Tag: NBA

Early Top 5 NBA MVP Candidates

The NBA season has been full of surprises, we have seen the rise of the Denver Nuggets and the fall of the Houston Rockets. Questions remain with all the surprises in the NBA, who will be the MVP this season?

The NBA MVP race has been interesting this season. We have seen remarkable plays and emergence of many players. Here are the 5 players who are the top candidates to win MVP this season:

5. Anthony Davis

Team: New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 14-15
Stats: 27.4 Points 12.2 Rebounds 4.8 Assists 2.8 Blocks

Anthony Davis has been an MVP caliber player for the past four seasons, but his team hasn’t produced the wins for Davis to be a serious candidate. Davis is doing it all for the Pelicans this season. He is producing on both sides of the court, offense, and defense.

The Pelicans are 4-6 in their last 10 games falling to the 10th seed in the Western Conference. For Davis to win MVP this season, his team has to start winning. Davis has MVP caliber stats but unfortunately is not winning games to back up his case for MVP.

Davis does have a decent supporting cast to pull out wins but the Pels haven’t found a way to win games consistently. The Pelicans as a team rank 2nd in both points per game and assists per game. The offense is there for the Pelicans but they must be consistent on this end and also on the defensive end.

4. Stephen Curry

Team: Golden State Warriors
Record: 19-9
Stats: 30.1 Points 5.8 Assists 5.2 Rebounds 1.1 Steals

Stephen Curry is always an MVP candidate every year since 2015. His tremendous shooting ability, playmaking, and overall offensive abilities have helped lead the Warriors to a winning culture.

Curry is currently having a 50/50/90 season. The last person to achieve this historic stat for a season is his coach Steve Kerr in the 1995-1996 season with the Chicago Bulls. Curry is shooting 51% from the field, 50% from the 3, and 93% from the free throw line. These historic shooting numbers from Curry will help elevate his case for MVP this season.

Curry’s MVP case might be tarnished due to early season injuries as well as being on a super team with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

Curry is having a historic season and is easily the best player on the Warriors. He will have plenty of nods to be in the MVP conversation this year.

3. Kawhi Leonard

Team: Toronto Raptors
Record: 22-7
Stats: 26.1 Points 3 Assists 8.3 Rebounds 1.9 Steals

The Toronto Raptors are currently the best team in the NBA, holding the best record in the league. This is in large part due to the remarkable play by Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard is the best player on the raptors and affects the floor both on offense and defense. With the help of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Serge Ibaka, the Raptors may find themselves in the NBA Finals in June.

After his dramatic departure from San Antonio during the offseason, Leonard is reminding everyone that he is a Top 5 player in the league.

With the Raptors rolling this season, Leonard is a top MVP candidate this year.

2. Lebron James

Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 17-10
Stats: 28.3 Points 7.1 Assists 7 Rebounds 1.3 Steals

A 33-year-old Lebron James is leading the Lakers to a 5th seed in the Brutal Western Conference. James is averaging close to a triple-double and producing wins for this Lakers roster whose next best player is Kyle Kuzma.

James is on a tear this season and has been the sole reason this Laker team is winning games. He has the best chance to take the MVP trophy home this season if he continues to produce more wins for his team. He has played in every single game this season and it seems like he is getting better with age.

The Lakers have won 7 games in their last 10 games. James continues to exceed expectations year in and year out as he is leading this team who has struggled the past 5 years to the playoffs. The Lakers are 1.5 games behind from being the number one seed in the conference. With how the Lakers are playing, they might be the first seed by Christmas.

James is leading the Lakers in Points, Rebounds and assists for the Lakers. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is the highest on the team at 27.4. Next highest is Kyle Kuzma at 16.1 PER.

1. Giannis Antentokoumpo

Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 18-8
Stats: 26.5 Points 13.3 Rebounds 6 Assists 1.3 Blocks

Giannis Antentokoumpo is doing everything for the Bucks, scoring, grabbing rebounds, playing defense, dishing out assists. 2019 is the year of the Greek Freak as he has lifted the Bucks to the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference.

Giannis is the best player in the Eastern Conference. He is a nightmare for any team. Giannis hasn’t quite figured out his shooting ability in the NBA yet, only shooting 11% but is still finding a way to score buckets and be a force in the league.

The Bucks are a scary team to face as they currently rank 1st as a team in points per game and rebound per game. They also rank 4th in assists per game being one of the more unselfish teams in the league.

Giannis is leading the team in Points, Rebounds, assists and steals basically every statistical category other than blocks which Brook Lopez currently leads the team in.

Giannis is 4th in PER, ranking only behind Steph Curry, Boban Marjanovic and Anthony Davis.

The Bucks are a difficult and scary team to face this season and that is due to the rise of Giannis Antentokoumpo. Giannis has the best chance to win MVP this year as he doing everything and winning with the Bucks.

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Red Hot Boston Celtics Win sixth Straight

With injuries to five players including All-Stars Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford the Boston Celtics managed to overcome Anthony Davis’s 41-point performance and beat the New Orleans Pelicans 113-100. This win marks Boston’s sixth consecutive victory and their doing it while averaging over 120 points per game throughout the streak.

Tatum and Morris Fill the Stat Sheet for Boston

With an injured Kyrie Irving sitting on the sideline Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris made sure to fill in the void left with the absence of Uncle Drew. Irving leads the team in scoring averaging 22 points per game. Tatum scored 21 points in 33 minutes, while Morris led the team with 31 points. Off the bench Jaylen Brown and Semi Ojeleye combined for 30 points to spark the second unit.

Rookie Robert Williams had an impressive game in his 26 minutes of action scoring seven points, grabbed 11 rebounds and three blocks, one of the blocks was against Davis when he swatted away his hook shot in the paint. Head coach Brad Stevens praised the rookie’s performance last night, “When you’re shooting jumpers and Robert’s in the vicinity, you feel him. When you’re shooting around the rim and he’s in the vicinity, you feel him,” Stevens said.

41-points from a Future Boston Player?

It’s been the topic of discussion since the start of the summer and that’s whether or not the Pelicans will finally make Anthony Davis available in trade talk. The Boston Celtics happens to be the riches team in terms of trade assets and the only team that can make New Orleans an interesting offer for the All-NBA player.

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Even before the start of the season New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry continued to support his claim that Davis is untouchable when it comes to trade talks, “We wouldn’t trade him for anyone. Even Beyonce. I think that makes him untouchable,” Gentry said.

Although all the Celtics can do is hope Davis continues to play for New Orleans until July 2019 and that is because of the “Rose Rule” contract extension both Davis and Irving signed, Irving while under contract with the Cavaliers.

The Rose Rule Restrictions

The “Rose Rule” allows certain players coming off their rookie-scale contracts to earn 30 percent of the salary cap as opposed to 25 percent. To be eligible, a play must have achieved one of three accolades during the first four season of his career, MVP award, Defensive Player of the Year award or two All-NBA selections. When both Irving and Davis inked their extensions in 2015 and 2014, respectively, two All-Star starter nods was in place of DPOY.

NBA teams cannot trade for more than one player who has signed an extension under the “Rose Rule.” The Celtics acquired Irving via trade in August 2017, so they cannot deal for Davis, or any other player in fact that signed that extension. The only way Boston can trade for Davis is if Irving is traded or signs a new contract over the summer, which he can only do on July 1, 2019 the earliest.

Boston Celtics Win Five in a Row; Have they arrived?

Saturday night the Boston Celtics crushed the Chicago Bulls by 56 points, the Bulls fans showed their frustration as the Bulls were booed out of the United Center. With this win the Celtics have won five in a row and are scoring over 120 points throughout the five game stretch. Boston now finds themselves in the fifth spot in the east and six games behind the Toronto Raptors.

With Horford and Baynes Out, Theis Delivers

With injuries to Boston’s two starting big men in Al Horford and Aron Baynes, Brad Stevens had to go deep into his bench and start Daniel Theis while giving Guerschon Yabusele some minutes as well. Theis, the second year player from Germany, showed up for Boston as he scored a career high 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. NBA: Boston Celtics at Minnesota Timberwolves

This goes to show the type of luxury Stevens has in his roster, Theis is Boston’s third big man behind Horford and Baynes and to get this type of performance from him is huge for the Celtics.

Celtics Had Seven Players in Double Digit Scoring

Throughout the night it was looking like Boston was treating this game like a scrimmage as they continue to work out things themselves. Terry Rozier, Semi Ojeleye and Jaylen Brown combined for 40 points off the bench, Brown led the game in scoring with 23. Marcus Morris had 12, Jayson Tatum scored 18, Theis had a career high 22 and Kyrie Irving chipped in 13 points in 23 minutes.

Marcus Smart did his job on the defensive end as he took the assignment at guarding the Bulls leading scorer Zach LaVine. LaVine entered last night’s game averaging 24 points per game, but Smart completely shut him down. Smart held LaVine to 11 points while denying him the ball most of the game, which was part of the reason Chicago couldn’t get their offense going.

As the Celtics continue rolling we can’t overlook that this winning streak is occurring against non-playoff teams. It’s not until December 21 that the Celtics play a real contender in the Milwaukee Bucks, but for now Boston will continue their easy stretch of games as Stevens continues to fill in holes in his starting lineup.

Should the Knicks trade for John Wall?

The New York Knicks have been waiting for ages for a dynamic point guard. Rumors and speculations have surfaced online that the Knicks are currently gathering assets to make a trade for Washington Wizard’s star John Wall.

The Wall era in Washington has been rather disappointing. The team has underperformed the past couple of seasons and struggled to make it to the conference finals in the weak eastern conference. In addition to that, Wall signed a $170 million contract extension back in the summer of 2017 and that contract may haunt the Wizards if they continue to hold on to him. Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter are currently the highest paid players on the roster. If the Wizards want to land a big fish in free agency, they are going to have to let go of one of these players.

Wall has gathered a bad reputation in Washington through the years, butting heads with coach Scott Brooks, former teammate Marcin Gortat and calling out his teammates. With the Wizards not playing up to standards and constant frustration going on in the organization, a new home for Wall may lie in the Big Apple.

The duo of John Wall and Kristaps Porzingis along with Tim Hardaway Jr, Kevin Knox, and Allonzo Trier sounds like a stepping stone into a winning culture for the Knicks. The Knicks need a dynamic point guard who is going to slash up the defense and make plays. Wall can help the Knicks in an area they have been suffering in for ages.

The Knicks have plenty of assets to use as trade bait, particularly, Enes Kanter, Lance Thomas, Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke, Courtney Lee, and Emmanuel Mudiay. The Untouchables would include Kevin Knox, Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitchell Robinson, Kristaps Porzingis and rising player Allonzo Trier.

Wall, 28, is entering the prime of his career. He is currently averaging around 21 points and 8 assists on the season. Despite all the drama surrounding him, Wall is still a special player who may need a fresh new start.

Whatever the Knicks decide to do, winning should be the priority. If the Knicks do trade for Wall, they need to build right away for playoff contention. If they don’t, developing their young talent and rebuilding for at least two more years isn’t a bad option. The Knicks would have to take on a contract that will last all through Wall’s prime. Either way, the Knicks decide to go, there isn’t a bad route in this situation.

Has Gordon Hayward Found His Aggressive Play?

During the Celtics four day break from action Kyrie Irving pulled Gordon Hayward aside during practice and reminded him of the player he is, “look for your shot more. Get aggressive and get yourself going because you are a great talent in this league and I don’t want you to ever forget that,” said Irving.

In Saturday night’s road game those words came into fruition as Hayward played his best game in a Boston uniform dropping 30 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out eight assists. 16 of his 30 points came in the fourth quarter. After a win against the red-hot Minnesota Timberwolves the Celtics have managed to win three straight.

Over the last three games Hayward is averaging 22 points per game off the bench. Irving has emphasized how much the Celtics need Hayward to be more aggressive, “Of course, he does a great job of coming off the pick-and-roll and making those passes, but I want him to be aggressive and score the basketball for us as well because we are going to need it down the stretch,” said Irving.

Jaylen Brown Still out While Celtics are Rolling

NBA: Boston Celtics at Dallas Mavericks

Riding a three game winning streak Boston now find themselves in the sixth seed in the east, but what’s going to happen once Jaylen Brown returns from his back injury. Marcus Smart has been starting in place of the injured Brown, Marcus Morris has also been productive in the starting line-up scoring 16 points in the win against the Timberwolves.

With Boston now riding a wave of success we’ll see if they can continue it once Brown returns to the rotation. We also have to see when Brad Stevens will put all his chips in and go back to the original starting five of Irving, Brown, Hayward, Tatum and Horford. There’s still many holes the Celtics have to fill, but let us embrace the performance Hayward put up over the weekend.

Joakim Noah Signs With Memphis

Shams Charania reported today that Joakim Noah had finally agreed to sign with the Memphis Grizzlies after weeks of talks between the two sides.

This may be the best fit in the league for Noah right now.

After the way he played during his time in New York, it can be easy to forget just how good he was just a few years ago. After a long period of time without any centers proving to be able to be the primary facilitator for a team, he became the first one since Arvydas Sabonis and Vlade Divac to do so and truly excel.

It was just five short years ago that Noah was playing the best basketball of his career. In wake of yet another Derrick Rose injury that season, which limited their star man to just 10 games, Noah took over on both sides of the ball.

He had a stretch of 18 straight games with over ten rebounds, and also once had three straight games with over ten assists. As a center.

That March he had 120 assists in 16 games. He ended the month with per game averages of 14.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.9 blocks, and 1.7 steals.

He ended the next month with a Defensive Player of the Year award. And with 322 points toward the MVP vote.

That placed him at fourth. For MVP. Four and a half years ago.

The three guys that fell directly behind him were James Harden, Stephen Curry, and Chris Paul.

The next year, Jimmy Butler broke out and became the team’s consensus first option.

Pau Gasol was added, and returned to an all-star-level form that he hadn’t been in since the Lakers were winning championships.

And Rose played more games than he had in the previous three years combined. Granted, that was still barely half the season, but it was enough to make an impact. An impact that would change the course of Joakim Noah’s career.

With actual offensive options on the team at this point, Noah’s game fell off a cliff. He still tried to play the role of facilitator, but with much less touches than he’d had in recent seasons, that meant his scoring would suffer drastically.

Add in the floor spacing between him and Pau being different than they had been him and Boozer, and causing his efficiency to drop too, plus a 13.4% drop in free throw percentage, and it all adds up to his points per game nearly cutting in half.

The next year he was benched in favor of playing Nikola Mirotić at the four and sliding Gasol over to Noah’s center position.

Then came the injuries. I suppose it didn’t matter that he was coming off the bench considering he only played 29 games that year before shoulder surgery ruled him out for the year.

For whatever reason, the Knicks decided to vastly overpay him. Already an unpopular signing at the time, his time in Manhattan went much worse than it was even expected to.

Season one ended with a knee injury, another shoulder surgery that would keep him out up to six months, and a twenty game drug suspension.

Season two ended with forty minutes played, without setting foot on the court since January 23rd, and having been banished from the team for months.

One waiving later, that leads us to today, signing with Memphis.

Don’t be surprised if he actually gets playing time there.

The Grizzlies are one of the more surprising teams this year, although it does seem like they’re beginning to crash back down to earth.

They also are a team that has no backup center.

So far this year, Jaren Jackson‘s been filling that role. The main problem with that is that he’s also their starting power forward. Ivan Rabb can play a bit of center, but that’s not his primary position either, and there’s also the fact that he’s not really in their rotation.

In fact, they’re in such a desperate situation that they have actually spent time this year with Wayne Selden playing power forward and Kyle Anderson at center at times when both Marc Gasol and Jackson needed to rest, with JaMychal Green having been out with a fractured jaw.

Essentially, among starting centers this year, there are three tiers when it comes to ball-handling and facilitation. Top of the list is Jokić, easily. There’s only two other centers that really even rival him as the best passing center ever, and that would be Sabonis and Wilt Chamberlain.

The other two tiers are more debatable, but I would say placing Gasol and Nikola Vucević in tier two and Al Horford and DeMarcus Cousins in tier three is probably the solution most people would come to.

Why I mention this is because it means that the Grizzlies offense is already built to have a facilitating center, unlike most teams. This would make it much easier for a player like Noah to fit in quickly. He doesn’t need to learn how to fit in with an offense that doesn’t cater toward the way he plays.

In fact, the situation in Memphis will amplify everything good about him, while hopefully minimizing his problem areas. He’ll obviously never be the player he was, but, in the right situation, he can manage to last a couple more years in the league.

Plus, people won’t be screaming into the ether about his contract anymore, now that the Knicks are paying him ten times as much to not be on their team as the Grizzlies are to have him on theirs.

The Next International Basketball Star: Meet Sekou Doumbouya

The NBA has already been accustomed to witnessing great French basketball talents such as Tony Parker, Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Boris Diaw, and Nicolas Batum. But when the 2019 Draft hits in June, the NBA may witness another great French talent in Sekou Doumbouya.

At 6’9 230 pounds, Sekou’s athleticism is the first thing that jumps out when watching him play. His ability to defend multiple positions, drive, post up and use crafty moves to get by his opponents make him a very promising young basketball talent. Sekou is an explosive athlete who at times can even help protect the rim, blocking shots and grabbing rebounds to start a fast break.

He is currently 17 years old and will turn 18 in late December. His youth will give him time to grow more in height and length. Sekou is really fast with a good frame for a forward. His frame will give him the ability to defend multiple positions in the NBA.

 

Sekou has almost a Lebron-like aggressive mentality when driving to the basket. He can slash up a defense and uses crafty moves to finish around the basket.

With all his athletic abilities, Sekou is a streaky jump shooter as when playing with Poitiers Basket 86 in the 2017-2018 season, he shot 29% from 3 point range through 28 games. He isn’t the best shooter, but his shooting mechanics look smooth and fundamental. Sekou must look to improve on his shooting consistency.

Sekou isn’t the best defender and tends to get lost on that end at times. Sekou has the length and shows the ability to be a top-tier defender but he will have to polish some of his defensive mistakes to reach that level.

Sekou is a lottery-level talent as his upside will be appealing to NBA Teams. It will be interesting to see what team drafts him, he is likely to a #4 pick – #9 pick in the draft.