NBA Non-Playoff Run: The Basketball Gods are coming

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By: Will Stevenson

With the end of the NBA regular season coming to an end, the actual basketball coverage continues to dwindle. We have teams at the top of the standings that are just hoping to get to the playoffs without any injuries, teams in the middle jockeying for home court, teams at the bottom still fighting to stay in the playoffs, and the teams trying kinda-sorta to keep their lottery pick. The teams who have no hopes of the playoffs are shutting down veteran players and giving those minutes to the young guys, while those coming up on free agency are showcasing for the offseason. Defense hasn’t been great this season, so those games between losing teams seems unwatchable to most casual NBA fans. The NBA isn’t like most sports as in they have a long season, so marquee matchups down the stretch don’t have the shine as they were suppose to have when the scheduling was being made. More than those who are in the playoffs, lets take a look at the teams we thought would be competing for a playoff spot this year.

  1. Hornets (32-40) 3 GB of the 8th seed
    Kemba Walker has done all he can to keep the Hornets afloat this season. Even with the emergence of Cody Zeller and Frank Kamisky, the Hornets are still a team full of face cards: They can’t outright win with a spade, but they can get a book every now and then with a King of Clubs. Coach Clifford has been able to adjust to the NBA’s rising pace of play by adding more shooters and letting the big men go from the previous roster. The Hornets have one scorer, Kemba Walker, and with them being a below average defensive team, won’t cut it in today’s NBA. Let me not forget about the poor play of Nicholas Batum who is often injured and inconsistent of being a number two player on a given team. The Basketball Gods have awarded the Hornets with Kemba, but it seems as though everything else is just average: Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Kaminsky, Zeller, Batum and Joseph Forte… I mean Jeremy Lamb.

2. Timberwolves (28-43) 6.5 GB of the 8th seed
50-32, that was pretty much the consensus after Tom Thibodeau was named the Head Coach in the offense. With the play of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Lavine, we had high hopes the Wolves we become the Western Conference darlings, much like the Trailblazers last season. We must have forgotten about the ability to learn team defense and the fact their young stars are just that: Young. Even before the season started, Coach Thibs didn’t like his roster as rumors of old Bulls being traded to the Wolves circulated. Wiggins still hasn’t been able to match is on-ball defense with his offense, and the Wolves aren’t adapting to the 3pt barrage as the rest of the league as of yet.

3. Lakers (21-51) 2nd worst record in the league
New coach, new system, but the same players. The Lakers came out the gate average, but they played with energy, hustle, and ESPN showcase defense. After the injury to Russell, it all fell apart and the run to keep that Top 3 protected pick in this year’s draft was the only thing to shoot for. I didn’t think the Lakers would make a playoff run, but I imagined them winning 30-35 games this season. Maybe the Basketball Gods will punish the Lakers again and knock them out of the lottery this season. Only can only hope.

4. Pelicans (30-42) 5 GB of 8th seed
Anthony Davis. That’s pretty much the team in a nutshell, but after an offseason spending on mediocre role players, the Pelicans were looking to be a team of 3 and D. Jrue Holliday , Tyreke Evans, and Quincy Pondexter started out the season on the IR, and Buddy Heild was shooting like the Raptors in last year’s playoffs. Then, the Pelicans pulled off a ransom for Demarcus Cousins. They were 3GB of the 8th seed at that point, and they’ve been falling since. 30 games isn’t enough to say the “Fire and Ice” experiment failed, or to move Boogie in the offseason if they can’t extend him, or to fire Alvin Genty, but the Pelicans must figure out if they want to resign Holliday and keep the team they have for the next few seasons. Once, again, I’m hoping the Basketball Gods give the Pelicans a Top 3 pick. In that case, the Kings would lose out on the opportunity to have 2 lottery picks this season. Or maybe the Pelicans don’t deserve to have a lottery pick this year. I’m conflicted.

5. Blazers (33-38) 1.5 GB of the 8th seed
We see it all the time in sports. A team stays hot and overachieves during a season, and then they overcomplicate things in the offseason which makes the next season impossible to replicate. The Blazers were flying high as they lost in the second round to the Warriors last year. They have two guards that could score form any place on the floor, 3 and D winds, and athletic big men who could run the floor and make plays from the high post. It all went downhill with the explosion of the Salary Cap last summer. The Blazers needed to hit the salary floor and add players to a roster that seem pretty good, and young. They paid Mo Harkless, Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli. Harkless is average, Crabbe is average, Evan Turner needs the ball to perform, and Festus hasn’t played a game this season. Offense is the trend this season, but if your guards can’t stop penetration and your bigs can’t defend the rim on a consistent basis, then a bad shooting night will result in multiple losses.

6. Bulls (34-39) 1.5 GB of the 8th seed
Breaking News: The Bulls have signed Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade. I knew it was downhill from there. After the Bulls let Noah go and traded Derrick Rose, I figured they would be going in a younger direction, even with Taj Gibson outplaying Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic at every turn. I figured, and I was wrong. The Bulls decided to go against conventional and analytical wisdom to pick up two over-thirty-non shooting-high usage players to their team. Even after the high 3pt percentage games to start out the season and a Wade game-winner, the Bulls fell back to earth as they should  have. They ended up trading Gibson and McBuckets to the Thunder for Cameron Payne, and lost Wade to injury a few weeks ago. To no surprise, they’ve played better without him. Rondo’s play on the court hasn’t been the issue this year as he has played well off the bench. I don’t know what the Bulls will do this offseason, but I do not want to see them get swept by the Cavaliers if they make the playoffs. If by chance, the Kings get screwed in the lottery and they land outside the top 10, the Bulls will get that pick. I don’t know what the Basketball Gods will do this summer.

For these franchises, the season was full of hope back in October. Whether it was injury or inconsistent play, these teams will fin d themselves in the lottery if they don’t make a final push to be swept in the playoffs.  If not, there’s always Tinder.

The Magic Jeanie: The Lakers clean house

Will Stevenson

Jeanie Buss is spreading her wings. I feel like Jeanie is getting her groove back after all those years being stuck listening to the same song, over and over again. The simple fact that Magic Johnson was made President of Basketball Operations, two days before the trade deadline, in February is odd timing. Magic was hired almost a month again, and he’s been on a “I’m taking your job” tour ever since. The talk yesterday was centered around the Demarcus Cousins trade and how the Lakers did not obtain him.  Instead they decided to keep Brandon Ingram. Even funnier than that sentence: Neither Magic nor Jeanie Buss were consulted about the possible trade by Jim Buss or Mitch Kupchak. Let’s go back a few years to gain some perspective.

There was Jeanie, saddened after the death of her father, leaving her and her brother Jim to run the franchise. Kobe started to break down, Phil Jackson was fired, and the Lakers were free-falling into mediocrity. In 2014, Jim Buss announced that he would step down if the Lakers weren’t making deep playoff runs. Why he said that, I don’t know. With the Kobe contract around their neck and a coaching carousel that had them paying four head coaches at one time, the Lakers began to whiff on the one thing they thought they could count on: Big-Time Free Agents. The Lakers have been able to draft Russell, Clarkson, Randle, Ingram and Nance Jr, so it’s not as if they haven’t scouted well for young talent. The Lakers have been stuck in rafters, rather than the product on the court. The Kobe send off took three years of development, and having Byron Scott at the helm didn’t help at all. What could the Lakers do to regain relevancy?

Magic Johnson has a mouth-piece that only Jerome from Martin could respect. Magic sat back and waited for his opportunity to take the Lakers. The only way Jeanie could free herself from this Hollywood nightmare was to divorce all the men that have been in her life, starting with Phil Jackson. Phil was fired from the Lakers, and took the opportunity to join the New York Knicks front office.  What a garbage truck juice fire that has been. Jeanie got rid of Phil through a tweet, and with that transaction happening, Magic was only inching closer to his position. The Lakers hired Luke Walton as their head coach, and things seemed to be looking up for the coming season. Then, Kupchak and Buss decided that Loul Deng and Timofey Mozgov were the priorities of the free agent landscape. Magic continued to bash Jim Buss on Twitter as his timeline was becoming an actual deadline, and with the Lakers having a record that could ensure them a top 3 pick in this years draft, things were coming to fruition.

So yesterday, Jeanie freed herself totally. She rid herself of her basketball connections with Jim Buss, the man everyone in LA wants to blame for their recent struggles. She also fired Mitch who’s been at his position since 2000, and even some PR staffing. Jeanie cleaned house and aligned herself with a Laker great that would captivate the fan base and bring some much need flare back to the Lakers.

Think about it, who’s going to fire Jeanie Buss? Who’s going to fire Magic Johnson? Nobody, that’s who. Magic has another day or so to wheel and deal before the deadline, and will be the decision maker when it comes to player personnel. The Lakers were supposed to take a step forward this year, but there is no step forward if the management style continues to be the same as it has always been.

A sister fired her brother yesterday. The Lakers found a way to upstage the Knicks and the Kings at incompetence during a time in which the Knicks and the Kings were dominating the headlines for that very thing.

I seriously think you should jump on this wave!

By Lawrence Edwards

OK, before I get started let me tell you that this isn’t a fad that will quickly fade out, nor is it a get rich quick scheme. It’s simple, I am not forcing you or trying to persuade you to do anything. I just want to share with you something that I know sports enthusiasts every where will enjoy and offer you the opportunity to be apart of something or get ahead of everyone else on a trend that is about to take the world by storm. From Football to Cricket we have something every sports will fall in love with. You have two options: Affiliate or Player. I will go in to great detail about both and most importantly the coming of a game changing sports app by United Games that is going to absolutely blow your mind!

Now what we are talking about here is an app that will let you enjoy your favorite sport interactively while watching the game. This app is going to bring a new dynamic way of playing of enjoying sports. It’s not just going to focus on the major sports but every sport.  The point is to get everyone to enjoy sports better, not just the people who have time for drafts and 4 different fantasy leagues or the ones who are good at selecting the right combination of players in order to enjoy the experience.

Now, as I previously mentioned you have two options to join this wave, either as a player or an affiliate. If you want to just be one of the first to enjoy the experience of this game changing app then sign up as a player for free. You will be a pre-registered player and once the app launches within the next 5 weeks you can begin enjoying your interactive sports experience and start earning some rewards and points. I don’t know about you but once I started playing fantasy football and basketball, the game became THAT much more interesting to me. I began to pay attention to things that I didn’t before. This interactive app will award every real sports fan the same experience but much better – did I mention that some of EA Sports former developers are building this thing? – Get ahead of the trend, this app is coming and it’s going to change the way we enjoy sports forever and it will be the first of it’s kind, share it with your neighbors, share it with your family, if they love sports, chances are they will love this!

Now if you are interested in becoming an affiliate of United Games and getting the opportunity to not only get ahead of the trend but earn some money while doing it, then this the route you want to go. Now let me tell you this isn’t a pyramid scheme or something wild like that, if you don’t want to be an affiliate then you don’t have to. We aren’t trying to recruit people for money, we are just offering an opportunity to earn some income based off of people just playing the game. Now when this was brought to me a few weeks ago I had my initial negative thoughts. I was told that I can become an affiliate for free, feel it out see if I like it and if I do I would have to pay a one time fee of $30 to stay an affiliate and $9.99 a month to maintain my affiliate site and if I don’t just simply cancel no harm done. Now I’m no easy person to convince to join things, so I did my own research before I agreed to sign up for anything. Now I hate selling things, I’m terrible at it, so the fact I didn’t have to sell a product and it was an app – I’m a huge tech junkie – helped me decide to really read up on it. So I did my research and found that this app could really be something special and I don’t have to pay my fee until the app launches in 4-5 weeks at the time of this writing. I figured, what can I lose? I can jump on board playing a new fantasy app and maybe earn some money while doing it. Every time you share the app and someone signs up, whether as an affiliate or a player, and starts buying or earning tokens, you get a piece of the pie, NICE! Another selling point for me was the fact that in order for you to earn income you have to fill out tax form 1099. That right there let me know it was legit. Now United Games is offering this opportunity only up until the app launches in 5 weeks. Once it goes live, the affiliate opportunity will be no longer offered. You will only be able to download and use the app.

Whether you sign up to be a player or an affiliate I can assure you that this app is going to change your sporta experience. The point of this blog is to get the word out that a Giant is coming and to offer, what I believe to be a grand opportunity to be apart of the next big thing. If you like what you heard here today feel free to drop a comment, email me (lawrence.edwards115@gmail.com) or if you got here through my Facebook link, just shoot me a DM and I will happily send you a link to be an affiliate or a free player so you will be all set to go when the app launches. Once you click the link there will be more information for you to read through to get an even better understanding. You’re going to love this!

Here is a one page info sheet you can look at to get more information. Feel free to contact me with questions.

 

It’s All About Dwight Howard!

By: Damian Adams

1

Next season, Dwight Howard will not be wearing the Houston Rockets uniform, he has signed a 3 year, 70.5-million-dollar contract with the Atlanta Hawks. Howard averaged 13.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game last season. Any center who averages these numbers while only getting 8.5 shot attempts per game would usually be a sought after asset for fans of most teams, but not Dwight. Most fans would respond to that statement by saying phrases like; we don’t need this BUM, I don’t want this SOFT dude on my squad, why would we sign him, dude is pure TRASH. Why are adjectives like bum, soft, and trash used to describe Dwight Howard? When and why did Dwight become the NBA fan’s punching bag?

2

Howard was the #1 overall pick out of high school in the 2004 NBA draft to the Orlando Magic. A center with a goofy personality going #1 overall to Orlando of course brought up natural comparisons to Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal is a hall of fame inductee, who is arguably the most dominant player of all time.  Dwight started his career with an uphill battle, with people expecting him to be the next Shaq. Howard did not fold under the expectations, becoming a great player of his 3rd year in the league. He led the Magic in the playoffs while averaging 17.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks per game and shot 60% from the field. Howard continued to get better on both sides of the floor, being a consistent 1st option on offense and dominating on defense. The Orlando Magic found themselves in the NBA finals in Howard’s 5th NBA season. Not many players can say they led a team to the NBA finals, let alone by their 5th season in the league. During the 08-09 season NBA finals season Howard averaged 20.6 points, 13.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks per game and shot 57% from the field. He won Defensive Player of the Year, and finished in the top 5 of the Most Valuable Player Award. Also, Dwight and the Magic beat LeBron and the Cavaliers to get to the NBA finals that year. The Magic lost to the Lakers in the finals. Even though his team fell just short of the ultimate goal, the world was now aware of the force Dwight Howard was. Howard continued to play well on both sides of the ball finishing in the top 5 in MVP voting 4 times and winning 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards.

3

Dwight had become a top 5 NBA player and a top 10 defensive player all time. Despite his individual success the Magic would not get back to the NBA finals. This may have caused some issues between him and coach Stan Van Gundy. Their relationship seemed to be strained and this led to the moment where I believe the NBA world turn on Dwight Howard.

4

The look on Stan’s face says it all. Stan believed that Dwight went to upper management asking them to fire him. Right after he said that Dwight came in trying to be affectionate. It looked disingenuous to say the least. Things went downhill from there both Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard ended up leaving Orlando. Howard left via a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. An elite big man going from Orlando to LA, sounds familiar, Dwight just could not avoid the Shaq comparison.

5

Dwight Howard only spent one season in LA. A season that most Lakers fans want to forget. It was actually the last season the Lakers were competitively relevant. Howard played most of that season with multiple injuries. He was not the only one battling injuries as Steve Nash’s body broke down and Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon late in the season. Even with all those issues the blame fell on Howard as he averaged 17.1 points, 12. 4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game, Dwight led the league in rebounds that season. Howard moved on to Houston that off-season.

6

For the last three seasons, he has helped get the Houston Rockets to the playoffs. The Rockets made it to the Western Conference Finals during the 2014-15 season. Dwight played great during the playoffs, averaging 16.4 points, 14 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. This past season his frustration grew with his lack of touches on offense and now he is moving on to Atlanta.

The title of this article is time for a change. I choose that title because I believe this change of scenery will be good for Howard. In the Atlanta Hawks system, I believe he can get back to being an all-star caliber player.  I also believe it is time for us to change the way we look at or judge Dwight Howard. We have held him to the standards of 90’s post up centers, in particular Shaq, when that style of play is no longer considered efficient. Howard will never be an offensive force like Shaq, but he is a better defensive player and rebounder than Shaq was. Dwight has led the league in rebounds per game 5 times, and blocks per game 2 times. Shaq did not accomplish either feat once during his career. Don’t get me wrong Shaq is the better player, but these facts should be pointed out. Dwight Howard is a future 1st ballad hall of famer and basketball fans should appreciate Dwight for Dwight.