Tag Archives: nba

THE NBA IS BACK!! MY 2013-2014 NBA PREDICTIONS!!

29 Oct

nba-logoWell kids, the NBA season is finally upon us…happy opening night!!  Last time we left the league, ‘Bron and company were hoisting Mr. O’brien’s trophy….again.  Well, what will this season bring.  For my predictions, I wanted to make it as simple as possible.  So, I am going to give you the teams that will make the playoffs, the conference winners and title winner….with only one reason why each will happen.  Enjoy this years picks and let me know who you think is taking home to title!!

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1.  MIAMI HEAT – Reason:  LeBron James.

2.  BROOKLYN NETS – Reason:  Added a more than serviceable Paul Pierce, KG, J. Terry and AK47 to a team already featuring Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Reggie Evans, Andra Blatche and company…very deep, veteran squad.

3.  INDIANA PACERS – Reason:  Combining the now truly elite Paul George with the Roy Hibbert we saw in the playoffs = lots of wins and a deep playoff run.

4.  CHICAGO BULLS – Reason:  D Rose is back and this team might have been a D Rose away from winning the East last year.

5.  NEW YORK KNICKS – Reason:  If STAT is healthy, this team will challenge anyone in the conference.

6.  DETROIT PISTONS – Reason:  Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings and Andre Drummond make up a very nice top four…and the East really falls off after the top 5 teams.

7.  CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – Reason:  Well first, there will be no ping pong magic next year Mr. Gilbert!  But the real reason is that this team has a very nice combo of young talent and savvy vets to crack the top 8…and if Bynum comes up back…the Cavs will be back on the NBA map!

8.  WASHINGTON WIZARDS  – Reasons:  A healthy backcourt of John Wall and Brady Beal will carry this team into the playoffs…and a chance to be swept by Miami.

WESTERN CONFRENCE

1.  SAN ANTONIO SPURS – Reason:  Because they are the best run NBA franchise in the last 25 years, that’s why!

2.  L.A. CLIPPERS – Reason:  This team is absolutely loaded after signing Jared Dudley, JJ Redick, Darren Collison, Antwan Jamison and even Byron Mullens…oh and a certain Glenn Rivers will make sure this team is ready to win every single night.

3.  OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER – Reason:  The emergence of Serge Ibaka will keep this team towards the top of the standing until Westbrook comes back from injury.

4.  HOUSTON ROCKETS – Reason:  They legitimately have 14 players that would be in anyone’s rotation…and the combination of Dwight Howard and James Harden will give this team the ability to finish anywhere between 1-4.

5. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS – Reason:  A healthy Andrew Bogut adds a new dimension to Steph Curry’s team.

6.  MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES – Reason:   Z-Bo and company have the pieces to compete every single night…but they are just not getting passed the top 5 in the conference this season.

7.  PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS – Reason:  Lilliard, Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Batum are a very solid four that will get help from a very nice bench that feature rookie CJ McCollum.

8.  DALLAS MAVERICKS – Reason:  Monta Ellis and Dirk will be able to share enough shot to just squeak into the playoffs over the Denver Nuggets.

CONFERENCE FINALS

EAST:  INDIANA PACERS over MIAMI HEAT – Heat because they still have the big 3 and Indy because if Granger ever stays healthy, he is the missing piece.

WEST:  L.A. CLIPPERS over HOUSTON ROCKETS – Both teams are overloaded with talent…and will both get past the Thunder and Spurs…but Clippers have just a little more.

FINALS

L.A. CLIPPERS over INDIANA PACERS – Great coaching and inside/outside talent that can surround CP3.  Congrats Clipper Nation you are no longer L.A.’s second team!!!

Larry_obrien_championship

TOP 10 WORST NBA LOTTERY PICKS IN THE PAST 10 YEARS

25 Jun

Top-10

 

 

 

 

 

With the NBA Draft just days away, I thought that this week’s Top 10 should focus on just that.  So here are my top 10 worst NBA lottery picks in the past 10 years.  Of course its easy for mnba draft logoe to go back now and bash a GM or a player…but some of these seems like no brainers!  Let me know who you think is the worst lottery pick of all time!

 

darko2003 #2 Darko Milicic – Detroit Pistons:  Oh Darko…the Human Victory Cigar.  I don’t want to put too much on Joe Dumars for taking Darko with the second pick in one of the best drafts in NBA history…almost every team in the league had Dark #2 on their draft boards.   But you just can’t ignore his mediocre career numbers (although he did have a few solid years), the fact that he is no longer in the league and the players that were selected after him.  As in a few guys named Carmelo, D-Wade, Bosh, Kirk Hinrich, David West…ok, ok…I’m being too harsh.  Sorry Dumars!

araujo2004 #8 Rafael Araujo – Toronto Raptors:  At this point you might asking yourself “who?”.  The Brazilian center had two good years at BYU, but played just 3 years in the league and averaged a robust 2.8ppg and 2.8rpg.  All the Raps did was pass on the likes of Kris Humphries, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, Jameer Nelson and more.

robert swift2004 #12 Robert Swift – Seattle Sonics:  This high school center was taken 12th overall and played 4 injury plagued seasons for SEA/OKC before calling it quits at just 23 years old.  I don’t know…maybe should have grabbed any of the players listed directly above…

fran2005 #11 Fran Vasquez – Orlando Magic:  Where to even start with this one…for a team that was rebuilding like Orlando, to not have your lottery pick ever play a single game for you is NBA Tragedy.  Vasquez is still roaming the courts of Spain and Otis Smith is still waiting for Fran’s agent to call him back.

yaroslav korolev

2005 #12 Yaroslav Korolev – L.A. Clippers:  Two season in the NBA and he scored 39 points more than I did!  Has there ever been two worse back to back lottery picks than Vasquez and Korolev?  Guess the Clips and Magic both didn’t want Danny Granger, Jarrett Jack or David Lee!

patrick obryant2006 #9 Patrick O’Bryant – Golden State Warriors:  The big man put up great per 36 minute stats, but could never get more than 11.3mpg.  After playing for three teams in four season and banking $7.4million, O’Bryant hung up the high tops.  I guess Redick, Rondo, Kyle Lowry or Paul Milsap didn’t test high enough to draft over Pat…or the next guy…

Seattle SuperSonics v Denver Nuggets2006 #10 Mouhammed Sene – Seattle Sonics:  This makes two bust picks in three drafts for Seattle…no wonder they packed up and headed to OKC.  Sene played an underwhelming 3 years in the league, made a cool $6.3million and was out of the league by 22.  Don’t we all wish we were 7footers?!

joe alexander2008 #8 Joe Alexander – Milwaukee Bucks:  Joe had a nice all around career at West Virginia, but just couldn’t put it together in the pros.  After playing for the Bucks and Bulls over two seasons Joe couldn’t cut it with the big boys and hung it up.

hasheem thabeet2009 #2 Hasheem Thabeet – Memphis Grizzlies:  Four year, four teams and career averages of 2.3ppg and 2.8rpg make Thabeet possibly the worst lottery pick in NBA history.  The shot blocking center fromUCONN has never lived up to…well to even Darko numbers!!  And now, since he is 7’3 and still just 26 years old, he gets a shot with one of the league’s best young teams:  OKC.  Oh to be young, tall and in the NBA.  Hasheem has made $15million and has played in just over 2,100 minutes.  Keep working hard my man!

The 10th spot on this list is reserved for the next lottery bust.  Who will it be?  Will Jan Vesely ever be as good as his girlfriend looks?  Or will someone take a chance on the next great foreign born player in this year’s draft, only to have him never come to the league?  Stay tuned!

BROADWAY OR BASKETBALL???

10 Jun

finals logo

tony awards logo

Sunday night featured two big events for two very different audiences:  Game 2 of the NBA Finals and The Tony Awards.  However, if you’re like me, you watched them both (thank you guy that invented the DVR…once again, I will be delivering my first born to you)!

So without further delay, here are the nominees for the 2013 Broadway vs. Basketball Sunday Night Face Off!!  You pick the winner!

BEST PLAY

brons block-LeBron James’ block of Tiago Splitter:  This play will be added to Finals’ highlight films for future generations to see…dare I say this will now be known as THE BLOCK??

-Lucky Guy, written by Nora Ephron:  The late, great Ephron gave us such classics as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.  Just for that, she gets a nod in this category.  Not to mention the play stars Tom Hanks…and everything Hanks is in deserves positive recognition…yes even you Bosom Buddies!

MOST CRINGE WORTH PERFORMANCE

-Manu Ginobili’s ball handling skills:  Manu, where are thosemanu handles that allow you to euro-step through double teams and tap dance around sideline traps?  Ginobili hands seemed like they were outfitted for a revival of Cats (think about it…can a cat dribble a basketball??….the jokes may or may not get better, so read on at your own risk).

-Mike Tyson dancing in the opening number:  Great to see Iron Mike…not so great to see him try to keep up with the steps of the pro dancers surrounding him.  Tyson’s name was immediately scratched off the potential casting list for Ring it On:  The story of one boxer’s dream to win a national cheerleading championship!

BEST REVIVAL

annie-Annie:  I have a soft spot for this one.  Who doesn’t love that little red-haired orphan and her adventures?!

-Tracy McGrady:  Ok so the box score only shows that T-Mac had 2 boards, 2 assists and a block, but as a T-Mac fan, it was good to see him get in a game during the NBA Finals.

BEST SCORE

lauper-Kinky Boots, Cindy Lauper:  She did give us Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and True Colors.  Enough said.

-Miami Heat’s opening intro music:  I love the White Stripes and Seven Nation Army.  But the Heat’s opening feels like a climb to a climax that never takes place.  I guess nothing beats the Orlando Magic 1995 intro with 2 Unlimited’s You’ll Ready For This!!

BEST SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE

-Mike Tyson in the opening number:  Iron Mike’s 2nd nomination.  Did you ever think you would see Doogie Howser and Mike Tyson on the same stage….dancing….singing….at the Tony’s?!?!?!

Host Neil Patrick Harris and retired boxer Mike Tyson perform during the opening number of Tony Awards in New York

BEST NIGHT

-Miami Heat:  In a span of about 10 game minutes, the Heat outscored the Spurts 37-9 and showed everyone why they are the defending champs and why they won 66 games this year.

-Neil Patrick Harris:  Come on….NPH was great again!  There was singing, dancing, magic and charm.  He made the night legen……..wait for it…..dary!

neil patrick harris

BEST VENUE

radio city-Radio City Music Hall:  Radio City.  NYC.  Fauggeetttaboutit….Radio City all the way!!

-American Airlines Arena:  A beautiful basketball building close to the bright lights of South Beach.

BEST DRESSED

-Juwan Howard:  The 40-year old Howard is now a professional high-fiver and suit wearer.  Last night Juwan brought out a terrific, sleek fitting blue suit; complemented by a light blue shirt, dark blue tie, and brown shoes.  What?!  I admire a good suit!!!

BEST SHOES

-Cast of Kinky Boots:  Did you see those knee high get ups??

kinky boots

BEST SUPPORTING ACT

-Mario Chalmers:  Chalmers contributed 19 points and a pair of treys in a must win for the Heat.  Seems like Mario always steps up in the big moments for Miami…nice insureance policy to have when D-Wade is aging before our eyes.

danny green-Danny Green:  In a losing effort Green threw in 17 points on 6 of 6 from the floor, including five from downtown.  It was nice to get some points outside of the Spurs’ big three and Leonard, but it didn’t really matter in this blowout.

richard kind-Richard Kind, The Big Knife:  This character actor is an underrated comedic genius….see Curb Youth Enthusiasm, Mad About You and Spin City.  Was there ever a more nebishy actor in Hollywood?  If you don’t know the word nebishy, find a Jewish grandmother asap!

$1,000,000 TO DUNK???

4 Mar

lebron

So it has come to this…in order for the once great NBA Slam Dunk Contest to get great players, a hall of famer has to offer a $1,000,000 prize to the winner!  The NBA dunk contest, once a highlight of the season, has turned into a showcase of young, bench-warming players (not all) trying to either do dunks they have no chance of completing, or trying past legendary dunks the NBA makes them do (ever hear of originality NBA?).  I actually never thought I would be more excited to see if a 53 year old Dominique Wilkins could hit a half court shot faster than the 5’3 Mugsy Bogues.  But that is what the NBA Slam Dunk Contest has come to.

Although this year’s contest was marginally better than contests of the recent past, casual and die-hard fans alike are calling for the league’s true superstars to take part in this once superstar event.  NBA fans want to see Dwight Howard putting stickers on the top of the backboard, not flip through an NBA media guide to find out who Jeremy Evans is.  Fans want to see Blake Griffin jump over a KIA, not see a way over-hyped Shannon Brown fizzle out with a last place tying score of 78.  Now to be fair, recent dunk contests have featured some exciting young NBA players such as Demar Derozan, Serge Ibaka, former champ Gerald Green and of course Blake Griffin.  But the fans want to see the game’s true stars.

I get it.  I understand it’s a tiring event that could possibly lead to injury.  But can you name any player that missed significant time or saw their play drop off because they took part in the contest?  Neither can I!  When did ball players become afraid of playing ball?

Well, cue in Magic Johnson.  Like the fans, Magic has had enough.  He is sick and tired of watching the young, supposed up-and-comers do damage to the legacy of the contest.  So Magic has offered a $1,000,000 prize to LeBron James, or whomever can defeat  him in the contest.   Wow!  $1,000,000 just to dunk a basketball for what ultimately turns out to be a few minutes.   Very sad that it has come to this.  A game, that thanks to its fans is popular, thriving and able to pay players millions, can no longer give the fans what they want…unless more money is thrown the players way.  What happened to the days that Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter, and even Dr. J would roam the skies of the dunk contest and thrill the fans with 50’s?  These players were at the top of their games (or almost), and wanted to participate.  They didn’t need the promise of $1 million.  All they needed was a full arena and a chance to wow the world with their crowd pleasing, gravity defying dunking and they were in.

mj

So how about it NBA All-Stars?  How about giving back to the fans of the NBA?  The fans that just want to see you dunk!  Sure we can get over that you are only doing it for Magic’s million…because we just want the NBA Slam Dunk Contest to do what it once did…amaze us, get us out of our seats and let us really mean it when we hold up that paper 10.

So LeBron, Blake, Dwight,  Russell, KD35 and other high-flying all-stars – take Magic’s millions!  Have some other company donate another $1,000,000 to charity.  Pump up your kicks, pull out the cars, dust off that cape and measure up that free throw line…its time to get out and dunk!

blake

Are the Orlando Magic building OKC 2.0???

28 Feb

The Orlando Magic has followed a consistent pattern over the franchise’s 24 year existence.  It’s a dance all to familiar to Magic fans, features the dirtiest word known to a fanbase and it goes something like this:  struggle, excel, rebuild!  Through expansion, Shaq, Penny, Heart and Hustle, T-Mac and Grant Hill, Jonny Davis and Chris Jent, Weisbrod,  Dwight Howard and 2 trips to the NBA Finals, the Magic have never seem to be able to consistently remain a contender for an extended period of time.   I, like many, have always been skeptical when the next rebuilding plan was laid out before us.  But I think the Magic and their forward thinking front office may finally be on the right track.  The track to becoming Oklahoma City 2.0.

I still believe that the Magic did not get anything close to equal value for the Howard trade.  I do really like a few of the pieces they received (Vucevic, Harkless), but they needed to shed more money (Turk), take on less (Harrington), and get at least a few worthy future draft picks.  Out of the 5 picks received, 3 of them have a combined 11 conditions.  The 2013 2nd round pick from Denver (Golden State’s pick) and the 2014 1st rounder also from Denver (could be the Knicks’ pick), are the only picks that the Magic will 100% be able to use without conditions moving them to future years.  Post Howard trade, the front office in Orlando has done an excellent job in building this team for the future.

With the recent trade of fan favorite JJ Redick, whom the Magic obviously believed wanted too much money this summer as a free agent to return to Orlando, the Magic were able to continue their quest for young, high ceiling players.  And

Of course no one in Orlando wanted fan favorite JJ Redick shipped out prior to the trade deadline.  But with his impending free agency coming this summer, and his desire for a contract that approaches the $7-$10million/year range, The Magic brass felt they needed to get something for the sharpshooter before he bolted for nothing this summer.  So they decided a multiplayer trade with the Bucks was the way to go.  Despite also having to give up promising and inexpensive Gustavo Ayon, the Magic came away with a high ceiling player in Tobias Harris, former 20012 second rounder Doron Lamb, and solid backup point guard Beno Udrih.  This trade gives Orlando a plethora of promising, young players and allows them to remain on their track back to contention…a track that should be fully in view during the summer of 2014.

Its clear by its roster and recent transactions, that GM Rob Hennigan has decided that the Magic will acquire however many  high potential, athletic, young players they can.  This is true in Nikola Vucevic (22), Maurice Harkless (19), Andrew Nicholson (23), Tobias Harris (20) and Doron Lamb (21).  That group, with a median age of 21, represent 4 first round draft picks and 1 second round pick from the last two NBA drafts.  Any team in rebuilding form would love to have 4 first round draft picks in 2 years…and that is precisely what the Magic have.  And with Vucevic averaging a double-double, Harkless showing flashes of a future all-star, Nicholson displaying an already polished post game, and Harris putting up terrific numbers in the first real meaningful playing time of his career, its easy to see why this group has such a bright future.

Combining the new young core, a top 3 pick in the next two NBA drafts, and money flying off the books in the summer of 2014, the Orlando Magic could be back in the NBA’s elite very soon.  The breakdown is simple.  Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Beno Udrih all have contracts that expire before or after the 2014 season.  Jameer has an $8million team option, that surely will not be picked up.  That leaves Aaron Afflalo, Glen Davis, and Al Harrington.  I’m sure the Magic will try to trade Harrington this summer, thus freeing up another $7.6million from the payroll.  Afflalo and Davis will be making a combined $14.1million and they will be 29 and 28 years old respectively.  Figures you can live with all around as both will still be top of the rotation contributors.  Therefore, the Magic will be on the books for roughly just that $14.1million in the summer of 2014.  Now let’s say Orlando picks up the options for Vucevic, Harkless, Nicholson, and Harris for a total of around $8.1million more.  Add in a top 3 pick in 2013 and 2014, and you are looking at around $10million more, for a total payroll in 2014 of around $32million…which should be close to $26million under the cap.

Now Orlando looks great with a good young nucleus, two contributing veterans that will just be entering their prime, and a ton of money under the cap.  But it will take a few more steps to get the Magic back to the NBA’s elite.  Let’s start with the draft.  I have previously mentioned a top 3 pick in both the 2013 and 2014 drafts.  These picks will be instrumental in turning the franchise around.  The 2013 pick should be a point guard.  I believe it will be Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State.  The freshman has great size at 6’4 and possesses that X factor that every front office loves.  Smart could be the point guard of the future.  Now if they Magic decide to go with someone like Ben McLemore or Nerlens Noel, the can always focus on free agency in order to land a point guard following the Jameer Nelson era.  The 2014 draft is loaded with talent and promises to be one of the deepest drafts since 2003.  If the Magic can land Andrew Wiggins, then they have their franchise player of the future.  If they draft below #1, they can still grab a high impact player in Jabari Parker; a versatile combo forward.

Then comes the free agents class of 2014.  With a young nucleus that would then include two top 3 draft picks from 2013 and 2014, signing a max player free agent might not be a high need for Orlando.  Instead, look for the Magic to sign Kyle Lowry (if the don’t draft Marcus Smart in 2013), and/or Andre Iguodala.  Both players, depending on next season, can probably be signed for way less than the max.  Now we are looking at a team that could have a starting five of Marcus Smart/Kyle Lowry, Aaron Afflalo, Andrew Wiggins, Glen Davis, and Nikola Vucevic.  With a bench featuring Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and other signees.  In 2014, that could be a lineup that may be in contention for years to come.  Of course a lot has to happen in order for all of that to pan out.  And what will happen could be OKC 2.0.

The plan is almost identical to what happened in OKC, as the Thunder built their team through the draft and by acquiring young players.  Those players included Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and former Thunder player James Harden.  All came with question marks, but all panned out.  The team then added complimentary players to their core and took off from there.  Sound familiar?  It should, because former OKC and Spurs disciple Rob Henningan is following that same blueprint for success (a blueprint also followed by the Spurs in draft Duncan, Ginobili, Parker, and Leonard).

So if you are a Magic fan, stay patient.  The next two seasons are going to very tough to watch, but help is on the way soon.   Just remember, its not about wins and losses (well we need a lot of losses to get high draft picks), its now about developing our younger players into the next Magic superstars.  Now all we can do is hope the plan works, the Magic thrive, and Orlando is back in the NBA Finals before we need another new arena.  Oh and hope that our newly developed stars don’t bolt for a certain West Coast destination….again….

*Notes:  The Magic will almost certainly be forced to trade someone from the group of Nicholson, Harris, Davis, Harkless, Afflalo.  If they draft a 2 and a 3 in 2013 and 2014, the SG/SF/PF spots become extremely crowded.

*Notes:  If the Magic draft a PG in 2013, then they will not go after Kyle Lowry.  If they draft a 2/3 and then get either a 2/3 or a 4 in the 2014 draft, look for Lowry to be a very sought after player in the Magic Kingdom.