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Weekly Dimes (Nov. 13 – 19)

This week saw some insane scoring numbers, team totals and the release of the least interesting Ball brother. Kyrie and the Celtics are rolling, the Magic have come down to earth and the Clippers are spiralling out of control. It’s crazy to think we’re already almost a quarter of the way through the season right?

1) LeBron, King in New York

LeBron took the subway and he almost got in a fight with Enes Kanter. He’s basically a New Yorker now. Throw in the fact that the Cavs came back from a 23-point deficit and LeBron might just actually be the King of The Big Apple.

2) Celtics come out on top in potential 2018 Finals matchup

The league’s top defence in Boston and the top offence in Golden State faced off in what could possibly be the 2018 Finals matchup; and the top defence made the difference. Boston held the Warriors to 88 points which is absolutely insane. The Warriors missed a lot of makable shots, but the Celtics didn’t make it easy on them. Jaylen Brown was tenacious and Jaylen Brown came in clutch at the free throw line. Just imagine if Hayward hadn’t gone down in the first game of the year.

3) Harden currently leads the league in points AND assists per game

MVP. Kyrie and the Celtics have been impressive, but Harden’s numbers have been wonderful. ‘Nuff said.

4) Embiid has a great time in L.A.

46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 blocks against the Lakers. Dominating DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed, whom Embiid didn’t even know. Embiid and the 76ers are must-watch television right now. Knock on wood he stays healthy for the whole season.

5) Nuggets score 146 against Pelicans

The Nuggets shot nearly 63% from the field, the lack of oxygen in Denver clearly didn’t affect the home team. Jamal Murray was lights out, Nikola Jokic was throwing the rock around with ease and Paul Millsap played his best game of the year. The Nuggets are incredibly fun and are looking like a Playoff lock early on.

6) Lonzo gets triple double with 16 rebounds

Second of his young career, at the exact same age that LeBron got his second. What a bust Lonzo is. He’s never going to be a big scorer, but his rebounding numbers are spectacular. Plus he’s averaging the 8th most assists in the league, more than Steph Curry, Kemba Walker and Ricky Rubio. Suck on that haters.

7) OG Anunoby is really good

I am so ridiculously high on Norman Powell, but OG might already be better than him. The Raptors young core of Delon Wright, Powell, Anunoby, Siakam and Poeltl is quietly really nice and nobody is talking about them. We The North will have a good team to cheer on for years to come.

8) Reggie Jackson interrupts Jimmy Butler on potential game-tying free throw

Butler was clearly not impressed at this move. Down 1, Butler was at the line waiting for the ball when Jackson walked into the lane to say something to teammate Stanley Johnson. Butler gave Jackson a disappointed side-eye and proceeded to miss the shot, leading to the Pistons winning the game. Pretty dirty move, but hey, whatever it takes to win.

9) Shaq has a tree made of broken rims

Usually this would end the list, something funny and not directly related to the court, but instead two of the biggest idiots round out my list. Shaq is feeling the holiday spirit early, he created a rim-tree made up of 19 rims that he apparently broke during his career. It’s both hilarious and a really cool piece of art. Well done Shaq, now I want to see a video of you making a free throw on each one.

10) Trump and LaVar Ball officially feuding

Here’s the two idiots I referenced above. So LiAngelo is officially back in the U.S.A. and even though he thanked Trump for everything he did in assisting the UCLA players, that just wasn’t enough for the big baby in the White House. LaVar, when asked about Trump helping his son, said, “Who?” which clearly pissed off the orange child that runs the country. He sent out a tweet saying that he should have left the kids in jail. At this point there’s just no winning, the only possible winner is us, the public, if the media just stops covering this outrageous story. Hopefully this will be the last time I write about it. But honestly, I doubt it will be.

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Weekly Dimes (Nov. 6 – 12)

Couple weeks in and there’s a ton of parity in the middle of the league. The worst teams are shaking out to the bottom, the Celtics, Rockets and Warriors are the current cream of the crop and the worst Ball brother is rotting in a Chinese prison; what a week!

 

1) Bledsoe traded to Bucks

How did the Suns not get Thon Maker or Malcolm Brogdon in this trade? Losing Monroe means they’ll finally give Henson another chance which I like, meanwhile the Suns get more picks. Bledsoe-Brogdon-Middleton-Parker-Giannis is a really fun small lineup once Parker comes back, but with Maker in that spot the defensive potential is incredibly high. Good gamble for the Bucks, they’re going for a top-4 seed.

2) Celtics have won 12 in a row

Really wishing I had put money on Kyrie Irving for MVP. Boston has the best defensive rating by far, Jaylen Brown has stepped up big time, Jayson Tatum is better than anybody could have thought and I really see them making the Finals if they can keep this up; LeBron may be able to turn it on, but the rest of the Cavs? Nope.

3) Lonzo youngest ever with a triple-double

Great demeanor from Lonzo when he said the triple-double doesn’t matter in a loss, but that performance did show the skeptics his high upside. He can’t score, the jumper is broken, but that’s not what he’s about. He’s rebounding the ball well at the guard spot and the passing skills are evident. The Lakers shouldn’t be as hyped as they are, but in a few years they will be interesting.

4) Rudy Gobert out 4-6 weeks

First off, sorry Rudy but Dion Waiters was not making a dirty play when you were injured. He dove at the ball and nobody is fast-thinking enough to say to themselves, hey, that guy is really good and he’s in a vulnerable position, I should dive straight for his knees. It was a tough outcome for Gobert and the Jazz, who were already struggling to score. I was high on the Jazz and their defensive potential, but I will be legitimately surprised if they win more than four games in the next four-six weeks.

5) Bottom 4 teams (pretty much) locked

Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and the Sacramento Kings. The Phoenix Suns is just barely above these teams for now, but will probably fall back at some point. Those four teams currently combine for nine wins out of a possible 53 games. The thing is, I like the future for three of these teams. Lauri Markkanen in Chicago looks really good, Dennis Smith Jr. wakes up every day wanting to dunk on someone and DeAaron Fox is so likeable. John Collins in Atlanta is pretty good, but they don’t have much else going forward. Continue being bad and utilize the last year of easy tanking.

6) Porzingis and Frank making the Knicks fun

The Knicks are officially in my top five to seven teams that I enjoy watching. Frankie Nicotine is a defensive stud who stands his ground, Enes Kanter is already a fan favourite, when Hardaway Jr. gets hot his contract makes sense, Porzingis is a legitimate god and they have Ron Baker! Will they make the Playoffs, probably not, but players will want to come play with Frank and Kristaps in the years to come.

7) Drummond is a rebounding god

15.8 rebounds a game, more 20-rebound games already than Shaq and the Pistons are second in the East. Oh, and Drummond is shooting over 60% from the line! That’s not good compared to the rest of the league, but for a guy who shot 38% last year it’s a huge improvement. I also forgot that he’s only 24 years old, it seems like he’s been around for a while.

8) Aaron Gordon is still leading the league in 3PT%

55%?! He shot 29% last year! Aaron Gordon is probably the top candidate for Most Improved as of right now, with the Magic being the most improved team. Gordon is playing both ends of the floor and I’d bet on the Magic finishing in the 8th seed right now.

9) Russell Westbrook free throw woes (65%)

Missing three straight free throws in the clutch is never a good sign, especially for the reigning MVP. 65% from the line just isn’t good, he has only shot under 80% once in his career so this is really surprising. It’s a long season, he should turn it around, but this doesn’t help the Thunder’s early season struggles.

10) LiAngelo Ball arrested

He’s not in the NBA, I don’t think he would have made it before this, but his college career is definitely in jeopardy now. I just don’t get it, you have to know that you’re in a completely different country, with a completely different jurisdiction. Plus, you’re dad has made you a celebrity, therefore the potential backlash should convince you not to be an idiot! But nonetheless, he and two other UCLA players are still stuck over in China while Donald Trump has to ask the Chinese president to release them. Good start to the college basketball season.

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Weekly Dimes – (Oct. 30-Nov.5)

Three weeks in now and things are already insane in the NBA. New referees are causing players AND coaches to lose their minds, Nike jerseys are made out of paper towel and a certain baby-faced superstar was named in a government tax proposal.

 

The NBA is weird.

 

1) The Cavs are bad. Seriously.

4-6, worst defensive rating in the league and now LeBron is posting “mood”y Instagram pictures. Jae Crowder has been a disaster defensively, the team seems uninterested and Tyronn Lue must be feeling the pressure. It’s always a bad idea to pick against LeBron to make the Finals, but the Celtics as of now have to be the favourites. Unless the Cavs can get the old guys to pick it up defensively (doubt it), I don’t like their chances. Watch for them to offer the 2018 Nets pick for Cousins within a month.

2) Jahlil Okafor’s Philly tenure will finally come to an end

It’s official, Okafor will not be a 76er by next season (and for his sake, hopefully sooner than that). Philadelphia has chosen to not pick up his option, making him an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Okafor has asked to be traded or bought out, but with his trade value potentially being the lowest in the league, that’s a long shot. If I’m a team like Chicago or Phoenix, I’d try offering a second round pick just to give him a shot.

3) Shaq partakes in the hot chip challenge

This was pretty funny. Shaq always tries to be a tough guy, but he was no match for the hot chip challenge. After betting Charles Barkley that he wouldn’t make a face, he quickly began to tear up and had to run for milk. Such a big guy taken down by a single chip. Tough one.

4) NBA Halloween costumes better than ever

Isaiah Thomas as Eazy-E, Steph Curry as Jigsaw and Russell Westbrook/Nick Collison as the guys from White Men Can’t Jump were the standouts here. I don’t include LeBron’s Pennywise costume from IT because a 6’8” clown is my absolute nightmare.

5) Eric Bledsoe earning 82k a day to sit at home

As Jalen Rose would say, “keep getting dem checks”. Apparently Bledsoe has returned to the Suns facility to work out, but he’s still inactive when it comes to game time. With the Cavs playing so horribly is there a Bledsoe-to-Cavs deal on the horizon? Or will the smart move be made to Denver? Who knows, either way Bledsoe has the easiest gig in the world right now.

6) More jersey rips

Ben Simmons jersey almost fully came off, Kevin Love ripped it down the middle very easily, plus Dwyane Wade isn’t a fan of the lack of absorbency in the jerseys. Nike is clearly failing just a few weeks into the season and something has to be changed. It’s become embarrassing.

7) Devin Booker 4th youngest to 3,000 points

He still can’t play a lick of defence, but man can D-Book score. At 21 years old he become the 4th youngest to hit the 3,000 point mark behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Pretty elite company for the young Sun. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if he can translate that into wins in the coming seasons.

8) LeBron youngest player to reach 29,000 points

This is an incredible feat and it came in one of the best performances of the season so far. LeBron put up a staggering 57 points against the Wizards to snap their four-game losing streak. The Cavs might need LeBron to pull these kind of nights out more often if they want to turn around their horrible start.

9) New referees causing problems

It’s usually not a good sign when Coach Poppovic and Kerr swear at you in the same game. Throw in the terrible Carmelo Anthony ejection against Portland and the insanely quick double-technical for Kyle Lowry, it’s been a bad week for new NBA refs.

10) Steph Curry named in GOP Proposal

In the weird news of the week, the GOP put forward their tax proposal, a bill that generally doesn’t include any individual persons name. However, whoever penned the bill decided to make a bit of analogy between different incomes by referencing Steph Curry and one Steve’s Bike Shop; “it’s designed to help by distinguishing between the individual wage income of NBA All-Star Stephen Curry and the pass-through business income of Steve’s Bike Shop.” Curry quickly responded by tweeting, “I wonder if Steve’s Bike shop is hiring…”. Better do those taxes correctly Steph, I see an audit coming your way.

 

 

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10 Bold Predictions for the 2017/2018 NBA Season

THE NBA IS BACK BABY! It’s finally here. After the most amazing offseason the NBA has ever seen, the hype on this season is through the roof. While the end result will probably be Warriors v. Cavs part four, the regular season will still be incredibly fun to follow. And with opening night set to tip off in roughly seven hours, here are my 10 bold predictions for the upcoming season!

 

1. Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Golden State Warriors in Western Conference Final

I feel as if every bold predictions column has to include someone beating the Warriors. The Rockets are also a good choice for this, but I feel like the defensive upside the Thunder has gives them the edge to reach the Conference Finals. Also, other than LeBron James, who wants to defeat the Warriors the most? Russell Westbrook. It would be amazing to see Westbrook’s reaction in the final moments of a game 7 win over KD and crew.

2. Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Eastern Conference Final

Similar idea to the first one, the Cavaliers are the overwhelming favourite in the East, therefore I have to be bold by saying they too won’t make a return to the Finals. If I knew Jabari Parker’s health issues wouldn’t be a factor at the end of the year, I might consider them over Boston, but as of now Boston is the only clear choice. Also similar to the Thunder over the Warriors, the storylines of Kyrie Irving ending LeBron’s season would be utterly fantastic.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo wins the MVP Award

Curry and Durant steal votes from eachother, same with Paul and Harden. Westbrook can’t possibly have the same season as last year, John Wall’s Wizards just won’t have a good enough record and Kawhi Leonard’s Spurs appear like they’ll finally take a step back. If Giannis can improve his outside shooting and bring the Bucks to a top-4 seed in the East, then the Greek Freak will take the award.

4. Utah Jazz 13th pick Donovan Mitchell wins Rookie of the Year

Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons and Dennis Smith Jr. are the frontrunners for this award, but if the Jazz are going to make a run at a Playoff spot they’ll need scoring and that’s what Mitchell does best. While he won’t be starting for the Jazz, there’s a good chance he’ll be playing in crunch time. I’d put him as the third best scorer on the team, behind Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors, so if he can average somewhere around 18 points-per-game, then he has a shot at Rookie of the Year.

5. Joel Embiid starts in the All Star game

This might not be that bold. Joel Embiid is incredibly popular amongst NBA fans and when healthy he’s incredible on both ends of the floor. The boldest part of this might be assuming that Embiid will be healthy at All Star Weekend.

6. The Lakers push for the 8th seed

I can’t believe that people actually see this happening. I’m all aboard the hype train for Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, but even if they were in the East they probably wouldn’t make the Playoffs. Brandon Ingram hasn’t shown anything, and there’s a real chance that they made a mistake by dealing away Russell instead of him. Brook Lopez is good, same with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but all this team needs to do this year is show enough promise to coerce stars like Paul George and maybe even LeBron James to join next year.

7. DeMarcus Cousins AND Anthony Davis are traded, whispers around Pelicans moving to Seattle

I’m actually talking myself into this. I don’t think the Pelicans have a chance at the Playoffs, even with arguably the two best big men in the league. The rest of their roster is a joke; they have no outside shooting and no real scoring besides those two whatsoever. Cousins getting traded by the mid-way point has a more than 50% chance of happening, and at that point the team has to really consider cashing in on Davis. Boston would throw the war chest at New Orleans for Davis in a heartbeat, but that would cause New Orleans to be really bad for years to come. Introduce the Pelicans to Seattle theory. New Orleans having a team over places like Seattle and Vancouver is already a joke, and if the team becomes embarrassingly bad (think the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats, who went 7-59 in a lockout shortened season) then the NBA will have to really think about stepping in and moving the team to a more profitable location.

8. The Timberwolves miss the Playoffs

Last year every NBA fan and media person was ready for the Timberwolves to make the jump, but they finished with 31 wins and the 13th seed. This year, with Jimmy Butler on board, everyone (including myself) is vaulting them into Playoff contention; some as high as the 4th seed. I don’t see them actually missing the Playoffs, but if Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins can’t step it up on the defensive end, there could be problems.

9. 2018 Nets pick finished outside of the top-5

At the beginning of the offseason, this would’ve seemed crazy, however now with the roster upgrades that have occurred in Brooklyn I realistically see this pick being in the 7-8 range. The Nets have no reason to lose and their roster isn’t actually that bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bulls, Hawks, Pacers, Knicks and Magic all end with worse records than the Nets.

10. Conference re-configuration is announced for the 2018/2019 season

Had to finish on this topic. While potential teams like the Clippers, Jazz, Trailblazers, Pelicans and Grizzlies could all be fighting for the final two spots in the West with plus-.500 records, a team like the Pistons could waltz into the final spot in the East with 35 wins. While my solution remains as expanding the league with two teams in Seattle and Vancouver, and sending a team like Oklahoma City or New Orleans to the East, major changes like that just won’t happen by next year. However, realigning the Playoff seeding just makes sense. With private charters and a better understanding of health and recovery, it’s not tough to move these players from one side of the country to the other. The season already starts two weeks earlier to allow for more time between games, so why not add two weeks onto the end of the schedule to allow for more potential travel? The NBA has already become a year-long sport with the fascination of the offseason, so adding two extra weeks onto the schedule wouldn’t impact the fans at all.

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2017/2018 NBA Awards and Season Outcome Predictions

With my standings predictions complete, it’s time to turn my attention to who I think will win each major award; along with who I see facing off, and winning the NBA Finals. For certain awards I will rank my top three to five candidates.

 

NBA Executive of the Year

1. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder

2. Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota Timberwolves

3.Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets

 

Last season saw Bob Myers of the Golden State Warriors walk away with this award with absolutely zero competition after signing Kevin Durant. This year however, after a stellar offseason, there are a couple good options to win the award. Out of all the major moves, I think Sam Presti of the Thunder has to get the nod. Fleecing the Pacers in the Paul George trade was probably enough to win in itself, but then acquiring Carmelo Anthony puts the cherry on top. The other two biggest moves of the offseason, Jimmy Butler to Minnesota and Chris Paul to the Rockets make Thibodeau and Morey viable options for the award, but Presti’s acquisition of two stars puts him over the top.

 

NBA Coach of the Year

1. Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics

2. Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors

3. Gregg Poppovich, San Antonio Spurs

 

The Celtics are returning only four players this season from last year’s roster, and yet I think they’ll be even better. While their defence will slip due to the loss of Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, their offence will only go up; therefore I think this is the year that Brad Stevens wins his first (of many) Coach of the Year award(s). Steve Kerr of the Warriors and Gregg Poppovich of the Spurs round out my top three votes, but coaches of potentially surprise teams could sneak into the conversation; Brett Brown in Philadelphia and Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn come to mind. The Warriors could beat their own single season win record of 73 wins this year, and Poppovich is one of the best coaches all time, in any sport, period.

 

NBA Most Improved Player

1. D’Angelo Russell, PG – Brooklyn Nets

2. Rodney Hood, SF – Utah Jazz

3. Dwight Howard, C – Charlotte Hornets

 

The Nets might actually be fun to watch this season, and that’s not something you could have said in years past. D’Angelo Russell will lead the way for a newly exciting Nets team, and being the number one option will allow him to show his true worth. Rodney Hood will also have an expanded role this season after Gordon Hayward’s departure, it will all depend on whether or not he is capable of a higher scoring output. Dwight Howard is my dark-horse for this award, playing in Charlotte’s system should fit Howard’s pick-and-roll game perfectly, and if the Hornets can play into a top-5 position in the East, he will get garner some attention.

 

NBA 6th Man of the Year

1. Eric Gordon, SG – Houston Rockets

2. Dario Saric, PF – Philadelphia 76ers

3. J.R. Smith, SG – Cleveland Cavaliers

 

I wanted to choose Saric for this award, but with this award it’s best to just keep it simple; Eric Gordon is the new Jamal Crawford in terms of being considered the frontrunner for this award for multiple seasons. The Rockets offence is going to be even scarier this year with the addition of Chris Paul, and Gordon should see even more wide open three point attempts. Saric will be a great bench option for the 76ers, but just won’t produce at the level of Gordon. J.R. Smith is, in a way, a sneaky and not so sneaky option in Cleveland now that Dwyane Wade is starting. Smith won this award back in 2013, and now will be a top offensive option of the bench for Cleveland.

 

NBA All Rookie 1st Team

Lonzo Ball, PG – Los Angeles Lakers

Dennis Smith Jr., PG – Dallas Mavericks

Malik Monk, SG – Charlotte Hornets

Ben Simmons, PF – Philadelphia 76ers

Jordan Bell, C – Golden State Warriors

 

This year’s crop of rookies appears to be one of the strongest in recent memory, and it was tough to narrow down the field two just two teams, even bumping guys down to the second team (Kuzma and Jackson fit this bill). But I just see these five guys as having the largest roles and making the biggest impact on their individual teams. Lonzo Ball is running the show in L.A. and will get all the opportunity to succeed. The same can be said for Dennis Smith Jr. in Dallas and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia, even though Markelle Fultz is their point guard by definition. Malik Monk might end up starting for the Hornets after Nicolas Batum’s injury will sideline him for the start of the season. Jordan Bell may not get major minutes to start the year, but I believe he can beat out JaVale McGee for the backup role by the midway point, and he can provide a lot of diversity for the best team in basketball.

 

NBA All Rookie 2nd Team

DeAaron Fox, PG – Sacramento Kings

Donovan Mitchell, SG – Utah Jazz

Jayson Tatum, SF – Boston Celtics

Josh Jackson, SF – Phoenix Suns

Kyle Kuzma, PF – Los Angeles Lakers

 

DeAaron Fox would have made my first team if it weren’t for the fact that he will be backing up George Hill, causing him to play under 20 minutes a night. Donovan Mitchell very well could end up being the second-best scorer on the Jazz, even as a bench player. Jayson Tatum will get a lot of opportunity in Boston, and he appears to be NBA-ready. It appears that Josh Jackson will be the starting small forward in Phoenix, a bad team that’s only goal is to give their young players all of the shots. And finally, we have Kyle Kuzma, the consensus steal of the draft as of this point. Kuzma appears to be better than Brandon Ingram, and I can already envision trade rumours surrounding Julius Randle so that Kuzma can start.

 

NBA All-Defensive 1st Team

Chris Paul, PG – Houston Rockets

Andre Roberson, SG – Oklahoma City Thunder

Kawhi Leonard, SF – San Antonio Spurs

Dryamond Green, PF- Golden State Warriors

Rudy Gobert, C – Utah Jazz

 

There are three players that are basically written in stone for the All-Defensive 1st Team: Leonard, Green and Gobert. The guard positions are up for debate, potentially Patrick Beverley over Paul, Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley over Roberson. However I think these two, Paul and Roberson, will be so crucial to the defensive success of their individual teams that they’ll gain the edge.

 

NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team

Patrick Beverley, PG – Los Angeles Clippers

Marcus Smart, PG – Boston Celtics

Avery Bradley, SG – Detroit Pistons

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF – Milwaukee Bucks

Anthony Davis, PF – New Orleans Pelicans

 

Piggybacking off of my 1st team, Beverly, Smart and Bradley fall to the 2nd team distinction. Other guards that I considered include Tony Snell of Milwaukee, Ricky Rubio of Utah, Jaylen Brown of Boston, Tony Allen of New Orleans and Klay Thompson of Golden State. Moving onto the forwards/centers I have Antetokounmpo and Davis rounding out the team. Both of their lengths are terrifying for opposing offences and that’s what caused them to leap their competition. Others considered include Robert Covington of Philadelphia, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of Brooklyn, Jae Crowder of Cleveland, Myles Turner of Indiana and Willie Cauley-Stein of Sacramento.

 

NBA Rookie of the Year

1. Ben Simmons, PF – Philadelphia 76ers

2. Lonzo Ball, PG – Los Angeles Lakers

3. Dennis Smith Jr., PG – Dallas Mavericks

 

The popular pick for this award is Lonzo Ball, and it’s pretty clear to see why. He’ll run the offence, he’s flashy and he’ll have a lot of highlights shared across social media platforms. However, I don’t see his average stats reaching that high. He rebounds well for a guard, but exceeding five boards per game is a stretch. The same for his point totals, as a player who is clearly pass-first, he may struggle to reach 10 points per game, especially with better offensive options like Brook Lopez and Brandon Ingram around him. His assist totals should be high, but on a pretty poor Lakers team he’ll be relying on his teammates to actual finish plays to earn those assists. Therefore, my pick is Ben Simmons in Philadelphia. Technically in his second season in the NBA, Simmons has yet to play a regular season game and is eligible for the award. Even with Fultz as the point guard by definition, Simmons will be handling the ball a majority of the time and his passing prowess will be on full display. He has an NBA-ready body and the “red shirt” year will have helped his development, especially behind the scenes. Dennis Smith Jr. rounds out my top-3 vote, for a similar reason as Ball. Smith Jr. will handle a majority of the point guard rotation minutes in Dallas, and playing in Coach Carlisle’s system will only aid in his development.

 

NBA Defensive Player of the Year

1. Rudy Gobert, C – Utah Jazz

2. Kawhi Leonard, SF – San Antonio Spurs

3. Draymond Green, PF – Golden State Warriors

 

And here we have the three locks that I mentioned earlier for the 1st team. I thought about this for a while, and I just don’t think there will be any other players that break into this top-3 conversation. Roberson was the only option in my mind, but he just isn’t at the level of these three. Leonard and Green have won this award, and that was one of the factors that made me pick Gobert. The league is trending towards small ball, so picking a wing player for this award makes sense, but if Gobert can prove that his immense impact on the defensive end allows him to play in all crunch time moments, then this has to be his award.

 

All-NBA 1st Team

Russell Westbrook, PG – Oklahoma City Thunder

James Harden, SG – Houston Rockets

Kevin Durant, SF – Golden State Warriors

LeBron James, SF – Cleveland Cavaliers

Anthony Davis, C – New Orleans Pelicans

 

All-NBA 2nd Team

Stephen Curry, PG – Golden State Warriors

Chris Paul, PG – Houston Rockets

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF – Milwaukee Bucks

Kawhi Leonard, SF – San Antonio Spurs

Karl-Anthony Towns, C – Minnesota Timberwolves

 

All-NBA 3rd Team

Damian Lillard, PG – Portland Trailblazers

Kyrie Irving, PG – Boston Celtics

John Wall, PG – Washington Wizards

Jimmy Butler, SF – Minnesota Timberwolves

Joel Embiid, C – Philadelpia 76ers

 

When it comes to the 1st and 2nd All-NBA Team’s, I’m not sure there’s much to debate besides the 2nd team center and where each player ends up falling. For the guards, it’s pretty safe to say that Westbrook, Harden, Curry and Paul will fill those slots in some order. The same can be said for the forwards, James, Durant, Leonard and Antetokounmpo. The big man slot is a bit tougher, but Anthony Davis should be the frontrunner for the 1st team spot. After that, I have Karl-Anthony Towns on the 2nd team because of the belief I have in the Timberwolves breakout. Now the 3rd team is a veritable free-for-all, and I chose to break the rules by putting three point guards on the team. Why did I do that? Because leaving one of Irving, Lillard and Wall off felt blasphemous to me. Jimmy Butler was an easy choice in the forward slot, but after that I felt as if any of the possibilities were not at the same level as any of those guards. The most glaring omission would be Draymond Green, but if Portland can snag a Playoff spot in the West, which I think they will, then he deserves recognition for that. Rounding out my third team is Joel Embiid, who fully healthy was one of the best big men in the league last season. Other omissions include: guards Isaiah Thomas (injury), Klay Thompson, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, forwards Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap, Blake Griffin, Paul George, and centers Nikola Jokic, DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gobert.

 

NBA Most Valuable Player

1. LeBron James

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo

3. Russell Westbrook

 

MVP is a tough award to predict this season with all of the movement that took place this summer. Russell Westbrook can’t possibly produce at the same amount with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in tow, James Harden’s time on the ball will go down with the arrival of Chris Paul, and the Warriors will be stealing votes from one another. I considered John Wall as a possibility, Karl-Anthony Towns or Jimmy Butler (but the same problem with the Warriors guys could potentially occur in Minnesota), and even Nikola Jokic if Denver’s season is out of this world. But eventually, I ended up at the age old question: who is the best basketball player in the world? And the answer is the same it’s been since the decline of Kobe Bryant; LeBron James. LeBron has lost his sidekick Kyrie Irving, and with Isaiah Thomas due to miss a large chunk of the season, there inevitably will be more on James’ plate. It can be said that the Cavaliers probably don’t care about the regular season, and James doesn’t care about his offensive output during that time as well, but he’s still a basketball savant that will put up big numbers. Giannis Antetokounmpo is my second choice for this due to his rise in production every year since he entered the league. This could be the season that we see a spike in triple-doubles from the Greek Freak. My third vote still goes to Westbrook, even though the acquisitions of George and Anthony will (slightly) reduce his time on the ball, Westbrook is still Westbrook. Expect the assist totals to stay the same, or potentially even rise incrementally, the rebounds to take a bit of a dip and the scoring average to drop a few points. Guess what, that still makes for a pretty amazing stat line.

 

NBA Finals Matchup, Winner, and Finals MVP

Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Champions: Warriors in 6

Finals MVP: Kevin Durant

 

The West is going to be insane, and so incredibly fun to follow during the regular season. Most media members still think the Warriors will somewhat easily earn another Finals berth, but I really believe that playing two of the Thunder, Rockets and Spurs is a massive challenge, and has the potential for upset. However, if I were to bet with my head instead of my heart, I would pick the Warriors to once again meet up with the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals (sigh). While this would be be somewhat annoying for the more hardcore fan, it would have some interesting implications going into the following year. If the Warriors win again, could we see an even crazier offseason then this one? Will LeBron leave Cleveland again if he fails to earn another ring? I predict the Warriors will win their third championship in four years, which could cause a chain of events in the months following that will affect the league for years to come.

 

 

 

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2017/2018 NBA Standings Predictions – Western Conference

Part two of the end-of-season predictions, and we move onto the bloodbath that is the Western Conference. The West is absolutely insane; one of my bold predictions last season was that at least 4 teams would miss the Playoffs with a .500 record, and even though it didn’t happen, it really could this year. It’s pretty obvious which team will sit atop the Conference, but who sneaks into the final Playoff spots is up for debate; and who better to tackle that debate than me?*

 

*All predictions are being considered with 100% health

 

 

 

 

  1. Phoenix Suns

Projected starters: Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss, Tyson Chandler

Key bench players: Tyler Ulis, Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender

 

This spot is a toss up between the Suns and the Kings, but I think the Suns youth will cause them to lose a couple more games down the stretch. Devin Booker is an absolute stud, but he’s a sieve on the defensive end. Eric Bledsoe is underrated at this point due to him not being able to stay on the floor, and Tyson Chandler is so far over the hill that he is miles from it. T.J. Warren and Marquese Chriss are really nice young players, but they can’t provide much in the win department quite yet. The same can be said for Tyler Ulis and number four pick Josh Jackson, the latter having a lot of upside, but how much he’ll provide this year is to be seen. I can’t stand Alex Len, going back to when he was originally drafted. There were murmurs of him being a potential top pick, albeit in a horrible draft, but I would have lost my mind if he went number one overall. He’s a true seven-footer, yet he can’t grab more than six rebounds a game, and his defensive ability is sub-par. Dragan Bender didn’t get a chance last season, but if I were running the team I’d try playing Bender and Chriss together to see what I have. This Suns team will be hoping to get another good pick next year to team up with Booker and Jackson.

 

  1. Sacramento Kings

Projected starters: George Hill, Buddy Hield, Justin Jackson, Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein

Key bench players: De’Aaron Fox, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph

 

The Sacramento Kings, a franchise I have had nothing good to say about for years, actually appear like they’re turning the ship around. Embracing a rebuild has given them a lot of good young assets; draft picks De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, and Harry Giles, along with Buddy Hield. I’ve written about my thoughts on bringing in George Hill to play over Fox, but Hill will provide veteran leadership and a few extra wins along the way. Fox is one of my favourite rookies from this class, and hopefully he can learn how to shoot while not being expected to lead the team. Buddy Hield will never be good defensively, but if he can study J.J. Reddick film and learn to run off screens he can become a solid starting guard. Labissiere showed a lot of promise at the end of last season, and his partnership with Cauley-Stein appears to be the frontcourt of the future. Vince Carter’s career is coming to an end, and it’s a bit odd for him to spend a year in Sacramento, but he’s still good for a couple turn-back-the-clock highlights throughout the season. Zach Randolph is also a bit of an odd signing, but he must be ok with coming off the bench. The Kings are nowhere near Playoff contention, but their team might be just good enough to pick outside of the top five.

 

  1. Los Angeles Lakers

Projected starters: Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez

Key bench players: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Kyle Kuzma

 

Sorry LaVar Ball, but your son won’t be able to lead the Lakers into the postseason in his rookie year. Look, I love Lonzo, but rookies just don’t come into the league and lead their new team into the Playoffs; unless they’re named LeBron James or Magic Johnson. Lonzo has the potential to be the Rookie of the Year, especially considering his Summer League performance. He’ll get the minutes, and will handle the ball for a majority of the minutes in the Lakers system, but he just doesn’t have enough talent to even push for the eighth spot. The signing of KCP is nice for both this season, and next, due to him having the same agent as free-agent-to-be LeBron James. He’s a great fit next to Ball due to his shooting touch, and defensive talents. Brandon Ingram with another year of growth should improve, and people are starting to sleep on Julius Randle. Brook Lopez is working on his outside shooting, but his inside scoring will be the main help for this Lakers offence. Jordan Clarkson will probably be in trade rumors all season because of the Lakers clear plans to sign two max players, and that’s unfortunate because he is a great talent off the bench. Larry Nance Jr. has been called the team’s “secret weapon” by Magic Johnson, but I’m still not too sure what he does other than throw down massive dunks (the best dunk of last season was Nance Jr. hammering it on new teammate Lopez, I wish I could know what the first thing they said to each other was at the first practice). Kyle Kuzma also showed out at Summer League, I doubt he’ll get a lot of opportunity, but he’s a nice piece going forward. LaVar will make his opinion heard all year, and it’ll be interesting to see how his mood changes as the losses start to pile up.

 

  1. Dallas Mavericks

Projected starters: Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, Nerlens Noel

Key bench players: Seth Curry, Yogi Ferrel, Dorian Finney-Smith

 

Just like the 14th and 15th spot, the Lakers could usurp the Mavs for this spot come the end of the season, but I’m betting on the Mavs to win more close games than the Lakers. It looks like Dennis Smith Jr. is going to make teams like the Bulls and Knicks regret passing on him, and coming into a system coached by Rick Carlisle will help him in his first season. Wesley Matthews wasn’t the same guy after his ACL injury, but he’s still capable on the wing. Harrison Barnes isn’t a top option, but he did show that he deserved more touches after leaving the Warriors. Dirk Nowitzki is a swinging door defensively, and he can’t rebound, but his spacing is still invaluable. Nerlens Noel’s offseason contract saga means that he has a lot to prove this year after signing only a one-year deal, he’ll still be seeking a max-offer next year from whoever is willing to offer it. Seth Curry proved that he serves a spot in the rotation, and the same can be said for the relatively unknown Yogi Ferrel. After that, the depth gets a bit questionable, but players like Dorian Finney-Smith and Salah Mejri will be asked to contribute in their bench minutes. Dallas fans, enjoy the twilight of Dirk’s career, and look forward to the future with the high-flying Dennis Smith Jr.

 

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

Projected starters: Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday, Ian Clark, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins

Key bench players: Tony Allen, E’Twaun Moore, Alexis Ajinca (Perry Jones III)

 

Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are amazing players, but the surrounding talent just isn’t good enough to put this team in Playoff contention in my eyes. Jrue Holiday is a good point guard, but the signing of Rondo forces him to play off-ball, a role that doesn’t utilize his skills. The biggest issue with this team is the small forward position; with Solomon Hill’s injury the team doesn’t have a true wing on the roster. The recent acquisition of Tony Allen will help fill the gap for now, but long-term the team will need an answer. Ian Clark is my guess for the starting position just for a bit more spacing instead of Allen, but he’s not exactly a top-tier option. Alexis Ajinca is one of the most awkward players on the court, but he is a better option than Omer Asik; which isn’t saying much. The team is basically a bunch of point guards, big men, and non-spacing wings, not exactly how you want to construct a winning team. Cousins, and even Davis, could be in trade rumors throughout the year if things start going really poorly. (I added Perry Jones III to key bench players even though he might not even make the roster. They picked him up for training camp, and I really hope, especially with the lack of talent on the wing, that he makes the squad. Jones III is someone I’m still incredibly high on, even though he hasn’t shown much in his short NBA career. His length, shooting touch, and defensive potential makes him a good gamble for most teams, and I’ve wondered why nobody has taken a chance on him, so this chance makes me happy for him.)

 

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

Projected starters: Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

Key bench players: Ben McLemore, James Ennis, Brandan Wright

 

The grit and grind Grizzlies have been a playoff lock for years, but I think this is the year where they just miss out. The Grindfather, Tony Allen, is gone, along with Zach Randolph, and the gritty style seems to be a thing of the past. The Grizzlies problem has always been outside shooting, and the only newcomer who might be able to aid in that department is Ben McLemore, a less-than-average 2-guard. Tyreke Evans will probably slot into the starting lineup, and shooting has never been strength of his. Chandler Parsons knees may never fully recover, and it appears as if he is more focused on becoming a model than a successful ball player. James Ennis is interesting as a wing option, and Brandan Wright was intriguing just a short while ago. It’s tough to count out Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, but the only way they could get this team into the postseason is if they were in the East.

 

  1. Los Angeles Clippers

Projected starters: Patrick Beverly, Austin Rivers, Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

Key bench players: Milos Teodosic, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker

 

Lob City is no more after the trade of Chris Paul to Houston, but at least the Clippers got valuable pieces from that trade. Patrick Beverly is one of the best defensive options at the point, Lou Williams seemingly can catch fire at any time, and young guys Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell showed a lot of promise in their time as Rockets. I haven’t seen much of Milos Teodosic besides a couple of YouTube highlights, but word around the league is that he could supplant Beverly as the starting guard with his unreal passing skills. I definitely wouldn’t call myself a fan of Austin Rivers, but he has proved that he deserves a place in the league, even without his father as his coach. Gallinari will apparently be ready to go for training camp after punching an opponent during EuroBasket, but it’ll be interesting to see how he fares come the start of the season. Blake Griffin was an MVP-candidate just a few seasons ago, but it’s unclear whether he has the talent to lead a team on his own. DeAndre Jordan is one of the best defensive centers in the game, but he won’t be chipping in to replace Chris Paul’s production on the offensive end. A lot of prediction posts that I’ve seen have the Clippers firmly in Playoff contention, but in my mind, they might struggle to put points on the board, leading to them narrowly missing the postseason.

 

  1. Utah Jazz

Projected starters: Ricky Rubio, Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert

Key bench players: Dante Exum, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Johnson

 

The Utah Jazz lost their best player in the offseason, but their talent is enough to still squeak into the Playoffs. Rodney Hood will be asked to up his production in lieu of Hayward, with a lot of help from Summer League standout Donovan Mitchell. Offense won’t be the reason this team wins games; wins will come for the Jazz on the defensive end. Last year’s blocks leader Rudy Gobert heads what should be a top-5 defense once again. Ricky Rubio is a step down from George Hill, but it’s not a steep drop. Dante Exum is still the point guard of the future, and this year fans will be hoping for a breakout season from him. Joe Ingles looks like the least athletic player on the court at any time, but the Australian got paid after shooting 44% from downtown. Derrick Favors has yet to play a full 82-game season, and last year he took a step back after his injury; if he can’t bounce back I see a possibility of his name ending up in trade rumours. Iso-Joe Johnson is 36 years old, and if he can average 10 points-per-game I would be surprised. Congratulations Utah fans, your team should end up in the 8th spot, also known as the honour to be swept by the Warriors.

 

  1. Portland Trail Blazers

Projected starters: Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Moe Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jusuf Nurkic

Key bench players: Evan Turner, Noah Vonleh, Meyers Leonard

 

It looked like Portland had a real shot at landing Carmelo Anthony, but unfortunately the recruiting efforts of Lillard and McCollum was for naught. Nonetheless, the Trail Blazers backcourt, along with Nurkic, is more than enough to will this team to a Playoff seed. Aminu is a great stretch-4 to pair alongside Nurkic, and his ability to switch out on pick-and-rolls is crucial with such a poor defensive backcourt. Moe Harkless will get an increased role following the trade of Allen Crabbe, but on this lineup he won’t be asked for too much on the offensive end. Evan Turner took a step back last year after a solid year in Boston, but with a lack of depth at small forward the Blazers will lean on him often. Meyers Leonard also needs to live up to the promise he showed a few short years ago, especially with rookies Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan coming into the fold. Noah Vonleh should get more minutes early in the season, but I could see Collins usurping him as the first or second big off the bench. Here’s a question, what has the higher potential of becoming true; Portland makes the NBA Finals, or Damian “Dame D.O.L.L.A.” Lillard records an album that goes platinum? Depending on the odds, I might go for the latter.

 

  1. Denver Nuggets

Projected starters: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic

Key bench players: Emmanuel Mudiay, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried

 

This year’s Nuggets team is a must-watch for NBA fans. Their offence is going to be electric, after finishing 3rd in points per game last season they added Paul Millsap to create one of the best floor-spacing lineups in the game. Adding Millsap helps balance the loss of points from Gallinari, along with the presumed uptake of production from Murray and Harris. Emmanuel Mudiay has yet to live up to the hype, but if he becomes a decent backup to Murray then all wouldn’t be lost. Wilson Chandler should have been traded from this team in the last five years, but now that the team should be playing postseason ball he’s a great fit. Will Barton may end up on the trade block to open up time for Malik Beasley, but if not he’s a solid bench contributor. Kenneth Faried is still an animal on the boards, and as a bench big his energy can tear up most team’s benches. This is the year that Jokic fully passes Marc Gasol as the best passing big man, and if he were in the East he’d be a favourite to make the All Star Team. The Nuggets won’t make much noise come Playoff time, but look out for them in a couple of years to make their way up the standings board.

 

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Projected starters: Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns

Key bench players: Tyus Jones, Jamal Crawford, Gorgui Dieng

 

I really thought Minnesota was going to make the jump last year, but with the acquisition of Jimmy Butler it’s a certainty this season. The Bulls reunion of Butler-Gibson-Thibs joining Towns and Wiggins is going to be really special. The person who should be the happiest about bringing in Butler is Andrew Wiggins. He now gets to cede the pressure to Butler, and can focus on growing his game. Wiggins made a jump last season in his offensive production, but his defensive potential has yet to be reached. Butler handling more of the offensive and defensive duties will allow Wiggins to learn underneath him without carrying the burden of the franchise. Now, having said all that, I think Karl-Anthony Towns should be the man on this team. Jimmy Butler is a vet, knows Coach Thibs style, but in my mind this is the year that Towns could break into the top-10 players conversation. Jeff Teague was a bit of an odd signing for this team, it was clear that they were pursuing Kyle Lowry and then settled for Teague. He’s an odd fit because he’s not a great defender, and lacks the outside scoring punch this team desperately needs. He’s a step up from Rubio in terms of shooting ability, but Rubio’s underrated defensive ability will be missed; George Hill would have been an amazing signing here. Tyus Jones should get a bulk of the minutes at backup point guard, but Thibs did just sign one of his old favourites, Aaron Brooks. Jamal Crawford is an interesting piece for them off the bench, along with Gorgui Dieng. I would be surprised if this team pushed the Spurs in the first round, but not completely shocked.

 

  1. San Antonio Spurs

Projected starters: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol

Key bench players: Dejounte Murray, Manu Ginobli, Rudy Gay

 

Is putting the Spurs at the four-spot “counting them out”? People, including myself, have thought the Spurs would inevitably take a step back for years, and the Spurs have proved us all wrong. Coach Popovich remains the best coach in the league, and will go down on the Mount Rushmore of coaches in any sport. Kawhi Leonard is a top-3 player, probably the best perimeter defender you could find, and yet with all this I still think they’re only the fourth best team in the West. Why do I think that? Well, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, 35 and 40 years old respectively, just aren’t what they once were. A front-line of LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol is an absolute turnstile on defense. Joffrey Lauvergne and Davis Bertans are the only backup options, options that aren’t striking fear into many, if any, teams in the league. Danny Green is still a good 3-and-D option, and Dejounte Murray is their future at the point, but right now they aren’t making an incredible difference on the floor. The big signing of the summer for San Antonio came in the form of Rudy Gay, a small forward who’s coming back after tearing his Achilles tendon. Rudy Gay gives the Spurs options to play small with him and Leonard manning the forward spots, but he isn’t exactly known for his ability to stretch the floor. Gay is one of my more interesting players to watch this year, to see how he fits into one of the best systems the league has ever seen. It might sound crazy, but come Playoff time I don’t think I’d pick the Spurs over any of the three teams I have currently ranked ahead of them.

 

  1. Houston Rockets

Projected starters: Chris Paul, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela

Key bench players: Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Nene

 

After the trade, much like most in the media, I questioned the fit between Paul and Harden. But after seeing countless videos of them putting in work together over the summer, I don’t think it’ll be tough for the two to mesh together. The Rockets lost quite a bit of their depth in acquiring Paul, however they quickly bolstered their bench with the signings of P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. You’d think that losing Beverly would hurt them defensively, but Paul isn’t exactly a slouch on that end. This team is going to be terrifying in transition, especially when playing small with Ariza at the 4-spot; Paul or Harden bringing the ball up with Eric Gordon and Ariza running the wings, and Clint Capela thundering up the middle. Mike D’Antoni’s system will lead to them to being one of the most exciting teams to watch all year. Ryan Anderson is slow and lumbering, but in what should be fewer minutes this season his floor spacing will still be a massive help. Don’t forget about Nene either, he finished more games last season than Capela, and his veteran savvy will be leaned on once again this year. Houston was my pick as the 2nd seed right after the Paul deal, but after the deals made by another Western contender, I had to slide them down a spot.

 

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Projected starters: Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Steven Adams

Key bench players: Alex Abrines, Jerami Grant, Patrick Patterson

 

That Western contender is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sam Presti’s business cards should say, “Sam Presti – General Manager of the Thunder, and Full-Time Magician”. Presti somehow turned Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott and Domantas Sabonis into Paul George and Carmelo Anthony this summer. Yes, he turned four rotation players into a superstar in Paul George and a star in Carmelo Anthony to form one of the most formidable big-3’s in the NBA. Skeptics could say that while the Thunder may have won the offseason, they did so at the cost of team depth. However, I see a solid 9-man rotation in Oklahoma City, something you can’t say for more teams. Their starting five is menacing, and when staggering the three stars there should never be a relatively poor lineup on the floor. Andre Roberson, known for being a defensive savant, will be asked for even less on the offensive end, which is a good thing for Thunder fans. Also, with George in the fold, Roberson won’t have to guard the other team’s best player every single night, allowing him to have more energy on the other end running the baseline for alley-oop dunks. Steven Adams appears to be the forgotten man in all Thunder discussions, and the argument could be made that the Thunder has a big-4 including the Kiwi. Adams has improved greatly each season, and offensively he’ll only be asked to set picks and roll to the rim. Alex Abrines still needs to put on size to be somewhat dependable defensively, but his outside shooting is key to the Thunder’s bench success. Jerami Grant might be playing some minutes at center, which should be interesting to see, and Patrick Patterson was a great fit to start next to Adams before the Anthony deal, but him coming off the bench just improves the Thunder’s potential that much more. Look out for my 10 bold predictions post, I have a feeling the Thunder will be mentioned in some form.

 

  1. Golden State Warriors

Projected starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia

Key bench players: Shaun Livingston, Nick Young, Andre Igoudala

 

There’s no debate on this one, the Warriors are just too good. My biggest question for them is could they potentially win 75 games? It sounds insane, but so does 73 wins, and they did that two season ago…WITHOUT KEVIN DURANT! I don’t even know what needs to be said, Stephen Curry is incredible, Klay Thompson has one of the nicest shooting strokes I’ve ever seen, and KD is a cupcake (just kidding Warriors fans…not really). It appears that Draymond Green has stopped kicking players in the nuts and focused on being a defensive anchor. Shaun Livingston is probably still the best backup point guard in the league and Andre Igoudala will be in the 6th Man of the Year discussions. I’m still mad that the Bulls were dumb enough to just sell Jordan Bell to the Warriors, it was clear after his March Madness performance that he will have a role in the NBA for years to come, yet another awful move by the Bulls and a great move for Golden State. But the best part of this year’s iteration of the Warriors? Reuniting Nick Young and JaVale McGee!!! These two put out one of the best NBA videos with their cinnamon challenge video back in the day, I hope they get back to putting up online content. Warriors fans, enjoy another incredible season. Meanwhile for the rest of us, let’s just hope the bloodbath that is the Western Conference can slow them down just enough to make the Playoffs interesting.

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My thoughts on every major* move in the 2017 NBA Offseason

What. A. Freaking. Offseason. With the breaking news of Kyrie Irving being traded to Boston, the final domino (minus the odd small-scale signing here and there) has fallen, meaning I can finally give my takes on all of the important moves that took place in the past few months.

*I put an asterisk on the word major because some of the moves that I will talk about wouldn’t conventionally be considered major, but I’m still going to talk about them because it’s my blog and I do what I want.

This will be the first in a series of my offseason posts, with the following being more predictive orientated. The end of the summer is an exciting time for only one reason; the NBA season is fast approaching and I am once again very pumped to share my thoughts and opinions on the upcoming year with you.

Note: These moves are in no way ranked, and are in no particular order.

 

Kyrie Irving traded to Boston / Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn 2018 1st unprotected to Cleveland

The most recent transaction is a huge shakeup in an otherwise boring Eastern Conference. The storylines are endless with this blockbuster trade, starting with the opening night matchup against LeBron and co. in Kyrie’s old stomping ground. Cavs/Celtics was already a great game to start the season off, but now with the two swapping star point guards it will be an absolute treat. Isaiah being moved from Boston is tough, other than David Ortiz he was the most loved athlete in Boston in recent memory; playing through injury in the Playoffs, along with playing just days after the tragic death of his sister, he was beloved in Beantown. Unfortunately, basketball is a business, and the upgrade to Irving is worth moving a fan-favourite. Irving is younger, less injury-prone, and a (very slight) defensive upgrade. Jae Crowder is a solid defensive player, and gives the Cavs another wing option to throw against the main competition; the Golden State Warriors. Ante Zizic might become something down the road, and the 2018 Brooklyn pick, which might not be as high a pick as it seemed only a few years ago, is a good trade piece for them if they decide to move it. Overall, I’d say this was a fair trade for both sides.

Chris Paul sign-and-trade to Houston / Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrel to L.A. Clippers

Lob City finally comes to an end. It’s crazy to think that the Chris Paul-iteration of the Clippers never made the Conference Finals, (thanks to a tough call during the 2014 Thunder series, and an amazing Josh Smith/Corey Brewer lead comeback in 2015 against the Rockets) but here we are. Chris Paul is going to Houston to team up with James Harden, creating one of the best backcourts in the league. My first thought on this move was that there’s only one basketball, and both of these guys love to hold it. However, Harden and Paul have been playing together a lot this summer, and putting team U.S.A. guys together is never a bad idea. Mike D’Antoni’s offence just got scarier, and the passing ability in this backcourt is phenomenal. Meanwhile for the Clippers, they got a pretty good package for the 32-year old Paul. Patrick Beverly is a bulldog on defence, Lou Williams, while undersized, is a scoring machine, and a perennial 6th-Man of the Year candidate. Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrel are the young, future pieces, and both are rotation-ready players with a lot of athleticism. Overall, if I were the Rockets I would have loved to hold onto either Dekker or Harrel, but teaming up Paul with Harden makes them a real contender, and the Clippers had to change it up after years of Conference Semi-Final losses.

Danilo Galinari traded to L.A. Clippers / Jamal Crawford to Atlanta / Picks to Denver

Continuing on with the Clippers, the other big move they made this summer was bringing in Danilo Galinari from the Nuggets. Galo had a rough summer, breaking his hand during EuroBasket when he punched an opponent. That makes back-to-back years of top Clippers players breaking their hands while punching someone, (Blake Griffin punching the Raptors equipment manager) which I find absolutely hilarious. Back to the deal itself though, Jamal Crawford is still a solid scorer off the bench, but he is getting up their in age, so dealing him along with a couple picks for a proven small forward was a good idea The small forward position has been the bane of the Clippers organization during the GM-Doc era, and the addition of Galo creates a really good forward trio; Galo, Griffin, and Jordan. For Denver, they are a younger team that had to get rid of Galinari eventually, and receiving more future picks that will fit their timeline was a smart move. For Atlanta, receiving Crawford is a non-factor, clearly evident by them waiving him almost instantly. Overall, the Clippers gaining Galo keeps them in the Playoff race out West, the Nuggets move up further in the total asset standings, and the Hawks are going to be really bad for a while.

Jimmy Butler traded to Minnesota / Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen to Chicago (Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson sign with Minnesota)

I’m still shocked that Gar Pax and the Bulls organization dealt their star player to the head coach that they fired just a few years ago. But, this trade did happen, and the T-Wolves came out as clear winners. Jimmy Butler reuniting with Thibs is great for the entire franchise, not just because of his talent, but his ability to be a coach on the floor for his younger teammates; primarily Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. This Wolves team was supposed to make the jump last season, but now with Butler showing his new teammates the way, they are almost a sure-lock to make the Playoffs. On the flip side, a team that is poised to be at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls. Trading a star is hard, generally you don’t get a fair return on said star player, and that’s exactly what happened in this trade for the Bulls. Zach LaVine is an exciting player with a good amount of potential, but he will be coming off an ACL injury which tends to alter the explosiveness of a player. For LaVine, this could be challenging to return from, as he is one of the most explosive guards in the league. Looking at the other returns, Kris Dunn came into the NBA with many expecting big things, however in his rookie year he didn’t show any promise whatsoever. Lauri Markkanen is an intriguing prospect, garnering comparisons to a young Dirk Nowitzki (very lofty goals, but the easiest connection when comparing a tall, European big man who can shoot is to the German Nowitzki). Fortunately for Chicago fans, Markkanen has been killing it at EuroBasket this year, but his lack of rim protection as a 7-footer makes him a tough play at the center position. Overall, Minnesota wins this deal. Zach LaVine will garner a hefty pay increase come extension time, a tough thing to do with a young player coming off a major injury. Kris Dunn, as of now, has to be considered a miss of a pick, especially with notable players being selected after him; Jamal Murray, Thon Maker, and even 2nd-round stud Malcolm Brogdon. He still has a lot of defensive upside, but this year could be make-or-break for Dunn. Lauri Markkanen could be something, but in the end this isn’t impressive enough of a package for Jimmy Butler.

(While talking about Minnesota, they further upgraded their starting lineup with the signings of Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. Teague is an above-average point guard, and Gibson brings another Thibs defensive-disciple to the organization. Spacing-wise this new starting lineup has some question marks, but the defensive versatility and ability can be near the top of the league.)

Paul George traded to Oklahoma City / Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis to Indiana

I was shocked about the Jimmy Butler trade, but the Paul George-to-OKC trade has me shook. George being traded wasn’t surprising, but Sam Presti and the Thunder coming out of the woodwork to absolutely fleece the Pacers was, and still is, insane. Paul George is a top-10 player, and even though his value was low due to his contract being up in one year, partnered with his presumed desire to become a Laker, getting him for pennies on the dollar is wild. Pennies on the dollar sounds like I’m downplaying Oladipo and Sabonis, and it sounds like that because that’s exactly what I’m doing. Oladipo is a decent player, but he’s one of those players with a body and game style that doesn’t fit a certain position. Even though the league is trending/has trended towards position-less basketball, he’s still an awkward fit. He can’t shoot well enough, isn’t big enough to guard the Klay Thompson’s/Jimmy Butler’s of the world, and isn’t a good enough playmaker to play the point. He’s athletic, has amazing bounce, but as the focal point of a trade to land a superstar? No chance. Onto Sabonis, I actually quite like him. He can’t play defence to save his life, but he is only going into his second season. His outside shooting to start last season off showed a lot of promise, until Russell Westbrook started chasing triple-doubles and Sabonis was clearly afraid to shoot, struck with the fear of missing and incurring Beast-brook’s wrath. Overall, the Thunder got away with highway robbery in this trade. If David Stern was still running the league, this would’ve been a Chris Paul-Lakers-veto type of situation. Good luck to Sabonis and Oladipo, hopefully the latter going to Indiana University will make it easier for the fans to accept their new second option, behind Miles Turner.

Gordon Hayward signs with Boston

First Thibs and Butler, now Stevens and Hayward; it’s the season of reunions. Gordon Hayward going to Boston before the Kyrie trade made them arguably the best regular season team in the East in my opinion. Now with a big three of Irving, Hayward, and Horford, I think they’ve solidified their #1 spot going into the Playoffs. Hayward is somewhere in the top 5-7 wings in the league, and he’s a safe bet to make the Eastern All-Star team. Losing Crowder and Bradley hurts Boston’s defence, but I can’t wait to see a lineup with Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Hayward, and Horford; Brad Steven’s offence will be beautiful to watch. Overall, A+ signing for Danny Ainge, finally inking a star player to a contract to wear Celtics green.

Paul Millsap signs with Denver

Hawks fans, this is going to be a tough year for you. Last offseason Horford walked for nothing, and this season Millsap did the exact same thing. Paul Millsap joining the young Denver Nuggets is a fantastic move for both sides. The Nuggets were horrible defensively, spearheaded by their terrific passing big man, Nikola Jokic, and pairing up the young stud with the switchy and stretchy Millsap makes sense on all fronts. Millsap doesn’t fit their timeline, but his mentorship to guys like Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Emmanuel Mudiay will be crucial in their future success; long past the 3-year contract Millsap signed. Overall, A+ signing for the Nuggets, this team could be a top-5 League Pass team this season.

Dwight Howard signs with Charlotte

Oh Dwight, what happened. If you told me back in 2009 that Dwight Howard, at the time an MVP-calibre player on a fantastic Magic team, would have played on the Lakers, Rockets, Hawks, and now Hornets, by 2017 I would have called you ridiculous. But, here we are, and the artist formerly known as Superman is teaming up with Kemba Walker in Charlotte. The best part is that the Hawks traded the 31st pick, along with Howard, for Marco Belinelli, the worst Plumlee, and the 41st pick. Yes, the Hawks moved down in the draft, and basically just got Belinelli to get rid of Dwight. This move is very meh to me, I think Charlotte would’ve had a bounce back season this year with or without Howard, and he doesn’t make a huge impact on their potential success. I actually think that Cody Zeller will close more games at center than Dwight will, and how do you think that’ll make him feel? Howard’s biggest flaw is that he still thinks he’s fantastic, which is just not true unfortunately. Overall, this move is a negative for Charlotte. They have to pay Dwight and his constantly injured back 23.5 million for the next two years. Ouch.

D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov traded to Brooklyn / Brook Lopez to L.A. Lakers

This is the best possible thing to happen to D’Angelo Russell. After the Nick Young-Snapchat fiasco, Russell was a pariah in the Lakers locker room, and playing for the Lakers in general puts a massive spotlight on you as a player, nevertheless as a 2nd overall pick. Going to a Nets team that has no expectations allow Russell to just go out and ball, something that he will do. Russell is my early choice as Most Improved next season, and as the number 1 option on a bad Nets team he’ll get as many shots as he likes. Meanwhile, for the Lakers, this was a fantastic move. Giving up on a young guy with potential in Russell is tough, but they knew that Lonzo Ball was their guy, and now he has nobody in his was of the starting job at point. Also, dumping Timofey Mozgov’s horrendous contract aids in their pursuit of two max-level players next year. Oh, and they acquired Brook Lopez, along with the rights to 27th pick Kyle Kuzma, a solid center who has been increasing his shooting range, and a young wing player who showed tremendous upside at Summer League alongside his “light skinned brother” Lonzo Ball. Overall, great move for both teams. The Nets acquire a young building block, and potential franchise-guy in Russell, and take on Mozgov’s salary to reach the salary floor; while the Lakers get a starting-calibre center in Lopez, open up starter minutes for their new 2nd-overall pick point guard, and potentially get the steal of the draft in Kuzma.

Avery Bradley traded to Detroit / Marcus Morris to Boston

In a league with a salary cap, eventually teams with too many good assets have to trade away key pieces because they can’t afford to pay them. This is exactly what happened in Boston, where they traded All-Defensive level shooting guard (outrageously not voted to the team last year even though it was well deserved) Avery Bradley to Detroit in exchange for Marcus Morris. This move was only made because of the cap situation, Avery Bradley is a great starting guard, however his stellar play priced him out of the Celtics equation. In contrast, Marcus Morris, a sneaky good defensive option against top wing players, is slated to only make 10 million over the next two years; allowing them to eventually sign Gordon Hayward. Overall, this trade helps both sides, albeit in different ways. Boston managed to acquire a premier talent in Hayward, while decreasing their cap expenditure; whereas Detroit made the decision to go with Avery Bradley as their future at the 2-guard position instead of retaining Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signs with L.A. Lakers

Speaking of KCP, his signing with the Lakers speaks more about the Lakers future plans than himself. KCP is a great young guard with two-way abilities, and instead of signing a longer term deal at a potentially lower price per year, he signed a 1-year deal worth 18 million. As I stated above, this speaks more to the Lakers plans for next offseason, rather than how they view him as a player. Signing him for just one year gives them the flexibility to pursue two max-level players next summer, something that would’ve been discussed in his meeting with his agent, Rich Paul. That name is well known in basketball circles and to fans because he is also the agent , and best friend, of LeBron James, a player whom the Lakers have a keen desire to go after next summer. KCP could be cashing in on a slightly larger than expected pay-check this season so that he could ideally, in the Lakers eyes, take a pay-cut to bring in LeBron and one other star player next season. Overall, this is a great signing for the Lakers, and for KCP. He is still young, at just 24 years of age, and becoming a UFA at 25 he could garner large offers in other situations if he doesn’t decide the pay-cut to stay in the purple and yellow next season is worth it for him. The Lakers maintain flexibility, and add a solid shooter to pair up with the pass-first Lonzo Ball.

J.J. Reddick signs with Philadelphia

Speaking of players signing lucrative 1-year deals, J.J. Reddick did exactly that when he signed with the “Trust the Process” 76ers for 23 million dollars. Similarly to the KCP situation, this is a fantastic move for both sides. J.J. Reddick has never made large money in his eleven year career, totalling a net salary of 55 million over that time. For the 76ers, he gives them flexibility for next season when rookie extension time comes for players like Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, along with veteran leadership for an extremely young team. J.J. Reddick is one of the best shooters in the league, and will provide amazing spacing for the driving-style of Markelle Fultz, his new backcourt mate. The 76ers, as a young team, don’t have a lot of large contracts on their books, and this move allows them to hit the salary floor. Overall, congratulation to Reddick for making nearly half of his career earnings in one year, and great move for the 76ers, the ability for Reddick to teach Embiid, Simmons, Saric, and Fultz the pitfalls of the NBA will be crucial to their future success.

Rudy Gay signs with San Antonio

This move puzzled me at the time it happened, and it still puzzles me today. The Spurs are a rigid organization, and Rudy Gay just doesn’t seem like a Spurs-ian type of player. The overall fit of Gay on this roster is also pretty odd, his outside shooting is average at best, and it’ll be interesting to see how happy he is coming off of the bench. The Spurs, like all other teams in the league, are looking up at the Warriors, and this move does give them another good-sized wing player to attempt to matchup with Steph, KD, and company. If I was running the Spurs, I would personally rather have Jonathan Simmon at 6 million a year than Gay at 8.5 million, but I digress. Coach Pop is amazing, the Spurs are a machine of consistency, and this could end up being the best year of Gay’s career, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Kelly Olynyk signs with Miami

I watched Kelly Olynyk play for South Kamloops High at my local high school’s Western’s basketball tournament, saw him drop over 150 points during the span of three games, and now he’s signed a 4-year, 50 million dollar deal down in Miami. A 7-foot white Canadian guy living in Miami, he’s going to stand out just a bit. Congratulations Kelly, I never would have thought you’d become the player you are today, but now you’re the starting forward for a solid Eastern Conference Playoff squad. Now, to talk about the move itself for Miami, I really like it. Hassan Whiteside is one of the top rim-protectors in the game, and he’ll have to rotate over often to assist Kelly on the defensive end, but Olynyk’s outside shooting ability will add valuable spacing to a team lacking pure shooters. Olynyk can also play as a “small”-ball (he’s 7 feet, not super small but his 3-point shooting fits the small-ball definition) center in certain lineups. Overall, great deal for Olynyk and the Heat, and a huge win for Canada basketball.

George Hill, Zach Randolph, Vince Carter sign with Sacramento

I have mixed feelings about these signings for Sacramento. The Kings have been a dumpster fire for a while, I’ve shared my thoughts about them a multitude of times over the past couple years, but it looks like they are slowly turning the ship around. Once Cousins was traded, it was clear that the Kings were going young with Buddy Hield, and 4 first-round picks in the 2017 Draft, where they selected stud point guard De’Aaron Fox, junior wing Justin Jackson, former top recruit Harry Giles, and senior point guard Frank Mason III. Besides Giles who is still recovering from an ACL tear, the other 3 rookies would probably have played significant minutes this season, but that all changed in the free agency period. Bringing in veterans to a young team, especially an organization like the Kings who have been a nightmare for a while, is a fantastic thing. However, I’m an advocate to throwing young players into the fire when the opportunity is available. At times, this can be problematic, such as when players don’t live up to expectations and crumble. On this idea, I’m of the thought that a player’s confidence is crucial, but if they crumble and can’t fight to show they still contain potential, then bringing them along slowly wouldn’t have changed this outcome. In the Kings case, drafting Fox was one of the best draft-fits from the entire draft. At the time, the Kings had no real direction,  no clear option at the point, and Fox was clearly taken to be the future at point for Sacramento. Bringing in a veteran guard to show Fox the way behind the scenes in practice is ideal, but a player like George Hill will push Fox to the bench and restrict his minutes early on in his career. The Kings, in my eyes, should be playing for more draft picks, and for the future. Players like Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter will add wins to their total, pushing their potential draft picks further back. The Hinkie-76ers process was tough for Philly fans, but now they have multiple top-3 picks on their roster, and have a bright future to look forward to. The Kings signing players of such an ilk brings them closer to the middle, arguably the worst place to be in sports. The veteran leadership is solid, the draft picks were awesome, but instead of garnering a top-3 pick, that pick could end up being more in the 5-7 range, which is a huge change. Overall, A grade for bringing in quality vets and players, but an F for thinking about the future.

Tim Hardaway Jr. signs with New York

After signing Hardaway Jr. to the most universally panned contract of the offseason, the Knicks might be the new Kings in the dumpster fire rankings. 4-years, 71 million for a player whose best NBA career moment was a shootout with Dion Waiters in the Rookie-Sophomore game during All Star Weekend is absolutely outrageous. The best tweet after this signing came from Bobby Marks, @BobbyMarks42, who tweeted, “Tim Hardaway Jr. was traded for Jerian Grant who was traded for Derrick Rose who was renounced so NYK could sign Hardaway Jr. for $71M.”. Yes, the Knicks traded Hardaway Jr. for two players who are no longer on the roster, just to then sign Hardaway Jr. to a ludicrous contract. Even Hardaway Jr. himself was reportedly surprised about the contract offer, I can only imagine the Hawks management laughing and falling off their chairs when that offer came in. Hardaway Jr. did average a career high in points last season at a whopping 14.5 points per game, but who’s going to pass him the ball in New York? Rookie Frank NTIlikina? Ramon Sessions? Ron Baker? (I actually love Ron Baker, but you understand what I’m getting at.) Carmelo Anthony and his hoodie will be bought out at some point, Joakim Noah will spend another year injured, smoking a ton of weed (no chance he doesn’t, I see you Joakim), and Porzingis probably has a board at home where he’s counting down the days until he can leave. Overall, Hardaway Jr. is a decent player, massively overpaid, and the Knicks media are going to have a great year putting forward depressing storylines.

 

 

 

Featured

Weekly Dimes (Apr. 6 – 12)

The season has come to a conclusion, and with that comes the end of the 2016/2017 Weekly Dimes. This season has been incredible, filled with amazing storylines and historic moments, and those should continue on into the Playoffs. Now to the Dimes; this week determined who made the final Playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, provided further MVP-fodder for the Westbrook MVP case, and saw an athlete from another sport suit up for an NBA team. I want to say that I enjoyed writing this weekly post throughout the season, it gave me more reason to follow the season closely, and it did not disappoint. Stay tuned for Playoff matchup previews, and other post/offseason articles, along with the 2017/2018 Weekly Dimes next October!

 

1) Russell Westbrook gets 42nd triple double, surpasses Oscar Robertson

MVP. That is all I have to say.

…Alright, that isn’t all I have to say. Russell Westbrook’s incredible season was capped off with the 42nd triple double, and even better it came in a clutch come-from-behind victory over the Denver Nuggets; capped off with a game-winning deep three from Russ, eliminating Denver from postseason contention in the process. It’s been said my many media members; Russ won this regular season, and that game-winner will be a focal point of any 2016-2017 regular season highlight reel for decades to come.

2) Nets  Celtics secure top lottery odds

The Brooklyn Nets cemented themselves as the worst team this season, therefore giving themselves a 25% chance of winning the top spot in the NBA Draft lottery. This means the Nets will be able to draft their franchise cornerstone player…wait, the Nets traded what for Pierce and Garnett? Oh, well this Nets season was a waste. Boston fans rejoice, the Celtics (thanks to a horrible deal) have a 1 in 4 chance of landing the #1 pick in the draft! Yes, a team that has a viable chance of making the NBA Finals this year could draft first overall. The Celtics are in an enviable spot, however with the consensus top-two prospects being point guards, they’ll have to make a decision this offseason regarding Isaiah Thomas’s future within the organization. How the team fares in the Playoff’s will help to make this decision; if they make a deep run while being lead by Thomas, there’s no way they move on from him. However, if they were to be bounced early, I could see them trading Isaiah and moving forward with Smart as the starting guard, with either Fultz or Ball being the future starting guard. The Celtics are the most intriguing team to follow this summer in my opinion, it’s rare in sports to see a team this good have as many options as they have.

3) Bulls and Pacers secure last Playoff spots in East

The 7th and 8th seeds out East came down to the final day, with the Bulls, Pacers, and Heat vying for the final two spots. The Bulls and Pacers held their own fate, both just needing to win to continue with their season. Meanwhile Miami needed to win, and have at least one of the other two teams lose. Unfortunately for Miami, the story of the second half of the season, the Bulls and Pacers both finished the season with a W. The Heat have to be incredibly happy with how their season turned around; they started out 11-30, and finished 30-11 in the second half. Coming into this season if you had asked me if the Heat would be in the mix for a Playoff seed on the final day of the season, I would have laughed in your face. But with Goran Dragic having a comeback season of sorts, Hassan Whiteside continuing to grow, and the average value of a property on Dion Waiters island going through the roof, they have a pretty bright future ahead.

4) Waiting until the NBA Awards Show to learn who the MVP is

While learning about who wins all the awards is interesting, none is better than the MVP, especially this season. This would be a topic of discussion no matter what, because the awards won’t have the same appeal being announced after the Playoffs have come to a conclusion. But on top of that, the top two candidates are facing off against each other in the first round. Wouldn’t it be much more fun to watch Westbrook and Harden go at it knowing which one was deemed the MVP of the league, especially if that MVP is Harden? Russell Westbrook, who goes balls-to-the-wall every single time he steps on the court, would somehow crank it up another notch and play with an incredible intensity. Instead, the topic of who the MVP is will continue for another couple of months, somewhat overshadowing the Playoffs themselves.

5) Jerry West doesn’t want to be featured as the logo anymore

Jerry West isn’t scared to speak his mind, and he made headlines when he came onto ESPN’s The Jump, and said that he didn’t want his likeness to be featured on the NBA logo anymore. It’s an interesting discussion, no other league logos have a clear resemblance to a past player. Personally, I think that being chosen as the logo that represents the league would be an incredible honour, however West stated that he does not like having attention drawn to him. Adam Silver and the league office have a dilemma to deal with, and if they were to find a new player to model the logo after it would be intriguing to see who they consider.

6) Cavaliers blow back to back double-digit 4th quarter leads

Coming down the stretch, teams hopefully have their rotations sorted out, and are feeling good coming into the postseason. This is not the case for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs ended their season with four straight losses, including two straight overtime losses to Atlanta and Miami; both games in which they had double digit leads coming into the fourth quarter. Betting against LeBron is a fools errand, the guy has made six straight NBA Finals, and even with this recent losing stretch, they are still the favourites to make it out of the Eastern Conference. However, it will be interesting to see how LeBron and company show up in the first round against Indiana, Paul George is a tough matchup to deal with.

7) Brook Lopez becomes Nets all-time leading scorer

If the Nets hadn’t traded every pick they own for the next century to Boston, getting 25% of the ping pong balls would be the best part of their season. But, they did make that trade, therefore Brook Lopez, perennial trade rumour bait, becoming the franchises all-time leading scorer is the success of their season. Sorry Nets fans, must’ve been a tough year. At least Caris LeVert looks good?

8) Tony Romo suits up for Dallas Mavericks

If it hadn’t been for Adam Silver not honouring Romo’s contract, there’s a good chance that he would’ve played in the Mavericks final game. Tony Romo did a lot for Dallas in his time as the Cowboys starting QB, and now with his move to broadcasting Mark Cuban and the Mavs decided to honour Romo. When I first read this I thought it was the dumbest PR move ever, however upon further reading I learned that Romo was actually a fantastic high school basketball player, and he had offers to play Div. 1 basketball. Commissioner Silver clearly saw this as a farce, therefore not honouring the contract, and that probably was the best option; can’t set a precedent for other teams to honour people who don’t belong on a professional basketball court.

9) Timberwolves rebranded logo

Minnesota’s season ended a few weeks back once they were eliminated from Playoff contention, but this past week they announced plans to rebrand the team, and released the new logo. The only problem is, the new logo isn’t all that different from their old logo. It appears like the same colour scheme as the Seattle Seahawks, and I’m not a big fan of the lime green on an NBA jersey. The Twitter-verse ripped the logo apart, quite appropriately, and besides the great hype video that came with the announcement, it does not add much excitement to their great future.

10) Cavaliers cut Larry Sanders, sign Edy “Walter” Tavares for Playoffs

You’re on a team with a very good shot at reaching the NBA Finals, and on the last day of the season the team cuts you. Is there anything worse than that as an NBA player? Apparently the decision was made when Sanders missed the team bus the day before, which is fair for a player who was clearly going to be on a short leash. It’s a sad story for Sanders, a player who just a few years ago appeared to have a bright future ahead. Hopefully for him this isn’t the end of his story, and another team takes a swing on him in the offseason, but it doesn’t seem highly likely.

Featured

Weekly Dimes (Mar. 23 – 29)

We’re on the verge of April, and that means there are only a few weeks left in the regular season; with roughly 6 or 7 games left for each franchise. Playoff spots are being locked up, and now we just have to wait and see how the standings shake out at the end of the day. Now, to get into the past week, we saw some historic performances and moments, along with some interesting (sometimes laughable) storylines.

 

 

1) Devin Booker scores 70 points

Booker, at age 20, is now one of 6 players to score at least 70 points in an NBA game, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, and Elgin Baylor. That is an elite class, and Booker is still years away from hitting his full prime. This game, even though it somehow ended in a loss, was a good sign for the Phoenix Suns and their fans, and was a necessary “victory” for their season.

2) Russell Westbrook records highest scoring triple-double of all time

After seeing what he’s doing this year, if someone asked me who I thought would be the person to break the scoring record with a triple-double, Russell Westbrook would be my pick; just slightly edging out Harden. And look what happens, he drops 57 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists, all in a com-from-behind victory over the Magic. Throw in the fact that he hit an outrageous three-pointer to force overtime, this was one of the best all-around offensive displays the NBA has ever seen.

3) Celtics take #1 seed out East

As of right now, the Cavs and Celtics are tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Celtics did hold that position for a couple days this week. This is important because it appears as though the Cavs are in a slight decline, and the Celtics have a good shot at securing home-court advantage throughout the first three rounds. The Cavs, on paper, should be able to kick it up another notch come the postseason, and home-court advantage shouldn’t be a huge deal for them, but if they continue to play so poorly defensively, a game 7 in an opposing gym could be a problem.

4) Warriors with 3 consecutive 60+win seasons

While the Warriors were clearly on the upswing while being coached by Mark Jackson, Steve Kerr deserves a ton of credit for the past three Warriors seasons. The crazy part is that I wouldn’t be surprised if they won 60+ games for another three season after this, if not more.

5) Kings pursuing Sam Hinkie to come in above Vlade

I think I almost spat out what I was eating when I saw this headline. The Kings are an abysmal organization, I have made this clear numerous times in my past writing, but if they bring in Sam Hinkie it would be the best decision they could ever make. After trading Cousins, the Kings will be a basement-dwelling team for many years to come (sorry Buddy Hield, I like you and I feel sorry for you, but you can’t lead this team to the postseason), so getting the tank-master himself, Hinkie, would be a great idea. The fans may not accept it, just as the Philadelphia fans didn’t early on, but now seeing how they have accepted “the process” in Philly it could be time for “the process” V 2.0. Vivek Ranadive, if you won’t sell the team, then you have to make this decision. Vlade Divac has no idea what he’s doing, and if you ever want to not be a joke, this is the move.

6) Lance Stephenson returns to Indiana Pacers

“Born Ready” is back in Indiana, where at one point he was a near-All Star. This is a feel good story, Stephenson hasn’t clicked since leaving the Pacers for a huge contract in Charlotte, he’s bounced around on a few minimum deals, and now he’s signing with Indiana for 3 years, 12 million dollars. When I first heard this news, I was shocked to hear how much he signed for, but Larry Bird must think he can return to form in a comfortable situation.

7) Suns play youngest starting 5 in NBA history

Tyler Ulis, 21. Devin Booker, 20. Derrick Jones Jr., 20. Marquese Chriss, 19. Alex Len, 23.

Even though we’re in the midst of March Madness, this is actually an NBA team’s lineup, and not a college lineup. Besides Alex Len, the other four guys could still be suiting up for a college basketball team. Speaking of college teams, only one of the Sweet Sixteen teams had a younger starting 5 than the Suns; the Purdue Boilermakers came in with a 114 day-less average.

8) Joakim Noah suspended for illegal substance

When I first saw this, I instantly thought Noah had spent the weekend smoking pounds of marijuana. I mean, come on, look at the guy, there’s no way anyone could convince me that he has never dabbled in the green, his hair alone screams “I’m 420 friendly!”. Apparently it was a testosterone booster that was found in his system, one of the many PED’s that is banned by the NBA, therefore he received a 20-game suspension. This news makes his signing last offseason even worse, his production has been horrible and now with his suspension it appears as though his time as a rotation player is coming to a close.

9) Jusuf Nurkic scores career-high in first game vs. Denver

“Have a happy summer”, that is what Portland big man Jusuf Nurkic said towards his old team, the Denver Nuggets, in a postgame interview after a dominating 33 points, 16 rebound performance. Nurkic was clearly unhappy in his time in Denver once Jokic beat him out for the starting center spot, but ever since his trade to Portland he has been a man possessed. The Blazers are 13-7 since acquiring him, nothing to call home about, but enough of a winning percentage to place them a game ahead of the aforementioned Nuggets for the eighth, and final Playoff spot in the West. Is this the beginning of a new rivalry out West? Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers, Jokic vs. Nurkic, Serbia vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

10) JJ Barea drops Blake Griffin

This was the worst flop I’ve ever seen. For those who don’t know who JJ Barea is, he is a diminutive point guard for the Dallas Mavericks; he is reported at 6 feet, but he’s just barely pushing 5’10”. So for a guy his size to knock down Blake Griffin, 6’8″, is absolutely laughable. Both Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavs, and Rick Carlisle, head coach of the Mavs, ripped Griffin apart for the absurdity of his flop, stating what most of us would think, that there’s no way someone 10 inches shorter than you should be able to take you down. Blake Griffen, you and the Clippers are known to flop, and whine, and bitch, and this latest incident isn’t helping you out.

Weekly Dimes (Oct. 23-29)

Two weeks in and the Warriors/Cavs aren’t at the top of their respective Conferences? Surprises galore in this week’s edition of Weekly Dimes!

 

1) Pistons/Grizzlies atop the Conferences (as of Oct. 29)

Everyone saw this coming right? Obviously it’s early, small sample size, blah blah, but both teams have been impressive. Drummond can hit free throws now, Tobias Harris is balling and I was stupid for writing off Conley and Gasol. Dillon Brooks is fun off the bench in Memphis and Chandler Parsons isn’t playing the bum I thought he was. We’ll see if both of these teams can keep it up.

2) The Magic…are good?

This is absolutely shocking. Vucevic is a beast and I guess we should have seen a breakout year for Aaron Gordon, but not like this. Jonathan Simmons has been great, Evan Fournier is shooting the lights out and Jonathan Isaac is really fun. Are the Magic a lock for the Playoffs? Not yet in my mind, but even just a couple more weeks like this and I’ll be fully bought in.

3) Jordan Bell self-oop in a blowout

I wasn’t a big fan of this. It was an amazing dunk, don’t get me wrong, but in a huge blowout with time ticking down, just throw down a big dunk. Throwing it off the glass on the fastbreak comes across a bit cocky to me. But hey, still a nice dunk.

4) Dwyane Wade moves to the bench

The Cavaliers have been horrible, but this won’t solve the issues. J.R. Smith is a much better fit on the starting lineup, that should have been clear from day one. At least now Wade can run the second unit as the backup point guard.

5) Cavs lose 4 of their last 5

Continuing on with Cleveland, their defense has been embarrassingly bad. Jae Crowder isn’t as good as the PER numbers showed and the team overall just doesn’t seem to care. Losing to the Knicks, Pelicans and Bulls within four days should be cause to fire Coach Lue.

6) Draymond Green/Bradley Beal fight

This was a weird one, it was tough to see what fully happened. I don’t ever back Green, but in this case he has a point. He was fined $25,000 and it seemed like he didn’t throw a punch. Meanwhile, Kelly Oubre entered the scene and threw a punch, earning himself a $15,000 fine. Doesn’t seem right, but Green has earned himself a reputation around the league.

7) Russell Westbrook officially has a triple-double against all other 29 times

Westbrook finally earned his first triple-double against the Bulls to gain this distinction. Pretty crazy. Carmelo Anthony spoke up and said this stat was incorrect; Westbrook has put a triple-double up against the Thunder in practice. Make that all 30 teams.

8) Ben Simmons notches first career triple-double

Ben Simmons is scary good. His first triple-double came in just his fourth professional game. For reference, LeBron didn’t get his first triple-double until January…of his second season. Simmons has the type of game where he could eventually average a triple-double, get ready.

9) Ex-commissioner David Stern thinks weed should be taken off banned substance list

Wow, what a crazy idea, allow players to consume something that only relieves their pain and in now way enhances their performance. If anything, it would cause the players to hit Chick-Fil-A and McDonalds more often. Adam Silver is a very progressive commissioner, I’ll be shocked if this doesn’t change sooner rather than later.

10) Thunder plane hits a bird?

In crazy news, the picture flying around NBA twitter was the dented nose of the Thunder plane. Apparently the plane hit a bird, but my god that dent is massive, did a penguin somehow learn to fly?

Weekly Dimes (Oct. 17-22)

First week of the NBA, albeit only 5 days of action, is already over. And with that, we see the return of my segment; Weekly Dimes. Though this week was shortened, there was still plenty of news to look into, so let’s get into it.

 

1) Gordon Hayward/Jeremy Lin injuries

Unfortunately, we start on a sad note. The Hayward injury came just six minutes into the first game of the season, and was easily one of the worst injuries I’ve seen live; Kevin Ware and Anderson Silva top the list. I was shaking when it happened, the reaction by the players on the court told how bad it really was. Just like that, Boston’s season has a lot more questions. The same can be said for Brooklyn after the Lin injury. His wasn’t clear as to what actually happened, but from his reaction you immediately felt for the guy. The Nets are finally playing good basketball, and the loss of Lin is only good news for the Cavs, who hold their pick. Injuries are a part of sports, but it’s tough when it happens so early in the year.

2) Bobby Portis/Nikola Mirotic fight

Now for the ridiculous news of the week. Portis and Mirotic got into it at practice, leading to Portis punching Mirotic in the face. Mirotic was diagnosed with fractures and a concussion, and is out indefinitely. The whole story will probably never come out, but I’m so curious as to what happened before this. Did Mirotic say something about Portis’s mother or what? We’ll never know, but what we do know is that this is a bad start to what will probably be a horrible season for Bulls fans.

3) Kyrie Irving fan interaction

I’m not a pro athlete, but I do know that you shouldn’t say “suck my dick” to a fan, no matter what they say. Kyrie should know better and the fine coming his way should teach him a lesson.

4) Curry throws mouthpiece at ref

Another moment where a star player really should know better. The best part about the Curry incident is that it’s not the first time he’s thrown his mouthpiece in a game. C’mon man, that’s just gross, plus it’s not like that one non-call that you’re freaking out about would have swung the game. A fine is surely coming his way as well.

5) Markelle Fultz free throw nightmares

Fultz was never a great free throw shooter in college, but it wasn’t this bad. Apparently his shoulder is still bothering him, but maybe he should just sit out a few games and get back to 100%. His form is absolutely disgusting and the 76ers front office might start questioning their decision to select him first overall if it continues.

6) Pat Beverley gets into Lonzo Ball

This is the last point guard (maybe other than De’Aaron Fox) that Ball wanted to see opening night. After all the comments LaVar has said, every point guard in the league must want to shut him down, but none more than Patrick Beverley. Beverley, the bulldog that he is defensively, got into Ball’s shorts, even yelling, “bring his ass out on the court with me and I will tear his ass up.” LaVar really has written cheques his son can’t cash.

7) Suns make history…in a bad way/ Earl Watson fired

The Suns have started 0-3, with the worst point differential in league history. This poor start has led to the firing of head coach Earl Watson, the first coach since 2016 to be fired. Phoenix isn’t looking too good, but at least it looks like Canadian Jay Triano will be named the interim head coach.

8) Eric Bledsoe tweet

“I don’t wanna be here”. This is what Eric Bledsoe tweeted after the Suns third-straight loss to start the year. He’s now been sent home from all Suns activities and will be traded as soon as possible. Look for Denver, New York and the L.A. Clippers to step up as frontrunners for his services.

9) Giannis Antetokounmpo the early MVP-frontrunner

MVP Giannis might already be upon us, and he’s still only 22 years old. That should terrify the rest of the league. The Bucks last game against the Trailblazers, Giannis put up a career-high 44 points, along with the game-winning steal and dunk. His two-way play is phenomenal and he’s somehow still five years short of the average athletic prime. Wow.

10) Nike jerseys ripping

This is not something Nike wants to see, especially when the best player in the world’s jersey rips on opening night. Not sure if it’s a quality issue, or just a couple of completely random incidents, but it’s clear that Nike will have to look into fixing this quickly for their sake.