Tag Archives: Dwyane Wade

Eastern Conference Southeast Division Preview

By: Evan

The Miami Heat clearly rank supreme in the Southeast division as well as in the Eastern conference.  Having won back-to-back titles, they  show no signs of slowing down. LeBron James is dazzling basketball fans around the world, making them wonder if he really is the best to ever play the game.  The Heat will win this division, but there is hope for some other teams  in the Southeast, like the Wizards, who have a chance to make the playoffs.  Let’s look at how the division will play out (*denotes playoff team).

1.) *Miami Heat

LeBron James is on top of the basketball world, but will he stay there?                                         Courtesy of ESPN

If I were a betting man, my money would be on the Miami Heat to pull a three-peat and win the NBA championship. They have all of the pieces and even found a way to improve their team from a year ago. They signed Greg Oden, an injury plagued center who has not lived up to his #1 overall pick six years ago, and Michael Beasley, a talented but immature small forward who was once considered the best player coming out of college. These are two low-risk, potentially high reward picks could significantly help Miami’s bench.  Of course, distractions are part of the game, and there will be a huge focus on LeBron’s  impending free agency and whether he will return to South Beach next year. The X-factor for the Heat is Dwyane Wade’s health.   Although Dwyane is working with Tim Grover, the legendary trainer who has worked miracles with athletes and their injuries, he still has a lot of miles on his knees and has clearly shown deterioration in his explosiveness.  Chris Bosh is another important player for the Heat as he stretches out opposing defenses with his mid-range game, opening up the hole for LeBron and D-Wade to attack. If Bosh improves on the defensive side of the ball, the Heat will be tough to beat.  The Miami Heat has great talent off the floor as Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have brought in viable role players who have meshed with the big three quite well.   Riley and Spoelstra will be busy managing the media scrutiny about LeBron’s free agency while also formulating a plan for the future in case LeBron decides to leave.  Watch for the Heat in the headlines as they create a lot of excitement on and off the court.

2.) *Washington Wizards

The Wizards have one of the youngest and most talented backcourts in the NBA.                                                                                           Courtesy of Nike Talk

The Wizards take a big step and reach the playoffs this season with their young stars starting to pay dividends.  After  John Wall returned from a serious knee injury last year, the Wizards finished the season with a .500 record, which would have been good enough to make the playoffs considering the Bucks got in under .500.  John Wall received his much-desired max contract extension, they drafted Otto Porter, a versatile wing player who can defend and Bradley Beal showed significant improvement as the season wore on. The Wizards also have some expiring contracts in Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza that could be traded for some younger assets to help the Wizards in the long-run. But the Wizards lack post presence, as Nene has not been able to stay healthy, Emeka Okafor is not the player he once was, and the Wizards don’t have any reliable back-ups.  This put the onus on Wall, Beal and Porter to carry the offense and both Wall and Porter are inconsistent shooters, which is partially why the Wizards ranked 27th in field goal percentage last season. If the Wizards can attack more, and trade Okafor and/or Ariza for a viable big man, the Wizards could vault themselves from an 8th seed to a 6-7th seed.

3.) Atlanta Hawks

The Paul Milsap signing was a solid move for the Hawks.                                            Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

The Hawks are positioned for a rebuilding year as they let Josh Smith go to Detroit and they fired Larry Drew.  And while the Hawks  have a solid core of Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Lou Williams, they are still several significant upgrades from making the playoffs. In the NBA, there are teams who are consistently mediocre with little potential of advancing but are not the dregs of the league.  The  Atlanta Hawks are the quintessential example. They missed out on Chris Paul and Dwight Howard but signed a nice complimentary piece in Paul Milsap while also re-signing Kyle Korver. The Hawks also had a nice draft by selecting Dennis Schröeder, a talented point guard who could be a surprise ROY and might even take over the starting job from Jeff Teague. He still needs time to adjust to the NBA game but has the potential to be a cornerstone of this franchise. The Hawks are young and need more pieces to be contenders.

4.) Charlotte Bobcats

Will Al Jefferson help the Bobcats move in the right direction? Courtesy of Rotoinfo.com

The Charlotte Bobcats have been the laughing stock of the NBA for years now as they have consistently drafted players who have turned out to be busts including Adam Morrison, Brandan Wright and DJ Augustin.  Fan attendance is low and the Bobcats don’t have a player worth advertising.  Insert Al Jefferson.  Although Jefferson may not be a star, he has a consistent game of 18 points and 9 rebounds per game, solid numbers for a new NBA game that focuses on perimeter play. This signing is  important for the growth of the Bobcats and for showing the fan base that the team can attract free agents.  But even with the Jefferson signing, the Bobcats don’t have enough talent to get out of the lottery, which is a good thing for them as they traded a protected 1st round pick to the Bulls back in 2010 and that pick still has protection until 2016.  The Bobcats also have a Blazers protected top twelve pick and a Pistons protected top eight pick that the Bobcats may get this year as the Blazers and Pistons look to make the playoffs.  Given how stacked the draft is expected to be, a midrange pick could turn into a star, so the Bobcats have a great opportunity on the horizon.  Multiple picks can change the course of their franchise in just one night. This might be the last year for Bobcat nation to root for tanking and hopefully owner Michael Jordan and GM Rich Cho can turn this team around.  As for this season, the Bobcats need Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to find a jumpshot, Cody Zeller to play physical against bigger players and for Kemba Walker to become a more efficient shooter.  I don’t like this team now, but next year, it may be an entirely different story.

5.) Orlando Magic

Will Victor Oladipo play the point or shooting guard for the Magic?              Courtesy of USA Today

The Magic will be one of the worst teams in the NBA, no doubt about it, but they do have some exciting young players such as Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Mo Harkless and Nikola Vucevic. These players will become complimentary pieces to the high first round lottery pick they will draft this year. The question becomes what kind of player will they draft, as Victor Oladipo has played point guard throughout the summer league as well as in preseason.  If the Magic get the #1 overall pick, there is no question who they will take Andrew Wiggins; if they fall to a lower spot, and they think Oladipo will be more of a shooting guard, then the Magic may draft a point guard, potentially Marcus Smart, a player they wanted last year who didn’t declare for the draft.  Other possibilities are Dante Exum, an Australian player with good height and play making ability or Andrew Harrison, a physical guard who can play both guard positions and will know how to play under pressure because he will star for the University of Kentucky this season. The Magic will also get the lesser pick of the Nuggets-Knicks trade that involved Carmelo Anthony, which could turn into another valuable asset. This season will not produce many wins for the Magic but the future is looking brighter.

 

Stats from ESPN/

Top Ten Shooting Guards in the NBA

By: Jon

The shooting guard position is the worst position in the NBA. The shooting guard position has three players who are head and shoulders above everyone else, Harden, Bryant, and Wade. Besides for Harden, the shooting guard position is fairly old and most of the players are on the downside of their careers.

1. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant

The future Hall of Famer and one of the best scorers of all-time is still one of the best players in the league at the age of 34. Although Kobe has played over 45,000 minutes in the NBA, he is a dynamic player who can score against any defender in the league. Although he is coming back from a torn Achilles, Bryant deserves to be the best player on the list because of his past history and success last year. Although Harden had a break out year, his stats were still worst than Kobe’s stats. Last year, Bryant averaged 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game while playing the second most minutes per game in the league. Bryant led SG in points, assists, rebounds, double doubles, and triple doubles. During his career, Kobe scored the fourth most points during his career while winning the MVP once and the scoring title twice. Along with having great individual statistics and accomplishments, he is considered one of the best players of all time because he is a winner and a true warrior. Bryant has been a major part of five championship winning teams, while winning two Finals MVP. Bryant is the fiercest competitor since Jordan. Kobe has showed that he is willing to play through any amount of pain in order to help his team win games.

2. James Harden – Houston Rockets

James Harden
James Harden

The 23 year old Rockets shooting guard has become one of best players in the league because of the opportunity he was given. As Harden continues to grow as a player and become a bigger star in the league the trade that sent him to Houston will look even worse. (Background: Harden was traded to the Rockets for J Lamb, Steven Adams, a first round pick, kevin martin who left via free agency. The OKC Thunder decided to save money so they signed Serge Ibaka instead of Harden last season to an extension. The Thunder could have won a championship however they now look like they cannot win without a third star.) Harden had a great breakout season for the Houston Rockets. Harden is an all around great player because he can score and assist his teammates. James averaged 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. James is an absolute stud, who knows how to close a game and win tight games. Harden has transformed the Rockets from a perennial loser to a team that has the chance to winning the championship.

3. Dwayne Wade – Miami Heat

Dwayne Wade
Dwayne Wade

Dwayne Wade is the last of the three great shooting guards in the NBA. When healthy, Wade is one of the best players in the league because he is one of the best slashers of all time. Wade relentlessly attacks the basket because he is extremely athletic and is great at finishing around the basket. However, Wade’s relentless will causes him to injure himself since he is not a big player. Although Dwayne is no longer a top five or ten player in the league, he still compiled great stats last season, 21.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.1 assists. Wade will continue to be a great player in the league best he works extraordinarily hard to improve his game. If Wade can improve his jump shot, he will continue to be a 20+ point scorer for the next five years because he will not have to attack the basket and injure himself. Like Bryant, Wade is a warrior and a Finals MVP. Wade is one of the first players I would choose if I needed to play one game because he is fearless and always steps up to the challenge.

4. Andre Iguodala – Golden State Warriors

Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala

The veteran shooting guard is one of the most versatile players in the NBA. Iguodala is an extremely talented and athletic player that can play offense and defense at a high level. Although Iggy’s 13.4 points per game is not very impressive, he does not shoot very often because he is more focused on playing defense and helping his teammates. Along with his 13.4 points per game, Andre averaged 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Iguodala showed that he can score points during the postseason when his team needed him to score. During the postseason, Iggy averaged 18.0 points per game while maintaining his other statistics. Iguodala was able to turn his great talents into a massive deal with the Golden State Warriors. Although Iggy does not have the talent like a Wade, Harden, and Bryant, he is a top five shooting guard because he tries really hard and the shooting guard position is not very deep.

5. Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors

Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson

The 23 year old sharp shooter is one of the best shooters in the league. As one of the ‘Splash Bros’, Thompson shoots and converts threes at a ridiculous rate. Although Thompson shoots a lot of threes, he is not solely a three point shooter like other shooting guards in the NBA. Klay showed his diverse skill set during the postseason, which gave him confidence and improved his popularity. Klay has a lot of potential and will be a future star along with Curry and Iggy. Klay Thompson will take a big leap next season if he continues to play with confidence and shoot. If Thompson can take a big step forward this season, the Dubs will be a serious title contender because they have at least six solid players. Since Klay has the potential to be a star in the future, I put him ahead of other shooting guards that have similar skill and numbers.

6. JR Smith – New York Knicks

JR Smith
JR Smith

The 2013 NBA Sixth Man of the Year had a great season for the New York Knicks. JR Smith is one of the most skilled and exciting players in the whole NBA. However, he is not the most consistent player in the league, which significantly hurts his value as a player. One night Smith can score 30 points and look like a star. However, the next night he can look like an absolute scrub who shoots way too much and makes stupid mistakes. Still, Smith is a player that almost every team would love to come off of the bench and provide energy to the team. Last year, Smith averaged a career high in points, 18.1, rebounds, 5.3, and minutes, 33.5, per game during his breakout season. Along with having the ability to score a lot of points, Smith can play solid defense against many different players because he is strong and big. Smith can be a solid and useful piece to a championship team if he can stay focused and is used correctly off of the bench.

7. DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors

DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan

The 23 year old shooting guard had a breakout year for the Toronto Raptors. Like other shooting guards, DeRozan is a good scorer, but is not great at other aspects of the game. Last season, DeRozan had a solid year averaging 18.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. Although DeRozan has not played a lot on national television, he is a talented player who can score frequently against an defender. I expect DeMar to grow as a player because he will be given the ball a lot and will not be pressured to win because the Raptors are in rebuilding mode. The Raptors will let DeRozan grow as a player this season so that he can be a future star in the league. In the future, DeMar should be a consistent 20 point scorer in the league. DeRozan is one of the few young shooting guards who will be a borderline star in the future because he is a good scorer in the NBA.

8. Joe Johnson – Brooklyn Nets

Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson

The veteran shooting guard has been one of the best shooting guard in the league over the last decade. Although Joe has been one of the most consistent and dominant scorers over the last ten years, Joe is on the down side of his career. Last year, Johnson scored on 16.3 points per game while shooting 42.3% from the field, both stats are the worst since his second year in the league. Johnson had a horrible year because he was adjusting to a new offense and he was injured for most of the season with a nagging foot injury. Although Joe will never score like his days with Atlanta, Joe can be a top ten shooting guard because he can score and play defense. If Johnson becomes a more efficient scorer and can learn how to become more of a spot up shooter, Johnson can score close to 20 or 19 points again. Although he is old, he still posted a positive defensive win share because he is tall and an intelligent player. Even though Johnson may not have the endurance to be successful for a whole game, he showed that he can be clutch when the game is on the line and the Nets need a bucket to win or tie. Most of the shooting guards on this list do not have the pedigree or past success as Johnson.

9. Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls

Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler

The young, athletic shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls should have a long and successful career  for the Chicago Bulls. Although Jimmy Butler does not have the track record like other shooting guards, Butler might have the most potential among the young shooting guards besides for Harden. Jimmy has already distinguished himself as one of the best back court defenders in the league because he is strong, long, and quick. During the regular season last year, Butler did not have a good statistical year, 8.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. However, Butler exploded in the postseason because he was given more minutes and opportunities. During the postseason, Jimmy averaged 40.8 minutes, 13.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Butler was an absolute bull dog and warrior during his series against the Miami Heat. Besides for averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, and chasing around the league’s best player, Lebron James, Jimmy Butler played the full 48 minutes three times during the 5 game series while only resting for a combined 19 minutes. Over the next 5-6 years, Butler has the chance to turn into one of the top five shooting guards in the league because of his talent and determination.

10. OJ Mayo – Milwaukee Bucks

OJ Mayo
OJ Mayo

The newest addition to the Bucks will have the chance to be the primary option on offense for the Bucks. During his lone year with the Dallas Mavericks, OJ showed that he could score a lot of points when given the opportunity to shoot and control the ball. Since coming out of USC five years ago, scouts have raved about his potential as a scorer because he is skilled and has good physical attributes. After posting two solid season during his first two years in the league, Mayo stats significantly dropped the following two years. However, last year Mayo saw an increase in points, FG percentage, 3 point percentage, rebounds, assists, and minutes. During the first quarter of the season, Mayo was averaging close to 20 points per game because he was the catalyst of the Maverick’s offense while Dirk was injured. However, his dropped when he was not the star of the offense and he finished at around 16 points per game. Next year, Mayo will be given the most shots on a bad Bucks team so I expect a lot of point and other statistical increases during his first year in Milwaukee.

 

pics and stats from espn.com and basketball reference.com