Ball Dominate

If you’re around anyone that follows the NBA or basketball you’ve probably heard of the “Ball Family”. Lonzo (drafted 2nd by the Lakers in the 2017 draft) LiAngelo (an incoming freshman at UCLA) and LaMelo (one of the top high school players in the class of 2019) are the sons of LaVar and Tina Ball. The family has taken the basketball scene by storm. It all started during their time at Chino Hills High School in California. There the 3 brothers all played on the same varsity squad in 2015. The trio’s talent on the basketball court can speak for them but it’s their boisturious father LaVar that has ruffled the most feathers. 

On the surface LaVar is no different than any other loudtalking parent that you’d run into at youth sporting or extracurricular events. His grandstanding and bragging on his sons is NOT a problem. It does not take away that opposing players and parents will feel some type of way. LaVar is aware of this but it doesn’t stop him from talking. Some consider the extra pressure placed on his sons to be a disatorous recipe. I’m not one of them, these kids have been around their dad all of their lives and are used to this. Also if LaVar was a “quiet – behind the scenes” parent the pressure would be the same. Quiet or loud parents don’t change the scrutiny that comes if a top rated player does not pan out.

This post was sparked by a text from my sister. She asked my thoughts on LaVar and this is what I said: 

He doesn’t bother me. I think he’s funny. It doesn’t seem to irritate his sons. So that’s the main thing. Think the key is he can’t upset or talk about his son’s teammates or opponents.” 

There are two different things at play to me. There’s the basketball side that the son’s control and then there’s the business side that LaVar controls. This is where fans have to ask themselves “why am I booing these guys?” I plan on booing them when it comes to the basketball side. I don’t like the Lakers or UCLA. But I’ll give them their credit if they perform well. On the business side there’s no reason to “boo” them. LaVar has given a blueprint for the way future draft prospects and the people around them should handle the business. This year’s top pick – Markelle Fultz – revealed that he thought about doing a shoe deal with Big Baller Brand before going with Nike. We may not agree with the deals he turned down or the appearance of the apparel but the fact another player considered BBB is huge! 

The winner in all of this hoopla is of course the Ball Family but also the NBA. And when I say “NBA” I mean the league as a whole. From the Commissioner down to the fans. We now have a villain to either root for or against. Fans are booing, players already want to dunk on Lonzo, and LaVar is being LaVar. The NBA’s version of “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart has predicted that the Lakers will make the Playoffs, he threw his hat into the crowd while leaving the NBA draft and even has WWE interested in booking him for Monday Night Raw in Los Angeles. You may not like LaVar’s antics and find him annoying but there’s no denying he’s a Big Baller in Business

Ball Dominate

The Truth

I have a lot to cover. This sports weekend was one to remember and one to forget for me. We had a World Championship Boxing match that gave us some great action. The 2nd Round of the NBA Playoffs are finally here. We also had the only Game 7 of the Playoffs thus far on Sunday. That Game 7 also saw the end of a career for “The Truth” Paul Pierce. Finally and most sadly for me Arsenal was thumped once again. This time by their rivals Tottenham in the North London Derby.

First the boxing, Anthony “AJ” Joshua was able to defeat – via 11th Round TKO – Wladimir Klitschko in an EPIC Heavyweight match. Both guys looked like some giants or as many proclaim “Super Heavyweights”. No fat to be found on either fighter. Both all muscle and chiseled. The fight moved along well and took off in the 5th Round when Anthony Joshua came out of his corner swinging and caught Klitchko with a good right. Joshua would then chase down his opponent until he was able to drop him. Joshua, a bit too excited had celebrated prematurely AND punched himself tired. Wladimir was able to get up off of the canvas and nearly drop Anthony in the same round. Smartly AJ either leaned against the ropes or held onto his opponent for dear life. The 5th ended with me going nuts. When the 6th Round started it was Wladimir that came out like a house on fire. He set the tone in the round and dropped AJ with a crushing right hand. This was the first time that AJ had been knocked on his backside in his pro career. Joshua was clearly hurt but he managed to survive the round and make it out standing. Klitschko was in control of the fight at that point and went on to control the following rounds. But during that time, AJ pulled another savvy move. He purposefully spit out his mouthpiece and had to get another one from his corner. This was smart because it allowed him to buy some time to catch his second wind and thoughts. In the 9th Round – I was surprised the fight made it that far – Joshua appeared to kick it up a notch. He controlled that 9th and then the 10th. In the 11th, AJ came out fiercely once again. He caught Wladimir with a nice combo that staggered the former champ. Wisely AJ didn’t get anxious in his pursuit of the KO. Instead he stalked his opponent into the center of the ring and caught him with a vicious uppercut. An uppercut similar to the one Tommy Hearns delivered to Martin on that boxing episode. Somehow Klistchko didn’t fall after that punch but he was down a few seconds later after a barrage of punches.  AJ would drop Wladimir again before the referee stopped the fight with AJ swinging away in a corner. This was the type of fight that the sport of Boxing needed from its top division. The star of Anthony Joshua will continue to grow and he’s expressed interest in fighting anyone that wants to go. He’s now 19-0 with all 19 by KO.

 

The Game 7 between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers ended up being a dud. Utah sent the Clippers home after winning 104-91. Utah will now face the Golden State Warriors with that series starting on Tuesday night in Oakland. Utah’s starting center Rudy Gobert was in foul trouble from the jump and eventually fouled out in the 4th quarter. The Jazz turned to Derrick Favors who provided a solid performance despite fouling out too. Favors had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson combined for 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists off the bench for Utah. The star of the game was Gordon Hayward. Hayward just happens to play the position- small forward – that the Clippers have never been able to fill. Hayward had 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. He was also a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. On the other side Chris Paul tried hard to get the Clippers going but had no luck. Paul finished the game with 13 points and 9 assists. He also had a terrible day shooting the ball. CP3 was 6-19 overall and 1-7 on three pointers. DeAndre Jordan was able to provide a whopping 24 points and 17 rebounds despite shooting 6-15 on free throws. Jamal Crawford was the only other Clippers player with a pulse as he provided 20 points off of the bench. The Clippers only got 14 total points from their other 3 starters.

After the game, twitter blew up as expected. Another team featuring Chris Paul is out of the Playoffs again in the First Round. CP3 is a great player but there’s only so far a team will go if he’s the lead player. Chris will be a free agent this summer and must make a decision on the path of his legacy. He can stay in L.A. and get up to $200 million over the next 5 seasons or he can consider a move to San Antonio. He’ll be teamed with a top notch coach in Gregg Popovich and a current top 5 player in Kawhi Leonard. I fully expect him to take the money and stay in Los Angeles. Really can’t fault him for that. If he chooses to stay; the Clippers will have a lot of moves to make in order to get “better”.

The first game of the NBA Playoffs 2nd Round saw Washington take on Boston. Washington jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the 1st quarter. Boston made a run as expected and trimmed that lead to 5 by halftime. Boston outscored Washington 36-16 in the 3rd quarter and never looked back thanks to stingy defense and three point shooting. The Celtics shot 19-39 from three point range as the Wizards never stopped Isaiah Thomas (33 points and 9 assists) from driving and kicking to the perimeter. Jae Crowder was 6-8 from three point range and finished with 24 points. Al Horford was one rebound shy of a triple double. The Wizards got most of their production from their starters. They’ll definitely need help if Markieff Morris isn’t able to return from an ankle injury. As for predictions, I was 7 out of 8 in the First Round. I chose the Clippers instead of Utah. for the 2nd Round I have Cleveland over Toronto in 6 games; Boston in 7 games; Golden State over Utah in 6 games; Houston over San Antonio in 6 games.

Paul Pierce played his final NBA game on yesterday for the Los Angeles Clippers. Pierce aka The Truth is most notable for his time spent in Boston. He was a 10-time All Star and 2008 NBA Champion and Finals MVP. He battled LeBron James a countless number of times and there are some great behind the scenes stories about those two. I first started watching Pierce during his time at the University of Kansas. He was an AP First Team All-American in 1997-1998. He was then drafted by the Boston Celtics and went on to have some fun times playing alongside “Worker #8” Antoine Walker. I couldn’t stand Pierce after he was joined by Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in Boston to form the “Big 3”. He’d hit a dagger shot one minute and then be stretchered out in a wheelchair the next like his life was over. His final 4 seasons he hit a few big shots in Brooklyn and Washington before joining the Clippers close to his hometown of Inglewood, CA. Thanks Paul for a great career and this hilarious moment. It’ll always remind me of why I hate Boston.

 

P.S. I would talk about Arsenal but that’d make me feel like Paul Pierce in the wheelchair. Ok I’m done.

Stats courtesy of:

http://www.basketball-reference.com

The Truth

How To Lose A Bracket in 2 Days

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Yes, I used a cheesy romcom to create the title of this post.

 

Now that we’ve gotten that out the way let’s move on to these brackets. In previous years I’ve given some sleepers which did just that and I’ve given some in-depth thoughts which led to much of nothing. So this time I’m telling you what NOT to do. Some of y’all have already filled out 16 brackets – mistake #1 – and after reading this; you will change some of those picks (mistake #2 but carry on). We don’t know if this tournament will be wide open or if it’ll follow suit as we watch the powerhouse teams march to the Final Four.

Alright I’ve already told you 2 things NOT to do but I’m sure you’ll do them anyway so here are a few more pointers. Do NOT take this bracket stuff serious. Even if you really want to beat the annoying coworker in your office don’t let him/her throw you off. You know why, cause some person that hasn’t watched a minute of College Basketball will win that office pool. Why??? Cause they’re smart enough to let someone that watches pick for them or they do something simple like pick the teams with nice mascots. *Those of you that have money riding on this thing will get more info later. Another common mistake is asking others “what they think?” Don’t do it! Reconsider! Read some literature on the subject (I don’t advise reading anything about this tournament but if) you’re sure then…yeah. Next and most importantly not least. Do not listen to or watch any sports shows!!! This will definitely have you with a broke, busted, and disgusted bracket. Only reason to listen or watch is if they’re speaking about an injured player. They’ll tell you about some team from some Conference that you’ve never heard of and then you’ll be staring at those 16 brackets again. At that point you’re lost in the sauce. See Gucci Mane if you need an explanation for what that means.

Ok money-makers, now it’s time for me to get through to you all. You won’t have a perfect bracket. I repeat…You Won’t Have A Perfect Bracket. But you will have a chance to cash in if you’re smart. Do NOT pick with your heart. Just don’t do it! I know you hate/love Duke or UNC. I know you think Coach Cal is overrated. I know you hate the Big Ten but be smart when making these picks. Another smart move is to NOT dwell on a pick. If you think long then you think wrong. This isn’t a school test so don’t sit there like it is a quantum physics mid term exam. I don’t encourage “double checking” but if you insist on doing this then don’t go changing all of your picks. Again this is not a test. My other tip for you money people is to not make more than 2 or 3 brackets. For instance, if you create a bracket on ESPN and then do one on Yahoo! then use the same picks. Don’t mix and match. That will leave you sad and upset when you realize you could’ve picked “Team A” on both sites instead of switching up.

Finally we are at the fun part. I’ve told you all what not to do but I haven’t given my Final Four picks. In the East, I have Villanova. The defending champs will be in Phoenix ready to defend their title. Do you know what State Phoenix is in? Yep, Arizona and that’s who will come out of the West Region. Sean Miller finally reaches the Final Four. From the Midwest I have Kansas. Bill Self will have these dudes ready to go on a run after that disappointing Big 12 Tournament appearance. And out of the South, I have North Carolina. Tar Heel fans I apologize in advance because your team is my pick to win it all. When things get shaky and it doesn’t look like UNC will win just remember “The ceiling is the roof”…the GOAT told us that. Enjoy March Madness folks because it may quickly turn into March Sadness.

 

How To Lose A Bracket in 2 Days

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 2

The NBA Season starts TODAY and I can’t wait! Shout out to Bart Scott. It promises to be another exciting season as we’ve had player move here and there. There’s been a lot of chirping from all over the League. We’ll get to see how it all plays out over the next 8 months. Today I’ll layout the moves made in the NBA’s Western Conference and share a few thoughts on each team. The teams are listed in the order in which they finished at the end of the 2015-2016 regular season. At the end I’ll list who I think the 8 playoff teams will be.

Golden State Warriors – Hard to imagine that the team with the best regular season record in NBA history, first ever unanimous MVP, and 3 All NBA performers would get better but they did. After blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals to Cleveland; the Warriors went and signed Kevin Durant. GSW also brought in Zaza Pachulia and David West. As expected Harrison Barnes left the team and Andrew Bogut was traded away. The Warriors are the favorites to win the championship. We’ll see if they can seal the deal this season.

San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs had an excellent season but got trounced in the playoffs by OKC. As a result we saw the retirement of legendary power Forward Tim Duncan. Boris Diaw was traded to Utah for a future 2nd round draft pick. The Spurs signed Pau Gasol as a replacement for Duncan. It’ll be interesting to see how Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge play together. They also signed David Lee. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are back but look for Patty Mills to see his role increase. We’ll get to see if Kawhi Leonard can shoulder the load this season. Keep an eye on Aldridge to see if he remains happy in San Antonio.

Oklahoma City Thunder – You’d have to be very unfamiliar with the NBA to not know that they lost one of the best players in the current era. Kevin Durant got tired of Russell Westbrook and went to Golden State over the summer. Golden State knocked them out of the 2016 Playoffs. OKC blew a 3-1 series lead and the rest is history. Serge Ibaka was traded on Draft Day for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis(11th pick of 2016 NBA Draft). Westbrook signed a contract extension but the Thunder will need to lock up big man Steven Adams too. The Thunder will fall in the West without KD…we’re just not sure how far.

Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers were the 4th best team in the Western Conference but got bounced in the First Round by Portland after injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The core of the Clippers roster is still the same. They still don’t have a small forward to rely on as Paul Pierce revealed that he’s finally retiring at season’s end. Doc Rivers gave new contracts to Wesley Johnson, Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute and his son Austin. Mo Speights, Brandon Bass, and Raymond Felton joined the team via free agency. They drafted Brice Johnson – who will be out with a herniated disc in his lower back – and Diamond Stone. This is a make or break season for the Clippers. If they don’t reach the Western Conference Finals this season then it’s time for some players to move on.

Portland Trail Blazers – Portland had an unexpected run to the Playoffs after a slow start last season. Terry Stotts was able to get his squad to the 2nd Round before they bowed out to Golden State in 5 games. Dame Lillard leads the way sidekick C.J. McCollum. McCollum rode his Most Improved  Player Award – season to a new contract. Portland also resigned Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard and Allen Crabbe. Crabbe was given  a whopping 4 year – $75 million dollar deal. Evan Turner joined from Boston and Festus Ezeli from Golden State. Unfortunately Festus is out with a knee injury and his return is unknown. Expect a big season from Lillard as the Blazers will look to ride their successful wave.

Dallas Mavericks – Dallas had an average season that concluded by getting thumped by OKC in the Playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki got a 2 year – $50 Million dollar deal over the summer. Harrison Barnes signed with the team and Andrew Bogut joined via trade. The Mavs resigned Dwight Powell and Deron Williams too. Seth Curry and Quincy Acy were some under the radar signings. No clue what to expect in Dallas. On paper it doesn’t look exciting.

Memphis Grizzlies – After being torn apart by injuries last season the Grizzlies hope to have better luck. As it stands today, they’re off to a bad start with a list of players injured. New Head Coach David Fizdale will have his work cut out for him. Memphis gave Mike Conley a max deal over the summer and signed Chandler Parsons. Zach Randolph will come off the bench and seems to be OK with that idea. It’s hard out here for a pimp. Good luck Memphis.

Houston Rockets – Squeaked into the Playoffs after a season full of turmoil. They exited the Playoffs quickly. Dwight Howard is gone and the team hopes to have better chemistry. Mike D’Antoni takes over as coach and they want to get up and down the court. Free agency saw the addition of – two former New Orleans Pelicans – Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. James Harden restructured his contract and hopes to get back to the level of play he displayed in the 2014-2015 season. Nene joined Houston and Michael Beasley was traded to Milwaukee for Tyler Ennis. Houston will score a lot but not sure how much they’ll defend.

Utah Jazz – Utah is an up and coming team that was close to making the Playoffs last season. The Jazz ended their season giving up 60 points to Kobe Bryant in his final game. In hopes of making the Playoffs, Utah brought in some veteran players via free agency and trades. They acquired Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw via free agency. Utah was able to bring in George Hill via a 3 – team trade. The Jazz will be without Alec Burks(knee) and Gordon Heyward(finger) to start the season. Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, and Diaw are also battling injuries. Big man Rudy Gobert is poised for a breakout season and 2nd year player Trey Lyles is ready to show his vast skills. The Jazz will bring Dante Exum along slowly as he continues to recover from ACL injury.

Sacramento Kings – Boogie Cousins is excited about new head coach Dave Joerger who joins them after his time in Memphis. During a Draft Day trade the Kings picked up Bogdan Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and a 2020 2nd round draft pick from Phoenix. They signed an array of wing players after trading away Marco Belinelli to Charlotte. Those players are Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver, Matt Barnes, and Garrett Temple. The Kings also signed point guard Ty Lawson after Rajon Rondo left town. Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore are both looking to play their way out of Sacramento. The team’s management still leaves a lot to be desired. But many fans are hoping the new arena is a sign of new things to come.

 

Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets are another team that I’m not sure where they’re going. They have some young talented players – Will Barton, Gary Harris, and Emmanuel Mudiay – but do they have enough veterans to balance out the squad. Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari have battled injuries. Kenneth Faried has been rumored to be on the trade block but still remains in Denver. Rookie Jamal Murray will be looking to score buckets and get  teammates involved. The Nuggets will fall into a funk again this season and struggle to make progress.

New Orleans Pelicans – How many games will Anthony Davis play? Start there and you’ll get an idea of what kind of season the Pelicans will have. In his 4 year career, Davis has never played more than 68 games. That season marked career high statistics for AD and coincided with New Orleans making a playoff appearance. Jrue Holiday is out after his wife gave birth to their child before having brain surgery. Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon left the team via free agency but some new players arrived in return. The Pelicans drafted Buddy Hield and Cheick Diallo. The team acquired Solomon Hill, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Terrence Jones, and Lance Stephenson in free agency. With Holiday out, Tim Frazier and Galloway will need to step up. And as I stated above, Anthony Davis needs to stay healthy and on the court if New Orleans wants to be in the Playoff race.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Minnesota jumped from “cool team to watch” to “cool team expected to make the Playoffs” when they hired Tom Thibodeau to be Head Coach. Thibodeau will have a team full of young players to choose from. Most notably the last two Rookie of the Year Award winners, Karl Anthony-Towns(2015-2016) and Andrew Wiggins(2014-2015). In the 1st round of the 2016 NBA Draft Minnesota selected Kris Dunn. Dunn was a prolific scorer in college but he’ll be expected to distribute more in the NBA. The Timberwolves also bring back Shabazz Muhammad, high flying Zach LaVine, and Ricky Rubio. Nikola Pekovic will be out all season due to an Achilles injury. That means Gorgui Dieng and Adrien Payne will have to step up. Minnesota brought in Brandon Rush, Cole Aldrich, and Jordan Hill over the summer. The Timberwolves will improve but not enough to make the Playoffs. They’re still missing a few veteran pieces.

 

Phoenix Suns – The valley of the sun was very hot last season after team chemistry and injuries caused things to go awry. Jeff Hornacek was replaced by Earl Watson. The Suns will lean on their guards to carry the load. They’ll need Eric Bledsoe to stay healthy after he only played 31 games last season. Brandon Knight had a decent season while he was healthy but that was for only 52 games. Devin Booker was the lone bright star for the team. Booker started in 51 of the 76 games he started in and posted 13.8 points/game, 2.6 assists/game, and 2.5 rebounds/game to earn a spot on the NBA Rookie 1st Team. T.J. Warren was solid last season and Alex Len showed flashes of what he can do. P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler, and Leandro Barbosa are all seasoned vets but that won’t be enough to move the Suns up in the West.

Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe is gone but the Lakers now have Luke Walton as Head Coach. The Lakers won’t win much but they’ll be fun to watch. Walton will have the team playing at a pace that suits the team. The team re-signed Jordan Clarkson and brought in Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, Metta World Peace, and Thomas Robinson via free agency. They drafted the skinny but talented Brandon Ingram 2nd overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. D’Angelo Russell should thrive the most in this new style of play. Julius Randle will see his role increase while Nick Young and Lou Williams will still be able to get up a decent number of shots each game. The Lakers will reach the 24.5 wins mark but that’s about it.

Western Conference Playoff Predictions (in order):

Golden State Warriors

Los Angeles Clippers

San Antonio Spurs

Portland Trail Blazers

Houston Rockets

Utah Jazz

Memphis Grizzlies

Oklahoma City Thunder

Close but no cigar: Sacramento, Dallas, New Orleans, and Minnesota

Rookie of the Year – Buddy Heild, New Orleans Pelicans

Most Improved – Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks

Defensive Player of the Year – Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

6th Man of the Year – Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors

Most Valuable Player – Paul George, Indiana Pacers

All stats, rosters, team transactions and more courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 2

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 1

The NBA Season starts on Tuesday and I can’t wait! Shout out to Bart Scott. It promises to be another exciting season as we’ve had player move here and there. There’s been a lot of chirping from all over the League. We’ll get to see how it all plays out over the next 8 months. Today I’ll layout the moves made in the NBA’s Eastern Conference and share a few thoughts on each team. The teams are listed in the order in which they finished at the end of the 2015-2016 regular season. At the end I’ll list who I think the 8 playoff teams will be.

Cleveland Cavaliers – While winning the NBA Finals, LeBron James re-established himself as the best player in the League. Fully expect them to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals again this season. The Cavs will coast through the regular season. Look for improved play from Kevin Love.

Toronto Raptors – Finished 2nd in the Eastern Conference – the most successful season in team history – after taking the Cavs to 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were able to re-sign DeMar DeRozan and acquire Jared Sullinger via free agency. In the draft they snatched the 7-footer Jacob Poetl (9th overall from University of Utah). He’ll be needed to sure up the loss of Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola.  The Raptors also need Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll to stay healthy if they want to replicate last season’s success.

Miami Heat – Are you ready for Waiters County? This team has a lot of questions to answer. Dwyane Wade walked to Chicago during free agency and Chris Bosh’s career is in limbo due to complications from blood clots. Dion Waiters took a gamble on himself and took a one year deal in hopes of cashing out next summer. Miami dished out big contracts to Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson. Whiteside’s new deal was expected but no one and I do mean NO ONE saw the Heat matching Brooklyn’s 4 year – $50 Million dollar offer to Johnson. The Heat will be much younger after seeing Joe Johnson, Loul Deng, Amare Stoudemire, and “Birdman” Chris Andersen leave. Newcomers include Wayne Ellington, Derrick Williams, James Johnson, and Luke Babbitt. Holdovers Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, and Udonis Haslem round out an interesting squad.

Atlanta Hawks – During free agency the Hawks brought in Dwight Howard and saw Al Horford fly north to Boston. They handed the team over to the charismatic point guard Dennis Schroder after trading Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. Atlanta will need role players to step up (hello Kent Bazemore, Mike Scott,  and Tim Hardaway, Jr) while a few vets  – Millsap(knee) and Tiago Splitter(hamstring) –deal with injuries. Kyle Korver will need to improve on his sporadic Playoff shooting. I don’t look forward to the survivor’s remorse that comes with Dwight Howard shooting jump shots.

 

Boston Celtics – The Celtics haven’t had these expectations – of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals – since Doc and the gang left town. Boston was solid last season before fizzling out in the First Round against Atlanta. Head Coach Brad Stevens had all the role players one could ask for but no “top dawg” to get them over the hump. They acquired Al Horford in the summer but look for them to make another splashy move. Isaiah Thomas should continue to improve and Avery Bradley will hound opposing guards as usual. Rookie Jaylen Brown has already flashed glimpses of greatness that may come.

Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets finished last season getting smoked by Miami in Game 7. This season I don’t see much changing. Charlotte finished last season with the same record as Miami, Atlanta, and Boston but as those teams improved; the Hornets stayed the same. Kemba Walker is back and so is freshly re-signed Nicolas Batum. The likes of Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee, and Jeremy Lin all left town. In return Roy Hibbert and Marco Belinelli strutted in. Think that’s enough talking about the “Crying Jordan Faces”.

Indiana Pacers – The Frank Vogel Era ended on a sour note after a tough Game 7 defeat to Toronto. The Hick From French Lick tasked Nate McMillan with the duty of bringing exciting offensive play to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Nate will do so with an exciting mix of players. There’s recent Team USA Gold Medal recipient Paul George who has been tabbed by a few (including myself) to have a MVP caliber season. Promising big man Myles Turner returns with the sharp shooting C.J. Miles and volume scoring guards Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey.  In the off season Indiana picked up Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, and swapped out fellow Indianapolis native George Hill for Jeff Teague. Indiana lost Ian Mahinmi, Jordan Hill, and Solomon Hill to free agency. The Pacers are expected to be one of the top 4 teams in the East. In order to make that happen they’ll need to gel quickly and get that expected MVP – level play from Paul George.

Detroit Pistons – Detroit returned to the playoffs last season after a 6 year hiatus. Andre Drummond was 3rd Team All-NBA and received a new contract as a result. The Pistons did the opposite of what I mentioned about Charlotte. Detroit brought in Boban Marjanovic, Jon Leuer, and speedy point guard Ish Smith. The acquisition of Smith is huge because Reggie Jackson will be out 2 months with knee and thumb issues. Detroit had no major departures and is loaded with wing players as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson, and Tobias Harris return. Stan Van Gundy is expected to lead this group to more than a First round cameo.

Chicago Bulls – Chicago Bulls management went NBA 2K and cleaned house. After taking a sip of their favorite beverage they picked up the controller and went straight to the random rosters mode. The results were hilarious as Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol, E’Twaun Moore, Aaron Brooks, and most recently Tony Snell are all out of the Windy City. In are Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams, Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, Denzel Valentine, and a few others. Fred Hoiberg had to think he was back at Iowa State when this recruit…I mean group of NBA players walked into training camp. No clue what to expect from this team other than Rondo showing his ass at some point. If the Cubs win the World Series then this NBA season won’t even matter. Go Cubs!

Washington Wizards – The Wizards had a disappointing .500 season and wound up firing Randy Wittman (it was long overdue). Now they have former Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks. Brooks gets to coach another set of clashing young players. This time it is John Wall and Bradley Beal. Both often injured guards have made their feelings known and it appears that Wall is waiting on an opportunity to bolt. He’ll have to wait on his knee to heal before doing so. Beal inked a new contract over the summer has missed a season worth of games over his four year career. Bradley will be expected to carry the load while waiting on Wall’s return. Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris will help too. Ian Mahinmi should provide solid defense. It’s also make or break time for Otto Porter while Kelly Oubre Jr will look to avoid the sophomore slump after a less than stellar rookie season.

Orlando Magic – Orlando’s summer included bringing in Frank Vogel to be the head coach and trading for Serge Ibaka. Ibaka came to Orlando via a draft day trade that sent Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis(11th pick of 2016 NBA Draft)  to OKC. They also signed the most confusing player in the league – Jeff Green – and re-signed Evan Fournier. The always active Bismack Biyambo joined the Magic via free agency and the “Hungry Husky” Shabazz Napier was traded to Portland for those good ole cash considerations.

Milwaukee Bucks – Before trading Michael Carter-Williams, the Bucks had to have players with 3 of the longest last names in the NBA. The talented Giannis Anteokounmpo remains and they brought in the Curry Stopper Matthew Dellavedova this summer via free agency. They’ll be without the much needed shooting of Khris Middleton for 6 months due to a torn hamstring. Looking at their roster I have no clue where they’ll find shooting. The additions of Tony Snell and Jason Terry won’t be enough. Jabari Parker has looked strong as he continues to build strength from his ACL injury. Rookies Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon will see some time. O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for 2 seasons after problems with substance abuse. Jason Kidd has a lot of work to do.

New York Knicks – Super Team in the house! At least that’s how Derrick Rose feels. After a dismal 32-50 record last season; the Knicks revamped their roster. They sent away Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez in return they got Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, and a 2017 2nd round pick. New York added more via free agency when they signed Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings. The new signings coupled with the return of Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis has Derrick Rose feeling “super”. Jeff Hornacek is the new head coach but he has Phil Jackson ringing a triangle in his ear. The Knicks find their way back into the Playoffs with anything beyond the First Round being a surprise to all.

 

Brooklyn Nets – Terrible last season and the forecast looks to be the same this season. Jeremy Lin was brought in over the summer along with a bunch of other players they needed to fill the cap and make a team. We know A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but what about some wins?

Philadelphia 76ers – “Trust the process” they said. Trusting the process has landed them with another Top 5 pick injured before the season starts. The overall number 1 pick from the 2016 NBA Draft – Ben Simmons – is out for 3 months with a broken foot. On the bright side, Joel Embiid is back on the court…dancing. But that means the log jam of young power forwards has reached maximum capacity. Nerlens Noel has already hinted at wanting to leave. Jahlil Okafor was rumored in various trades all summer. Add Croatian rookie Dario Saric to the mix. Somebody has to go and Elton Brand who decided to retire isn’t who I meant. The team is still incredibly young – 17 players with 4 years or less NBA experience – were listed on the preseason roster. I can’t trust the process but I definitely trust them to lose a bunch of games.

Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions (in order):

Cleveland Cavaliers

Indiana Pacers

Boston Celtics

Toronto Raptors

Atlanta Hawks

Detroit Pistons

New York Knicks

Orlando Magic

Close but no cigar: Washington, Chicago, and Miami

Look for the Western Conference preview on Monday.

All stats, rosters, team transactions and more courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 1

Daily Prompt: Clumsy

via Daily Prompt: Clumsy

Been a few weeks since I wrote something and it’s too early for me to be talking the upcoming NBA season…so instead I’m doing one of the one word prompts from The Daily Post. Today’s word is “clumsy”. How often have you felt clumsy? If you’re like me that has probably been plenty of times. But surprisingly what I’ve found as I’ve gotten older is that I wasn’t being clumsy. Now I’m not talking about the times I’ve tripped over something or spilled food/drink because yeah that is clumsy. I am referring to those moments when I’ve had to get up and demonstrate something or talk in front of a group of people. A recent memory was a few years ago when I had to talk to a group of incoming college freshmen (Jackson State University). I was scheduled to talk to the group on a Friday. I’ve always been one to take full advantage of “Casual Friday”. That Friday was no different because there I was with a short sleeved button down shirt, jeans, and some j’s. I felt clumsy at first because my coworkers had on business casual attire. I didn’t let that feeling last too long though and when my time came to speak I did a good job (I think). It was especially rewarding because a few of the students were from my hometown and my former high school. It gave the kids a chance to see someone from the area they’re from in an attire familiar to them. I wouldn’t call that clumsy at all.

 

Daily Prompt: Clumsy

KG

kevin_garnett_04_nba_mvp_trophy_photofileThe ‘Minnesota Timberwolves – Kevin Garnett – ’04 NBA/ MVP Trophy ©Photofile’ images

The NBA’s 2016-2017 Season will be without another star player. Kobe and Tim Duncan retired during the summer and on September 22, Kevin Garnett hung up his sneakers. KG will be remembered for his fiery attitude and passion on the court. At the age of 19 KG was drafted – straight out of high school – by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995. Garnett’s decision to skip college and turn pro led many other high school players to do the same in the years that followed. Garnett was the most notable player to make the leap since the great Moses Malone.

By the end of his career, Garnett was a mere shell of himself. He’d left Boston – to ring chase in Brooklyn(2013-2015) before returning “home” to Minnesota(1995-2007; 2015-2016) – where he reached the NBA Finals twice and won a ring in 2008. The early part of his career in Minnesota brought about a change in how 7-footers – “6’12” as he referred to his height – were viewed in the NBA. KG’s ability as a triple-threat(passer, shooter, and dribbler) made him a tough cover all over the court. His tenacious defense and trash talk were also key parts of his game. Minnesota had a lot of “firsts” with KG on their team. They reached the Playoffs for the first time in 1996-1997 and 8 consecutive times total with him on the squad. It all paid off in 2004 when KG was voted MVP of the NBA and helped Minnesota win a franchise record 58 games. That season saw the T-Wolves notch their first and only Division Championship and Western Conference Finals appearance. Unfortunately that’s the last time Minnesota reached the Playoffs. Before the start of the 2007-2008 season Garnett joined the Boston Celtics to form a “Big 3” with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. People talk about those 3 but Boston had one of the most loaded rosters in NBA history. Nonetheless Boston won the Eastern Conference and then defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to capture their 17th NBA Championship. And KG gave us his now famous line.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyjOy7fRzs0

 

I enjoyed watching KG in the early part of his career in Minnesota and had a respectful dislike of him when he played in Boston/Brooklyn. It stemmed from the fact that he was an irritant to everybody that he played with and against (just lookup KG-Carmelo or KG-“Big Baby” Glen Davis). He also helped make LeBron’s first stint with the Cavaliers rough after joining the Celtics.  That doesn’t diminish from his stellar Hall of Fame career. So I say “thanks KG and good riddance.”

Stats and info via:

http://www.basketball-reference.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Garnett

 

KG