Ten prediction’s to keep tab’s this NBA season

2013-14 NBA predictions:

1.    The Miami Heat will three-peat.

You hate Miami? So do I, but the NBA love’s three-peat’s.  Another NBA’s conspiracy? No, but this league is a BUSINESS at the end of the day (come on people wrestling, boxing, UFC, what makes the NBA different?).

2.    LeBron James stays in Miami after the championship.

Maybe L.A? How about a Cleveland return? LeBron’s going to do what MJ couldn’t.  Win 4 championships in a row. If he stays Miami bound he’ll cement his legacy in Miami, so it’s time to accept it. Did Kobe win championships in Philadelphia? Did Magic win in his hometown nope? What’s the big deal about LeBron’s decision? The way he did it? If ESPN offered you 20 million dollar’s to dealy annoucing your new employer would you? Hell yes! For you Cleveland natives get excited about the present and forget the past. Kyrie Irving’s the real deal and with the plethora of young-talent you seem to be recovering quite well (see 3).

3.    Cleveland will advance past the 1st round.

Yes, Cleveland will make the play-offs. If Kyrie stays healthy! If he plays over 70 games then lock them up for a play-off birth. Additionally, I have him in the top 4 for MVP voting.  Kyrie will have a Derrick Rose MVP type season.  He averaged 22.5 point’s and 5.9 assists in his sophomore year.This prediction has nothing to do with Bynum signing with Cleveland, because a healthy Varejao is just as efficient (much better defender). Health is the biggest question in Cleveland, but the talent’s here. I’d even say this core has more potential then any of LeBron’s team’s in Cleveland.

4.    Indiana Pacer’s will start the season on fire/win Central Division!!!

Paul George enough said! If LeBron James didn’t exist we’d be drooling over Paul George’s game everyday on ESPN. They’d be doing sport science on everything from his cereal eating speed to his agility to hop off his right foot while blindfolded listening to Elton John. He’s that good! He’s officially a top 10 players so it’s about time we embrace him.  The biggest hindrance is Indiana’s small-market and the saturation of great college basketball (Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Butler). Everyone in Indiana know’s Paul George, but this season everyone will know him.

5.    Brian Shaw lead’s Denver to second round of the play-off’s.

This predication led to a cringe while typing. Predicting the Western Conference play-offs is harder than learning to ride a bike without having a bike.  However, Brian Shaw is a coaching guru and  I’m excited to watch him have a team (Still LA wtf?). Besides the coaching addition this team is absolutely loveable! Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson, and JAVALE MCGEE!! This team has no true stars, but everyone’s a workhorse.  Why underestimate a team that won 57 game last year and a coach ready to show his stripe’s?

6.    DETROIT PISTONS make major midseason trade.

This team is the mirror image of a fantasy team that you took serious then thought, “Does it matter.” Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings playing alongside will change Motown drastically. They have great pieces! Greg Monroe is beyond underrated and Andre Drummond is on the cusp of his potential. Their frontcourt has Kevin McHale asking Morway to pull some magical trade scenario to get Monroe.   A new coach in Mo Cheek’s has Detroit finally getting out of the dark abyss caused by the Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanova signing.  They’ll trade due to injury and lack of veteran’s (Billup’s is no answer) for an 8th seed push.

7.    Spurs finally take a step back.

Betting against the Spur’s is like betting red after black won 10 in a row, but somehow hit’s green.  When this dynasty started everyone hated them and 15 year’s later we love them.  Everyone will say well “Gregg Popovich has Tim Duncan,” but Tim Duncan also has Gregg Popovich.  It’s about time we start respecting Popovich as one of the best coaches EVER. Two of his assistant’s finally have their own team’s, so it’ll be exciting to watch them plant the Popovich tree. Duncan and Pop are what Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer wanted to be.

The only thing that remains a question is the why Tony Parker left Eva Longoria. Year’s later and this still is the biggest question

8.    Laker’s really want to bomb for Wiggin’s, but their loyal to Kobe Bryant.

They keep hyping up the Laker’s big signing in 14’ and 15’ because Steve Nash is the only player under contract. They should take an unlikely step (LA couldn’t do this if they tried), but should bomb for WIGGIN’S. Every GM understands what’s at stake with next year’s 1st pick. Wiggin’s is the next Kobe! Draft Wiggin’s and you have another Kobe for 15 year’s and have salary space to build around him! It’ll never happen, but it’s something to consider.

 

9.    Phoneix Sun’s becomes new international hot spot and still suck.

San Antonio continues to age, but Phoenix has great young international star’s in Goran Dragic, and Gortat. This team was absolutely awful last season and shown few sign’s of improving.  Drafting Alex Len is interesting, but as we watch this team develop. Honestly, there WNBA team will have more highlight’s. This team’s bad.

10. ROY=VICTOR OLADIPO

Yes, I attended Indiana University. Yes, I have an IU bias. Yes, Victor will win Rookie of the Year. This young man is one of the best young talent’s I’ve seen first-hand, but his motor is special. This kid’s ceiling is high. Prototype size, defensive first mentality, and athleticism are off the charts.

Rajon Rondo explains why he is best point guard in NBA

Originally posted on ProBasketballTalk:

Rajon Rondo is convinced he is the best point guard in the NBA. We’ve heard him say it before, laughed to ourselves (or rolled our eyes), patted him on the back and said, “sure you are, kid” then moved on.

But Rondo isn’t backing down.

And in the cover story of the current edition of Boston Common Magazine (which I was pointed to by WEEI and SLAM, because I let my subscription lapse) Rondo detailed why he is the man.

“It’s always the whole package,” he says. “Some fans look at a point guard and say he had 26 points, seven assists, and eight rebounds, and they’ll say he had a great game. But there is a lot of talent in the NBA, and eventually that talent catches up with you. The mental game is where it’s at. I would say the game is 80 percent mental and 20…

View original 346 more words

Top 10 Interesting Draft Prospects 2012

1.  Andre Drummond  C   Connecticut      6’10” 

Andre Drummond must be the #1 pick here!  This man-child would be the number one pick if NCAA player of the year Anthony Davis wasn’t in this class.  He’s classified “intriguing” because the lackluster freshman campaign that only left us with more questions.   The draft value is largely due to his size, age, and flashes of potential. Drummond could be the next Kwame Brown or the next dominating center.

Intriguing rating 9/10!!!!

Pro:  His size!!!! A 6’10” mammoth weighing in at 250 pounds, ESPN has him listed at 270.  The advantage Drummond has over Davis is the NBA ready body, but not the basketball skill set.   Drummond’s physical foundation allows for a quicker NBA transition.  Today’s dominating big men Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard, and Tyson Chandler lacked Drummond’s size when entering the draft, which is why scout’s love this kid.

Also, he’s shown flashes of potential and domination in his sample size college career.  His best games came against ranked opponents such as Syracuse, Florida State, & Georgetown.  Almost had a triple double against Florida State and often flirted with a double double.  A season stat line of 10 ppg, 7 reb, and 2.7 blocks is solid for any first year freshman in the Big East.  In fact his freshman statistics are much better than former UCONN center Hasheem Thabeet who was the 2nd overall pick of 2009 draft.  I can promise you Drummond will have an NBA career unlike Thabeet.

Besides his mere presence his best basketball skill traits

  1. Passing ability
  2. Finishing at the rim
  3. Defense

Very underrated due to the fact Anthony Davis garnered all the attention.  Nifty hands, great patience when defending the circle, and great BLOCKER.

   4.Offensive Rebounder

Ranked 9th in country in offensive rebounding and offensive rebounding is one of those “you have or you don’t” traits.

Hall of Fame Comparison: Willis Reed

Today’s Star Comparison: Zach Randolph (on a good day)/Al Jefferson

Con:  Where to begin?  Drummond’s game is ready for the NBA, but Drummond isn’t ready for the NBA.  What do I mean?  Drummond lack’s two important traits for an NBA career: mental toughness and consistency.    The jump from college is extreme terms of living styles, maturity, and competition.  Drummond often had stretches and games where he’d go invisible or non-existent.  A lottery team that drafts him are eyeing towards making him their “big man of the future,” “not big man of the week.”

            Aspects of his game that need improvement:

  1. Free throw shooting

He shot a 27% form the charity stripe, which is mental red flag to any basketball purist.   A low free throw percentage is directly linked to focus and concentration.  His goal should be to raise that to a Shaq-like 50%.

   2.Offensive attack mind-set

There were a few times he toke over games, but it was Eddy Curry-esqe.  I highlighted his passing ability, but needs to become more selfish with the ball.  He needs to put up more shots throughout a game and become an offensive threat.

   3.Mental toughness

   4.Mental toughness

5.Mental toughness

Staying another year would have benefited his game, but I don’t believe his draft stock.  Number two is the highest he’ll go unless Anthony Davis suffers a life threatening injury in a month or if Drummond has PHENOMENAL pre-draft camp.

Worst Case scenario: Kwame Brown meets Eddy Curry.

2.  Arnette Moultrie  PF  Mississippi State   6’11”

3.  Jared Sullinger   C  Ohio State University   6’9”

4. Austin Rivers   SG  Duke University   6’4”

Doc son has made it.   Austin Rivers one of the most hyped All-Americans coming into college and was by far one of the nations best shooting guards.  Throughout his career he’s been defined by his father’s legacy, however besides their height and last name they are completely.  Rivers has the confidence to be a great shooting guard, but will his size hold him back?

Intriguing Rating 7.5/10!!!

Pro: Honestly his swagger is why I love this kid.  Since his All-American days in high school and his lone Blue Devil season he knows he can ball.  I understand a lot of NBA and talented prospects have an inflated ego or the “we own this world” attitude, but Rivers is different.  It’s not so much cockiness, but an intense confidence, which is vital in the NBA and as a shooting guard.

The explosive first step and long-ball threat are the parts of the game that are lights out.  What he lacks in the explosiveness he makes up with his dribbling prowess.  His skill set better suits a combo-guard because of his dribbling ability.  He can create his own shot off the dribble.  The best NBA shooting guards have that ability, which allow for him demand attention.  He was known for shooting NBA threes with a defender in his face (ask Tyler Zeller about that).  So range isn’t a large question for Austin coming into the draft.

   The traits that we’ll make us draft him.

  1. Shooting ability/Scorer
  2. Driving ability
  3. Wants the ball

Is Rivers the best pure shooter, not at all, but he demands the ball.  He’s an instinctive scorer and knows he can score.  This is the key trait you want out of your shooting guard.

   4.Duke guard

Duke guards have a tremendous history of being productive NBA players (Chris Duhon, Shane Battier, Leattner, & Redick).  Austin Rivers game is NBA ready and should equate into a better NBA statistical career then the previously mentioned.

    5.Coachable

Played under Coach K!!!!

Hall of Fame comparison: Earl Monroe meets Rod Strickland

Current Player: Seth Curry

Con:  We’ll your not tall enough!  The NBA deems size as the most important thing in drafting prospects.  There’s no true young shooting guard making an impact in todays game.  Kobe’s getting old, Wade’s in his prime, and well whose coming? Tyreke Evan’s was the last notable one, wasn’t he? NBA front offices haven’t place Austin Rivers in the “who’s coming,” solely because he lacks the ideal size.  Austin Rivers size wasn’t a problem in the Duke offensive scheme, because he played the combo guard.  Golden State or Mike D’Antoni’s system fit Rivers.

Rivers is more fundamentally sound and mechanical than the typical NBA athletic, shooting guard.  He has an uncanny first-step, which will allow him to exploit defenders, but lacks true speed or leaping ability we want from todays players.  This kid still is an athletic phenom, but fellow draftee’s Jeremy Lamb and Bradley Beal will garner more attention.

Top five reasons not draft Rivers

  1. Defense
  2. Rebounding
  3. Decision-making

His ability to pull-up from anywhere or shoot over defenders often work, but not always.  Sometimes he seems to confident in his shot selection and driving ability.  Becoming a more patient shooter will help his arsenal.  

    4.Shooting percentage

Shot over .3% from the arc, but this number will only decrease as the NBA range increases. He needs to get more reps in this summer or improve his shot selection.  Improving his free-throw percentage is key if he wants the ball in late game situations.

5.  Tony Wroton   PG   Washington     6’5”

6.   Draymond Green    PF    Michigan State      6’6 

7.  Meyers Leonard   C  University of Illinois     7’1”

8. Damien Lillard  Weber State  PG 6’2”

 

This is the first year no point guards taking the top selection.  Don’t let that scare you away from this years point guards.   A point guard from Weber State, yeah you heard me right Weber State is the most interesting point guard prospect.  Kendall Marshall might be the NBA prototype producer, but Damien Lillard is a dark horse.  He’s this year Isaiah Thomas (King’s Isaiah Thomas) well I think?  Not sure what to expect from this mid-major, high scoring little man.

Intriguing Rating 8/10!!!

Pro:  A scorer, floor general, and team leader.  The only time Weber State has been mentioned in previous years it was when Jimmer Fredette would drop 40 points on them.  Weber State quietly had their own Jimmer brewing in Damien Lillard who averaged over 24 points a game for the Wildcats.  Damien is looking like a better NBA prospect than the BYU product.

First of all this kid can flat out score and do it at a high percentage.  A lot NBA point guards don’t have the range or consistent shot, but Lillard does.  This past season his long-ball was above 40% and free throw percentage near 88%.  Those numbers often translate into the NBA.

He plays with finesse and laid back style, which allows him to pick his cuts.  He doesn’t try to beat you with his athleticism, but he patiently attacks.  He understands his moments and is a high I.Q player.  He’ll be one of the few four-year players drafted in the first round, which is unheard of today.  Throughout those four-years he became the leader of Weber State.  He understands what it takes to carry a team and be the main contributor (he’ll tell you differently).

Top traits that will translate to the league.

  1. His NBA size
  2. Proven Scorer

The ability to score from all areas of the court allows him not to be one-dimensional.  He doesn’t rely on athleticism, which allows him to be a quicker producer in the league.  He can instantly be a 10 ppg point guard for any team, because his knack for finishing and ability to cover the floor.

  1. All around game
  2. Patient
  3. Cutting ability

Hall of Fame Comparison: Joe Dumars

Current Comparison: Jameer Nelson

Con:  So you couldn’t get in a big school?  The thing holding my man Lillard back is the lack of competition throughout his college career.  Unlike BYU, Weber State’s schedule lacked ranked opponents, which can put an asterisk on Lillards scoring average.   Those who choose Kendall Marshall Marshall over Lillard say he went to NORTH CAROLINA!  I completely agree that Lillards lack of true collegiate opponents will make his draft stock fall.

Questions regarding Lillards ability to dish the ball will come up.    In his defense he accounted for their scoring and had few options (its Weber State people).  He maintained a positive Assist/Turnover ratio, which shows he can maintain possession and run the offense.

Something that makes scouts cringe is injury history and Lillard struggled with a foot fracture a year ago.   Does this previous injury lead to any other ones?  Especially with the length of the NBA season compared to college.

Top reasons not to draft Damien Lillard

  1. No true competition
  2. Questions regarding passing
  3. Athleticism

Point guards are running the league Rajon Rondo, Westbrook, Rose (before injury), John Wall, and Kyrie Irving.   Damien Lillard is built for the NBA in size, but doesn’t have the pure athleticism such as his future counterparts. 

   4. Injury history

He’s battling prospects Kendall Marshall and Marquis Teague to be the first point guard chosen.  Marshall’s latest injury helps Lillard out, but Marquis Teague’s recent title run may change scouts minds.

9. Tyler Zeller C University of North Carolina 7’0”

 10.  Moe Harkless   SF    St. John’s    6’8”

Complete NBA Playoffs analysis

 by:Alex Munoz

Western Conference

1st Round

1 San Antonio Spurs over 8 Utah Jazz 4-0

I see this as an easy series for San Antonio to start the playoffs. There’s no upset in the waiting this year. This Jazz team is not the Grizzlies despite their large amount of size in the post. The Spurs are the better team and Coach Pop might rest players somewhere at the end of the series depending on how the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers series. Coach Pop, I believe, does not want to rest his players too much. He wants them in top gear especially after last year’s debacle. The Utah Jazz have plenty to look forward to next year especially if they can steal a game with the Spurs at full strength.

2 Oklahoma Thunder over 7 Dallas Mavericks 4-1

This Western Conference Finals rematch from a year ago will end differently this go around. The Mavs have lost their defensive identity and toughness with the absence of Tyson Chandler. This appears to be a Dirk-led time like any other year that only ends in a first round loss. The Thunder have another year of playoff experience and Durant and Westbrook look hungrier than ever. Harden’s concussion will be a concern early on but despite that I see the Thunder prevailing rather easily.

3 Los Angeles Lakers over 6 Denver Nuggets 4-2

The Lakers were starting to hit their stride when the much talked about elbow made contact. The Lakers have the edge here because of Bynum’s development this year and #24. The Nuggets are interesting team after the trade for McGee. They are loaded with rotation players but no superstars or all-stars, which appears to be the formula to win an NBA title. This will however been an entertaining, high-scoring series. Ultimately, the Nuggets win two games because of their depth and possibly another when Bryant has an awful shooting day and keeps chucking it up.

5 Los Angeles Clippers over 4 Memphis Grizzlies 4-3

Last year’s darling just got back Randolph and need to incorporate him into the playoff rotation nicely. I see the Clippers’ star power taking out the Grizzlies. I see CP3 torching Conley and if they can get out on fast breaks consistently I see the Clippers ending this series earlier.

Western Conference Semi-Finals

5 Clippers over the 1 San Antonio Spurs 4-3

The Clippers pull off the upset in the second round. A Chris Paul-led team failed to beat the Spurs in the playoffs earlier in his career. CP3 will relish this and enjoy going to the WCF. I see Blake Griffin and Caron Butler as the huge x-factors and putting up huge numbers. Kawhi Leonard is going to shrink and Captain Jack will take more minutes where Butler will outplay them both, I believe.

2 Oklahoma City Thunder over 3 Los Angeles Lakers 4-2

The recent game would have ended differently I think if Harden been allowed to get back into the game. He would have been the difference down the stretch as he will be in this series.  World Peace can only check one man at a time and I don’t see Barnes and World Peace on the floor at the same time because then Kobe will be the primarily ball handler and  I don’t think Coach Brown wants that. The Thunder reach the conference finals again and this time want to go to the NBA Finals.

Western Conference Finals

   2 Oklahoma City Thunder over 5 Los Angeles Clippers 4-2

The Clippers had a great season and I see it coming to an end here. Chris Paul is physically outmatched and I believe Durant will put 30 consistently this series as there is no one to really guard him well. Ibaka will do a great job on Blake and make him shoot the mid-range jumper. The Clippers will really miss what Billups can offer in this series.


Eastern Conference

1st Round

1 Chicago Bulls over 8 Philadelphia 76ers 4-1

Evan Turner has lit a fire under the Bulls and that wasn’t a good idea. This team does not scare the Bulls like the Knicks whether the Bulls like to admit it or not. Rose’s health will be key but ultimately I see the Bulls prevailing and getting rest for Rose.

2 Miami Heat over 7 New York Knicks 4-2

This is will be the most entertaining and story line filled series. Carmelo vs. LeBron. The Heat will lose two games because Amare will dominate the Heat bigs and defer when double-teamed. When you’re deferring to the likes of J.R. Smith, Carmelo, and even Baron Davis, it will harbinger good results. The Heat will lose another game because of the poor shooting and too much contribution from Wade and James will be expected to win that game and it won’t happen.

3 Indiana Pacers over 6 Orlando Magic 4-0

This is a clean sweep waiting to happen. The Magic are without their best player and need hot shooting to stay in this series. I don’t see it happening and I see the Pacers getting much needed rest in this short season and preparing themselves for the Miami Heat.

4 Boston Celtics over the 5 Atlanta Hawks 4-2

The Celtics are primed to make one last playoff run with their big three and Rondo. Ultimately this comes down to the Celtics being playoff tested and having arguably the best coach in the league who makes some of the best in-game adjustments. The Hawks are slowly becoming the Mavs of the east with their early playoff exits.

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals

4 Boston Celtics over 1 Chicago Bulls 4-2

Rose will not be 100% healthy and this will be the Achilles heel in this series for the Bulls. The Celtics will deliver their playoff D and the Bulls will struggle to make shots with Rose’s drives. This will be a fun series to watch for defensive purposes and for the fact that the Bulls and Celtics had arguably the best first round series ever a few years ago.

3 Indiana Pacers over 2 Miami Heat 4-3

The Pacers have always given the Heat problems and this will be magnified in this second round. The Pacers might have the best 1-7 on their roster in the league. They have toughness, size, and good shot making ability that doesn’t rely on the 3. This will be the best playoff series of the year.

Eastern Conference Finals

3 Indiana Pacers over the 4 Boston Celtics 4-2

The Bulls and Heat liked their seedings because they avoided a rival and a bad match up. They both lose in this scenario and off-season questions will mount. The Pacers will win this because of three things. The Celtics will become gassed, Hibbert and West will get all the boards with Garnett at the 5. An unlikely ECF comes to an end and the big three share a special moment at game six knowing it is their last together.

Finals

2 Oklahoma City Thunder over the Indiana Pacers 4-2

            The Thunder have one of the game’s best shot makers and length that will ultimately doom the Pacers. The nice run by the Pacers comes to an end and Durant gets his first ring to the collection.

The Pacers feel good about this year. The Heat will serious consider a coaching change and possibly moving Bosh. The Bulls are all tied up with their money and will say a playoff run with a healthy Rose will make the difference and a full year of Rose and Hamilton playing together.

Play-off time!!!!!

2nhalfsteps 1st round play-off  panelist

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