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.

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NBA Transactionology: Let’s Make A Deal

Will Stevenson

*Remember in The Hunger Games when Katniss and Peeta were going to eat the berries because they didn’t want to kill each other. Remember when the higher ups did not appreciate being shown up? The Kings-Pelicans trade was a cop-out, and now everyone in the NBA thinks they too can devalue other players to acquire better talent. We Need Order!*

With the trade deadline tomorrow afternoon, the NBA has presented us with another moratorium to discuss the one thing we love above anything else in sports: Transactions. Every year we do this, with every sport, but with the rotations only being around nine deep for most teams and sometimes shorter during the playoffs, a well-timed acquisition can dynamically change the fortunes of any given franchise. I was listening to the TruHoop podcast yesterday, and Brain Windhorst admitted that 98 percent of the information he receives around the trade deadline are all lies, which is quite believable. He also admitted that all the work and texts from last year’s trade deadline meant absolutely nothing. Most of everything on basketball-reference or Hoops Rumors are just that, rumors. There is a stat that only two or three teams have ever made the playoffs, after January 20, after making a trade while being out of the playoff picture. I have a better stat for all of the 28 teams in the NBA besides the Cavaliers and Warriors:

Can you beat the Warriors? Can you beat the Cavaliers?

If you are a team that is looking for a player boost in the next day, will that player be able to propel you to the Eastern and Western Conference Finals? We’ll get back to this.

The worst thing to happen to the trade deadline was the Kings-Pelicans trade for Boogie Cousins. The trade was such a low-ball, that teams like the Nets have to soften their stance on Brook Lopez. The Kings have every NBA front office person thinking they too can send over lint and green tea to acquire a star in this league.

Celtics

I think most teams realize there is no reason to mortgage their future draft picks and prospects for the chance to get knocked out in the 2nd round of the playoffs. The Celtics have been hanging on to those picks for a few years now, and it’s actually worked out with the acquisitions of Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Al Horford, and the drafting of Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk. Let’s be honest, the Celtics aren’t beating the Cavaliers, and they may not even surpass the second round with their 1-4 offensive-give all the shots to Isaiah Thomas in the fourth quarter-strategy. P.J. Tucker will not enhance their ability to win the title, but maybe Blake Griffin will. Griffin can and most likely will opt out this summer for free agency in any event of a trade, but it’s worth the risk. Maybe Blake Griffin or Jimmy Butler won’t get you the chip you want, but you’ll feel better about your chances. I actually think the Celtics want to play the underdog role for another year and keep the championship expectations off their backs. Thomas and Bradley are up for contracts next summer, and Jae Crowder is a movable piece as well. With the draft picks from the Nets, they can rebuild on the fly and keep cap room while staying an underdog. Genius.

Clippers

The Clippers have one move: Carmelo. That’s it, that’s all they have. Paul, Griffin and Reddick are all free agents this summer, and Steve Balmer doesn’t seem like the patient person. The Clippers have produced a great starting lineup for the past few seasons, but it hasn’t pushed them past the second round. Their bench is better this year, but it’s too late because the Warriors are here.

Raptors

The Raptors are the Clippers of the East, they have longed for a stretch four since Chris Bosh left for the Heat. They acquired Serge Ibaka from the Magic for a bag of sticks and a late 1st rounder; but was it too late? Think of this for the Raptors: They traded for Lowry, drafted Derozan and Valanciunas and that’s the core. Demarre Carroll and Corey Joseph aren’t free agent flops, but their production is average at best. They extended Terrence Ross, who they traded for Ibaka, and let Biyombo go to the Magic. Norman Powell and Delon Wright have been injured this season, along with Jared Sullinger. The Raptors have enough to get to the ECF, barring an epic shooting performance like last playoffs.

Wolves

Thibs has been trying to get the band back together since he took over the personnel in Minnesota, and with Zach Lavine down with an ACL until next spring, the Wolves are searching for scoring. This is an issue with many teams who have struggled this season: A veteran coach takes over a losing team with young players, but the pressure of making the playoffs is so great that the young players can’t break the rotations. Thibs has tried to trade for Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Noah and Jimmy Butler. I’m surprised he didn’t go after Loul Deng or bring up Ben Gordon from the D-League.

Although the Finals looks like a foregone conclusion for the next couple seasons, it is nice to see teams still out here trying to compete for the playoffs. It’s cute.

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.

 

Watch Out For The Timberwolves.

   The Minnesota Timberwolves are in an interesting place. They have a young and promising roster. The talent features Karl-Anthony Towns who is the 2016 NBA Rookie Of The Year, Andrew Wiggins who will be entering his 3rd year in the NBA and has impressive numbers averaging 20.7 points per game. Another piece is Zach Lavine, 2 time winner of the dunk contest and averages 14 points per game and is also entering his 3rd year.

While these three players are promising their roster does have some spots to fill. The spots they will have to fill is the point guard and center position. They will also need to add a talented bench with a few veterans.

PG- Ricky Rubio. While Rubio is a promising guard he has expressed that he is not happy in Minnesota. When he was first drafted he was promised a bright future with Kevin Love. As the future unfolded Kevin Love went to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the team was left in the dust. The Timberwolves are most likely to trade him. They need to trade him for a point guard who is unselfish and willing to pass first before looking to score.

SG- Zach Lavine. Lavine is a great fit for this position, he seems to understand that he is a role player not a star player. As of now he is the only shooting guard listed on the team. The Timberwolves should pick up a veteran SG to add experience

SF- Andrew Wiggins. Great at the small forward position. The NBA looks to him as possibly the Kobe or LeBron of the next generation. Wiggins shows almost no downside as he is a versatile player.

PF- Karl-Anthony Towns. Rookie of the year, and arguably the best power forward in the 2016 season. While most teams rely on guards, Towns is one of the few forwards left who are truly stars through and through.

C- Gorgui Deng. Solid player at the moment. With a few years of development (if he’s willing to stay in the shadow) he can become a top 10 NBA center. He averaged 10.7 points in the NBA and 7.1 rebounds. There seems to be a good future with this kid.

That’s the starting 5 for now. Minnesota has been in deep conversation with the Bulls about acquiring Jimmy Butler, and NBA star who is only 27 and can be a great addition to the wolves. But the problem is the Bulls are asking for Wiggins, who right now is basically untouchable. A deal is most likely not to happen due to the fact that the T-Wolves would have to give up a rising star of theirs.

As of now the Timberwolves are in great shape and have a Warriors like scenario of creating an amazing roster through time and development, something that most NBA teams do not do. In 2-4 years this team will be a force to be reckoned with.


By: Nathan Beaver