November 19, 2013
We’re just 10 games into an 82-game NBA season so obviously there’s a lot of basketball left to play. But now that the games are for real, its time to take a look at what has happened so far compared to what we expected to happen.
Philadelphia was supposed to be the worst team in the league and the 76ers are leading the division. They have Michael-Carter Williams to thank for that. The rookie is making everyone forget they traded Jrue Holliday during the offseason and led the team to shocking wins over the Heat and Bulls. The future looks bright in Philly with Williams, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes (averaging a double-double), injured rookie Nerlens Noel and probably a high draft pick coming in the summer.
Brooklyn is supposed to be a threat to Miami and is in last place at 3-7. The Nets have been dealing with injury problems and that makes life even tougher with a first-time head coach. Good thing they are a veteran team and have an owner willing to do whatever it takes to win. Once they get healthy, the Nets should get back on track.
Indiana has picked up where it left off in the playoffs when it nearly knocked off the Heat. The Pacers ought to be better this year.
In Cleveland its starting to look like the Andrew Bynum addition isn’t going to be the move that gets the Cavs back to the playoffs. They are going to need a lot more than six points and four rebounds from their big man.
Charlotte is off to a pretty good start (for Charlotte) at 5-6 and that is with Al Jefferson only playing three games so far. He should improve their 30th ranked offense.
What’s wrong with Washington? Weren’t the Wizards supposed to be a playoff team? Not at 2-7 they aren’t.
Portland is the hottest team in the league with seven straight wins. This appears to be a much improved team and another contender to battle for a playoff berth in the stacked Western Conference.
Utah is running away with the race for the most lottery balls in the draft. The Jazz already have 11 losses. That’s four more than the next highest. Will it be Wiggins or Parker?
Phoenix may be the biggest surprise so far at 5-4. The four losses are by a combined 13 points and that includes games in San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Impressive start, but will it last?
New Orleans is a Wednesday night win over the terrible Utah Jazz from getting to .500 and they’ll still be the worst team in the best division in basketball.
San Antonio has nine players averaging at least seven points a game. Some teams don’t even have nine guys they will put on the court.
October 29, 2013
The 2013-14 NBA season begins tonight when the Pacers host the Magic, the Bulls visit the Heat and the Lakers and Clippers battle for bragging rights in LA. Will Miami win a third straight title? Can Derrick Rose return to being Derrick Rose? How many teams will be tanking for a better spot in next summer’s draft? I’m going with NO, YES, and 7. What else might happen?
LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will get the most attention…but not for their play on the court. We won’t get to celebrate Christmas without first hearing a constant barrage of trade rumors and free agency speculation surrounding them both.
Dwight Howard will feel left out and mention to reporters that he’s not sure he should have picked Houston. He goes on to say that James Harden’s beard is a distraction for the team and tells Jeremy Lin to feed him the ball more often.
Jason Collins will eventually be picked up. A Tebow style circus will follow that team for the rest of the year.
On more than one occasion, Michael Jordan will say that he’s still good enough to start for the Bobcats. After checking the standings in the Southeast division, nobody will argue with him.
With their eye on the first pick in the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers coaching staff asks everyone on the roster to do the same saying that they will be unguardable by 2015 if they make the change now.
Kobe Bryant makes his season debut on Christmas when the Lakers host LeBron James and the Miami Heat. He will help the Lakers win games, but won’t be the superstar we are used to seeing until the regular season is nearly over.
David Stern will once again fine Mark Cuban. But this time it will be for flopping after Cuban drops to the ground (on the sidelines) in disbelief of a foul call that costs his Mavericks a win.
The NBA will announce drastic changes to the All-Star Weekend. This will be the final season of the slam dunk contest.
The media will tell us that Kevin Durant and Dwayne Wade have an intense rivalry over Durant’s comments that James Harden is better than Dwayne Wade. It will never play out on the court. The same can’t be said for Miami and Brooklyn. Those games will be heated and lead to the suspensions of multiple players.
Divison winners: Atlantic-Brooklyn Nets, Central-Chicago Bulls, Southeast-Miami Heat, Pacific-Golden State Warriors, Southwest-Houston Rockets, Northwest-Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant wins his first MVP award.
Oklahoma City wins the NBA title.
July 10, 2013
If you believe in the hype (or lack thereof) then you are probably expecting this year’s NBA Draft to just produce a list of draft losers because there are no great players in this draft. I’m thinking we should wait a couple years before deciding what really happened on draft night. Let’s go back in time and evaluate the 2010 NBA Draft.
The Wizards did what you have to do when you are picking first in the draft…add somebody that you can build around for the next decade. They did that with John Wall. When he’s healthy, Wall has been a very good point guard for the Wizards. For his career he’s putting up 17 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds a night. Now he needs some help.
Indiana’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 would not have happened without the players it picked up in the 2010 draft. It’s beginning to look as through the No. 10 pick, Paul George, will be the best player in this draft class. He became a star in the series against the Miami Heat (a series that Indiana would have won if it hadn’t blown a Game 1 lead) and should just get better. The Pacers also picked up Lance Stephenson with the No. 40 pick. He has enormous potential and has improved each season in Indiana.
Utah Jazz – Gordon Hayward
Boston Celtics – Avery Bradley
To be determined: Eric Bledsoe was drafted by the Thunder and traded to the Clippers and now traded to the Suns. Everyone thinks he’s a star but didn’t get much playing time behind Chris Paul. The Thunder could have used him in the playoffs when Russell Westbrook got hurt so does that mean they are a draft night loser? The Clippers picked up a couple pieces that could be vital to a deep playoff run when he was traded to Phoenix so does that mean they are a draft winner? Or maybe he doesn’t live up to the potential. I guess we’ll see.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers started off the night by firing the general manager an hour before the draft. Probably not the best timing. He hung around to work the draft and picked Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson. If you don’t know who they are, you’re not alone.
Yep. Minnesota is on the list again. Another year…another high draft pick that doesn’t make an impact in Minnesota. This time it’s Wesley Johnson at No. 4.
These teams make the list because they were in the running for LeBron James and didn’t get him. It probably wouldn’t have mattered what these teams did on draft night when you consider that Miami didn’t do much either, but the last couple years would have been much different in these cities if they were the chosen destination for James’ talents.
Charlotte Bobcats – No picks
Cleveland Cavaliers – No picks
Denver Nuggets – No picks
June 25, 2013
Alright Miami, that’s enough celebrating. It’s time to start getting ready for next season…starting with Thursday’s draft. Many of the league experts are saying that this draft class is pretty weak and there aren’t any franchise altering players available. Maybe not. But some teams will get better. I just hope it’s mine.
The Cavs must improve their defense if they are to make the playoffs next season. At 7-1 and 255lbs, Len will help clog up the middle and improve their rebounding as well. Unless of course the Cavs are able to pull off the trade that has been rumored since they won the lottery.
What do you do when you need help at every position? Take whoever you think has the best shot to become a star.
Porter fits the biggest hole on the roster and should be a good fit to play with John Wall.
After having the most balls in the draft lottery, the Bobcats dropped to the fourth pick but they still get Noel – they guy they would have picked at No. 1.
Oladipo will be a solid all-around player for Phoenix, especially defensively, where the Suns have been awful.
I still can’t wrap my head around the switch to the Pelicans. I don’t like it. Maybe Bennett will like it. Pelicans? Really? Really?
Burke is probably my favorite player in this draft. The Kings get a steal here.
Here’s another guy I really like. Detroit looks to be set inside with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond so they go with a guard who will be able to score.
10. Portland Trail Blazers – Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
LaMarcus Aldridge needs some help inside. Aldridge gets what he wants.
Why not? Muhammad is one of those guys who could go just about anywhere in this draft. He is a risk/reward pick and the Sixers take a shot.
What the Thunder really need is a fully healed Russell Westbrook, so they take the best player available to give Westbrook some assistance.
Everyone knows the Mavs are looking to use this pick to acquire more cap space. We’ll say they draft pick Olynky and ship him somewhere.
Both of Utah’s starting guards are free agents. Larkin fills one of those holes.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
There are countless ways this roster could wind up by the time the season starts. Assuming Kevin Garnett isn’t back, the Celtics will need a big defender.
17. Atlanta Hawks – Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
I’m not going to pretend like I know much about foreign players, but from what I’ve read it seems like the Hawks are interested.
18. Atlanta Hawks – Allen Crabbe, SG, California
You can never have too many shooters and the Hawks are getting one here.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
In a couple years Adams and Len could be a force inside for Cleveland. But the Cavs could use this pick in a trade for a veteran player to help them win now.
20. Chicago Bulls – Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
The Bulls should have a healthy Derrick Rose back and someone like Hardaway could provide some scoring to make Rose’s life easier.
21. Utah Jazz – Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
22. Brooklyn Nets – Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Another big man behind Brook Lopez.
23. Indiana Pacers – Rudy Gobert, C, France
After giving the Heat all they wanted in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers should look to add depth to an already strong roster.
With Jason Kidd moving on to the coaching ranks, the Knicks get a lot younger in the backcourt.
The only thing the Clippers should worry about is getting Chris Paul back. If that doesn’t happen Canaan will take his place.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves – Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Andrei Kirilenko may leave so they replace a Russian with a Russian.
27. Denver Nuggets – Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
A big man who can run and block shots would fit right in with the high-tempo Nuggets.
This could be the guy to replace Manu Ginobili.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
Here’s an inexperienced kid that would be able to develop behind a solid roster.
30. Phoenix Suns – Mike Muscala, C, Bucknell
The Suns walk away from the first round with help in the front and back courts.
February 26, 2013
With about 25 games to go in the NBA regular season, we’ve got a pretty clear picture of the teams that will make the playoffs and the ones that will be in the lottery. What we don’t know is who will face who once the playoffs get started. And that will go a long way toward determining what happens in the NBA playoffs. Here are a few races I’ll be keeping my eye on as we inch towards the final game of the regular season.
The Heat will be the top seed in the East. We know that. But the second and third seeds could go to Indiana, New York, Brooklyn, Chicago or Atlanta. These teams ought to be desperate to finish second or third. That will get them home-court advantage in the first round, but that doesn’t really matter too much. The important thing for these teams is to get on the other side of the bracket and avoid a second round meeting with the Heat. You don’t want to face the defending champs any sooner than you have to.
Speaking of avoiding the Heat…Boston and Milwaukee shouldn’t be too worried about anyone below them stealing a playoff spot. But they will be battling to get the seventh seed and avoid the Heat in the first round.
In the West, the final playoff spot is getting all the attention. Can the Lakers squeak into the playoffs? That’s what all the talk is about, but I’m not counting out Dallas or Portland yet. All three teams are tied with 30 losses at the moment and are going to have to get red-hot to catch Houston or Utah. On second thought, after looking at the Blazers schedule, I’m counting them out. Their final 16 games are against teams in the playoff race. If they find a way to get in, nobody will be able to say they didn’t earn it.
Of course, whoever does get that final spot is going to be facing the team with the best record in the NBA, San Antonio. It would be quite the series if the Lakers do end up as the eighth seed.
One more race that is a little bit interesting will be to see which team finishes with the worst record and gets the most ping pong balls in the lottery. It looks like this will come down to Charlotte and Orlando.