s face it, there aren’t enough great female basketball players to go around. If we’re seeing, on average, one impact player enter the WNBA every five years then it’s safe to assume that the talent pool isn’t too deep. I can’t recall a time where I have seen an ESPN broadcast about where the #1 female high school player will attend college. There’s no Signing Day coverage. You may see on the sports ticker who was the #1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. Maybe.

 

Geno has mastered the world of NCAA Women’s Basketball but seeing another team challenge the Huskies would be great.

 

 

RGIII as a Cleveland Brown

 

I’ll call it the way I see it. It’s about to be the Jacksonville Jaguars situation all over again. The Jags said before the 2014 season that they were essentially redshirting their rookie quarterback, Blake Bortles. Veteran Chad Henne started the year but before the season ended, the team put Bortles on the field and he has started every game since. I foresee the Browns using this strategy. Robert Griffin III is in a winning spot with a losing franchise. It’s actually a win-win for both parties. RGIII will get the preseason and maybe half a regular season to show other teams that when healthy, he can be a competent option at quarterback. The Browns, being the quarterback graveyard it has been for two decades, can slowly ease their rookie quarterback  into the system. Browns are expected to select North Dakota State University quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick.

 

RGIII is getting the chance he’s desired. The Browns have a chance to change the fortunes of their franchise by handling this situation correctly. I think anyone with a semblance of a soul can root for the Browns to get this right.

 

 

Golden State: they are who we thought they were

 

The Warriors are simply plowing through the league this year. I thought that they would end up being the third-best team in the Western Conference. Just think about this, the San Antonio Spurs have not lost a home game this year (the Warriors haven’t either), Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has 16 triple-doubles this season, and Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James is having emotional meltdowns every week. Yet, the NBA world is watching the Warriors as they can possibly eclipse the 1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins in a season. I clearly was wrong about this team and I’ll be watching the next two weeks to see if they can make history.

 

 

Mamba Out

 

Kobe Bryant has roughly two weeks left in his illustrious basketball career. He’s been celebrated at every arena and praised by every player. Kobe has improved his play since the All-Star break despite the horrible production by his teammates. He has done his part to fill arenas, put up points, and play sparingly enough to ensure the Lakers will have a chance to retain their top three protected draft pick. As a die-hard Kobe fan, I will be sad to see him go. The team looks like they will be embracing the Philadelphia 76ers ideology of how to build a team. It’s going to be a tough five years for us in Laker Land.

 

 

Quarterback Contracts

 

The Houston Texans signed former Denver Bronco Brock Osweiler to a four-year deal worth up to $72 million. The league is void of high-quality quarterbacks and it seems that if you have played a few games, you have hit the jackpot. There’s no way Osweiler is worth that much money. I call it Matt Flynn Rules. Remember him? He’s that guy that had one amazing game against the Lions and got rich from it, but even Matt Flynn said that the Osweiler’s contract was bananas. This year’s draft class of quarterbacks looks underwhelming so I can’t totally blame the Texans for reaching.

 

 

 

Well that’s my opinion on the happenings since you last saw me. Be sure to check back soon for my next article.

 

 

 


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