Weekly Dimes (Nov. 27 – Dec. 3)

December has hit and with it came another interesting week in the NBA. We’ve got our second coach fired, refs power tripping and more injuries to star players. Take a look at my top ten newsworthy moments from the past week.

 

1) Memphis coach David Fizdale fired

Well this was inevitable wasn’t it. Benching franchise star Marc Gasol, paired with a long losing streak, almost guaranteed Fizdale’s short tenure would come to an end. While the Grizzlies misfortunes of late weren’t entirely his fault, the coach is generally the first to go. If the losing continues, look for Gasol to be on the trading block.

2) Shaun Livingston-ref-headbutt incident

If you asked me to name a player who would be ejected for going head-to-head with a ref, Livingston wouldn’t be in my first 100 guesses. Livingston is a solid vet who seems to never lose his temper, so seeing this was incredibly odd. The ref appeared to be a good part of the incident as well, but Livingston should know to control his anger better.

3) LeBron ejected for the first time in his career

Speaking of referees, LeBron was just one of many stars to be ejected this past week. LeBron’s was the most significant though as it was the first ejection of his NBA career. The refs need to come off their high horses, they’ve been injecting themselves into the game far too often this season.

4) Blake Griffin sprains MCL

The Clippers sad season continues with news that Griffin will miss up to 8 weeks with a sprained MCL. Not good for a guy with multiple knee issues over his career. The losses are going to continue to pile up in L.A., and their narrative now is solely focused on who stays the longest; Doc Rivers or DeAndre Jordan.

5) Brandon Ingram is actually good

Yeah, I’ll admit it, I completely wrote off Ingram. But lately he’s had Most Improved Player type production. The Lakers are still terrible, but at least Ingram showing All Star potential gives hope that other All Stars will want to don the purple and gold in the coming years.

6) Cavaliers win streak hits 11 games

So LeBron is all of a sudden a good shooter? His teammate Kyle Korver sure seems to think so. The Cavs have proved they can turn it on whenever they like, now their focus will be to keep winning and wait for the return of Isaiah Thomas.

7) Annual Anthony Davis injury

Now it’s not a big injury, simply a shoulder injury that’s listed Davis as day-to-day. But it’s not what the Pelicans like to see. The big man pairing of Davis and Cousins appears to be Playoff bound, but if Davis can’t stay healthy then they’ll probably be on the outside looking in.

8) Donovan Mitchell drops 41

Mitchell has to be seen as the Not-Ben-Simmons-Rookie-of-the-Year. He’s second on the Jazz in points per game and is starting regularly at shooting guard. Mitchell is seriously impressive, just check the bounce on his alley-oop against the Clippers.

9) Jamal Murray dribbles around Lonzo

I’m sure the Canadian meant nothing by his move of dribbling around Lonzo while running out the clock, but it received a fair response from Ball’s teammate Julius Randle. Randle took exception to the move by fouling Murray with just mere seconds left and was clearly pissed. Maybe next time Murray, just stand still and dribble the ball.

10) Drake doesn’t know how a microphone works

For a guy that’s been a part of what must be a thousand interviews in his career, it appears that Drake doesn’t know how microphones work. When interviewing Kyle Lowry after a game, Drake held the microphone in front of himself while Lowry answered his question, the audience could barely make out what Lowry was saying. Instead of clearly hearing the answer, we got a muffled, intelligible response while Drake stood there looking stupid.

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Weekly Dimes (Nov. 20 – 26)

We’re right around the quarter mark of the season, most teams have played 20 games. This week saw some big injuries in the West, a big win streak come to an end and two star big men mentioned in trade rumours. Take a look at the 10 things I found most newsworthy from the week.

 

1) Paul Millsap injury

Tough break for the Nuggets. Millsap underwent successful wrist surgery, but will miss roughly three months. Currently 6th in the West, they could take a step back in the next couple of months without their star power forward. The defence will certainly slip, it’ll be an interesting situation to monitor.

2) Patrick Beverley injury

The Clippers were already in the toilet and this news didn’t help. Already without passing stud Milos Teodosic, the Clippers don’t have another healthy true point guard on the roster. This means Austin Rivers is running the show. Give me a second, I just puked in my mouth a little.

3) Derrick Rose re-evaluating basketball career

This could be the end of Rose’s career, which would be crazy looking back at his trajectory. First overall pick, rookie of the year, MVP, knee injuries and now it could all be over. It’s really sad. It’s understandable that all the injuries are really bothering him mentally, but giving up the remaining $80 million on the adidas deal? My bet is he comes back.

4) Celtics win streak ends in Miami

The 16-game win streak came to an end in Miami and of course it was Dion Waiters that helped to end it. Waiters Island is still densely populated. Kyrie can’t go off every game and a poor shooting night lead to only a 6-point loss, the Celtics are fine.

5) Nobody in the league is currently averaging 10 assists per game

I came upon this randomly and was absolutely stunned. Harden is averaging 9.8 assists per game, while Westbrook is at 9.7. I feel like it’s been ages since not one, if not more, player(s) has averaged less than 10 per game. Guys that come to mind are Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio and a-couple-years-ago Rajon Rondo.

6) Marc Gasol unhappy in Memphis

Uh-oh. Memphis have lost eight games in a row and Gasol was benched for the ENTIRE 4TH QUARTER in their last game. Things must be happening behind the scenes in Memphis, Gasol trade rumours are abundant. My favourite potential move? To the Raptors for Valanciunas and Siakam.

7) Will the Clips trade DeAndre Jordan?

Following along with trade rumours we’re staying in the West with the Clippers and DeAndre Jordan. The Clips are a dumpster fire and should look to get any value out of Jordan they can. Here’s a tip Clips, Tristan Thompson doesn’t provide much value. Call up the Bucks and ask for a package involving one of Thon Maker or Malcolm Brogdon.

8) Tony Parker is returning

Parker will finally make his season debut for the Spurs who have appeared shaky at the point guard position early in the season. This is good news for Pop and the Spurs, even though they’d probably still finish the season as a top-three seed without him.

9) Warriors app spied on fan says lawsuit

This seems insane but it’s very similar to the accusations that Facebook has faced in the past. The Warriors app is being accused of listening to users through their phone microphones while they access the app. Who knows why they would need to do this, but if it is true it’ll be interesting to see who takes the fall in the Warriors front office.

10) College game ended playing 5-on-3

Once again I finish the blog post off with college basketball news. This game was amazing for two reasons; Alabama played with 3 players on the floor after a bench clearing fight, an injury and a foul out, and they almost came back to win! Collin Sexton is for real though, watch out for him.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

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?

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.