Category Archives: basketball

The Upcoming NBA Season: What to expect, offseason moves and their impact, standings, awards and more…​

What a wild offseason it has been! Starting off with the NBA Draft, we saw Markelle Fultz leave the board first, teaming up with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philly, followed by the most prominent name of the summer, Lonzo Ball, be selected by the Lakers at number 2. The Celtics traded down to 3 and snagged Jayson Tatum, potentially the most talented player in the entire draft. Josh Jackson went 4th to Phoenix, and De’Aaron Fox went to the Kings, rounding out the top 5 picks. With Jimmy Butler traded to the T-Wolves, the offseason was off to a wild start. We saw Chris Paul traded to the Rockets to join James Harden, and Paul George and Carmelo Anthony traded to the Thunder to team up with Westbrook. Paul Millsap joined Denver to speed up their rebuilding process. Gordon Hayward left the Jazz to join the Celtics, and shortly after, Kyrie Irving was traded in a blockbuster deal for Isaiah Thomas, a first-round pick and more. D-Wade signed a one year, $2.3 million deal with the Cavaliers, rejoining former teammate and good friend, LeBron James.

Big contract extensions were also a big theme this offseason. Kyle Lowry, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook all signed max deals with their respective teams.

So, what should we expect this season? Will Boston dethrone Cleveland in the East? Can anybody beat Golden State? Who will win MVP? Will the Lakers or Sixers make the playoffs?

Here’s what I’m thinking:

Five Hot Takes:

  1. Jayson Tatum will prove to be the best player in the draft (he will not win ROY).
  2. Joel Embiid will play at least 65 games and average at least 25 points a game.
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo will win MVP (accomplishing Kobe Bryant’s challenge).
  4. Brandon Ingram will win Most Improved Player.
  5. Damian Lillard will be an All-Star starter (accomplishing Kobe Bryant’s challenge).

 

Top Storylines:

  1. The steep decline of Dwight Howard and why he should not be a Hall of Famer.
  2. Why Westbrook’s extension means that LeBron to LA is no longer a given.
  3. Will DeMarcus Cousins team up with John Wall in Washington?
  4. Kyle Kuzma’s emergence as a draft steal—what does this mean for the future?
  5. When will Trusting the Process lead to contending for titles?

 

Players with the most to prove this season:

  1. Carmelo Anthony (needs to show an ability to defend, create offense in transition)
  2. Dwight Howard (needs to prove that he won’t create dissension in the locker room)
  3. LaMarcus Aldridge (needs to prove that he is tough enough to play for Pop)
  4. Lonzo Ball (needs to show the NBA why Lavar is so high on him as an overall talent)
  5. Kyrie Irving (needs to prove that he can be the primary option on a title contender)

 

Standings

Eastern Conference:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Boston Celtics
  3. Washington Wizards
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Toronto Raptors
  6. Philadelphia Sixers
  7. Detroit Pistons
  8. Miami Heat

 

Western Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. San Antonio Spurs
  4. Houston Rockets
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves
  6. Memphis Grizzlies
  7. Los Angeles Clippers
  8. Los Angeles Lakers

 

Awards:

MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Most Improved Player: Brandon Ingram

Defensive Player of the Year: Hassan Whiteside

Rookie of the Year: Dennis Smith, Jr.

Comeback Player of the Year: Danilo Gallinari

Points Leader: Kevin Durant

Rebounds Leader: DeAndre Jordan

Assists Leader: Russell Westbrook

Blocks Leader: Hassan Whiteside

Steals Leader: Chris Paul

Most impact on a new team: Jimmy Butler

Least impact on a new team: Tim Hardaway Jr.

 

NBA Playoff Predictions

Eastern Conference Finals:

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics: Cleveland in 7

Western Conference Finals:

Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Golden State in 7

NBA Finals:

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors: Golden State in 6

Finals MVP: Kevin Durant

 

What are your thoughts and feelings about this upcoming season?

 

Image via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByVvmw2bbSw

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U-Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Blockbuster Deal: Kyrie Irving to Boston

After a wild offseason, a blockbuster trade took place last night when Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets 2018 first round pick.

Who would’ve thought the 1st pick in the 2011 NBA Draft would be traded for the last pick in that same draft?

So, who won in the deal?

Well, the Cavs won the trade- for this season. They were able to fulfill Irving’s request for a trade and got a guy who averaged 30 points a game last season in Thomas, as well as a solid starting caliber player in Crowder.

To combine those two with LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Derrick Rose, they should see themselves in another NBA Finals.

However, they don’t yet have the pieces to beat Golden State due to IT4’s poor defense and Tristan Thompson’s lack of offensive skills. So, what happens at the end of this season when James and IT4 are free agents?

The best scenario for Cleveland is for Thomas and James to re-sign, as well as signing a marquee free agent such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Carmelo Anthony or someone of that caliber to pair with them.

Of course, James and IT4 would need to take pay cuts in order for the team to have the cap space. Knowing that they’re on the clock, they would most likely trade the Nets pick for a star as well, maybe packaged with Kevin Love.

On the flip side, James could very well leave next season and join Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., and Julius Randle in Los Angeles, and maybe even Paul George or Russell Westbrook.

I’d be surprised to see James in a Cavaliers uniform at the start of next season. If James left Cleveland, IT4 would most likely leave as well.

So what did the Celtics gain?

Well, they acquired a superstar in Kyrie Irving. They made the rotation tighter by getting rid of Crowder, allowing Jayson Tatum to get more touches, as well as allowing Jaylen Brown to develop as a firm rotation player behind Tatum and Gordon Hayward.

With Al Horford, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and Gerald Green rounding out the rotation, the Celtics see themselves a piece away from being able to capture a title in the next 2 to 4 years.

Yes, the Celtics lost the Nets 2018 pick, however IT4 was most likely going to leave Boston, and Crowder made the rotation too crowded (no pun intended) for Brown and Tatum to be able to thrive.

I believe the Celtics won the deal long term, because James and Thomas will likely leave Cleveland after losing to Golden State in the NBA Finals, which will leave them with a top pick and Love as their franchise cornerstones.

I get the sense that Irving will enjoy playing for the Celtics because he is the best player on the team, and has a great number 2 option in Gordon Hayward, as well as guys like Horford and Morris who do not need to dominate the ball to be effective.

While they are still a piece away, they can address it next summer due to the plethora of star free agents on the market such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and others.

Not to mention, Kyrie Irving is only 25 years old, and it gives Boston a sense of direction for the future.

Who do you think won the trade?

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and Miami Hurricanes football and basketball. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Top NBA Free Agents

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Kevin Durant, Small Forward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

He’s only the 2nd best player in the world. This Warriors team looks like it has the makings of a dynasty and I don’t see why he would go anywhere else. I hope he leaves, but he won’t. They’re too dominant.

Value: Max

What the Warriors should do: Make sure he has no plans to leave, and max him up.

What he should do: Sign a max with the Warriors.

 

Gordon Hayward, Small Forward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hayward has evolved into a top 30 player, and really played well this season. He’s certainly a star player, and can make any team better instantly. Averaging 22 points, 5 boards and 4 dimes a game, he is still improving and can become a superstar with time.

Value: Max

What the Jazz should do: Offer him a max contract.

What he should do: Sign with the Celtics, Thunder or Pacers (he went to college in Indiana).

 

Kyle Lowry, Point Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Good for 22 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists a game, Lowry has certainly cemented himself as a top 10 point guard. A smart 31-year-old veteran, he would be great for any team trying to find a “missing piece” in the backcourt. His size can be a concern, but his IQ and talent make up for it. His demeanor is up and down, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a better supporting cast.

Value: Max

What the Raptors should do: Try and resign him, he’s worth the max.

What he should do: Go to the Spurs or stay in the East.

 

Chris Paul, Point Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A seasoned veteran and pure point guard, CP3 can make any team a contender. His great basketball IQ as well as his winner’s mentality should land him a max deal, but for his own sake it shouldn’t be in Los Angeles. He has yet to make it to a Conference Finals, and really needs to make a run at a title, because he is too good not to at least have an NBA Finals appearance.

Value: Max

What the Clippers should do: Re-sign him for less than the max in hopes of signing another marquee free agent.

What he should do: Sign with the Spurs for a bit less than the max.

 

Steph Curry, Point Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A top 2 shooter in basketball and good for 25 points, 5 boards and 5 assists a game, Curry is as valuable as anyone and is a top 5 player in the NBA.

Value: Max

What the Warriors should do: Give him a max contract.

What he should do: Sign a max contract with the Warriors.

 

Blake Griffin, Power Forward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

His talent is top notch, but his health is a big question mark. Nonetheless, he needs a new scene and needs to leave LA. He’s good for 22-25 a game and is a physical specimen who’s strength combined with his athleticism is unmatched. If he can stay healthy, he is certainly a top 25 player.

Value: Max

What the Clippers should do: They need to move on and let him walk.

What he should do: Go to OKC and team up with Russell Westbrook.

 

Danilo Gallinari, Small Forward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

While he has been injured the last couple seasons, his size and shooting ability should not be overlooked. He can add value to any team, assuming his health is intact. He averaged 18 points and 5 rebounds a game last season with the Nuggets.

Value: $18-20 million/year

What the Nuggets should do: Let him go, spend the money on younger talent in the rebuilding process.

What he should do: Go to the Thunder; they need another talent as well as shooting, two things he brings to the table

 

Otto Porter, Small Forward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

He has improved immensely over the last two seasons, averaging 13 and 6 on the Wizards as the third scoring option, as well as recording the best three-point shooting percentage. He is definitely someone you want on your team, but beware of his disappearing acts, they come unexpectedly.

Value: $18-20 million/year

What the Wizards should do: Let him walk, make Kelly Oubre the starter and clear up cap for another superstar in the future.

What he should do: Try to sign a max deal with the Wizards.

 

Paul Milsap, Power Forward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Averaging 18 points, 7 boards and 4 assists a game, Milsap has evolved into a star veteran at the forward position. His size is a concern, yet his skills negate those concerns and he is extremely valuable. He has a winner’s mentality and can fit on any team.

Value: $22-24 million/year

What the Hawks should do: Re-sign him.

What he should do: Leave and go to a “contender”- possibly the Spurs, Thunder, Wizards or Bulls.

 

JJ Redick, Shooting Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️

He’s a marksman from deep, and he’s an automatic 15 points a game for a team in need of shooting. He can fit anywhere, just don’t let him go to Golden State on a minimum salary.

Value: $14 million/year

What the Clippers should do: Let him go, don’t spend money on a 32 year-old shooter right now.

What he should do: Go to a team in need of a starting shooting guard, preferably in the East.

 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Shooting Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️

A solid player on both ends, but definitely overrated. Detroit said they would do everything in their power to keep him, but he is replaceable. He averaged 14 points a game on 40% shooting. Nothing to sneeze at.

Value: $12 million/year

What the Pistons should do: Not give him a max contract.

What he should do: Try to get max dollars from the Pistons. He fits well there and won’t be utilized well on a winning team.

 

Rudy Gay, Small Forward ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The saying “talented bum” applies to Rudy Gay–when he left the Grizzles they made the Western Conference Finals and when he left the Toronto Raptors they went far in the playoffs. When he walks into the contract room, he should have an L on his forehead, because that’s all this guy does. 19 points a game and a loss is what you will get, unless he’s your 4th or 5th option.

Value: $12-14 million/year

What the Kings should do: Anything but re-sign him.

What he should do: Take a pay cut and learn how to win on a contender.

 

Serge Ibaka, Power Forward ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Just 27-years-old, Ibaka seems past his prime. Nonetheless, he averaged 15 and 7 last year with the Raptors. He can still play, but his defense has diminished and he has no post game to speak of. If you aren’t sure why he’s standing outside of the paint, he’s not waiting for the bus–he wants to shoot a three. He shot slightly under 40% from beyond the arc as well.

Value: $12 million/year

What the Raptors should do: Only re-sign him if Lowry stays.

What he should do: Stay in Toronto. It’s a good fit.

 

Jeff Teague, Point Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Teague has proven to be effective on both ends, as his speed and agility are important parts of his game. His days in Indiana are likely over, as they are more focused on locking up Paul George and if not, signing young talent.

Value: $14-16 million/year

What the Pacers should do: Let him walk, he’s better off somewhere else.

What he should do: Go where the money is, not good enough to propel a team to the finals.

 

Greg Monroe, Power Forward/Center ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monroe has moved around a couple times, yet hasn’t really found a home yet. His size and strength make him effective in the post, yet his lack of speed hurts him against versatile bigs.

Value: $14 million/year

What the Bucks should do: With the development of Thon Maker and John Henson, the Bucks should let Monroe walk.

What he should do: Go to a team looking for a big, but not a contender- the Suns, Hornets and Kings are all possible fits.

 

Andre Iguodala, Small Forward ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Iggy has a choice to make this offseason- does he want to collect a large check, or does he want to win? It’s his choice to make, but he can’t have both. He’ll need to take a huge pay cut to stay with Golden State considering Steph Curry and Kevin Durant have to get paid first.

Value: $16 million/year

What the Warriors should do: Offer him whatever cap space they have, but don’t stress if he walks.

What he should do: Whatever he wants. He’s a champion and a former all star. He’s done enough, if he wants to sign a max contract with a losing team he should be entitled to. If he wants to win, he can do that as well. His choice.

 

Jrue Holiday, Point Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Holiday did his part this season, averaging 15 points and 7 assists a game on the Pelicans. With the addition of DeMarcus Cousins, it could create a lot of opportunities for Holiday in the pick and roll game with him and Anthony Davis.

Value: $15 million/year

What the Pelicans should do: Re-sign him, he can get the job done at point.

What Holiday should do: If he wants to win, leave. If he wants to get his assists totals up, stay.

 

Pau Gasol, Power Forward/Center ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Although Pau is up there in age, he still brings a lot of value to the table. He is a good fit in San Antonio, but only if they lose Aldrigde. He’s a winner, and he’s a champion. As long as he is paired with a true center, he will fit well.

Value: $10-12 million/year

What the Spurs should do: Re-sign him if they trade Aldridge, let him walk if they don’t.

What he should do: If he wants to win a ring, stay in San Antonio for less money. If he wants to get paid, take the highest bidder.

 

Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wade averaged 18 points a game this season, as he still has something left in the tank. Wade, like many veterans on this list, can do whatever he wants. He didn’t seem to love his Chi-town reunion as much as we thought.

Value: $16 million/year

What the Bulls should do: Let him walk, they need to rebuild.

What he should do: Accept his player option if he wants the money or go to Cleveland or San Antonio if he wants to compete for a championship, for the minimum.

 

George Hill, Point Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hill said he would leave if Gordon Hayward did, so based off that, he’ll probably reside somewhere other than Utah next season. He would be a great backup point guard on a team like Washington, desperate for one.

Value: $10 million/year

What Jazz should do: Let him walk, give Exum more minutes.

What he should do: Sign with the Wizards.

 

Derrick Rose, Point Guard ⭐️⭐️

Averaging about 18 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists a game on the Knicks this season, Rose was nothing short of average and has demonstrated he cannot stay healthy throughout the entire season. His defensive woes were very obvious as well, as well as his inability to consistently shoot. His athleticism is diminished and he does not have
the bounce he once did.

Value: $8-10 million/year

What Knicks should do: Let him walk. A franchise with no direction does not need to lock up more cap space on an over the hill 29-year-old who can’t shoot or play defense.

What he should do: Try to convince Phil Jackson to give him a max contract- he would be stupid enough to do it.

 

Dion Waiters, Shooting Guard ⭐️⭐️

An average role player with some talent, Waiters averaged 16 points per game off the bench for the Heat. Despite his talent, he has had problems in multiple locker rooms. His shot selection is concerning, but he has confidence in himself, which is a plus. Solid player, don’t break the bank for him.

Value: $10-12 million/year

What the Heat should do: Let him go because Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson show more promise and play the same position.

What he should do: Try to stay with Miami- he seems to like it there and he fits well with the other young players.

 

Nerlens Noel, Center ⭐️⭐️

Still a young and vibrant 23-year-old, Noel has shown he can be a valuable defender and rim protector. He should hit the weight room, but I think he can be a useful player on a winning team.

Value: $10 million/year

What the Mavericks should do: Re-sign him, but only for the right price. Do not overpay.

What he should do: Sign a 2 year, $6 million deal with the Warriors. Replace Zaza, he’s terrible.

 

Kelly Olynyk, Center ⭐️⭐️

The aggressive and offensive minded kid from Gonzaga has game. He is somewhat of a liability defensively, but he can space the floor and knock down the three. He’ll help a team in need of a backup center who’s good for 25 minutes a game.

Value: $10 million/year

What the Celtics should do: Re-sign him only for $10 million or less.

What he should do: Stay in Boston.

 

Tyreke Evans, Small Forward ⭐️⭐️

From rookie of the year to a forgotten player, Tyreke has displayed a lack of care when it comes to winning–then again, he’s in Sacramento. He should go back to playing point guard like he did at Memphis. He has the skills, just not the mentality.

Value: $8-10 million/year

What the Kings should do: The opposite of what they think is right.

What he should do: Leave and sign with an Eastern Conference team looking for a spark off the bench.

 

Rajon Rondo, Point Guard ⭐️⭐️

Making the playoffs with the Bulls didn’t come easy, as his rifts with Jimmy Butler early on in the season were a sign of things to come. This isn’t a good fit for Rondo, but it seems nowhere is. He’s a headache in the locker room, cannot shoot and has not evolved his game at all. He’s past his prime, and I wouldn’t want him on my team. I know that the Bulls went up 2-0 on the Celtics, but it was just after Thomas lost his sister, I think that contributed to the deficit more than Rondo’s numbers.

Value: $6-8 million

What the Bulls should do: Get him out, don’t pickup his option.

What he should do: Go anywhere that offers him a contract. He’s public enemy #1 right now.

 

Tim Hardaway Jr., Shooting Guard ⭐️⭐️

Hardaway Jr. showed out this season, averaging 14.5 points per game in Atlanta. While he is still a flawed player, he has improved since he was on the Knicks, and should get a solid check this offseason.

Value: $10 million/year

What the Hawks should do: Re-sign him, but not for too much.

What he should do: Try and stay, it’s a good fit for him.

 

Andre Roberson, Shooting Guard ⭐️

Yes, he’s the guy who shot 3/22 from the free throw line in the first round. While he has good size, his offensive skills are so abysmal that whatever he does defensively won’t matter. With the jump shot of DeAndre Jordan and the handles of Tyson Chandler, its too bad Roberson is  only 6’6”, because he plays like a center.

Value: $5 million/year, even though he might get a max. Scary.

What the Thunder should do: Show him the nearest exit.

What he should do: Be happy he’s in the NBA.

 

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and Miami Hurricanes football and basketball. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Who’s the Real MVP?

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With the NBA regular season concluded, it is time to pick an MVP. Wait what? Don’t we need to see how the Rockets vs. Thunder series plays out?

No we don’t. It’s specifically a regular season award.

With historic seasons behind both Russell Westbrook and James Harden, there can only be one MVP.

The regular season MVP should be awarded to Russell Westbrook. Here is why:

Westbrook averaged a triple double, with 31.6 points, 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds per game. No, triple doubles are not overrated, especially for someone who is 6’3”. James Harden averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game. But Harden was only two rebounds away from a triple double average! But he didn’t have one. Westbrook did. Westbrook also had 3 50-point triple doubles. Harden had 2.

Westbrook only shot 42.5% from the field and 34.3% from three whereas Harden shot 44% from the field and 34.7% from three. Both shot the same from the free throw line. Splitting hairs. Irrelevant.

Harden shouldn’t get MVP when shooting less than 50%. Really? The Golden State Warriors, with the two best shooters of all time and the best scorer in the NBA, shot 49.5%. The median for field goals was 45.5%. Both Harden and Westbrook fall slightly below that.

For those of you who love the PER (Player Efficiency Rating) statistic, Westbrook finished first with a 30.7, while Harden finished fifth with a 27.4.

But the Rockets won 55 games and the Thunder only won 47!

Well, let’s talk about the supporting cast. After Kevin Durant left and Serge Ibaka was traded from the Thunder, Russell Westbrook decided to be bold and re-sign despite the team’s many young players. On the other hand, James Harden’s team, the Rockets, was short of legit all stars and certainly had no scrubs.

Lou Williams (15 PPG, 23 games), Eric Gordon (16.2 PPG), Ryan Anderson (13.6 PPG), Trevor Ariza (11.7 PPG), Clint Capela (12.6) and Patrick Beverly (9.5 PPG) averaged a total of 78.5 points per game.

Westbrook’s cast consisting of Victor Oladepo (16 PPG), Steven Adams (11.3 PPG), Enes Kanter (14.3 PPG), Taj Gibson (10.8 PPG), Andre Roberson (6.6 PPG) and Doug McDermott (9 PPG) averaged 68 points per game.

So, Westbrook’s supporting cast had an average of 10.5 fewer points per game than Harden’s. That’s a big difference.

So, if someone who averaged a triple double, had 2.5 more points and 2.6 more rebounds, and only 0.8 fewer assists, 0.4% less from three, and 1.5% less from the field, and a supporting cast that averaged 10.5 less points per game than that of his rival doesn’t deserve MVP, you lost me.

Again, the MVP is strictly a regular season award for the player who performed the best. I don’t even believe Westbrook is a better player than Harden—or Kawhi Leonard for that matter. But the man did average a triple double—something that hasn’t been done since the 70s. You think he will flame out in the playoffs? Fine! Doesn’t matter! The playoffs have zero effect on the outcome of the regular season MVP award.

What about Kawhi Leonard? He had a phenomenal season and has improved every season since his rookie year. He has become a superstar on both sides of the floor. The Kawhi Leonard argument is similar to the LeBron James argument— you can’t give the award to the best player every year. That isn’t how voting works. Otherwise, Michael Jordan would have 8, Kobe Bryant would have 7, Lebron James would have 7 and everyone else would have 0.

Kawhi Leonard plays on the great Spurs team. While he is not a “system player,” he certainly benefits from the system of coach Pop. He averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game on 48.5% shooting from the field and 38% from three. A phenomenal season nonetheless, but not to the level of Russell Westbrook or James Harden.

Neither of those two had a player at the level of Lamarcus Aldridge, who averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds a game on 47.7% shooting from the field.

Russell Westbrook deserves to win the NBA regular season MVP award. Regardless of how he performs in the playoffs and regardless of whether you believe he is worse than James Harden and Kawhi Leonard (I actually think Harden and Leonard are better than Westbrook). Westbrook was left hanging by Kevin Durant, and it gave him all the motivation in the world to break Oscar Robertson’s triple double record. And that he did.

Image via https://www.si.com/nba/2015/04/07/nba-scoring-title-race-james-harden-russell-westbrook

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a 12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants and the Yankees. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NBA Player Power Rankings 2016-17

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With all the hype around this NBA season, let’s not forget to take the time out to appreciate the talent of many great players. Here are my ranks for the top 10 players at each position. Admittedly, they are based not on science, but on my personal opinion.

Here they are.

Point Guards:

  1. R. Westbrook
  2. S. Curry
  3. K. Irving
  4. J. Wall
  5. D. Lillard
  6. I. Thomas
  7. C. Paul
  8. K. Lowry
  9. K. Walker
  10. E. Bledsoe

 

Shooting Guards:

  1. J. Harden
  2. K. Thompson
  3. J. Butler
  4. D. Derozan
  5. C. McCollum
  6. B. Beal
  7. D. Wade
  8. D. Booker
  9. A. Bradley
  10. L. Williams

 

Small Forwards:

  1. L. James
  2. K. Durant
  3. K. Leonard
  4. G. Antetokounmpo
  5. P. George
  6. C. Anthony
  7. G. Hayward
  8. A. Wiggins
  9. T. Ariza
  10. C. Parsons

 

Power Forwards:

  1. A. Davis
  2. L. Aldridge
  3. B. Griffin
  4. K. Love
  5. P. Milsap
  6. D. Green
  7. P. Gasol
  8. K. Porzingis
  9. T. Thompson
  10. A. Horford

 

Centers:

  1. D. Cousins
  2. K. Towns
  3. J. Embiid
  4. H. Whiteside
  5. M. Gasol
  6. A. Drummond
  7. N. Jokic
  8. D. Jordan
  9. R. Gobert
  10. B. Lopez

 

Agree? Disagree? Don’t worry, there is a method to the “madness” and I will gladly explain why these are the way they are.

*Ranks don’t account for injury.

Image via http://www.knbr.com

About me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a  12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants and the Yankees. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN2. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

What DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans really means

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DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins Has Been Set Free!

DeMarcus Cousins has been traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, and a future first and second round pick.

The last time Evans was in Sacramento, he was actually relevant.

As most of you know, I am a big fan of DMC. His post game is exceptional and his mid-range game is lethal. He even puts up a three from time to time.

Cousins has been ridiculed for his “bad behavior” in Sacramento, deservingly so. But hey, who wouldn’t be upset to have to play on the Kings? This exit could not have been better for Cousins, and it came at the perfect time.

He is a top two big man in the league, and will now play alongside the number one player, Anthony Davis. This season, Cousins has averaged about 28 points, 11 rebounds and has shot 45% from the field. On the other hand, Davis has averaged 28 points, 12 boards and 2.5 blocks per game. As this two-phenom team up has just taken place, the rest of the league should worry, shouldn’t they? Not necessarily.

While this may be the best big-man duo in league history in terms of pure talent, the players who surround these two Kentucky bigs aren’t much of a threat. Jrue Holiday is a solid player, yet the Pelicans are going to need a few more puzzle pieces in place to compete for a championship.

I believe the Pelicans will make some more moves before the trade deadline, and will have a good shot at making the playoffs, barring injury.

AD and DMC are the perfect combination. They are both excellent down low in the post, can shoot from anywhere on the floor, and are versatile. Cousins provides toughness down low while Davis has an unmatched athletic prowess and is a defensive terror.

While the Pelicans sit at 23-34, they are only 2.5 games out of the 8th seed in the Western Conference.

Can these two average over 50 a game combined? Can they make the playoffs? Will Cousins even resign? Who will they get next?

With all these questions looming, we will need to wait and see how this plays out. If nothing more, we will definitely be entertained.

Maybe that all-Kentucky NBA team can become a reality after all.

Image via www.chatsports.com

About me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a  12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants and the Yankees. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN2. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Who is James Harden?

 

After James Harden received much criticism after losing in the first round of the postseason three out of the last four seasons, the debate on how great of a player he actually is continues. However, during this offseason, the hiring of Mike D’antoni had concerned many fans, as Harden’s lackadaisical defensive effort combined with D’Antoni’s lack of defensive care might prove to be a dangerous combination.

Harden has been known to dribble too much and to not involve his teammates in past seasons; because of that, he was moved to point guard.

We all recognize Harden’s phenomenal talent. Yet many (myself included) have been critical of his playing style characterized by his lack of hustle, poor shot selection and little defensive effort. However, so far this season, he is putting a spin on that narrative.

Just 14 games in, Harden has been putting up MVP numbers, averaging 28.6 points, 12.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds, while shooting 36.5% from three, 46% from the field and 81% from the line. Except for the assist average, all of those numbers resemble Harden. The highest assist average Harden ever had—7.5—was during last season. So maybe, this point guard gig is working.

The Rockets are currently 9-6 and place 5th in the Western Conference standings.

I believe the main reason for Harden’s resurgence has to do with the exit of Dwight Howard. He has been trouble in the locker room for almost every team he has played for, including Houston. The signing of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, along with having Trevor Ariza, allow the floor to be spaced and allow for Harden to be more creative and less selfish than in seasons past.

While the jury is still out on Harden, he is certainly making a strong case at this point in the season. I hope he continues to produce like this during the remainder of the season and in the playoffs.

Will he be remembered as the guy who did adidas commercials, had nice moves and never lived up to his full potential? Or will he be remembered as the superstar who led his team to victory?

 

About me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a  12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants and the Yankees. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN2. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).