What Adding Serge Ibaka Means for the Raptors

By Leo Silbert

The Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors have agreed to a deal that sends Serge Ibaka to the Raptors in exchange for Terrence Ross and a first round pick.  The Magic didn’t believe that they had a good shot at retaining Ibaka this summer and Ibaka had concerns over how he was being used in Orlando so it makes sense for both of those parties to part ways.  Now the Magic bring in a young wing player in Terrence Ross which should move Aaron Gordon to power forward full-time so the Magic may have done very well here, but how much does this improve the Raptors chances of challenging the Cavaliers, Celtics and Wizards for the East?

Serge Ibaka

First thing that this will look to improve is the Raptors defense.  Ibaka for most of his career has been one of the best shot blockers in the league, as he is the active leader in blocks per game.  In the blocks category, the Raptors rank as an average team, but now with the addition of Ibaka, they can start him and give fewer minutes to Patrick Patterson, which if you take their current per game averages, would push the Raptors up to second in the league, only trailing the Warriors.  An increase of 1.5 blocks per game on average could have great effects on a team’s defense and give more freedom to the wing players to play aggressive defense since they know they’ll have a shot blocking presence down low to pick up the slack if their man gets into the paint.  The Raptors would also increase their rank in field goal percentage against since Ibaka is one of the 5 best rim protectors in the league.

Next, he would help to increase the team rebounding.  Ibaka will never be a 10 rebound per game guy, and that isn’t what the Raptors brought him over to do since they already have Jonas Valanciunas to be their top rebound man.  Ibaka would bring good skills as a secondary rebounding big though which the Raptors need as they rank 23rd in the league in total rebounds.  His rebounding ability will help the Raptors posses the ball more often and put it in the hands of their 5th ranked scoring offense more often.

ibaka-dunk

Speaking of the Raptors’ offense, losing Ross as their 6th man hurts, but DeMarre Carroll puts up similar numbers across the board so he may get more minutes per game as well as increased minutes for Cory Joseph and Norman Powell in 3 guard lineups where either the Raptors keep both Valanciunas and Ibaka in for defense, or have Ibaka and Patterson in for a pace oriented and spread out offensive juggernaut.  Ibaka is also an excellent shooter for 3 so any concerns of decreased floor space with Patterson on the bench would be without merit.

So now how much is this likely to help the Raptors improve their chances this season?  Well since the Raptors have been in a funk recently and this is the kind of move that can greatly change how a team plays game in and game out, he could potentially bring them back all the way to the 2 or 3 seed, maybe even the 1 if the Cavaliers go through another rough patch.

The Orlando Magic Need to Sell Now

By Leo Silbert

The Magic haven’t been a good basketball team since Dwight Howard demanded to get out-of-town.  Since then, they have had plenty of chances to pick players who could be the centerpiece of the team, but instead they have mostly picked up role players.  Currently they have a young corps of players who can be a big part of their success.  Aaron Gordon is a guy who I believe is made to be a power forward in this league, the way the league is moving towards small ball.  He is hyper athletic and has shown ability to defend anywhere on the court, even if he does need to add a little bit of weight to really bang in the interior consistently.  Elfrid Payton has great court vision and can be one of the best traditional point guards in the league both on offense and on defense.  Evan Fournier has great size for a shooting guard and has shown the ability to score, but I think he’d be best served as the #2 guy for an offense.  Nikola Vucevic is a center who is good on offense and at rebounding.  Vucevic isn’t an ideal player to have since he isn’t much of a rim protector but for now he is pretty much stuck where he is until the 2018-2019 season when he is in his contract year.  He isn’t a piece that is absolutely necessary to replace before they have their finishing piece in first.

Now, I mentioned the finishing piece that the Magic need, and that is an alpha male scorer at the small forward position.  This draft has a top-level small forward in Josh Johnson who would fit great onto the team, but the team only has the 11th worst record in the league at the moment so they need to be worse before they can get better.  Now, they have a few valuable trade assets in their contract years on their team right now who I think they should trade before the trade deadline to make sure #1 they get some kind of value instead of nothing when they leave in free agency.  Those two assets are Serge Ibaka and Jeff Green.  These are two guys that can help raise a playoff team’s hopes for one year, and not have to be worried about the next year unless the team wants to resign them (which is something they’d only know for sure if they already had him).

For Ibaka, I think the perfect destination for him that can have the cap space would be the Milwaukee Bucks.  The Bucks have a truly exciting young duo in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.  They also have a big man in the middle who can rebound and is decent on offense in the post, but who struggles protecting the rim.  They also have another enticing piece in Khris Middleton who makes this team have a scary trio that can make noise if they make the playoffs.  Now, what they are missing is a defensive anchor on defense and since they have Monroe they would need someone who spreads the floor more so Giannis and Middleton can still drive easily.  Ibaka is a defensive minded big who has a decent mid-range game.  This scenario would also give the Bucks easily the biggest starting 5 in the NBA ], with Middleton and Parker being the shortest at 6’8 each.  I feel like this is the type of move that would give Milwaukee the best shot to make noise in the playoffs and possibly upset a higher seed in the east.  Now, what would Orlando get out of this deal?  I would like to see them try to get Thon Maker.  Ibaka is what Maker can be with proper development.  Maker would be the eventual replacement for Vucevic so that fills their need of having to find his replacement in the future.  I’d also see them getting a 1st round pick this year out of the deal with a lottery protection on it in case the Bucks lose Giannis and Parker to injury.  Now according to ESPN’s trade machine, this wouldn’t work so each team would have to add a piece.  The Magic can throw in Jodie Meeks to be a backup guard for the Bucks and the Bucks could choose from either Miles Plumlee or John Henson given their salaries and this trade would even out.  If I was Orlando I’d try to get Henson since he is only on a 1 year deal and Plumlee would stick them with 3 bigs all on deals for the next three years with none of their contracts easy to move.

For Green, finding just the right spot is a bit more difficult.  He isn’t the same player he was on the Celtics, but he can still be a valuable asset to a team that needs help at the 3 or the 4.  The team would also need cap space to take Green’s $15 million cap hit.  One team that fits those criteria is the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Thunder right now have Russell Westbrook who is dominating the league like a point guard hasn’t done since Oscar Robertson in the 1961-1962 season.  Victor Oladipo is a solid 2 guard and a solid #2 scoring option as well as an above average defender.  They also have Steven Adams who is a decent center who excels on defense.  The combination of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter sharing the floor though kills the team’s spacing so adding in an athletic forward who can spread the floor some and not be lost on defense would probably help their team in the hopes of raising their spot in the Western Conference standings.  Now, they bring back Jeff Green for a 2nd stint in OKC, and they have a much better chance of rising up to potentially the 5th or even 4th seeds with what they have already and Green.  Now, Green is struggling this year but I feel like the Magic aren’t using him correctly and are trying to force too many things to happen at once so I think a move to OKC where Green won’t be asked to do too much would be very beneficial.  Now for the pieces OKC would have to give up.  Anthony Morrow is an expiring contract so he’s a good piece to deal and Alex Abrines is a spot-up shooter who is making enough money to make this trade work and he can be a good role player down the line once the Magic finally fix their problems, so the frugal Thunder ownership may want a future first round pick swap to give themselves some backup in case Green isn’t as good of a fit as I think.  For the pick swap I think 2019 would be the ideal for both teams.  Westbrook will be in the middle of his contract extension with an increasing salary cap so the team can possibly sign a 2nd star in free agency by then to give the team a good shot at the title.  By then the Magic should be approaching playoff readiness if they are able to pick up Josh Johnson or Jayson Tatum if Johnson is gone when they pick, this year so they’ll be still be a lottery team, but they won’t be a real threat to pick first overall.

So that is what I think the Magic should do.  They need to set themselves up to fail now so they can have a shot at a great talent now that will fit their needs and then they’ll be able to start sorting out the mess they created by signing Bismack Biyambo to a massive contract this past offseason.

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.