Tag Archives: Lance Stephenson

Predictions for Major Awards in the NBA

The NBA season is coming to an end as many teams have finished about 75% of their schedule. Along with having debates about which team will win the championship or go far in the playoffs, many NBA fans are debating which players should win the major awards in the NBA, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and MVP. Unlike previous seasons, this year’s race should be incredibly close, especially for the DPOY, COY, and MVP.

Rookie of the Year: Michael Carter Williams

 

MCW hopes to win the ROY
MCW hopes to win the ROY

The 11th pick in the draft has been an absolute steal for the 76ers this season. After a horrible NCAA tournament, many questioned if MCW could really be a successful player in the NBA, although he has incredible length and came out of Syracuse. Since the start of the season, MCW has proved his doubters wrong and has excelled in every facet of the game. Currently, Michael is the best among rookies in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and minutes per game. Michael is able to succeed because he is 6’6″, incredibly long, looks to pass first, and has the ability to explode past his defender. It is amazing that Michael has been able to surprise so many prognosticators because he is on the second worst team in the league and is asked to do everything for the 76ers. Although Michael is not shooting very well, 40%, more experience and better talent from his teammates will take pressure off of his shoulders and allow him to take better shots and improve his shooting percentage. On defense, Michael uses his length and knowledge of the passing lanes to record 2 steals per game, which is ranked 4th in the entire league. Besides Carter Williams, the other rookies that have a chance to win the award with a great 20 games are Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo. Since Trey Burke returned from injury, the Jazz have significantly improved and Burke has been the catalyst on offense. Burke is averaging nearly 13 points, 5.5 assists, and 1 steal per game. The rookie should continue to grow in the future with his fellow teammates, who are young like himself. The second overall pick, Victor Oladipo has been consistent throughout the entire season. Although he is not a natural point guard, he has assumed the position because Jameer Nelson has not been very good this season. Oladipo is averaging 14 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game on a dreadful Magic squad. Oladipo is a great athlete, which has enabled him to play quality defense for a rookie. Oladipo should become a borderline All-Star in the future because he has improved during every season since his freshman year at Indiana.

Coach of the Year: Terry Stotts

With Stotts the Blazers have made a total 180
With Stotts the Blazers have made a total 180

The first year coach of the Portland Trail Blazers has led the team to the fifth best record in the NBA. Last season, the Trail Blazers had a quality start to the year, but toward the end of the season they fell out of the playoff race and suffered numerous injuries to important players. This season was important for the Trail Blazers because they had to convince LaMarcus Aldridge to stay in Portland. Luckily for the Blazers, Stotts has completely turned around the Trail Blazers this season. Although they had a lot of talent, Stotts has enabled them to play together and has given Damian Lillard the best chance to lead the offense. Stotts has allowed the Trail Blazers to play a style of basketball that would best fit their abilities. The Trail Blazers play an incredibly fast paced style of basketball, which has enabled them to gain a lot of possessions, score a lot of points, but allow a lot of points as well. The Trail Blazers have 41 wins and are third in the West while accumulating the most points and rebounds per game and the fifth most assists per game. Although Portland allows the 25th most points per game, they score 5 more points per game than the give up in each contest. Stotts has elevated the bench into quality players, Lillard into a star, and Aldridge into one of the best players in the league and a MVP candidate. It will be interesting to see if Stotts can make the necessary adjustments to lead the young talented roster to wins in the playoffs. Also, Stotts must teach his players how to play a slower game as their current style of play does not work in the playoffs against top notch competition and great defenses. Besides Stotts, Tom Thibideau the coach of the Bulls, should finish in second and Jeff Hornacek, the coach of the Suns, should receive the third most votes among coaches.

Most Improved Player: Lance Stephenson

The improvement of Lance has led the Pacers to the best record in the east
The improvement of Lance has led the Pacers to the best record in the east

Although he is only 23 years old, Davis has ascended to stardom in his second year of play as a starter. The second round pick from the 2010 draft did not play much during his first two seasons, but was finally able to get a chance to play last season due to the injury of Danny Granger. Lance has transformed himself from a 12th man to a borderline All-Star shooting guard that can fill the stat sheet in every category. During the playoffs last season, Stephenson first bursted onto the scene because of his quality play against the Knicks and the Heat. This season, Lance has improved almost every facet of his game, including points, assists, rebounds, shooting percentage, three point percentage, defensive rating, offensive rating, and win shares. This year, Lance is averaging 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 50% shooting percentage, and 35% from the three point line. This year, Stephenson has recorded 4 triple doubles, the fourth most in the league, which displays his ability to do everything on a court. In terms of  advance metrics, Stephenson has an offensive rating of 108, defensive rating of 99, and 6.5 wins shares. Although the season is not over, Stephenson has already past his career high in wins shares. Stephenson’s success on both ends of the court has enabled the Pacers to have more options on offense and play great defense. Also, Stephenson allowed the Pacers to move on without the services of Danny Granger and his albatross of a contract. Thus, they were able to garner another offensive weapon, Evan Turner, that should help the team score in the playoffs. Lance should be able to continue his success in the playoffs while the Pacers attempt to win a championship because he does not hide from the pressure and has proven that he can perform in the clutch, offensively and defensively. Besides Sir Lancelot, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are in contention for the award as well. Davis has become one of the best players in the league, although he is only 20 years old. He averages more than 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game, which displays his ability to play great offense and defense. Cousins, like Davis, has become a star in the league because he is a stud at center. Cousins is averaging over 22 and 11, although he does not have much help on the Kings.

Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford

The 14 year vet hopes to win his first major award
The 14 year vet hopes to win his first major award

The 14 year veteran has become one of the most lethal shooters off of the bench, which has made him one of the most valuable players in the league. This season, Crawford is having one of best seasons of his career, although he is playing less minutes than earlier in his career. When Paul was forced out of the lineup for multiple weeks due to injury, Crawford’s ability to score and attract double teams enabled the Clippers to keep afloat in the fierce and competitive Western Conference. In total, Crawford is averaging 19 points, 3.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.4 threes per game. Like many other productive sixth man, Crawford plays over 30 minutes per game. Although Crawford has the skill and productiveness to start for the high flying Clippers, his ability to generate points with the second unit, which grows the lead built by the starters or cuts into the opponent’s lead when the starters do not have success on a certain night. At the end of games, Crawford is incredibly important to the Clippers because he is another scorer that can stretch the floor and make open shots when Paul dishes the rock. Crawford is clutch and has shown the aptitude to score as the clock winds down at the end of games. Besides Crawford, guards Manu Ginobili and Reggie Jackson will compete for the award as the season winds to an end. Ginobili has been the most consistent 6th man over the last decade, which has made the Spurs a great team. Ginobili has the ability to score and run the offense when the Spurs starters are in the bench. Similar to Jamal Crawford, Reggie Jackson allowed the Thunder to maintain their best record in the West while Russell Westbrook was injured with a knee injury. Although he started in Westbrook’s absences, he is a true sixth man and should be in consideration for the award. When Westbrook went down last season in the postseason, Jackson showed fans and experts around the league that he could be a starter in the league and is a great backup for Russell. Jackson is really quick, which enables him to get to the basket and sets teammates up for easy shots. Jackson adds nice offense and ball movement to the Thunder second unit. Jackson should finish third in the vote as long as he continues his success in the future.

Defensive Player of the Year: Roy Hibbert

Hibbert hopes to win his first of many DPOY
Hibbert hopes to win his first of many DPOY

The big man for the Pacers has become one of the best all around centers in the league because he has great length and athleticism, which allows him to dominate smaller centers on offense and stop centers and driving guards inside the paint. Although Hibbert does not grab a lot of rebounds for a center who is 7’2″ 278, 7.4 rebounds per game, he plays great defense. This year, Hibbert is ranked top 4 in blocks per game, defensive rating, and defensive wins shares, which shows that the basic stats and the saber metrics favor Hibbert. Currently Hibbert is averaging 2.4 blocks per game. Although the number is ranked 4th in the league, it does not accurately depict how great a shot blocker he is in the league. Hibbert’s length and skill affects every shot in the paint, which is difficult to realize, unless one watches the games. Last season during the playoffs, Hibbert portrayed his ability to defend players inside the paint, without fouling, because he goes straight up without hitting players during their shots. Hibbert’s defensive rating, 95.7 second in the NBA, and win shares, 4.2 fourth in the NBA, shows that he is definitely worthy of the award. If Hibbert can maintain his success by anchoring the best defense in the NBA and accumulates more rebounds, nobody will be able to strip the award from him this season. Outside of Hibbert, many other competitors such as Paul George, Serge Ibaka, DeAndre Jordan, and LeBron James will receive multiple votes for their defensive prowess. Since George is not a center, the position that normally wins the award, he will be overlooked by voters when it is time to turn in their ballots. George currently ranks first in defensive win shares and third in defensive rating while recording the ninth most steals per game. George has the athleticism and length to stop the team’s best wing or backcourt score. The combination of George, Stephenson, and Hibbert is the reason why the Pacers’ defense is so dominant and stingy. Although it may hurt each other’s cases, George and Hibbert should finish first and second in this year’s race. If either player falters down the stretch or does not put the same effort on defense, the dark horse for the award is DeAndre Jordan. Although Jordan has always been a great shot blocker because of his hops and length, he has refined his game and become one of the best interior defenders in the game. Jordan is ranked eighth in defensive rating, third in defensive win shares, third in blocks per game, and first in rebounds per game, with an incredible 14 rebounds per game. Jordan has made significant strides with his rebounding because he previous high was only 8.3 rebounds per game. Like Jordan, Serge Ibaka is a great defensive interior player and is one of the best shot blockers in the league. Ibaka can defend almost everyone on the court because he is extremely athletic. Serge has improved his defensive rebounding, which should allow him to garner a defensive player award in the future. LeBron has always been great at defense because he is the most physically gifted player in NBA history. Since LeBron is a great overall player, especially on offense, his defense is frequently overlooked, which will keep him from winning this award this year and in the future.

Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant

KD has been beyond great this season and deserves to be rewarded with the MVP
KD has been beyond great this season and deserves to be rewarded with the MVP

In the tightest MVP race in recent memory, Kevin Durant and LeBron James will be fighting tooth and nail to the finish line for the award. James has won 4 of the last 5 MVP, although he should have won the last five much to the chagrin of Bulls’ fans because he has led the NBA in win shares the past five seasons. However, this season, Durant has taken over the lead in win shares with almost 15 wins. Although Durant has taken the win share lead, James is still having a great season with 12.2 win shares. Although Durant has been considered the best offensive player in the league for the past few years because of the points he scores, this is the first time that he is leading James in offensive win shares or offensive rating in his career. While Durant has continued scoring, on pace to win his fourth scoring title in five years, he is improving his shooting percentage, scoring, and assists per game. After setting a career last season with 4.6 assists per game, Durant is bound to record another career high with 5.5 assists per game. Although James is known as a better passer and rebounder, he has recorded only 0.7 assists per game more than Durant and has less rebounds per game than Durant. As previous seasons, Durant is averaging more points, 31.7, than James, 27.4. Although James is prided for his shooting efficiency, 58%, while Durant shoots 51% from the field, one must look at the more advance stats to see the true comparison. In terms of true shooting percentage, James only shoots 2% better than Durant when one takes into account threes, twos, and free throws. The big difference between previous seasons is that Durant has cut the defensive difference between himself and James. Like the offensive stats, Durant has a higher defensive rating and defensive win shares than James, which is the first time in his career. Durant has a defensive rating and win shares of 102 and 3.7 respectively, which is more favorable than James’ 105 rating and 2.5 win shares. Durant has learned to use his new found strength, athleticism, and length to stop opposing scorers all around the court. Lastly, Durant has been able to lead his team to a better record in a tougher conference without his best teammate for much of the season. This season, Durant has literally put the Thunder on his back and lead them to the best record in the league and three more wins than the Heat. While James has been without Wade for much of the season, Durant has been without Westbrook for over half of the season. Also, at this point in his career, Westbrook is a better player than Wade because he is more explosive. Since Ibaka is not a major offensive contributor and the Thunder were without their starting point guard, Durant had to score more points and facilitate the offense. Although it is a close race and the lead may change a few times before the end of the year, Durant should finish the season with the award because he is the best player on the best team and the statistics defend Durant’s case to win his first major award. Although the top two spots will either be occupied by James or Durant, the race for the number three spot will be very interesting. Currently, the leader is probably Blake Griffin. Although he is not the best player on his team, he was able to lead the Clippers without Chris Paul for much of the season because Paul was sidelined by injury. Griffin has matured as a player and a man, which has helped him lead his team and improve his stats. Fourth in the voting will be Paul George. George has exploded this season after exploding onto the scene last year. George has significantly improved his offense while his defense has reached an elite level. George is the best player on the Pacers, who have the second best record in the league. Although George was in the MVP race earlier in the season, he has been worse as of late, but he must return to his high level if the Pacers are going to win the championship. Fifth in the race is LaMarcus Aldridge. Before the season, Aldridge asked out of Portland, but this year has been great for himself and the Trail Blazers. Aldridge is scoring and rebounding at a high level while leading the Blazers to an amazing and surprising start in the West.

 

pics and stats from ESPN.com and Basketball-Reference

 

 

 

 

Five Trades that Knicks should consider for Carmelo Anthony

By: Jon

 

With a week to go before the NBA Trade Deadline, February 20, the Knicks need to look at their current position. The biggest decision they need to make is whether to keep Melo on the roster and risk losing him to free agency or trade him and begin the rebuilding process. Although many felt that Melo would retire a Knick after he arrived in New York, the recent Knick struggles make fans worry that Melo will bolt this offseason to a team with more talent and a more optimistic future. Unfortunately for the Knicks, they have $50 million locked up in Andrea Bargnani, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. These three are vastly overpaid, which will make next season another tough year for Melo and the Knicks. If the Knicks trade Anthony, they will be looking for cap space, young talent, and draft picks. Since the Knicks do not have many future first round picks, they need to sign free agents at the end of the year. I have outlined 5 realistic trades that could give the Knicks more cap flexibility, young players, and picks. All of the trades are contingent on Carmelo Anthony signing a long term deal so that the Knicks can receive full value. Although next season will be a tough year, they will have money to sign big free agents like Rondo, Aldridge, Irving, Love, Marc Gasol, and other free agents that pick up their player options this season.

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Trade number 1:

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 9.50.41 AM

New York Knicks receive: Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Al-Farouq Aminu, and 2015 first round pick

New Orleans Pelicans receive: Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith

Why the Knicks would want this trade: If the Melo leaves, the Knicks would receive nothing for their best player. In this trade, the Knicks will garner a nice young player, a quality rotational player, minor cap relief, and a future first round pick. Although Gordon is not posting the same stats that he accumulated with the Clippers, he has a lot of talent and is still only 25 years old. This season, Gordon has been healthy. Although Gordon is not posting great numbers, he has not been given many shots because he is the third option on offense behind Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. However, his win shares are on pace to resemble his win shares during his best seasons. Also, it is well documented that he is not happy in New Orleans, which takes away from his effort. Gordon is set to enter his prime and should be an attractive option for other All-Stars to play with in New York. Along with Gordon, the Knicks will receive stretch forward Ryan Anderson. Ryan Anderson’s scoring numbers have improved during every season of his career. Before an injury this season, Anderson was averaging 19 points per game with 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 threes per game on 41% shooting from down town. Anderson would be a great role player on a playoff or championship team because he stretches the defense and can provide instant offense off of the bench. Although he is paid a lot, 17 million over the nest two season, he is a valuable player that the Knicks would want coming off of their bench during press filled situations. The Knicks will be gaining some cap space because they will be able to rid themselves of JR Smith’s horrible contract and Aminu will be a free agent after this season. The 2015 first round pick could be valuable for the Knicks because the rookies are cheap talent and the 2015 draft class looks pretty deep, although it is premature.

 

Why the Pelicans would want this trade: The Pelicans are a team on the rise and Carmelo Anthony could make them a legitimate threat in the West. Although the Pelicans are 6 games under .500, they have talent on their roster and one of the best young players in the NBA. This season, Anthony Davis has taken the biggest step forward of any player in the NBA. Currently, Davis is averaging over 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Davis has the potential to be a player like Kevin Garnett because he has great athleticism, has the ability to score on offense, and plays great defense that will win him a Defensive Player of the Year award in the future. Along with Davis, the Pelicans have Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. Holiday made his first All-Star team last season and is having another quality season this year. Tyreke has talent, but he has been unable to produce like his rookie season in the league. The addition of Carmelo Anthony will give the Pelicans another legit star to play with Anthony Davis. The duo has the ability to grow over the next few seasons, which will enable them to compete with the Thunder, Rockets, and Golden State. If Evans can return to his former form with the Kings, they have a chance to actually compete for an NBA championship. Also, if they can turn around JR Smith career, he could provide another weapon. The Pelicans may have a chance to sign Anthony because of the talent and opportunity that they could give him in the future.

 

Trade number 2:

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 6.07.41 PM

New York Knicks receive:  Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, Bradley Beal, 2015 first round pick, and 2017 first round pick

Washington Wizards receive: Carmelo Anthony

Why the Knicks would want this trade: Although the Knicks would not be receiving the same amount of talent in this deal, they will be given more cap space for the future and more draft picks. The center piece of this deal would be Bradley Beal. The second year shooting guard has a lot of talent and could be a future star in the league. After a strong rookie year when he scored nearly 14 points and shot 41% from the field, Beal has significantly improved this season while averaging 17.1 points, 3.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting a higher percentage from the field and over 40% from the three point line. Beal is only 20 years old and is on his rookie deal, which will enable the Knicks to sign other players to play around Beal while he grows into a superstar. The Knicks will be able to net two first round picks in the deal, which should prove to be beneficial as they rebuild and reshape the image of their team. Although neither pick will be for this draft, which has been labeled as one of the best crops in years, the draft picks should develop into at least rotational players, if the Knicks select the right players. The Knicks will gain two expiring contract totaling $15.5 million, which could help them sign a player this offseason. If the Knicks choose to save this money for the following offseason, they will have about $17 million in salaries which should give them about 40-50 to sign players in free agency. The Knicks could possibly sign max players in free agency, which could totally change the fortunes of their team.

 

Why the Wizards would want this trade: The Wizards have been an embarrassment and a horrible team for the last few decades. However, this season, they are showing signs of life because of John Wall. The fourth year point guard is becoming one of the best young players in the league and should become a superstar in the near future. This year, Wall is nearly averaging 20 points, 8.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds,  and 2.0 steals per game. However, Wall does not have another superstar player that could help him take the Wizards to the next level. Although Beal has talent, he is not a superstar yet. Anthony could be the player that pushes the Wizards from the 5th or 6th best team in the East to one that could compete with the Pacers and Heat. Anthony has never played with another player with the talent like John Wall. Wall is only 23 years old, which means his best basketball is still ahead of him. Along with Wall, Anthony would be reunited with Nene, who is a quality big man. Anthony would probably be willing to sign an extension with the Wizards because they have a good core and Washington is a big city where he can expand his brand. Also, he grew up in Baltimore, which is only 1 hour away from Washington DC. The Wizards would still be under the salary cap, which would enable them to sign another starter or quality player to help them contend with the other teams in the East.

 

Trade number 3:

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 3.21.53 PM

New York Knicks receive: Lance Stephenson, Danny Granger, Luis Scola, Rasual Butler, 2015 first round pick, 2014 second round pick, and 2015 second round pick

Indiana Pacers receive: Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton

Why the Knicks would want this trade: Besides acquiring young talent, the Knicks can succeed by garnering more draft picks and drafting good players. The main piece that the Knicks would receive is Lance Stephenson. This season, Stephenson is competing for the most improved player of the year award. After playing well in the postseason last year, he has been great this year and does everything on the court to help a team win games and championships. This year, Sir Lancelot is averaging 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.1 assists while shooting over 50% from the field. Lance is only the fourth option on the Pacers, which makes his numbers even more impressive. Along with playing good offense, Stephenson is a great defensive player and ranks inside the top 8 in the league in both defensive rating and defensive win shares. Along with Stephenson, the Knicks would receive Danny Granger. Granger has an expiring contract, but the Knicks may be inclined to sign him to a low risk deal because of his past history and talent. After two years of irrelevance, he should be healthy and ready to become an All-Star again. Along with Granger, Scola is a very good player. The Knicks could use the first round pick to acquire more young players. If the Knicks are willing to be patient, they could draft two international players and stash them in the European Leagues until they are ready for the big leagues. In todays’ NBA, more second rounds picks are performing in the NBA. Also, international players, who were drafted in the second round, have a significant amount of value.

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Why the Pacers would want this trade: The Pacers already have the second best record in the NBA, but that does not mean they do not need to improve. Although the Pacers have been great this season, they have shown vulnerability lately. The occasional problem with the Pacers has been their inability to score. If the Pacers add Anthony, they would be nearly unbeatable because they already have the best defense in the league. Although George has been great this season and has greatly improved his scoring ability, it has not been seen if he can consistently lead the Pacers and score enough points to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. Anthony would take a lot of pressure off of George down the stretch of games. Although the loss of Stephenson may slightly diminish their defensive metrics, they would still be a top three defense in the NBA. The Pacers could fit Anthony in their starting rotation because they could slide George to the two position. The Pacers would be able to put an extremely tall lineup, Hill, George, Anthony, West, and Hibbert, which would be difficult for opposing teams to match because they have athleticism, defense, offense, and versatility. The Pacers could also go to a smaller lineup by putting Anthony at the 4 to match other teams like the Heat or Nets. The addition of Felton will allow the Pacers to have another quality point guard, if Hill becomes injured or struggles. If the Pacers are willing to spend extra money because of luxury taxes, they will have a chance to be a dynasty because they have so much talent and physicality that other teams cannot stop.

 

Trade number 4:

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 4.19.11 PM

New York Knicks receive: Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Kris Humphries, and 2015 first round pick

Chicago Bulls receive: Carmelo Anthony and Phil Pressey

Boston Celtics receive: Carlos Boozer and 2014 Bulls protected first round pick (via Sacramento)

Why the Knicks would want this trade: The Knicks are almost totally devoid of young talent, but this trade would net them two young players. Taj Gibson, 28, and Jimmy Butler, 24, are two players that have significantly improved their games since Derrick Rose went down with his second knee injury. Last year, Butler showed his ability as a good two way player, who could become a quality starter in the future. Butler is strong, physical, and big, which allows him to play defense against any offensive player in the league. This year, Butler is averaging 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 2.2 assists per game. If Butler was with the Knicks, he would be given more opportunities on offense to show his talents. Along with Butler, Gibson has taken a significant step forward this season. This year, Gibson is totaling 12.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. However, his numbers have dramatically increased lately because he has been given more time and touches during the game. Like Butler, Gibson is a good defensive player that could change the dynamic of the Knicks. The trio of Butler, Chandler, and Gibson would make the team more defensively oriented. This trade would change the team’s dynamic and attitude from a team that plays with more finesse to a team that plays physically and puts fear into their opponents. Along with the players, Kris Humphries’ expiring contract and the future first round pick will provide the team with more assets as they potentially build a championship team in the future.

Why the Bulls would want this trade: The Bulls may be able to get Anthony during free agency, which would make this deal unnecessary. However, if the Bulls want to guarantee Anthony and possibly make a run this season, they should make a trade during the deadline. Also, the deal will allow them to rid themselves of Boozer without using their amnesty and wasting $32 million. The Bulls will never be able to compete with the other powers in the NBA with just Derrick Rose. Although Noah is taking steps forward, he is not a superstar because of his limitations on offense. Although his passing skills improve his offensive value, the number of passing opportunities will decrease when Rose returns from injury. Also, the Bulls do not know whether Rose can return to his prior form. Anthony would take a lot of pressure off Rose to do everything on offense. The Bulls are constantly stagnant on offense, even when Rose is in the game. A second scoring option, who could shoot like Anthony, will open the lanes for Rose to drive and find cutters like Noah or shooters like Anthony and Dunleavy on the outside for threes or long jumpers. The addition would put the Bulls over the Pacers, who possess similar defensive intensity, but would not have the offensive skill to match Rose and Anthony. With Anthony, Rose, Noah, and Thibs, the Bulls could start their own dynasty again for the next few seasons. Although the Bulls will be losing young players and draft picks, they may not get another chance to acquire a top 15 player in the league again.

Why the Celtics would want this trade: The Celtics are in full rebuilding mode and will look to acquire draft picks through any means necessary. Although they would rather not have to surrender an expiring deal like Humphries for Boozer, who has another year and is owed $15 million, it is unlikely that they will sign any free agents this summer. With Boozer and Rondo, the Celtics will be at least respectable.

 

Trade number 5:

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New York Knicks receive: Emeka Okafor, Klay Thompson, Miles Plumlee, Archie Goodwin, 2015 first round pick (via Warriors), and 2014 second round pick (via Lakers)

Golden State Warriors receive: Carmelo Anthony, 2014 second round pick (via Raptors), 2015 second round pick from the Suns, and JR Smith

Suns receive: David Lee, Marreese Speights, and Jermaine O’Neal

 

Why the Knicks would want this trade: The Knicks would be receiving a lot of assets through this trade. The most prominent player would be Klay Thompson, a member of the ‘Splash Brothers’. Klay is a 24 year old shooting guard that has improved during each of his first three seasons. This season, Klay is averaging 18.3 points, 2.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 41% from the three point arc. Last season, Klay is third in the league in three pointers, but this season he is second in threes, behind his teammate Steph Curry. Last season, Klay was able to succeed during the playoffs, which made him more of a household name. This year, Klay is averaging more win share per 48 minutes than any other season in his career. With the Knicks, he could become more of a star and move out of the shadow of Curry. Along with Klay, Miles and Archie would be good players that the Knicks could use to rebuild. This season, Archie has not been given a lot of time to play. However, he is only a 19 year old rookie with a lot of talent. The Knicks could give him more time to play and improve. Plumlee has been given more time with the Suns and has significantly improved since last year. Plumlee is averaging 9 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. Plumlee is a young big that could develop into a strong physical player that the Knicks desperately need inside the paint. The future picks and cap space will help them develop more players and become a championship contender.

Why the Warriors would want this trade: Although the Warriors are 9 games over 500 and have a lot of talent, they are ranked 8th in the tightly contest West. The Warriors need more help if they are going to come out of the West and compete for a championship. The Warriors have been looking for a top 15 star over the past few off seasons. Although Curry has developed into a top 15 player, they could use another superstar to beat the Spurs, Thunder, Pacers, and Heat. Anthony will make the Warriors offense nearly unstoppable. Since it is impossible to double Curry and Anthony on offense, they will both have open shots or their teammates will be given more shots. The Warriors will be able to play smaller and quicker with Anthony at the 4 instead of Lee. Also the second round picks will enable them to either get young cheap players or acquire foreign talent and wait for the players to develop into quality NBA talent. Lastly, JR Smith will have less pressure to consistently score and be a number two like on the Knicks. Smith would be a fourth or fifth option, which will give him more shots and be a more consistent player with the Warriors. If Smith plays at his best, he could replicate Thompson’s production.

Why the Suns would want this trade: The Suns have surprised the NBA this season and could use more talent in order to make the playoffs and succeed. The Suns have been looking for more talent before the trade deadline. Lee would give the Suns a legitimate scoring option inside the paint. Also, the loss of draft picks will not be bad for the Suns because they basically have every other pick in the first round. This draft, they have the possibility to have 4 picks if they do not trade a pick. With Lee, Bledsoe and Dragic would not pressured to score as often from the outside. The extra offense skill will significantly help the Suns and improve their chances of making the playoffs.

 

Pics and stats from ESPN.com

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5 Biggest Takeaways from the NBA so far

By: Evan

1.) New York basketball is the abyss of the NBA

Both New York teams came into the season with high hopes but have disappointed tremendously. Courtesy of BKMagazine
Both New York teams came into the season with high hopes, but have disappointed tremendously.
Courtesy of BKMagazine

This summer was exciting for both New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets fans as they both thought they had a serious chance to challenge the Miami Heat and potentially win an NBA title. Well, welcome to reality New Yorkers, both of your teams are below .500 and don’t have much hope for the future.

Let’s first start off with Brooklyn, the Nets made some supposedly huge offseason moves acquiring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry for Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph and first round picks in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Pundits deemed Garnett and Pierce, “the experience” that the Nets needed to defeat the Heat. Now people are seeing that “experience” really means “old-age” and the scoring numbers for Pierce and Garnett have drastically decreased from 12.3 ppt to 6.7 ppg.  Deron Williams has constant ankle injuries, and now with Brook Lopez gone to a season-ending surgery on his broken foot, the Nets are going to have to rely on bench players for the majority of their scoring. The other huge problem for the Brooklyn Nets is Jason Kidd and his inexperience as a head coach.  GM Billy King and owner Mikhail Prokhorov took a chance on Kidd, and now the gamble has failed.  The soda-spilling scandal and the swift removal of Lawrence Frank as an assistant coach has shown that Kidd is not ready to coach any NBA team.

Now on to the Knicks, who face a huge decision on whether to trade Carmelo Anthony before the February deadline because of Melo’s impending free agency. Melo has already been quoted as saying he is planning to test his free agency, so why wouldn’t the Knicks shop around their lone star?  It is clear that the Knicks have a long way to go before becoming remotely relevant in the championship picture, and trading Melo might aid that process. If the Knicks can land a high first round pick or a young talent under contract for Melo, it would enable the franchise to make more strategic offseason moves. On the court the Knicks struggles are laughable, they rank 25th in points per game and 22nd in adjusted field goal percentage. J.R. Smith is shooting 34% from the field and is only getting to the free throw line 1.7 times per game, showing how inefficient a scorer he is.  Mike Woodson might be the first coach fired this year,  the Knicks 9-19 record is a harbinger of needed changes — and lots of them.

2.) The Portland Trailblazers are for real

LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard deserve respect as one of the best point-forward duos in the league. Courtesy of AP
LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard deserve respect as one of the best point-forward duos in the league.
Courtesy of AP

From the disappointing NYC teams to the emerging Portland Trailblazers, who I didn’t pick to make the playoffs this year. To quote the famous rapper The Notorious B.I.G “If you don’t know, now you know” — and this applies perfectly to the Blazers as they have started the season off at a league best 24-5, all while hiding amongst the elite teams in the Western Conference throughout preseason predictions. The Blazers are led by their two should-be all stars, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, who together average 44 points per game. These two provide a lethal pick and roll game with LaMarcus’ ability to knock down 15-20 footers and Lillard’s ability to  driving and score or step out and hit threes. Playing in Portland, most East coast basketball fans don’t see the Blazers play, but I urge you to try. They are fun and exciting and have players who will compete with anyone in the league. There have been discussions about LaMarcus Aldridge as a possible MVP candidate, and we all saw Damian Lillard preform last year by winning ROY. The only question for the Blazers is their bench as the starters average 85 points per game while the team averages 108 points per game. Rookie CJ McCollum is expected to come back soon and he might provide a spark off the bench, but if he doesn’t, the Blazers might need to trade for a sixth man who can score the rock. The Blazers are coming folks, whether you know it or not.

3.) Rivalries are Real

Anyone who says there are no rivalries in the NBA are clearly delusional. Courtesy of Washington Post
Anyone who says there are no rivalries in the NBA is clearly living in the past. 
Courtesy of The Washington Post

Ok, the NBA has had storied rivalries like Bulls-Knicks, Celtics-Lakers, Pacers-Knicks/Bulls, Lakers-Kings and the Detroit Bad Boys against almost everyone, so you might think that era is over.  But look again.  There are simmering rivalries in today’s NBA, and the animosity is clear among certain teams and players.   For instance, the Clippers-Warriors have featured skirmishes involving Blake Griffin with Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green as well as DeAndre Jordan’s near fight with Bogut. The coaches, Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson, aren’t the best of friends and the two teams won’t even go to chapel together. In their last two games alone, there have been seven technical fouls called with two ejections. It would be difficult to make a case that these two teams don’t play a little bit rougher when the face each other.  Another rivalry resides in South Beach and Indiana as these two teams clearly see themselves as the Eastern Conference’s top teams.  Paul George was even quoted as saying that his preparation in the offseason was for the Miami Heat. Indiana believes that they can defeat the Heat and are trying to send messages through regular season victories. Miami has consistently downplayed the Pacers’ talk, citing the fact that championships aren’t won during the winter months. And while the Pacers-Heat rivalry hasn’t been as physically bruising as the Clippers-Warriors sparring, the potential for hard fouling is huge.  The Pacers may be the strongest team in the league, and LeBron is the NBA’s best.  Let’s just hope we see a playoff series between both the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers and a Eastern Conference Final between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat.

4.) Top Teams Tanking

More ping pong balls, more chances to win the lottery. Courtesy of NBA.com
More ping pong balls, more chances to win the lottery.
Courtesy of NBA.com

With the upcoming loaded NBA draft class there has been discussion about whether tanking is fair and strategic or embarrassing for the league. My opinion is simple — bad teams especially in smaller markets such as Utah, Charlotte, Orlando and Milwaukee, don’t necessary attract the huge free agents like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or Miami.  These smaller market teams try to build through the draft just like the Thunder did.  Listen to the Supersonics/Thunder’s draft picks since 2007, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden (the trade was dumb but they did net Jeremy Lamb), Eric Bledsoe (traded to LAC now with PHX), Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones III and Steven Adams. They found two franchise changers and some tremendously talented role players all through the draft and even traded some pieces to fit the Thunder’s system. So when teams tank and perform poorly, it is usually not a reflection of the team’s desire, but a plan devised by the front office to find young players who can contribute in the future.  Rebuilding by tearing down is a viable strategic option for smaller markets who don’t have the resources to attract top free agents.  Who knows, with some luck of ping-pong balls and the development of the right players, Utah or Milwaukee could be the next OKC.

5.) The Pacers are the best team in the NBA

Paul George has the Pacers flexing their muscles as the NBA's best team. Courtesy of Indystar
Paul George has the Pacers flexing their muscles as the NBA’s best team.
Courtesy of Indystar.com

While the Portland Trail Blazers have the NBA’s best record, the Pacers are the NBA’s best team.  The Pacers get my vote for best team because of their overall depth and intense defensive mentality. Paul George is no longer a star on the rise, he is firmly entrenched as one of the league’s best players. He plays hard on both ends, a rarity in today’s NBA and his offensive game has elevated every year he has been in the league. The Pacers also improved their bench this year, trading for Luis Scola and adding CJ Watson and Chris Copeland to help alleviate the scoring stress on the starters. Lance Stephenson has also emerged posting three triple doubles this season, most in the NBA. As “Born Ready” continues to mature with age, the Pacers become more and more dangerous in terms of team potential. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Pacers’ bigs Roy Hibbert and David West who are two stout defensive players who also can score in the low post, making opposing defenses worry about the inside-out game. This Pacers team is maturing and is not afraid of anybody, including the defending champs the Miami Heat. Don’t be surprised if this Pacers team knocks off the Heat as they have both the offense and defense to do so.

Stats from ESPN.com