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NBA San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan

Ranking the NBA Western Conference 2016-17

By Danny Thompson, Full Court Press Radio

The Western Conference went through a season in 2015-2016 where they had one team break the all-time wins record with 73. Another team won 67 games and two more teams had over 50, but none of those teams brought home the Larry O’Brien trophy. So with the defending conference champion Golden State Warriors adding some guy named Kevin Durant. Can anyone in the West keep up with them?

1. Golden State Warriors

Key Additions- Kevin Durant, Zaza Pachulia and David West
Key Losses- Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa and Andrew Bogut

Outlook – Let’s be honest here, the Warriors could have re-signed everyone and still would have been in this spot. They won 73 games and finished one game short of winning their 2nd consecutive championship. So what do they do? They go out and add one of the top 5 players in the NBA in Kevin Durant to a team that has the 2 time MVP in Stephen Curry and All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The real question is, can they find the same type of chemistry on this roster that they had last year?

2. San Antonio Spurs

Key Addition: Pau Gasol
Key Losses: Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw

Outlook – Well it had to happen eventually, Tim Duncan retired this summer after a stellar career in San Antonio. I’m not going to take up this entire space by talking about his career, but even though he didn’t have his best season ever, you have to mention how big of a loss it will be. Not to mention they lost Boris Diaw’s versatility as well. So how does R.C Buford and the front office fix that problem? You go out and sign future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol to replace Timmy. Problem solved, now can Golden State stop the best frontline in the NBA in Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kwahi Leonard? One can only hope that we get this matchup in the Western Conference Finals.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

Key Addition- Brandon Bass
Key Loss- Jeff Green

Outlook – The Clippers get this spot by default. Oklahoma City lost Durant and no one else in the West behind them made a splash to pass them for this spot. They made some questionable contract choices (Austin Rivers), but they brought back Jamal Crawford and brought in guys like Bass, Raymond Felton and Marreese Speights for depth. The real question is with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul being potential free agents next summer, can they make a deal for one of them and still remain a top player in the West? Decisions, Decisions, Decisions in Los Angeles.

4. Portland Trail Blazers

Key Additions- Festus Ezeli and Evan Turner
Key Loss- Gerald Henderson

Outlook – Portland did a lot of re-signing of their main core guys like C.J.McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless to extensions over the last few weeks. Then they brought in swingman Evan Turner and big man Festus Ezeli to a team that has Damian Lillard leading the way. Portland surprised a lot of people last year (Including this writer right here) and made the 2nd round of the playoffs. They will not be surprising this year, but one can only wonder if can they be even better than they were last year? Head coach Terry Stotts will have this team at peak form come playoff time.

5. Utah Jazz

Key Additions- George Hill and Joe Johnson
Key Loss- Trevor Booker

Outlook – Yes, finally, the Jazz will make it back into the playoffs and this time they are dangerous. Joe Johnson provides a late game closer to go along with Gordon Hayward. Veteran point guard George Hill, allows Dante Exum to ease back into the NBA after missing last year with an ACL injury. The Jazz have so much young talent on this team and a top 7 Head Coach in Quinn Snyder, this is the year that all of the stars align in Utah. I didn’t even mention yet that they have Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors in the frontcourt.

6. Memphis Grizzlies

Key Addition- Chandler Parsons
Key Losses- Matt Barnes and Lance Stephenson

Outlook – The big story in Memphis was the re-signing of Conley to the richest contract in the league’s history. The number is still mind-blowing at this point, but now it’s time for him to earn it. Last season it seemed like every key player in Memphis was hurt as some point. They are finally healthy, All-Star Marc Gasol, Conley and newly added Chandler Parsons will help new Head Coach David Fizdale ease his transition to the main spot in Beale Street. Gone are the days of Grit and Grind in Memphis, but this team won’t be an easy out come playoff time.

7. Oklahoma City Thunder

Key Additions- Victor Oladipo and Ersan Illysova
Key Losses- Kevin Durant, Dion Waiters, Serge Ibaka and Randy Foye

Outlook – As much as I don’t want to put them here, the Thunder still have Russell Westbrook (For Now). As long as he’s still in Oklahoma, the Thunder are a playoff team. Westbrook should have an MVP season and if you think 18 triple doubles were something, wait until this year. Now they have some BIG questions: Can Steven Adams can continue the play from his playoff run last year? Can Victor Oladipo be the 2nd scoring option and be light years better than Dion Waiters? Most importantly, can Enes Kanter live up to the contract that he signed last season? If the Thunder can answer yes to all of these questions, then they will be back in the Playoffs. If they can’t, the Russell Westbrook trade rumors will be at the highest level possible.

8. Houston Rockets

Key Additions- Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Nene
Key Losses- Dwight Howard and Terrance Jones

Outlook – Well this should be one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA. New Head coach Mike D’Antoni has the perfect superstar to be the focal point of his team in James Harden. This team is loaded with shooters and athletic guys. The reason why the Rockets can’t be a contender is because Harden isn’t the best and most willing defender in the NBA and that could be a serious problems on that side of the ball. But the Good News is that Clint Capella will be in the top 10 in rebounding this season and with Harden, Anderson, Gordon and Trevor Ariza, the Rockets will lead the NBA in 3 pointers made as a team.

9. Dallas Mavericks

Key Additions- Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut
Key Losses- Chandler Parsons, David Lee and Zaza Pachulia

Outlook – Mark Cuban strikes out again this summer on attracting a major free agent to pair with Dirk Nowitzki, but he took Harrison Barnes away from Golden State. If Barnes can live up to his potential, the Mavericks could be on to something special. But what should scare Mavericks fans is that Barnes did go missing for major stretches over the past 2 seasons. But now that he doesn’t have to be in most cases a 4th option on offense, this could be the year the “Black Falcon” can finally soar. This will be the team that gets in the playoffs if Oklahoma City decides to trade Westbrook or if Houston can’t outscore teams or any of the previous teams on the list has a major injury. It would be nice to have Dirk have one more deep playoff run.

10. Denver Nuggets

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- D.J. Augustin

Outlook- Denver really didn’t do anything this summer besides re-signing Darrell Arthur, Mike Miller and drafting combo Guard Jamal Murray in the NBA Draft. The Nuggets are one of those teams that when you look at the roster, you see a lot of solid NBA players, but there isn’t one of them currently that screams out superstar. That’s why the Nuggets can’t break into the playoff list as of now. Now if they send a few of those solid pieces (Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and one of the 3 big men they have) for a player like Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin, then we can talk about meaningful games in April and May.

BTW- Will Barton is extremely fun to watch.

11. Minnesota Timberwolves

Key Addtions- Jordan Hill and Cole Aldrich
Key Losses- Tayshaun Prince

Outlook – This is the most exciting team in the NBA, point-blank. Not Golden State, not Houston and not even Cleveland. Minnesota is the place if you need to watch only one team all of next season. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are the franchise building blocks and rookie Kris Dunn could make the Wolves become the 1st team in the NBA’s history to have 3 consecutive Rookie Of The Year winners. No team has a better core under the age of 25 (Wiggins, Towns, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Dunn, Ricky Rubio and Georgi Dieng), than Minnesota. But that is also the reason why I can’t put them in the playoffs just yet. Even though Tom Thibodeau is the brand new head coach and he’s the best defensive coach in the league, it’s going to take one more year before these Pups become Wolves and cause serious damage in the NBA.

12. Sacramento Kings

Key Additions- Aaron Afflalo and Matt Barnes
Key Losses- Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli and Quincy Acy

Outlook – The good news is that the Kings have one of the Top 6 players in the entire league in DeMarcus Cousins and he looks slimmer and in great shape playing for Team USA. After that, there isn’t much good news. The bad news is that there isn’t much around Cousins in Sacramento. Rumors are that Rudy Gay wants out and the only solid player they have returning is Darren Collison. They didn’t help themselves in the Draft and Kings fans are still waiting on Willie Cauley-Stein and Ben McLemore to finally live up to their potential. Adding Afflalo and Barnes will provide veteran help and fill the shooting guard and small forward spots, but without a direction for this roster, new coach Dave Joerger will be in for a long year.

13. Phoenix Suns

Key Additions- Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley
Key Losses- Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic

Outlook – Phoenix has a bunch of players at the same positions and it’s going to be interesting to watch Head coach Earl Watson try to put it all together. They ended up with two top 8 picks in the NBA Draft, but they drafted two guys that play the same position in Dragon Bender and Marquese Chriss. Then they drafted Tyler Ulis making the Suns the only team in the NBA with five or more backcourt players from the same college (Kentucky). They have breakout superstar candidates in Devin Booker and Alex Len as the building blocks of a very good team. Now if they could move either Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight to get that wing player they need, could they jump back into the playoffs? Knight and T.J Warren for Rudy Gay sounds really nice doesn’t it?

14. New Orleans Pelicans

Key Additions- Langston Galloway, Solomon Hill and E’Twan Moore
Key Losses- Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and James Ennis

Outlook- Normally I would say that a team has an idea and an identity of how they are going be shaped and I don’t really know what the Pelicans are doing? They lost sharpshooters Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon to Houston and replaced them with Hill, Galloway and Moore for about the same amount of money. I’m not sure if that is considered an upgrade or even a swap of similar talent. From the looks of things, unless Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and rookie Buddy Hield can put up All-Star numbers, whatever superstar Anthony Davis does will be for nothing. This could be the worst team in the Western Conference, but Davis alone puts them one spot up from the bottom.

15. Los Angeles Lakers

Key Additions- Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov
Key Losses- Kobe Bryant, Brandon Bass and Roy Hibbert

Outlook – The Lakers are going to be better than last year which is a good thing. D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson form a solid 1-2 punch in the backcourt and Julius Randle was a double-double machine last year. They drafted Brandon Ingram with the 2nd overall pick in the NBA Draft and he has all the makings of a franchise player in the next season or two. Now they went out and overspent on Mozgov in hopes that he will return to the 2015 playoff form that he had with the Cavaliers. They are adding pieces and at least they aren’t Brooklyn Nets bad. The good news is the young talent will have a great teacher in new Head coach Luke Walton. Now if they can just not give away all their pieces for Russell Westbrook, then the future will be bright in the City of Angels, but it’s going to take some time.

 

 

Danny Thompson Full Court Press Radio hostDanny Thompson is the Creator and Host of NBA Full Court Press Radio and Lead Columnist for FULL COURT PRESS RADIO.

Check out more from Danny here.
Reprinted with permission.

Featured image courtesy of Vernon Chang @MoVernie

 

 

 


 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll

Ranking The NBA Eastern Conference 2016-17

By Danny Thompson, Full Court Press Radio

Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up defeating the Golden State Warriors bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to the Eastern Conference, but the major question is what did the other 14 teams in the East do to keep the Cavs from repeating? Here’s an early season preview on each of the teams.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Key Additions- Mike Dunleavy Jr and Chris Anderson
Key Loss- Matthew Dellavadova

Outlook – LeBron James just re-signed and although J.R Smith hasn’t (he will), the Cavaliers are the defending NBA Champions with no major losses from last year’s team. Kyrie Irving has turned into a superstar point guard and could be best point guard not named Paul, Westbrook or Curry in the NBA. Dunleavy Jr. brings a solid 3-point marksman off the bench. Now the real question is will Kevin Love still be on this roster on opening night? If he is, then they should repeat with no problems.


2. Toronto Raptors

Key Addition- Jared Sullinger
Key Losses- Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola

Outlook – Toronto entered Free Agency with one major agenda and that was re-signing DeMar DeRozan as soon as possible. Well the Compton, California native didn’t entertain the chance to going back home and signed a huge contract to stay in Toronto. Playoff hero Bismack Biyombo got a huge payday from the Orlando Magic and the team lost a few spare pieces off a team that won 56 games and took the Cavaliers to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. So why do they stay at number 2? Well Jonas Valenciunas and DeMarre Carroll are both healthy and they added former Celtic Jared Sullinger to help in the forward rotation. Besides you have Kyle Lowry and DeRozan as your starting backcourt. There’s no need to go any further.

3. Boston Celtics

Key Addition- Al Horford
Key Losses- Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger

Outlook – Boston didn’t get Kevin Durant, but they got former Hawks All-Star Al Horford to come play in Beantown. The 31-year-old Horford, brings an interior presence, a solid team defender and inside/outside threat from the post. Armed with so many young players, they let Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger go in free agency, but 1st round pick Jaylen Brown should ease some of the load and remember the Celtics still have 1st time All-Star Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and All-NBA Defensive wizard Avery Bradley as your lead guard rotation. One can only wonder when will Danny Ainge pull the trigger on a big trade for one more big fish to chase Cleveland and Toronto in the East.

4. Indiana Pacers

Key Addtions- Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson
Key Losses- George Hill, Jordan Hill and Ian Mahinmi

Outlook – No team was more active in the early part of summer than the Indiana Pacers. They made Draft day deals for Teague and Young and during the free agency period and added Al Jefferson from Charlotte. With the additions Teague and Young, the Pacers potentially the best starting 5 in the Eastern Conference. Jefferson brings one of the best low post games to the bench while they still have All-Star Paul George, the always dangerous Monta Ellis and the improving 2nd year stud Miles Turner. Remember CJ Miles and Rodney Stuckey will lead the bench unit along with Jefferson. The major questions is how will new head coach Nate McMillan turn this group into a Eastern Conference contender.

5. Atlanta Hawks

Key Additions- Dwight Howard and Jarrett Jack
Key Losses- Al Horford and Jeff Teague

Outlook – I know when you look at this your wondering why are the Hawks rated this high? Well, adding Howard is going to be bigger than most think. Howard, in this writers opinion, will turn back into the Orlando Howard. Yes he’s a bit older and a lot of his athleticism is gone, that doesn’t mean Howard can’t go back to 18 points, 12 rebounds and at least 2 blocks a game. Howard spending more time in the post will allow Paul Millsap to be able to have more space on the floor on the offensive side. Resigning Kent Bazemore was critical to this team upcoming success especially if one of the draft picks Taurean Prince or DeAndre Bembry can step into the starting Small Forward spot and allow Kyle Korver to come off the bench. But the evolution of Dennis Schroder into an upper ensulion Point Guard is the key for the Hawks to stay in this spot.

6. New York Knicks

Key Additions- Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee
Key Losses- Langston Galloway, Aaron Affalo, Robin Lopez and Derrick Williams

Outlook – New York made some major splashes and took some major risks in the process. By adding Rose and Noah from Chicago they are taking a big risk with guys with no good great injury histories. Noah has had one season since 2009-2010 of playing at least 70 games and we already know about Rose’s history. Bringing in Lee adds another solid role player who knows his role and plays it very well. If the Knicks starting 5 can at least by 65 games together, this ranking might be a bit too low.

7. Charlotte Hornets

Key Additions- Roy Hibbert, Ramon Sessions and Marco Bellini
Key Losses- Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee

Outlook – Charlotte did lose a lot this summer from a team that was one game away from being in the 2nd round of the Playoffs. So after losing 3 key members off last season’s team, how can they stay in the playoffs? Getting a full season from defensive wizard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the 1st reason. With MKG and Nicolas Batum manning the wings it allows for Kemba Walker to play the passing lanes, which creates more steals. Adding Roy Hibbert at center is a massive upgrade on the defensive side of the floor because Jefferson couldn’t really guard anyone in the post. The main problem once again is can this team score enough points to win. For Charlotte to take that step forward, it’s going to have to be a team effort and they have enough guys who can do that. Watch for Walker to be an All-Star this year.

8. Chicago Bulls

Key Additions- Dwayne Wade, Rajon Rondo and Robin Lopez
Key Losses- Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose

Outlook – The Bulls didn’t make the playoffs last year and they lost Pau Gasol among other players, but this team will end up outlasting Detroit to make the final spot in the playoffs. Any time you have All-Stars in Wade and Jimmy Butler it’s kind of hard to leave them out of the playoffs. Wade has something to prove as he was passed over for a major contract this summer. Now they are issues everywhere when it comes to the roster and the style of play that 2nd year Head Coach Fred Hoiberg wants to play. He wants to be a perimeter oriented team, well with Wade, Butler and Rajon Rondo you won’t get that at all. None of the 3 of them are close to being 3 point threats. Good news for Bulls fans is with the losses of Gasol and Noah, the #FreeBobbyPortis movement can finally see the light.

9. Detroit Pistons

Key Additons- Jon Leuer, Ish Smith and Boban Marjanovic
Key Losses- Steve Blake and Anthony Tolliver

Outlook – Detroit made the playoffs last year and this unit is still young so they miss the playoffs for what reason? Well, Chicago added Dwayne Wade, New York has a better starting 5 and Atlanta and Charlotte are just better teams currently. Someone had to miss the playoffs. The Pistons can easily make the playoffs if Stanley Johnson and Kentanvous Caldwell-Pope can exceed expectations. What Detroit really needs is that star that can take games over in the 4th quarter. Andre Drummond is a free throw liability and Reggie Jackson is not a closer.

10. Orlando Magic

Key Additions- Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green
Key Losses- Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illavsova and Dewayne Dedmon

Outlook – Orlando made some interesting moves this summer to say the least. Good news is that they have the best shot blocking duo in the NBA, added a new Head Coach in Frank Vogel and they created a buzz in Orlando. Now here is the bad news, they don’t have a go-to-scorer, they have forced the potential face of franchise in Aaron Gordon to play out of position at Small Forward to get him playing time and have a serious issue when it comes to outside shooting. They added Jodie Meeks from Detroit, but he’s still hurt currently. Evan Fournier and Augustin are solid from behind the arc, but that’s really it. 2nd year Guard Mario Hezonja better make a tremendous leap or it’s going to be a long year in Orlando. To be honest, I’m not sold on the Biyombo signing, he’s needed but not at over $17 million per season.

11. Washington Wizards

Key Additions- Ian Mahinmi and Andrew Nicholson
Key Losses- Ramon Sessions, Nene, Gary Neal and Jared Dudley

Outlook – Washington has been going through the injury bug for years, especially with newly paid Bradley Beal. If All-Star Point Guard John Wall could finally get his main guys healthy long enough, this team has enough talent to potentially breakthrough and make the playoffs. New coach Scott Brooks is very good at getting the most out of his teams and if gets this unit in the playoffs, then he should be a serious candidate for Coach of the Year. If Beal and others can’t stay healthy, Wizards fans will be looking forward to next years draft.

12. Milwaukee Bucks

Key Additions- Matthew Dellavadova and Mirza Teletovic
Key Losses- Jerryd Bayless, OJ Mayo and Grievis Vasquez

Outlook – For a team that has one of the best groups of talent in the NBA and were in the playoffs 2 years ago, to be out of the playoffs for potentially a 2nd season in a row is head scratching. Lets be honest, the major hole on this roster was at point guard going into the summer. They went out and drafted Thon Maker (a 7’0 power forward/center) in the lottery, let Bayless and Vasquez go to other teams and went out and overpaid for Dellavadova from Cleveland. They would be better, if Michael Carter-Willams played with a pulse or the team could acquire a point guard for out of place Big Man Greg Monroe. Otherwise it could be a wasted year for young studs Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton in Milwaukee.

13. Miami Heat

Key Additions- Dion Waiters, Derrick Williams and Wayne Ellington
Key Losses- Dwayne Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson

Outlook – It could be a long year in South Beach in 2016-2017 for Heat fans. They have lost the face of the franchise in Wade, key veterans in Deng and Johnson and they still don’t know about the health of Chris Bosh. This spells a recipe for disaster for head coach Eric Spolstra and company. On a positive note, this youth movement will allow Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson to grow as the leaders with Hassan Whiteside anchoring the low post.

14. Philadelphia 76ers

Key Additions- Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson
Key Loss- Ish Smith

Outlook – For the 1st Time in years the Philadelpha 76ers aren’t the worst team in the NBA. They added Ben Simmons, Saric and Joel Embiid to the front court that already has Nerlens Noel and Jahil Okafor in the rotation. Now if they can either be bad for one more year and draft a guard of the future or deal a big man or two to get an established one, then we are talking something special in Philly. Simmons alone is one of the few players worth getting NBA League Pass for in the upcoming season.

15. Brooklyn Nets

Key Additions- Jeremy Lin, Grievis Vasquez and Luis Scola
Key Losses- Jarrett Jack, Thaddeus Young and Wayne Ellington

Outlook – It could get really ugly in Brooklyn this year. I mean REALLY UGLY. They tried and failed in free agency, offering contracts to Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe only to have them matched by their teams. Their previous 1st round pick went to Boston and their upcoming pick will in most cases head right back to Boston as well. Unless the Brook-Lin connection is the basketball version of wrestling’s Rock and Sock Connection, they will not get out of the cellar in the Eastern Conference.

 

 

Danny Thompson Full Court Press Radio hostDanny Thompson is the Creator and Host of NBA Full Court Press Radio and Lead Columnist for FULL COURT PRESS RADIO.

Check out more from Danny here.
Reprinted with permission.

 

 

 


 

NBA Atlanta Hawks Dwight Howard

NBA Make Or Break Players In The Eastern Conference

By Danny Thompson, Full Court Press Radio

With every team in the NBA record being 0-0 currently, there is always that one player that can make or break the fortunes of your favorite team. If they step up and become better than expected, then their team will be taken to another level. But if their play falls off or they don’t live up to the hype, then their team falls off a cliff and the team becomes a disappointment. So let’s take a look at my thoughts on who is the X-Factor for your favorite team in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta Hawks – Dwight Howard – C

Howard was Atlanta’s major free agent signing this summer. He has the task of replacing Al Horford and returning to his hometown. If anyone can live up to it, it’s Howard. His last 2 stops haven’t been the best places for his talent and his reputation isn’t the best either. But what we do know is that, when healthy and motivated Howard is maybe the best defensive center in the league. He may not have the same spring in his knees as he had during his Orlando days, but he’s still a threat. He will allow Paul Millsap to have more freedom at the Power Forward spot and the pick and roll game with Dennis Schroder could be dangerous. If Howard lives up to his expectations there won’t be a drop off in Atlanta, but he doesn’t it’s going to be a long year in the A.

Boston Celtics – Marcus Smart – PG

Smart was drafted the 6th Overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and after years of not being considered in trades, it’s time for him to finally live up to the hype. He has shown flashes of brilliance in his short career, but hasn’t been a consistent starter in Boston. Smart’s biggest strength is his on-ball defensive. If he can get on the court with All-NBA Defensive stud Avery Bradley, the Celtics could have the best set of defensive guards in the East. But with Isaiah Thomas becoming an All-Star last year it made it tough for Smart to get back into the starting lineup. But Celtics fans know that Thomas is better suited for coming off the bench and lighting teams up. If Smart can improve his shooting (Last season he shot 34.8% from the floor and 25% from 3), Boston could catapult themselves into the Eastern Conference Finals.

Brooklyn Nets – Bojan Bogdanovic – SG

Bojan’s play at the end of last season was one of the bright spots that the Nets had in a uneventful season. In the 2nd half of the season, he increased his scoring by almost 6 points per game and hit over 40% from the 3 point line. On a team that is currently the worst in the league, Bogdanovic will have the green light to shoot as much as needed as teams double down on Brook Lopez. If he can improve the rest of his game and get closer to 20 points per game (He finished at 11.2 per game with a 15.1 average after the All-Star Break), the Nets might have a shot at getting out the East’s bottom

Charlotte Hornets – Roy Hibbert – C

Charlotte lost Al Jefferson to Indiana and one thing that Steve Clifford wants out of his big men is to be a defensive presence. Enter Roy Hibbert, after a season of looking lost and losing games in Los Angeles, has a chance to restart his career with a playoff team in Charlotte. People forget that he’s a 2 time All-Star and he was the runner up for Defensive Player of the Year in the 2013-14 season with the Indiana Pacers. Also on the Hornets staff is Patrick Ewing, who is fellow Georgetown Alum who will be in charge of bringing Roy back to life. If Hibbert returns to form, Charlotte could have the best defensive team in the East. The Hornets already have Michael Kidd-Ghilchrist and Nicolas Batum on the wings, so if he provides the post presence then good luck scoring on the Hornets.

Chicago Bulls – Bobby Portis – PF

Last season, Chicago had Joakim Noah and Paul Gasol starting at the Power Forward and Center spots. After the departure of both in the off-season and the Taj Gibson trade countdown in full effect, the 2nd year man from Arkansas should have enough space to show why he was the best value pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Portis averaged 7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in only 17.8 minutes per game last season. Bulls fans have been asking when will they #FreeBobbyPortis, now they chants can finally be answered. If Portis can get consistent minutes in a rotation that has Nikola Mirotic and veteran Robin Lopez in the front court, he could average close to the 14 points and 11.9 rebounds that his Per 36 minutes numbers that he had last season.

Cleveland Cavaliers – Tristian Thompson – C

Look LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin can’t be X-Factors here, so lets go with Thompson at this spot. Thompson proved during the championship run last year how valuable he is. His value is not scoring points because that’s not his role, but his rebounding ablity is what makes him standout. The Cavaliers were 9-1 in the playoffs when he grabbed 10 or more rebounds in a game. He’s already one of the NBA’s best at offensive rebounding, so that skill leads to so many second chance points. If Thompson forgets how to rebound and do the little things, then Cleveland will have a hard time repeating in the East.

Detroit Pistons – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – SG

It’s time for Caldwell-Pope to bring it. Piston fans have been split down the middle on what to think about the 4th year guard out of Georgia. While he’s shown flashes of being a very good starting shooting guard in the Motor City, but the inconstancy from him in his career have driven Pistons fans to a breaking point. While his numbers improved in each of his 3 previous seasons, Caldwell-Pope hasn’t made the impact that is needed for Detroit to become an elite team in the East. His 3 point accuracy declined last season, by almost 4 percentage points from the previous season (34.5 in 13-14 to 30.9 in 14-15) and that is one of his strengths. If Caldwell-Pope can improve his shooting percentages, become a consistent 3 point threat and still play at a high level on defense, then Detroit could make a deep playoff run.

Indiana Pacers – Jeff Teague – PG

For each of the last 2 years Hawks fans had the question of who was going to be the starting Point Guard going forward. After going back and forth between Dennis Schroder and Teague, Teague was traded to the Indiana Pacers right before the NBA Draft. Teague has 3 things going for him:

  1. He’s back in his hometown
  2. It’s a contract year
  3. Teague is playing for a brand new head coach and former Point Guard (Nate McMillan)

With those things being said, Teague has every reason to have a big season in Indy. He holds the key to the Pacers success in the 2016-2017 season. If Teague can go back to the 2013-2014 numbers and production then the Pacers have every right to be apart of the East’s elite, if not Pacer fans will be screaming to have George Hill back.

Miami Heat – Dion Waiters – SG

Waiters hasn’t lived up to expectations when he was drafted with the 4rd overall pick in 2012 NBA Draft. After scoring 15.9 points per game in his 2nd season, Waiters scoring has dropped each season since then and now has turned into a 6th man instead of a top level shooting guard. For Miami, this low risk signing this summer, can be a real home run if Waiters can go back to his 2nd season numbers and production. Remember he’s only 22 years old and still has time to grow. He just needs to take better quality shots and improve on his career 41.1% shooting from the floor.

Milwaukee Bucks – Michael Carter-Williams – PG

Michael Carter-Williams entered the NBA and had one of the best games any rookie in his debut has ever had in the league’s history. He capped that season with winning the Rookie of The Year award. Then came the trade to Milwaukee during the middle of his sophomore season. Even since then, his career has been going downhill ever since. At this point head coach Jason Kidd is using Giannis Antekoupto as his point guard, because he’s lost faith in Carter-Williams. If Carter-Williams can regain his confidence in himself and his coach, he can be the real reason why the Bucks are playing meaningful games in April.

New York Knicks – Brandon Jennings – PG

2 years ago, Brandon Jennings was having an All-Star caliber season in Detroit and the Pistons were one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Then he tore his Achilles and missed the rest of the season. After that, the Pistons traded for Reggie Jackson, gave him a big-time contract extension and then Jennings was traded to Orlando during the middle of last season.

After struggling to find his way in Orlando, Jennings ended up signing with the Knicks this summer. With Derrick Rose’s injury history, this is the perfect spot for Jennings to shine. If he can provide scoring off the bench and play solid basketball when Rose isn’t on the floor, he could be in for a big payday next summer. Remember most Achilles injuries take around 12-18 months before a player returns to normal.

Orlando Magic – Aaron Gordon – SF/PF

After dunking over the NBA Mascot of the Year Stuff at the NBA All-Star game in February, Gordon became a household name. But for Magic fans, they knew that they had something special in Gordon all along. He was the teams best player in the 2nd half of last season once he was given consistent minutes. He averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game after the break.

Now after all those positives, the team went out and acquired Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo in the offseason making Gordon move to Small Forward. If he can get the position adjustment down and become more consistent and accurate shooting the basketball, Gordon will live up to all of his potential and the Magic will finally have a shot to get back to the playoffs.

Philadelphia 76ers – Jerryd Bayless – PG

Jerryd Bayless has been a solid backup guard for most of his career. He’s always been reliable for getting points and providing good play as a combo guard. Now he has signed with the 76ers this summer and has every chance to be the starting point guard on opening night. He had a very good season last year for the Milwaukee Bucks scoring 10.4 points per game and hitting a career high 43.7% from the 3 point line. Good news for 76ers fans is that the teams other primary ball handler is Ben Simmons and his passing ability will allow more open looks for Bayless in the upcoming season. As long as he can knock down the open shot and improve on his assist numbers, (a career 2.9 per game) there should be no reason why Bayless can’t be the teams starting point guard all season long.

Toronto Raptors – DeMarre Carroll – SF

The reason why DeMarre Carroll was signed in Toronto was because he would be the primary defender on players such as LeBron James, Paul George and other big time scorers in the NBA playoffs. Well in his 1st year in Toronto that wasn’t the case. Carroll missed most of the season due to injury and for the 2nd straight year, he wasn’t healthy as his team went against LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals. (Remember he spent the season before in Atlanta) Now DeMarre is finally healthy and when he is “The Junkyard Dog” is one of the best defender in the league. He’s a very solid 3 point shooter (a career 37% from deep) and if he can regain his form when he was apart of Atlanta’s 60 win team two years ago, then the Raptors are the biggest threat to Cleveland and the NBA Finals.

Washington Wizards – Markieff Morris – PF

Morris didn’t have the best 2014-2015 season. His brother was traded to Detroit, he wanted to traded because he didn’t trust the organization anymore, there was the incident in Las Vegas and the infamous sideline shove during a timeout with Archie Goodwin. Finally at the trade deadline, Morris was traded to Washington for a 1st Round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. After the trade Morris shot almost 47% from the floor and became more comfortable in his new surroundings. This year he should get back to the 15 points and 6 rebounds a game that he averaged in his last season in Phoenix. If he can improve to a least 17 points and 8 rebounds, Washington with John Wall, Marcin Gortat and the healthy Bradley Beal should be back in the playoffs this April.

 

Danny Thompson Full Court Press Radio hostDanny Thompson is the Creator and Host of NBA Full Court Press Radio and Lead Columnist for FULL COURT PRESS RADIO.

Check out more from Danny here.
Reprinted with permission.

 

 

 


 

NBA Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson

NBA Western Conference’s Best Starting Lineups 2016-17

By Danny Thompson, Full Court Press Radio

In the Western Conference this year we all know what the Golden State Warriors have done with their signing of Kevin Durant to the already dangerous team they had in place. But the real question is who is after them in the best starting 5’s list? Well here are my opinions

1. Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia

Reason – Is there a real reason why they wouldn’t be number 1? I’m going to give one reason why, 4 of the top 20 players in the entire league are in this starting 5.

2. San Antonio Spurs – Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol

Reason – They lost a lot of defense at the center spot with Tim Duncan retiring, but insert one of the most skilled big men in the league’s history in Gasol. Add him to Aldridge, arguably one of the best two way players in Leonard, the sharp-shooting Green plus the always dangerous Tony Parker and the Spurs are right back in business.

3. Los Angeles Clippers – Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Wesley Johnson, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan

Reason – The number 2 spot was all theirs until the Spurs signed Gasol. Jordan established himself as one of the best in the league last season (1st team All-NBA selection) and his ceiling continues to grow. Paul and Griffin are in contract years, so you already know what kind of years their going to have. Redick has always been so consistent. Now if this team can add a replacement for Johnson, then they could be a serious challenger to be the best unit in the entire NBA.

4. Memphis Grizzlies – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol

Reason – Parsons brings a very athletic wing to go along with the same 4 guys that have been in Memphis for it seems like forever. He brings a lot of what Rudy Gay would have provided when he was in Memphis. The real question is, can he stay healthy? Two major injuries in the last 2 seasons puts up a serious red flag. Otherwise Memphis hit a home run in the offseason. This unit is really dangerous.

5. Utah Jazz – George Hill, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert

Reason – Utah is my pick to be the biggest sleeper in the entire league. Johnson adds another solid shooter and closer to this group. Hill will provide a steady and solid starting point guard until Dante Exum is ready to take the job over and Hayward just fills stats sheets. Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert have the potential to be the best power forward-center combination not named Blake and DeAndre in the Western Conference.

6. Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Evan Turner, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee

Reason – Portland adds Evan Turner’s all-around skill which should allow Lillard and McCollum to have more freedom to play off the ball. Aminu quietly had a solid season and if Plumlee can continue his play that he showed in the playoffs (7.0 ppg 11.8 reb and 4.8 ast) then this ranking might be a bit too low.

7. Houston Rockets – Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Clint Capela

Reason – This is a typical Mike D’Antoni lineup. Harden, Ariza and Anderson will let it fly from arc, Capela will grab all of the rebounds and Beverley will just be solid but not spectacular. Mind you this isn’t D’Antoni’s Phoenix style 7 seconds or less, but they could score just as many points as them. Look for Harden and the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook to fight for the scoring title.

8. Oklahoma City Thunder – Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Kyle Singler, Ersan Illyasova and Steven Adams

Reason – If it was my choice Victor Oladipo and Enes Kanter would be in the starting lineup, but with not having enough quality talent on the bench, you have to spread the wealth. Westbrook with this lineup could still surpass the 18 triple-doubles that he had last season. Adams is turning into a very good center and Roberson has shown signs of improvement each season he’s been in the league. Illyasova and Singler both bring solid outside shooting to this group.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns

Reason – We all know how special Towns and Wiggins are in the present and in the future. They are going to be dynamic and spectacular. As far as the other 3 guys in the lineup, that remains to be decided. Ricky Rubio has outstanding court vision but he can’t hit a jumpshot. Zach LaVine is talented, but can he play shooting guard? Dieng is a solid interior defender and matches well with Towns, but can he develop an offensive game to match? But we can all agree that this is the team everyone will be watching on NBA League Pass this year.

10. Dallas Mavericks – Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut

Reason – In the game of Father Time vs. All-Time great, Dirk is starting to lose the battle. This could be his last year being a franchise player. Now the real question is can Wesley Matthews regain his 2014-2015 season form in time to help out Dirk. Deron Williams days as being a top level Point Guard are over with and Andrew Bogut has to stay healthy. The big signing of Harrison Barnes leaves one to hope that he lives up to the contract.

11. Denver Nuggets – Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and Nikola Jokic

Reason – Solid group of 5. Nothing spectacular and each of them knows their roles and play them very well. Mudiay has the chance to really standout especially if he cuts down on the turnovers. This could be the year in which Gallinari breaks the 20 point per game club.

12. Sacramento Kings – Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Willie Cauley-Stein and DeMarcus Cousins

Reason – Cousins is so talented but hopefully that new coach Dave Jorger will get the best out of him and the rest of this group. McLemore needs to find the tools that made him at lottery pick a short time ago. Collison is very underrated at the point guard spot.

13. Phoenix Suns – Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, Alex Len and Tyson Chandler

Reason – So many guys not playing should be the real story. Honestly, this lineup might not make it out of November because Devin Booker is ready to breakout and be a star. With Knight and Bledsoe on the roster it’s going to be a real problem getting him minutes right away. Both rookies (Dragon Bender and Marquese Chriss) aren’t ready to be starters, so Alex Len has to play out of position for the time being.

14. New Orleans Pelicans – Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Solomon Hill, Anthony Davis and Omer Asik

Reason – The only reason why this unit isn’t last is because Anthony Davis is one of the top 5 players in the entire league. Ideally, Buddy Hield will join this group and move Evans and Hill into the frontcourt with Davis at Center. New Orleans better find a center quick because Asik is the worst starting center in the entire league.

15. Los Angeles Lakers – D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Luol Deng, Julius Randle and Timofey Mozgov

Reason – Well, it was a hard decision between spots 12-15 but someone had to be in this place. Russell, Clarkson and Randle will be solid players in this league but Deng is a bit older and is the perfect placeholder until Brandon Ingram explodes on the scene in L.A. But Mozgov better return to form to bring this unit out of last place.

 

 

Danny Thompson is the Creator and Host of NBA Full Court Press Radio and Lead Columnist of FULL COURT PRESS RADIO.

Check out more from Danny here.
Reprinted with permission.

 

 

 



 

NBA Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James and Kyrie Irving

NBA Eastern Conference’s Best Starting Lineups 2016-17

By Danny Thompson, Full Court Press Radio

Barring in major trades or injuries between now and the start of the NBA Season at the end of October, most teams across the league have their starting lineups pretty much in place.

Starting units are very important. Just ask the Detroit Pistons, who had one of the the best starting lineups last year by many metrics, which carried them to the playoffs despite having one of the worst benches by those very same metrics. Who has the best one currently in the Eastern Conference? Number one should be no surprise:

1. Cleveland – Kyrie Irving, J.R Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson

They are the defending champions, so why wouldn’t they be at the very top. With Thompson and Love, teams have a hard time grabbing rebounds against them. We all know that Smith can go off from behind the arc at any point in time and Irving has entered the discussion being a top 5 point guard. By the way they have LeBron James on their team as well.

2. Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Jared Sullinger and Jonas Valanciunas

This unit made the Eastern Conference Finals without Carroll or Valanciunas being anywhere near healthy. DeMarre Carroll was brought in to be a defensive stopper and glue guy, and this will be the year he makes good on that reputation. Sullinger brings another scoring threat who can take pressure off the Eastern Conference’s best backcourt.

3. Indiana Pacers – Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner

So much talent here among this group of five. The three returning starters, Ellis, George, and Turner are very good. George is an MVP candidate, Turner could very well be the 2nd best player in his draft class, and Ellis is still a dangerous scorer. Now they add Thaddeus Young and Jeff Teague to the mix? This Pacer team has a group that could be very special.

4. Detroit Pistons – Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris and Andre Drummond

Detroit had one of the best starting 5’s in the NBA after they traded for Harris at the deadline, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be in the top five now, giving the young age of this group. Caldwell-Pope is the real key for the Pistons this year.

5. Boston Celtics – Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson

This rating would be higher if they can find a way to replace Johnson without having to move Horford away from the Power Forward spot. Johnson is a talented defensive player, but he has a lot of issues especially with fouling that keeps this unit from being higher. Like last year’s Warriors, The Celtics best lineup may not be the starting one, given the strength of Boston’s guards.

6. New York Knicks – Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah

This team would be higher on this list, but there are so many injury flags with this group. If Rose and Noah can each play at least 65 games with this unit, Porzingis continues to develop, and Carmelo decides to lead this group like he’s leading Team USA this summer, then this rating is too low.

7. Charlotte Hornets – Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Ghilchrist, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller

Charlotte has one of the best defensive units in the league, especially with Kidd-Ghilchrist coming back off of injury. Batum, along with the departed Jeremy Lin, allowed Kemba Walker to play off ball a lot last season, which helped Walker to have the best season of his career. Williams is very underrated at Power Forward, and Cody Zeller has to step up and play at an even higher level if the Hornets want to back in the playoffs.

8. Chicago Bulls – Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez

Fred Hoiberg wants a team that can go up and down the floor and be able to hit outside shots. The major issue is, well, none of the five listed here can do that. Maybe a style change will be in order in Chicago.

9. Milwaukee Bucks – Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe

This could be worse, Jason Kidd still wants to run Giannis at Point Guard and then this unit would have to use Rashad Vaughn or John Henson in the starting lineup. But the current 5 here is solid, especially if Carter-Williams can go back to his 76ers rookie season numbers.

10. Atlanta Hawks – Dennis Schröder, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard

Kyle Korver will start the season at the shooting guard spot until one of the rookies ( Prince or Bembry) can adjust to the small forward spot which will allow Kent Bazemore to move to shooting guard. Millsap and Howard are All-Stars and Schroder is going to be very good in his first year as a full-time starter.

11. Washington Wizards – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Jr., Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat

The talent is there, but there are glaring issues. Bradley Beal hasn’t proven to be a consistent 70+ game a year player, but Markieff Morris should have a better season after looking lost after the trade to Washington. Wall is one of the top Point Guards in the league and Gortat was outstanding last year which was a good thing. Now, if Beal can live up to his contract and Porter can finally live up to his 3rd overall draft pick from a few seasons ago, then Washington could get back into the playoffs.

12. Orlando Magic – Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Serge Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic

After a season of having poor paint defense, they traded for Ibaka to be able to play beside Vucevic. Payton has very good court vision, but still haven’t proven to be a good shooter. Fournier had a career year last year after being given starters minutes and will put up simlar numbers this year. The key for success is Gordon’s adjustment to the Small Forward spot.

13. Miami Heat – Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Chris Bosh* and Hassan Whiteside

I know there is an asterisk beside Bosh’s name; We don’t know if he is going to play at all this year. Whiteside is an elite defensive center and Dragic is a solid point guard, but the youth of Richardson and Winslow playing major minutes is going to be the key in Miami this year. Without Bosh, you’re looking at either Derrick Williams or Josh McRoberts at Power Forward.

14. Philadelphia 76ers – Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel

The 76ers are so imbalanced right now; all of their talent is in the front court positions. If they can flip a big man or two for help in back court, then this rating is bit low. Simmons has so much star potential, it’s ridiculous. Having Henderson and Bayless off the bench is fine, but starting is not a good sign.

15. Brooklyn Nets – Jeremy Lin, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Trevor Booker and Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez is a very good center, and Lin is an upgrade over last years group of Jarrett Jack, Shane Larkin and Donald Sloan. Hollis-Jefferson is a solid wing defender, and Booker can provide a decent option at Power Forward. All five of these players are certainly fine on their own, but outside of Lopez, are all fringe starters.

 

 

Danny Thompson is the Creator and Host of NBA Full Court Press Radio and Lead Columnist of FULL COURT PRESS RADIO.

Check out more from Danny here.
Reprinted with permission.

 

 

 


 

Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James

In Defense of The Cavs LeBron James

By Ethan Stern, FULL COURT PRESS RADIO

Listen to any radio show across America and you’ll likely hear some Hot Takes™ about how LeBron James is done, LeBron can’t play, it’s all LeBron’s fault, but just pause for a second. It’s absurd to think that this series is somehow LeBron James’ fault. It’s easy to fall back on the unreasonable yet fashionable argument that if LeBron was so great, the Cleveland Cavaliers should win the series against the Golden State Warriors easily.

Perhaps there is an argument to be made in that regard when you compare LeBron and the Cavaliers to last year’s finals, where Kevin Love missed the entire series and Kyrie Irving missed five of the six games, but Love has been ineffective at best, and so far the only game the Cavaliers have won was the game that Love was ruled out for. Irving is another defensive sieve, and there perhaps the Cavaliers strengths that carried them through their dominant run through the playoffs don’t work against the Warriors.

One of the more glaring criticisms of LeBron is that he has been settling too much for his jump shot. Of course, this was never mentioned before when he hit it more consistently, but there’s not much he can do against Golden State’s defense.

With Klay Thompson’s defensive improvement over last year, the Warriors now have four players who can guard LeBron on a consistent basis with Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, and 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, who shouldered the load in last year’s finals. Most teams are lucky if they even have one player who can competently guard LeBron over the course of a game. Having so many versatile wing defenders is a total rarity in the modern NBA, as modern teams struggle to fine the coveted “3 and D” wing. Ignoring the Warriors defensive intelligence and knowledge of when to switch and when to help, this is a nightmare series for LeBron offensively.

Coaching the playoffs is a completely different beast from the regular season. What worked over 82 games may not be best for the playoffs, and adjustments over the course of a series are crucial. The Cavaliers’ rookie head coach Tyronn Lue was going to be overmatched against Steve Kerr and his superstar assistants, Ron Adams and Luke Walton, but to the extent that he has been is astounding.

The Cavs defense hasn’t struggled, so Lue can be credited for at least preventing the Warriors from reaching their season average of 114 points in all four games, but it’s the Cavs offense that had been firing on all cylinders prior to the finals that has been the issue. It’s good that Lue has tried so many different lineups, but each time the Cavs game plan was relatively similar, which ruins the point. The Cavs are sticking to their slow yet unmethodical offense, trying to ooh and ah the crowd with dribbles from a stagnant offense. Playing slow against the Warriors is a sound strategy to try and take them out of their rhythm, but if the offense you generate is so inefficient, it’s moot.

Lue’s lack of coaching acumen culminated in his game four post-game presser, where he was asked why he sat Tristan Thompson so much in the fourth quarter, to which he responded, “I’m not sure. I’ll have to look at the tape.” If Lue is unable to recall why he made a coaching decision less than an hour ago, it doesn’t reflect well on the Cavs’ chances to make a historic comeback.

Meanwhile, on the other bench, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has adjusted his rotations to account for the Cavaliers strengths, even inserting James Michael McAdoo, a “he don’t play” kind of guy, to gain some extra quickness at the big positions. Kerr has adjusted his offense to counter the Cavs different lineups, as the Cavs have tried taking away the three, taking away the rim, doubling Curry and Thompson, switching, not switching, and still exceeding 100 points in each of their wins.

This of course, is all completely overshadowed by the fact that the 2016 Golden State Warriors are one win away from being the greatest team of all time. Any argument that LeBron should magically show up and beat this team is so ill-conceived for this fact alone, though I’m not sure if it’s more disrespectful towards LeBron or towards this Warriors team. As great as LeBron is, how many players at any point of their career were on a team that could even challenge the Warriors? LeBron is a borderline top five all-time player, but just enjoy the Warriors; we may never see this again.

 

Ethan Stern writes for FULL COURT PRESS RADIO.

Check out more from Ethan here.
Reprinted with permission.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini

 

 

 


 

Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry

Making Sense of the Warriors Stephen Curry’s Knee Injury

By Ethan Stern, FULL COURT PRESS RADIO

Stephen Curry, the reigning MVP and leader of the defending champion record-breaking Golden State Warriors, was diagnosed with a Grade 1 Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Sprain, throwing Warriors fans into a panic. The diagnosis follows a fall that Curry suffered on a wet spot on the court at Houston’s Toyota Center.

The MCL, which is responsible for twisting movement, is paramount to the kind of game Curry plays, but the diagnosis of a Grade 1 sprain means that the collagen of the ligament was not disrupted too far from what would be considered normal. Curry will most likely be wearing a hinged brace on his leg for the next couple of weeks, as the MCL is not load-bearing and should not restrict Curry’s ability to walk normally. Curry was given a period of two weeks to heal and rehabilitate, after which he will be rehabilitated. Assuming Curry makes a full recovery in the two weeks and passes his evaluation, Curry will miss the first three games of the Western Conference Semifinals.

If all series favorites win, the Warriors will play the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs. The Clippers, who won 53 games this season, would still technically be an underdog against the 73-win Warriors, as Curry was worth an estimated 18 wins, which would bring their season total down to 55.

Unfortunately for Warriors fans, that’s not how these things work. The Clippers were 6th in both offense and defense efficiency this season, meaning they are a borderline title contender in their own right. With Curry, the Warriors led the league in offensive efficiency and were fourth in defense, but without him, granted the small sample size, they drop to fourth in offense and last in defense.

The Warriors net rating without Curry in the playoffs, however, is a solid 4.2, actually having a better offensive rating than the Clippers. The Clippers have had a much better defense though, holding Portland to almost 10 points fewer per 100 possessions than the Warriors have held the Rockets.

The Warriors swept the season series against the Clippers, winning all four games. Curry played in all four games they were matched up against each other.

Update: The Clippers Chris Paul broke his hand in the Game Four loss to the Trail Blazers leaving that series tied at two games apiece. Add to that Blake Griffin old quad injury acting up again and the Clippers could find themselves on the wrong of a long first round series with Portland.

Conclusion, the Warriors just got a lot of breathing room while they wait on Curry’s return.

 

Ethan Stern writes for FULL COURT PRESS RADIO.

Check out more from Ethan here.
Reprinted with permission.

 

 


Adam Silver

2016 NBA Lottery Mock Draft Selections – Version 1

By Danny Thompson

With Kris Jenkins hitting his buzzer beater to lead the Villanova Wildcats to a victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA National Championship game, the NBA Draft countdown for teams not in the playoffs have just begun. With players declaring their intentions, lets take a look at my first preview of what could be to come in June’s NBA Draft. Now I have based teams on their records, what their current roster looks like and potential needs that could arise before the NBA Draft. Remember we still have a couple of days left in the season and the order could always change.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers- Brandon Ingram- SF- Duke
    • In speaking to my fair share of scouts the opinions on him and Ben Simmons are about equal. It’s the age old question of potential over now. We all know that Ben Simmons is ready to go right now and will be a can’t miss rookie in the 2016-2017 season, but the potential behind Ingram is too much to pass up. He’s a much better shooter and has no problem getting to the basket. Could be a Kevin Durant type of player.
  2. Los Angeles Lakers- Ben Simmons- SF- LSU
    • Simmons is what the Lakers need, an game changing player that would be the perfect compliment to his former HS teammate D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. He’s more Lamar Odom than LeBron James at this point and that’s not really a bad thing if your a Lakers fan. If he had a constant jump shot that extends past 10 feet this wouldn’t even be a discussion on who’s the number 1 overall pick.
  3. Boston Celtics- Dragon Bender- PF- Croatia
    • This is an interesting spot for the Celtics. Bender has the potential to be extremely good and at 7 foot tall he has a nice all around game. Not the most athletic player in the world, but Danny Ainge isn’t really trying to keep this pick. He’s hoping someone wants to take it off his hands. Can you say Sacramento?
  4. Phoenix Suns- Ivan Rabb- PF- California
    • The Suns would love to pair Rabb with Alex Len and your 4/5 combo is set for the next 5 years at least. Throw in the fact that Rabb’s offensive game is growing to match his outstanding rebounding skill. He has a lot of LaMarcus Aldridge to his game.
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves- Jamal Murray- PG/SG- Kentucky
    • The Wolves are one of the worst 3 point shooting teams in the NBA. I know that they could use another post player to go with Karl-Anthony Towns, but you can plug Murray into the starting 5 right now and figure out the post later. His game is similar to Eric Gordon, before all of the injuries.
  6. New Orleans Pelicans- Kris Dunn- PG/SG- Providence
    • With Eric Gordon going into free agency and the Pelicans haven’t had a great history of health in the back court, you can turn Dunn loose at either guard position and give Anthony Davis a nice building block in the Crescent City. Dunn could be a lot like Eric Bledsoe if given the chance.
  7. Sacramento Kings- Jaylen Brown- SF- California
    • Brown is the best player left on the board. Brown could possibly play the 2 guard but it does free up the option to potenially trade Rudy Gay. Brown could easily pass Ben McLemore as the starter sooner rather than later.
  8. Denver Nuggets- Buddy Hield- SG- Oklahoma
    • Hield was the most popular player in college basketball this season. A Big Time scorer who can shoot it with the best of them. Hield would give them another scoring threat to go with Danilo Gallinari. Hield is another version of Michael Redd.
  9. Milwaukee Bucks- Demetrious Jackson- PG- Notre Dame
    • We all know that Michael Carter-Williams experiment has been an epic fail in Milwaukee and as much as I love Giannis’s game, he can’t be a full-time NBA point guard. Jackson can step right away and he can make an impact as distributor with the scoring options in Milwaukee. If you have never seen him play Reggie Jackson of the Pistons comes to mind.
  10. Toronto Raptors- Henry Ellenson- PF- Marquette
    • Ellenson and the Raptors are a perfect match. He’s already a very good rebounder and all he needs to do is develop a constant 3 point shot and is an upgrade over Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson. Has a 7’2 wingspan as well.  Game similar to Ryan Anderson.
  11. Orlando Magic- Tyler Ulis- PG- Kentucky
    • A name that is sky rocketing up boards is the Kentucky point guard.  Remember Brandon Jennings is a free agent and Elfrid Payton hasn’t shown that leap that was expected out of him this season. Ulis has proven to be worthy of a high draft pick. Size should would be a concern, but remember Issiah Thomas is only 5’9 as well and he was an All-Star this past season.
  12. Houston Rockets- Jakob Poeltl- C- Utah
    • The Rockets and Dwight Howard will part ways this summer and outside of Clint Capela, there isn’t much depth at the big man position. Poetli will give the Rockets a low post scorer and a very solid rebounder. Not much of rim protector though. Reminds me a lot of Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets.
  13. Phoenix Suns- Timothe Luwawu- SG/SF- Mega Leks
    • The Suns have already addressed their Power Forward need with the 3rd overall pick in Bender so why not choose another athletic wing player who could give the Suns a standout at the Small Forward spot. He could be a nice 3 and D player and upgrade over PJ Tucker and TJ Warren. At 6’7 he looks like a better offensive version of Thabo Sefolosha.
  14. Chicago Bulls- Skal Labissiere-PF/C-Kentucky
    • A guy that was considered one of the best high school players in America last year, had a terrible year at Kentucky, but at 6’11 it’s kind of hard to not take a flyer on him if your the Bulls. He has a world of potential and would be a nice replacement for a team that could lose Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah in the post in the off season.

 

 

Danny Thompson Full Court Press Radio hostDanny Thompson is an On-Air Personality at Sports Talk Florida  and host at Full Court Press Radio