Category Archives: basketball

Who’s the Real MVP?


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.

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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 or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NBA Player Power Rankings 2016-17


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



  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.

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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 or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

What DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans really means


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.

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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 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 or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

New Way to Measure a Player’s Impact


Even though the NBA season has concluded, there is still much to be discussed. I have created a new statistic called “Impact rating” (IMPR). This statistic attempts to quantify the number of points that a player adds to his team’s performance.  It is very different from other methods – I am not simply adding points, rebounds, assists and other attributes. This stat recognizes that each NBA possession produces about 1 point on average. It then looks into which players over the course of a game create or subtract from possessions and add to the average value of a possession over the course of a game. It is also different because it penalizes missed shots with the view that these ended a valuable possession.

So, here is the formula: Free throws made (0.5) + 2pt shots made + 3pt shots made (2) + blocks (0.5) + steals + assists (0.5) + defensive rebounds (0.29) + offensive rebounds (0.71) – free throws missed(0.5) – field goals missed(0.71) – turnovers ÷ minutes played. The reason for the values is based on the fact that for each possession, on average, one point is expected. Now of course we know that a team can get 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 points for/during each possession, but it averages out to right around 1. As for rebounding, 29% of rebounds are grabbed by the offense, so they are harder to come by than defensive rebounds. Therefore, defensive rebounds are worth less than offensive rebounds.  However, this cannot be calculated properly for players from earlier eras when Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlin played because there was no 3-point line and there was no distinction between offensive and defensive rebounds.

I took 30 random players from as far back as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, to as recent as Karl Anthony Towns to see where they all stood, and the results are fascinating! Last season, Stephen Curry had a score of 14.5, the highest calculated yet! Kawhi Leonard had a score of 11.1, while Paul George only had a 5.4. While Allen Iverson’s MVP season was great, his score rolled in at a 3.5! That is due to the number of missed shots- yet of course it does not factor in any of his other options on offense (there weren’t many). Michael Jordan, the greatest of all time had a career score of nearly 12, which shows not only his greatness, but also his consistent durability. Karl Anthony Towns had nearly a 9, much better than Kristaps Porzingis and D’Aneglo Russell combined! Chris Paul needs to be shown some respect as his score was a whopping 12, one of the highest calculated for last season. But don’t worry, even though Lebron James tends to coast during the regular season he came in at about 10.5. At the bottom of the barrel was Ben McLemore who scored a measly 1.25.

Now, this statistic should not solely define a player, as it is only one statistic out of many. However, this is another effective way to measure players. Unlike plus/minus, this stat does not take into account how one’s teammates are performing; it is only one measure of a player’s impact on the game. Although there has not yet been enough data collected, a ranking sheet will come out shortly! There can and will be improvements to this as on-ball defense is undervalued in this stat (opponent field goal %).

Stay tuned, as there will be a handful of things being covered in the near future such as the scores of the last 20 MVPs, player comparisons, and more!

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

Did the Knicks Phil Their Holes?

Cmjw8zEWIAAPRwP.jpgThe New York Knicks have not been very good the last couple of seasons. We all know this. Phil Jackson has been constantly ridiculed for “not doing enough” in free agency, especially due to his 5 year, $60 million salary. However, this summer, things have been a little bit different.

Out of nowhere, the Knicks acquired Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls. After years of struggling with subpar point guards including Chris Duhon, Raymond Felton (in his second stint) and Jose Calderon, they couldn’t find a good player to fill the position. Of course we know Rose has had his share of injuries over the last few years. But he only has one year left on his contract and hopefully can stay healthy. In exchange for Rose, the Knicks gave away some Doritos, a plain bagel and a box of Cheerios (Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez). While Rose’s injury woes are a major concern last season he played 66 games and averaged about 16 points and 5 assists a game. While he is not the MVP he once was when he averaged 25 and 8, I still expect solid production out of him assuming he stays healthy. I believe playing with Carmelo Anthony will force Rose to defer more often than not, creating more opportunities off the ball for Rose as well as setting up Carmelo for open jumpers.

Have you heard the phrase, “When one bull comes, the other bull follows?” Joakim Noah has, signing with the Knicks for 4 years and $72 million. I am a huge fan of this guy, and I think now that he is home, we will see what we saw from him before Fred Hoiberg came to Chicago. Now while he is up there in age at 31, he is 6’11” with 9 years of experience under his belt While last year he only averaged 4 points and 9 rebounds a game in an injury plagued season, those stats should be taken with a grain of salt, as he is probably the hardest working NBA player there is, if not top 5. He is not the most offensively skilled player, but on defense, loose balls and rebounding, he is there night in and night out. His injury woes have hindered his performance over the last couple of years, but in the 2013-14 season he played 80 games and averaged about 13 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists a game. With a career shooting percentage just under 50%, I do not worry that Noah will take too many shot attempts away from Carmelo Anthony or Kristaps Porzingis.

Signing with his 7th team in 8 years, Courtney Lee looks to have an immediate impact on the Knicks. At 6’5” and 30 years old, he is definitely an upgrade from Aaron Afflalo who was signed to a one year opt out deal which thankfully, he opted out of. While Lee is a very solid player, his numbers are nothing glamorous, yet he provides solid offense and defense and is not being heavily relied on to “carry the load” by any means.

The most intriguing signing for the Knicks is Brandon Jennings for $5 million over this season. Jennings was drafted in 2009 by the Bucks and was then traded to Detroit. He has been a productive player ever since Reggie Jackson took his spot in Detroit. He was then traded to Orlando last season where his numbers dramatically took a fall. However, this does not concern me and here is why. Jennings is an extremely talented player who has always had a role on his team. In Orlando, he was ignored behind Elfrid Payton. He has had constant pressure since Milwaukee to perform, which he has failed to do. However, in Milwaukee he had no pressure on him because he did not have a viable backup behind him. This time, he is the backup. While injury is certainly a concern for Jennings, he was extremely excited to sign with the Knicks and I expect that to translate to the court this season. Finally, he is certainly an upgrade from Langston Galloway, who never really found his role on the team.

The Knicks additionally retained key role players such as Lance Thomas, Kyle O’Quinn, Sasha Vujacic and signed 26 year-old Mindugas Kuziminskas, from Latvia who knows Kristaps Porzingis and 22 year-old Guillermo “Willy” Hernangomez from Spain who shows a lot of potential.

Last but not least, they hired Jeff Hornacek, the former head coach of the Phoenix Sun’s. The team’s performance was unimpressive under Hornacek, but other than Eric Bledsoe, there was little talent to work with. While Mark Jackson would have been my pick, anyone is better than Derrick Fisher… even Matt Barnes.

So what are reasonable expectations for the Knicks this season? If the Knicks are fully healthy for 85% of their games, they should obtain anywhere from the 5th to 8th seed in the Eastern Conference standings. They have enough talent to be competitive, yet they are not better than the Cavaliers, Pacers, Celtics or the Raptors. While the Pistons, Bucks and Wizards pose a threat, the Knicks upgraded more in the offseason than either of those teams. However, if they are not fully healthy and have at least two starters out for more than 40% of their games, they could very well miss the playoffs. The main takeaway should be positive from this offseason. While Rose, Lee, Anthony, Porzingis and Noah are not the Dream Team, they are still better than Calderon, Afflalo, Anthony, Porzingis and Lopez last year, who won a mere 32 games. And while some may be upset about Durant, Wade and Howard going to other teams, the hopes and dreams of the Knicks signing them were for the most part unrealistic to begin with.

I hope this season is competitive! Go Knicks!

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



Kevin Durant: A Game Changer


Kevin Durant has agreed to sign with the… Golden State Warriors?!?! Yes, this is true. So, now what?

Is there an issue with this signing? Well, Durant has the right to go wherever he would like to because he is a free agent. It is his choice to choose which team he would like to be of service to. Why should anyone have a problem with that? Here’s why…

Durant is an MVP, an all star, and an elite superstar. His stats last season were 28 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists per game on better than 50% field goal shooting and almost 90% shooting from the free throw line. Impressive numbers! Any team would benefit from having a superstar like Durant.

In the Western Conference Finals, leading 3-1 in the series, the Thunder were 48 minutes away from heading to the NBA finals to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State defended their home court and won game 5, having to head back to Oklahoma City down 3-2. Leading late in the game, Durant and his partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, choked down the stretch and let the game go, eventually blowing the series and going home early. Durant shot 10-31 in that game and although 6’11”, played more like he was 4’11” late in that game. That was the final game Durant played in Oklahoma City wearing a Thunder jersey.

Flashback to the morning after the Game 7 defeat in the Western Conference Finals:

One might argue that Durant should leave. That the chemistry between him and Westbrook does not seem to translate into winning. I happen to agree, and think Durant should find a new home. Some teams including the Spurs, Heat, Clippers, Celtics and some others look like nice destinations where he could compete for a possible run at a championship.

Flash forward:

If, hypothetically, Durant had announced his decision to go play for the Warriors that morning, what would the reactions be? Similar to mine now, I’m sure. So of course, the Warriors did not win the championship—they too blew a 3-1 lead to Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The MVP Steph Curry certainly did not play like an MVP in the finals. However, the Warriors still have 3 all star caliber players and 3 top 20 players on their roster at this time. Why would they want Durant? The better question would be why would he want to go there?

On July 4th, Durant lit the fireworks. Here are my issues with his decision:

He is a superstar who is joining other superstars to form a super team. I’m not a big fan of super teams, as I like competition. In addition, Curry won back to back MVP awards and the Warriors already won a championship without Durant. The Warriors have the two best shooters in the NBA and most likely the greatest backcourt of all time. This is essentially an, “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach which I find an extremely weak mentality for an extremely strong player. If Durant and the Warriors win a ring, I believe his legacy will be tainted in some form due to the immense talent around him. Now, don’t get this confused with the LeBron “decision” of 2010. This is different because he is leaving a good team with another superstar on it, Russell Westbrook. LeBron left Mo Williams—a bit of a difference, no? Also, he joined other stars, yes, but he did not join the team that continued to beat him, the Boston Celtics. He joined a solid team who he thought could compete against the Celtics, as they certainly did. I didn’t have a problem with what James did, but with how he did it. As for Durant, I don’t have a problem that he left his team but with the team he chose to be on.

Although many people have different opinions on this matter, there is one fact that lies in the rough: this is all because of LeBron. Durant most likely thought that James would beat him in more finals if he made them, just like in 2012. The Warriors knew that a fully healthy Cleveland squad had an edge on the Warriors sharpshooters. Therefore, they combined forces to win the title, with none other than James, a 3-time champion, standing in their way. Two of those rings came at the hands of the Warriors and Durant’s Thunder.

Durant is a sellout who jumped on the bandwagon of the Golden State Warriors along with the 100,000,000 other people. This is an incredibly weak move by a superstar like him. I have no problem with people wanting to get their money. If he would have stayed behind and taken the max from the Thunder, I would have had no problem. If he went to any other team besides the two that were in the finals and took a pay cut to compete for a championship, I would have had no problem. But the fact that he went to the team that not only won a title, but beat him in his path to the NBA finals shows incredible weakness not only by Durant, but by the Warriors as well. This further legitimizes LeBron James’ greatness, because this is entirely revolved around him, whether you believe it or not.

Durant has been my favorite player since he was drafted out of Texas in 2007 to the Seattle Sonics, now the OKC Thunder. I did not mind that he left. I did not believe the chemistry between him and Westbrook would have led to a title. But the fact that he joined the team that beat him, a team that is already solidified as a champion, a team that has a two-time MVP on it? That’s just low. It makes him look weak. This will taint his legacy, regardless of how many rings he wins with this team, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 13, it doesn’t matter. He will be known as a piece to a puzzle that was already complete. He has soiled the competition of the NBA, because I don’t see anyone who will be able to beat them when fully healthy.

He is still a phenomenal player, but I have lost too much respect for him over this “easy path to a ring” mentality of his. He could have chosen any other team, yet he decided to jump on the bandwagon. This is parallel to if Wilt Chamberlain would have joined Bill Russell’s Celtics; if Michael Jordan joined the bad boy Pistons; If Larry Bird joined the Showtime Lakers; If Steve Nash joined the Spurs; If LeBron joined the Celtics. It’s weak, and I can’t root for him any longer. I hope he enjoys his ring. He surly “earned” it.

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