Tag Archives: Derrick Rose

The intriguing possibility of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James joining forces in 2015

By: Jon

 

Why LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony should opt into their current deals?

Over the long term, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will make more money. Instead of signing a five year deal this offseason for about $130 million, the two stars can make $21 million this season and then sign a similar $130 million deal the next summer. Although opting in would be allow the duo to score more money, Melo and LeBron have earned so much money over their careers on and off the court that they will look for a better team than money. If LeBron and Carmelo opt into their current deals, they will have a better chance at winning multiple titles in the future. Next season, James and Melo will have a difficult time winning a championship, if they remain on their same teams.

Although James will have a chance to win a title, Melo will have absolutely no chance of winning a title or even a playoff round next year. Without any cap room, no draft picks, and a first year head coach, the Knicks will be unable to improve their squad which did not even make the playoffs this season. Although Melo will likely make the playoffs next season as a six or seven seed because JR Smith will have a better season, Chandler will play better defense, Amar’e played well at the end of last season, and Tim Hardaway should improve from his solid freshman performance, Melo wants to become a legend and a champion, which will not happen without help.

Will these two USA teammates team up? Courtesy of ESPN
Will these two USA teammates team up?
Courtesy of ESPN

 

Along with Melo’s problems, James will have trouble winning another championship with his current teammates. Unless a miracle occurs, Wade retires, and Bosh leaves Miami, LeBron will have the same team. Dwyane Wade’s knees make him an inconsistent star and Chris Bosh is not a number two that can help LeBron reach a title. This season, LeBron was forced to carry the Heat and it has visibly taken a tole on the best and strongest player in the world. If the duo waits a year, they can create a new big three and win a few more titles. In 2015, the Heat will have very little on their payroll and will be able to sign three stars.

Along with the Heat, the Knicks will have a lot of cap room and be able to sign 3 stars. During the summer of 2015, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Brook Lopez will be free agents. Any combination of LeBron, Melo, and another star would instantly make the Knicks or Heat instant contenders and the favorite to win the championship. The triplet of LeBron, Melo, and Kevin Love would give Melo and LeBron the best chance of winning multiple championships in the future. Unlike the other stars, Love is only 25 and is entering the prime of his career. When the duo reaches their age 35 season, Love would be 30 and carry the team. As seen from the current Miami Big Three, the Heat frequently have trouble rebounding against the bigger teams. Love is an overall better player than Bosh because he is a better three point shooter and is willing to rebound at a high level, unlike Bosh. Also, at this stage of his career, Carmelo Anthony is a better player than Dwyane Wade. Due to Wade’s injured knees, he does not have the same explosiveness and his jumper is inconsistent. Although Melo will eventually age, his ability to hit jumpers will make his skills diminish at a slower pace.

 

Why LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony should opt out of their current deals?

Although in a perfect world LeBron and Melo would opt into their current deals, become free agents, and form a new big three, the possibility of the plan laid out above is highly unlikely. Under the current circumstances, Carmelo is high likely to opt out of his current deal because he cannot stand another season of horrendous basketball. If Melo opts out of his current deal, he will have many enticing options this offseason, including the Bulls, Lakers, and Rockets. The Bulls have Derrick Rose, although frequently injured, Jimmy Butler, and Joakim Noah. The Lakers have Bryant, a top ten pick in a stud draft, but most importantly they are the Lakers and Kevin Love desperately wants to return home and play for the Lakers.

How great would it be if Melo joined forces with Kobe and Kevin Love in Los Angeles? Courtesy of Laker Nation
How great would it be if Melo joined forces with Kobe and Kevin Love in Los Angeles?
Courtesy of Laker Nation

 

The combination of Love, Bryant, Anthony, and Julius Randle would give the Lakers and Anthony a great chance at winning multiple titles over the next few years. Although Bryant will eventually retire, Randle, Anthony, and Love would be a great big three that could win multiple championships because Randle and Love have yet to enter their prime. Also, the Lakers have shown a willingness to spend money in order to build a strong bench. Although the Rockets will have to finagle and trade a few big contracts, they could sign Anthony and pair him with Howard and Harden. Although the option of LeBron and Love would be the best choice, the other teams would prove as great opportunities for Anthony and his hope to win a championship.

While it would prove best for Anthony top opt out, James may opt out  in order to sign his max long term deal. James may be able to convince Bosh or Wade to take less money in order to sign and form a deeper bench. However, it is undecided if Bosh will reunite with the Heat as the third wheel on Miami. Although he has won two championships, he receives the most criticism on the team and his numbers have been declining over the past few seasons. Also, it is unlikely that Love will find his way to Miami because the Timberwolves are likely to trade him and if he goes to free agency the Lakers are the best option for him. If Miami wins another title against the Spurs, LeBron will be more likely to stay and believe that he can win a few more titles with Miami.

Eastern Conference Central Division Preview

By: Evan

The Central division is one of the strongest divisions in the NBA this year and has the potential to have four playoff teams. Last year, the central division had four all-stars so the division has clear individual talent as well as team talent. The Bulls, Pacers, and Bucks all made the playoffs last year and will look to maintain similar records. The two other teams, the Pistons and Cavaliers both made significant offseason acquisitions that will revamp their rosters. Lets look at how the division will play out. (*denotes projected playoff team)

1.) *Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose looks to continue his MVP ways this season and lead chicago to a title.                                                                                                                          Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

The Bulls are arguably one of the top 3 teams in the entire NBA, and with their MVP back at the helm, the Bulls are looking to make a championship run and end the Heat’s reign as Eastern Conference Champions.  The Bulls had a successful season last year without Derrick Rose and despite being plagued with injuries to key players all season. The Bulls won 45 games, advancing to the Eastern Conference semi-finals and ranking 3rd in points allowed on average with 92.9.  The defense has always been a mainstay with wizard head coach Tom Thibodeau and strong interior and wing defenders such as Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler. The only problem for the Bulls last year was scoring, as they averaged only 93.2 points per game, tied for 28th in league, and clearly correlated to Derrick’s absence.  Financially, the Bulls are in a slight bind with the increase on Taj Gibson’s contract starting this year as well as the last two years of Carlos Boozer’s 5 year 80 million dollar deal, but Luol Deng’s expiring contract could be used in a trade piece and free up cap room. The Bulls could make a blockbuster deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves shipping their first round pick, Charlotte’s 2016 protected pick, Luol Deng or Jimmy Butler for Kevin Love, a deal that would benefit both teams. The Bulls will clearly be one of the most interesting teams to watch this year, and they could bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to the Windy City.

2.) *Indiana Pacers

Will Danny Granger and Paul George mesh? This is the crucial question for the Pacers. Courtesy of SBNation

The Indiana Pacers showed their potential last year, giving the Miami Heat a run for their money during the Eastern Conference finals, and this year should be more of the same. The Pacers are young, talented and play hard.  They gave up only 90.7 points per game, and held opponents to 42% shooting per game, 2nd and 1st in the league, respectively. This intense team defense stems from coach Frank Vogel as well as elite defenders such as Roy Hibbert and Paul George, both of whom can seriously impact an offensive game plan.  Danny Granger, a former all star, missed much of the season, and he will take on scoring responsibilities,  taking some of the pressure off  Paul George and David West who combined for 35 points per game for the Pacers.  Granger and George are similar players as they both create off the dribble and like to attack the basket,  although George is the younger and better player, Granger provides valuable experience the Pacers need.  If the two can mesh and play well together, the Pacers should be formidable this season.  If not,  the front office might look to trade Granger who is on the last year of his contract and is injury prone. The other problem is the Pacers bench as they don’t have a bench scorer that can come in and immediately contribute.  The bench becomes a pivotal factor in the playoffs as teams must rest the starting unit. Regardless of the bench,  the Pacers will probably win 45-50 games this year and be a top four seed in the Eastern Conference.

3.) *Detroit Pistons

With the addition of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, Pistons are a clear playoff team and a potential sleeper in the Eastern Conference.                                                          Courtesy of NBA.SI.com

The Pistons were probably the 2nd biggest mover in the offseason behind the Houston Rockets, trading Brandon Knight, Kris Middleton and Viacheslav Kravtsov for Brandon Jennings and then signing him to a 3 year 25 million dollar deal.   Detroit also signed Josh Smith, an underrated all around player for 4 years $54 million. The Pistons are clearly trying to turn around their moribund franchise; these are solid moves for two players who needed a change of scenery. The Pistons have an established core with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, one of the youngest and best frontcourts in league.   And now with a point guard and a dynamic small/power forward, the Pistons are relevant again. They also hired Mo Cheeks, a champion as a player and an assistant on a Thunder team that went to the NBA finals in 2012.  The team will have to learn how to balance the ball and spread it out among the big men, but this team will be a terror for opposing big men, as the three man rotation of Smith, Drummond and Monroe will be difficult to deal with. Look for the Pistons to win about 40-45 games this year and earn around a 5-7 seed and potential upset one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.

4.) *Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving has a chance to be the MVP this year, but will he lead the Cavs to the playoffs?                         Courtesy of ESPN

The Cavs also made some significant offseason moves, including the signings of the oft injured Andrew Bynum and dynamic back-up point guard Jarrett Jack. Both are wildcards that could potentially vault the Cavs into playoff contention for the first time since LeBron left, or they could stay the same course of futility of the last couple of years. The team also drafted Anthony Bennett a big man with enormous potential if he can lose the his excess weight and get into basketball shape. All these pieces are shaped around the man with the ball, Kyrie Irving, a 21 year point guard who might just be the best in the league. He can create for himself, score at will and is tremendous in late game situations. He dazzled during all-star weekend (watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr_WjR6iaj4) and clearly emerged on the national stage. The Cavs also have some bright young talent in Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, both showed growth throughout last season and they should continue to grow into better core players. Although the Cavs will make the playoffs as a 8 seed, there is little chance that they will advance. The Cavs are on the rise, and who knows what can happen if LeBron decides to go home in free agency.  He’d have a good nucleus awaiting.

5.) Milwaukee Bucks

Bucks fans don’t worry, you still have emerging center Larry Sanders on your squad. Courtesy of ESPN.com

After refusing to sign Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis to extensions, it became clear that the Bucks want to use this season to develop players and cement their place in the lottery. Now it isn’t all bad for Bucks fans as they did resign Larry Sanders, a young, elite defender who has improved his game. They also signed O.J Mayo, a solid scorer but not a game changing type player. The Bucks clearly need a face of the franchise that can provide hope in the coming years. There is some uncertainty about whether the Bucks will be able to stay in Milwaukee becomes Seattle clamors for a team with Paul Allen providing deep, deep pockets.  The Bucks should have more clarity next season about the future of this franchise, and hopefully they land a star player to lead them.

How many teams do you think will make the playoffs from the Central? Let us know by voting below.

Stats from ESPN

Top Ten Point Guards in the NBA

By: Jon

 

The point guard position is one of the deepest positions in the current NBA. Although a great point guard has not led a team to a title in a long time, they are important because they lead the offense and improve team chemistry.

 

1. Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul
Chris Paul

The Clippers’ point guard is regarded as the third best player in the league by most fans and experts because he is able to improve his teammates on offense and defense. Chris Paul recently re-signed with the Clippers to a max deal. Although Chris Paul has never won a major award in the NBA besides the Rookie of the Year, Paul has done something that no player has ever done before: improved the Clippers, made the Clippers respectable, and converted some Laker fans to Clipper fans. Although Paul is not a great scorer, he is great at many other statistical categories. Paul has averaged at least 9 assists and 2 steals per game over the last six years. Chris Paul led the league in assists twice and steals five times during his eight year NBA career. Although Paul does not score many points, he shoots a great percentage from the field. Chris has shot over .475 from the field 5 of the last 6 seasons and over .800 from the free throw line every season of his career. Chris Paul is a future Hall of Famer because he has led two hopeless franchises to playoff wins and success.

 

2. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook

The Thunder’s point guard is one of the most athletic players in the league, which enables him to be one of the best players in the league. Russell Westbrook has been one of the most durable and accomplished players in the NBA. Westbrook has not missed a single regular season game during his five year career. Although Russell injured himself during the postseason, Westbrook will probably be healthy for the beginning of the season. Russell has improved during every season of his career. Russell Westbrook has transformed from a player who was extremely raw to a player who is extraordinary and one of the best in the league. Russell is a great two way player because he is strong, quick, intelligent, and skilled. Although Westbrook is a high volume shooter who does not shoot a high percentage, he scores a lot of points and sets up his other teammates. Westbrook finished top ten in MVP voting this season because he scored 23.2 points,  7.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.8 steals.

 

3. Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs

Tony Parker
Tony Parker

The French point guard has been one of the most underrated players in the NBA over the last few years. Parker was the last point guard and one of two point guards in the last 33 years to win the NBA Finals MVP. Although he has consistently been over looked because he plays with the best power forward of all-time, Parker has finally taken control of the San Antonio Spurs. At the age of 30, Parker had the best season of his career. Parker finished top five in the MVP voting this season because he averaged 20.3 points, 7.6 assists, and 3.0 rebounds. Tony scored 20.3 points while shooting at a very high percentage, 52.2%. Parker has more playoff success than any other point guard in the NBA and the only player on my list to be a major contributor on a team that won the NBA Finals. Although Parker is not strong like other PG, he is extremely quick and has great moves, which enables him to see the floor and score efficiently. Although Parker is not physically dominating like the other point guards, he is intelligent and a savvy veteran.

 

4. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose

The former first overall pick is the first point guard to win the award since Steve Nash. Although Rose is one of the most talented players in the league, he is consistently injured, which drops him in my rankings. When Rose is not injured, he is one of the top two point guards in the league. DROSE has played only 39 games over the last two seasons, which stops him from being a top 10 player in the league. Similar to Russell Westbrook, Derrick is a physically imposing point guard who has a mismatch every night. However, Derrick is not a traditional point guard who dishes and sets up his teammates, but a high volume shooter and does not have a great shooting percentage. Although Derrick only shot under 45% during the last three season, he scored over 20 points per game. During his 2010-2011 MVP season, Rose scored a career high 25 points, 7.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game. Although Derrick Rose has been great during the regular season, he has not succeeded in leading the Bulls to the Finals during his four year career. Rose will easily rise to the number one point guard position if he can defeat the Miami Heat and stays healthy during the regular season.

 

5. Deron Williams – Brooklyn Nets

Deron Williams
Deron Williams

The Brooklyn Nets star point guard is one of the best point guards in the league because he is strong, fast, and intelligent. Although Williams is not a great shooter, he shoots at a solid percentage and scores a lot of points. During his career, Williams has scored 18 points while shooting over 45% from the field. Although Deron had a horrible first half of the season, Williams looked like the top three point guard he was with Utah Jazz during the second half of the season. Williams averaged 19 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, and only 2.8 turnovers per game. Even though Deron had a great season compared to most players, it was considered a down year for him. However, this year the Brooklyn Nets should expect a huge year from Deron because he is surrounded by capable scorers and has had the ability to rest his aching body. During the last two seasons, Williams battled injuries, which compromised his jump shoot and speed. Since he is not recovering from an injury nor playing for the USA in the Olympics, Deron should be feeling 100% for the start of the season. Deron has the ability to return to being a top three point guard in the league because he scores and sets up his teammates while limiting his shots and turnovers.

 

6. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors

Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry

The 24 year old point guard is already being considered one of the greatest shooters of all-time. Curry posted a career high in points per game while averaging the second most points among point guards, behind Westbrook. Unlike other point guards, Curry scored 23 points per game while shooting over 45% from the field. Stephen was able to average the most points per game while posting a career high in assists per game. Curry is being considered as one of the greatest shooters of all-time because his shooting percentage and three point percentage was above 45%. Along with his great shooting from the field, Curry shoots 90% from the free throw line. Like other point guards, Curry is consistently hurt, which affects his play. Curry possesses some of the worst ankles in the league. When Curry resolves his ankle problems, he will be one of the greatest shooters and players of his generation. Curry may become the next superstar if he can stay healthy and lead his talented Golden State Warrior team to the NBA Finals or even a championship.

 

7. Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo

The talented 26 year old point guard is one of the most skilled and exciting players in the league. Rondo is one of the most exciting players in the league because he is an amazing passer. Along with being an incredible player, Rondo is a leader, who plays the best during big games. Rondo will now have the ability to lead a NBA team since Garnett and Pierce left the team in a trade with the Nets. Although Rondo is not a great scorer, he is the best player in the league at setting up his teammates to score buckets. Although Rondo injured himself half way through the season, Rondo had been durable and a steady producer for the Celtics over the past seven years. During the last three seasons, Rondo averaged more than 11 assists per game while leading the assists for the last two seasons. Rondo is a double double machine, which is strange for a point guard because it is harder to record 10 assists than 10 rebounds. In 2012, Rondo recorded 20 double doubles in just 38 games, which is a higher rate than any other player by a wide margin. Along with recording the highest double double rate, he had the most triple doubles, 5, which was three more than any other player while playing 30 less games.

 

8. Jrue Holiday – New Orleans Pelicans

Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday

The former Philadelphia 76ers point guard has progressively improved during every season of his career. The 22 year old point guard had a break out season for the 76ers, which enabled them to trade him at his highest value. Jrue averaged 17.7 points, 8.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game during his fourth season in the Association. Jrue was the lone bright spot on the 76ers team this year, which greatly disappointed their fan base and experts around the league. Since the 76ers were in rebuilding mode, they traded Holiday to the New Orleans Hornets for Nerlens Noel, 6th pick in the draft, and a pick in next year’s draft. New Orleans will be a great fit for Holiday since they have a young nucleus where he can grow and improve as a player. Holiday is a young stud All-Star, who will play in many more All-Star games throughout the rest of his career.

 

9. Damian Lillard – Portland Trailblazers

Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard

The Rookie of the Year had a great first season for the Portland Trailblazers. Lillard, the sixth overall pick, had a surprising break out season for the Trailblazers. Lillard averaged 19 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game for the Trailblazers. Damian looks like he will be a great player in this league for a long time. Lillard is a strong, large point guard, who can bully his fellow opponents. Along with great size, Lillard is a great shooter from behind the arc. Last year, Damian shot 37% from behind the arc, which is solid for a rookie transforming from the college game. Lillard’s success will be great for future college players coming from mid major schools such as CJ McCallum.

 

10. Ty Lawson – Denver Nuggets

Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson

The Denver Nugget’s undersized point guard is one of the best young point guards in the NBA. Although Lawson does not dominate his opponents with his size and strength, Lawson has great speed and intelligence, which allows him to succeed in the NBA. Lawson is the leader of the offensive juggernaut, Denver Nuggets. Lawson uses his speed to start fast breaks and out run his opponents. Ty has improved in every important statistical category since entering the NBA four seasons ago. During his best season last year, Lawson averaged 16.7 points 6.9 assists, and 1.5 steals. Next year, Lawson will be forced to take more control of the offense and improve his game because the Nuggets have a rookie head coach and they lost Galo for some of the season and Iguodala to free agency. Ty is a fantastic player and will only improve over the next few years because he is intelligent and controls the floor.

 

Pics and Stats from ESPN.com