Tag: NBA

Ja Morant And The Phoenix Suns Are A Match Made In Heaven

The Phoenix Suns have been abysmal halfway through the NBA season. They rank dead last in the Western Conference with an 11-48 record.

The young Suns are still learning how to win as a team. With the core of Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker, the Suns should be a competitive team in the next couple of years. Unfortunately, they are still missing some pieces to turn them into a championship contending team.

With their projected top 5 pick in the upcoming draft, the Suns should do anything by any means necessary to acquire Ja Morant, the Murray State point guard that is dominating college basketball.

At 6’3, 175 pounds, Ja Morant is going to be the next promising young point guard in the NBA.

Morant is a physically gifted, and all around polished player. His playmaking ability, athleticism along with his ability to create his own offense will complement Devin Booker in the backcourt and make scoring at the basket easier for Deandre Ayton.

The Suns have been looking for a point guard to help lead the team to championship contention ever since the departure of Steve Nash. The Suns need a dynamic point guard, someone who is going to score the basketball and be a playmaker.

At one point, the Suns had 3 point guards on the team that was all-star caliber players in Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas but the Suns eventually traded these players away. This created a hole at the point guard spot that they have been trying to fill ever since.

Ja Morant is everything they need in a young point guard to complete their core. Ja has soared up the draft boards this year and is leading a lower tier school in Murray State to a 20-4 record. Morant is heavily compared to the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Russell Westbrook.

With a playmaker being their biggest need, it just so happens that the best playmaker in this draft, Ja Morant, may fall into their laps. A Morant-Booker-Ayton duo would be an interesting big 3 to watch for years.

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King James Can’t Save The City Of Angels Alone

The Los Angeles Lakers easily were the biggest losers coming out of the NBA trade deadline after striking out of Anthony Davis. With this loss, the Lakers face the possibility of missing the playoffs.

The Lakers are at a crossroads at the halfway mark of the NBA season. They struck out on landing Anthony Davis and the chemistry of the team has been up and down. The team is so out of it that they may not even make the playoffs and not even the best basketball player in the world may be able to save them.

Lebron James, 34 years old, is easily the best player on this Laker team and has helped them to improve drastically this season, but other than Lebron what other options do the Lakers have?

Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are considered to be the two complementary pieces next to Lebron, but their play has not been up to standards this season.

The Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 games, getting blown out by teams such as the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers.

The Western Conference has been tough and with hungry teams such as the Clippers, Kings, T-Wolves, and Mavericks creeping up to the 8th seed, this leaves the Lakers with minimal room to throw away games.

If the Lakers end up making the playoffs, it will most likely be as an 8th seed which means playing the Golden State Warriors in the first round. The Warriors are currently rolling and barring any injuries, it is more than likely they will steamroll through the Lakers and the entire Western Conference.

If the Lakers miss the playoffs, Lebron’s legacy may be called into question as this will be the first time since 2005 that he will miss the playoffs.

The young Lakers must step up and close out games without Lebron. Players such as Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Rajon Rondo has to step up as leaders. If these guys want to be Lakers next season, they have to take charge and win by any means possible.

Boston Celtics Are Still The Beast Of The East

The talk around the league after the trade deadline was the moves made by the Philadelphia 76ers and how they are the favorites to come out of the East. Last night, the Boston Celtics, without Kyrie Irving, faced off against the newly formed big four in Philly of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Needless to say whenever Boston goes against a championship level team they bring their A-game, and last night was no exception. Boston overcame Philly 112-109, led by Gordon Hayward’s game-high 26 points, Jayson Tatum had 20 points and Al Horford chipped in with 23 points, five assists and eight rebounds.

The Celtics are the Sixers Kryptonite

In their last 19 games, including the playoffs, Boston has a 17-2 record against Philadelphia, their only two losses came on January 18, 2018 when they lost by nine and in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when they lost 92-103.

Even with Irving, who’s out with a strained left knee, the Celtics played as perfect as they could against the 76ers. It helped a bit that Embiiid was in foul trouble throughout the game while shooting 9-22 from the field. Harris and Butler had better games as they shot a combined 11-26 from the field, Butler also missed important free throws in the fourth quarter that could’ve tied the game at 106.

With Embiid in foul trouble, Marcus Smart slammed down a vicious dunk through Embiid who decided not to contest with five fouls, which put Boston up 110-107. Tatum would ice the game with two clutch free throws to put Boston up 112-109, with no timeouts remaining Butler couldn’t get the shot up in time in hopes of sending the game to overtime.

Are the Celtics Better without Kyrie?

The numbers don’t lie, the Celtics have played better when Irving has missed games, they’re 8-2 when Irving’s out of the lineup. Last night, the ball moved around more then with Irving on the floor, Hayward had his best performance again a championship level team, Tatum reminded everybody why Danny Ainge wants to keep him in Boston and Horford had a big game on both sides of the floor.

With Irving in the lineup the team is 28-19, a small difference but we can’t deny what we saw from the Celtics young core last season in 60 games without Irving. Over the span of three rounds in the postseason, the Celtics went 14-8 and eliminated Philly in five games.

Boston is averaging 112.9 points per game this season in 57 games played, when Irving is out of the line-up the numbers jump to 113.5 ppg.

Irving will miss his second game tonight as Boston takes on Detroit at TD Garden, their last game before the All-Star break.

Mitchell Robinson’s potential in the NBA

After being named a McDonald All-American, being a former Western Kentucky commit, and a former 2ndround pick in the 2018 NBA draft, New York Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson has had the time to shine in the NBA as of late by proving that he can be a dominant scorer and a future DPOY candidate in the league. 

Mitchell Robinson, at the age of 20 years old, had declared for the 2018 draft without gaining any experience in the collegiate level. He was ranked #11 (3rd best center) in his high school graduating class and originally committed to Western Kentucky University, as mentioned earlier. But Robinson decided to decommit from WKU to train for the upcoming draft that he was a part of.

This 20 year old that didn’t play in college had the talent of becoming a late lottery pick but was passed on by multiple teams in the draft as he was selected in the second round (36thpick) by the New York Knicks.

Before the 2018-19 NBA season started, New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale believed that Mitchell Robinson wasn’t quite ready to play in the NBA and wanted to give him more minutes and experience by having him play with the Westchester Knicks in the G-League.

Obviously that was not the case for Fizdale as he immediately put Robinson to work by starting him in his 4th game (teams 6th) against the reigning NBA champs, the Golden State Warriors. 

Robinson’s current stats in his rookie season are 5.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 0.5 apg. He also leads all rookies in blocks with 2.0 blocks per game.

Within the last week of NBA matchups, we have seen a different side of Robinson since the arrival of Dennis Smith Jr. and Deandre Jordan during the Kristaps Porzingis trade with the Dallas Mavericks.

The veteran presence of Deandre Jordan has helped shape Mitchell Robinson into the player that was once expected out of him since back in his high school days. 

“If you just go back to Mitchell’s last 4 games, there has been a big jump in what he’s doing out there and how he is doing it” – David Fizdale

Since acquiring Dennis Smith Jr. and Deandre Jordan, Mitchell Robinson has been averaging 11.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks within the last 4 games he’s played. This also included Robinson scoring his career high in points (15) in their last game against the Toronto Raptors and recorded 3 blocks in the last two games.

With this side of Mitchell Robinson during this time in the season, we can see his level improve with the help of Deandre Jordan by his side.

Dennis Smith Jr. May Be A Diamond In The Rough For The Knicks

In Friday night’s loss vs the Pistons, Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. scored a career-high 31 points and dished out 8 assists to his new teammates.

Dennis isn’t missing a beat after being traded from the Mavericks during the trade deadline. Coach David Fizdale has placed his trust in the young guard and it is showing in his recent play as a Knick.

“I’m enjoying playing basketball not enjoying losing, but I’m having fun going out there and competing,” Dennis said after Pistons game.

In Dennis’ first 3 games as a Knick, he is averaging 21.3 points and 6.7 assists on 46% from the field. Dennis has shown that he is already the best player on this team and is connecting with his team.

On the other hand, Dennis still struggles with shooting the basketball as he misses free throws and is shooting below 30% from 3 so far with the Knicks.

If Dennis finds a consistent shooting stroke, the Knicks may not need Kyrie Irving in the summer. Shooting is the key factor that will elevate Dennis’ game.

The Knicks let go of some big pieces during the trade deadline, Kristaps Porzingis being the biggest loss, but Dennis is already showing the potential that he can grow into a star and be the best player on a team.

The Knicks are looking forward to the summer as the draft and free agency takes place. They must look at the possibilities if Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving don’t land there. Do the Knicks believe that Dennis can be a big-time player for them?

The Celtics win the Anthony Davis Sweepstakes

When Anthony Davis’ representative, Rich Paul, decided to announce that his client (Davis) was not going to sign the super-max extension New Orleans was going to offer him this summer and requested a trade, the announcement had a seismic feel around the league. Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks began to clear house and free up cap space to go after the Davis via trade or for the summer.

As the trade deadline approached the Lakers desperately tried to get their hands on the superstar, but never succeeded. As a result, with Davis still in New Orleans the Boston Celtics are now in the driver seat to acquire Davis this summer.

The Anthony Davis Circus

The Lakers offered a package of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and two first round picks for Davis and Solomon Hill. Six players and two first rounders was still not enough for the Pelicans to part ways with Davis.

The Knicks on the other hand traded away Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr and Cortney Lee to the Dallas Mavericks for DeAndre Jordan, Wes Mathews, Denis Smith Jr and two first round picks. After buying out Mathews on Thursday, the Knicks now have enough cap space to sign two superstar free agents in the summer. They currently have the worst record in the league at 10-43, and if awarded the number one pick in draft, the Knicks can built a package around it in exchange for Davis, while at the same time having the ability to sign two max players this summer.

Before the trade deadline, the Clippers traded away Tobiris Harris to Philadelphia, who will be looking for a max contract this summer. They also traded Avery Bradley to Memphis, who had a $2 million partial guarantee in his contract. As a result of these moves the Clippers have also created enough cap space to sign two max players this summer.

They still have interesting pieces to flirt with New Orleans in a Davis deal this summer such as Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Shia Gilgeous-Alexander, a 2020 first-round pick and Miami’s 2021 first-round pick.

The Celtics pot of Gold

Somewhere in Boston Danny Ainge had a big grin on his face once the clock hit 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. New Orleans and The Lakers never agreed on a Davis deal, which means Ainge can open up his treasure chest to the Pelicans front office. Boston can offer New Orleans a number of interesting packages such as Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Al Horford and two or three first round picks for Davis.

The toughest choice on Boston’s side will be if they’re willing to put Jayson Tatum into the mix. In his rookie season Tatum displayed his basketball excellence in the regular season and playoffs, helping Boston come one game shy of a trip to the Finals with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

Irving and C’s still on board with Contract Talks

On Friday, Ainge silenced all the talk about Irving and his pending free agency by saying he still believes the superstar point guard will resign with Boston. “The way I viewed the situation is that I think a lot of people, because of Kyrie’s announcement at the beginning of the year, thought that it was a marriage,” Ainge said on Boston sports radio 98.5 The Sports Hub.

“And I think that it’s more like an engagement. And we’re going to get married on July 1st. I think that engagement is still on, as far as I know.”

“In my individual conversations with Kyrie, we’re still engaged but we really can’t make those vows, sign that contract until July 1st.”

The Celtics stay intact, While the East Stacks up

The trade deadline came and went without any moves from Boston as General Manager Danny Ainge and the rest of the Boston Celtics front office have decided to stick with the nucleus intact in hopes of a trip to the Finals.

With many speculations now in the rear view about whether or not Ainge was willing to deal Kyrie Irving before the deadline after his questionable comments about his commitment to Boston last Friday. The Celtics will now make a run at the top spot in the East with the same roster with less than three months remaining in the regular season.

Making a Run at the top spot in the East

We can’t say whether or not Boston has finally found some consistency, we’ve seen them go on a winning streak and then lose a couple of games to team not in the playoff picture.

Boston has won 10 of their last 11 games, with the only lost coming against the Golden State Warriors. They’ve shown us they can be a championship level team based on their brilliant performance against the Warriors and against Oklahoma City Thunder last Sunday. They outlasted the dynamic duo of Paul George and Russell Westbrook, who both have been in the MVP discussion this season.

Boston currently sits in the third seed in the East just three and a half games behind Toronto for second place and five and a half games behind Milwaukee for the number one seed. Milwaukee currently has the best record in the East and NBA at 40-13, and the Philadelphia 76ers can’t be slept on after making a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, who’s averaging a career high 20.9 points per game this season.

Boston’s Marcus Morris Sr, isn’t sold on the new look Sixers, “Great pick up, not enough though,” wrote Morris on the comment section of a Belcher Report Instagram post.

Are the Celtics still the Clear Cut Favorite to win the East?

With the East as stacked as ever, do the odds still play in the Celtics favor to represent the East in the Finals. We can argue that the top four teams in the East, in the Bucks, Sixers, Toronto Raptors and Celtics have a shot at giving Golden State fits in the Finals, even potential push them to seven games.

Head coach of the Bucks, Mike Budenholzer has unlocked the Bucks offense with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way putting up MVP numbers with 27 ppg, 12.4 rebounds a game and 5.9 assists per game. Before the deadline the Bucks added Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans. Mirotic was an important piece for the Pelicans during the postseason last year and has continued to play well this season averaging 16.7 ppg and 8.2 rpg.

The Sixers have formed their own big four of Harris, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. General Manager, Elton Brand and the front office will stick with these four players alongside JJ Reddick for the foreseeable future, and will look to resign both Harris and Butler this off-season.

Just an hour before the trade deadline the Raptors landed Marc Gasol from Memphis, which improves their center position as opposed to having Jonás Valanciunas, who was included in the trade. A starting five of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka and Gasol will be interesting to see as the goal for President, Masaji Ujiri, is to make the Finals in hopes of resigning free agent to be, Leonard.

As for Boston, chemistry and consistency is what’s keeping this team from competition night in and night out at a Golden State Warrior level. We’ve seen them pick up big wins against the Sixers, Raptors and even sweeping the Thunder this season, but it’s their inconsistency that’s kept Boston from being mentioned as a clear cut favorite from reaching the Finals. Gordon Hayward has yet to find his groove, but on the bright side Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier have found their role coming off the bench.

The Celtics play LeBron James and the Lakers tonight at TD Garden, and will test out the newly formed big four in Philadelphia on Tuesday the 12.