Tag Archives: Carmelo Anthony

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).

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!

Image via https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cmjw8zEWIAAPRwP.jpg

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 spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

 

 

Where’s KD’s Next Stop?

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As the NBA season winds down, a champion will be crowned and the free agent pool will fill up. One of those soon to be free agents is Kevin Durant—an elite scorer, a superstar and an MVP-caliber player. Despite his many accomplishments, he has yet to earn a championship ring.

After going up 3-1 this year in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors won games 5 through 7 to close out the series and leave the Thunder in shambles. In game 6, Kevin Durant certainly deserves at least some of the blame for the loss as he performed very poorly along with his running mate Russell Westbrook. This left the door open for many questions, especially now that KD will be a free agent. But the biggest question right now is, where will he go? Below are some possible best and worst fits for Durant as I see it.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Even though the Thunder blew a 3-1 series lead, Billy Donavan is an excellent coach and Sam Presti a phenomenal GM. Although KD and Westbrook don’t have the best chemistry, they are both top 5 NBA players without a doubt and that is definitely something that can elevate Durant’s chances of obtaining a championship. The only good reason KD should stay in OKC is if the Thunder signs a true point guard like Mike Conley in the offseason. While Westbrook is a terrific player, he is often reckless with the ball late in games and needs someone to handle the ball late like James Harden could before he was traded. Furthermore, sometimes Westbrook’s bad habits rub off on Durant, as we saw late in the Western Conference Finals this year. Not the worst thing to stay, but not the best either.

Priority: Medium

 

Miami Heat

To win a championship, you have to know how to win. That’s something Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade certainly know how to do. The Heat have a very good set of talent, yet D-Wade is not the same superstar he used to be, and KD would be the perfect player to fill that void. With Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic, KD would cement the Heat as an immediate title contender, similarly the way Lebron James did when he joined the team in 2010…not to mention they made 4 straight finals with him and won 2. They also have a solid group of role players, definitely better than KD has now in OKC.

Priority: Very High

 

Portland Trail Blazers

While this may not seem like the most glamorous destination for KD, Terry Stotts has proven to be a terrific coach and Damian Lillard has proven to be a superstar. After losing 4 starters, C.J. McCollum stepped up and the Trail Blazers made the playoffs in the western conference and won in the first round. Most teams that lose 4 starters would not even make the playoffs, let alone win a round. This team is young, fired up and waiting for a couple of pieces to come their way and cement them as a title contender. The combination of Lillard and KD would be lethal, and it would likely seem reminiscent to the OKC team that made the finals in 2012.

Priority: High

 

Boston Celtics

Brad Stevens has proven to be a very good coach as the Celtics continue to make the playoffs each season. With a strong group of guards in Thomas, Bradley and Smart and a group of young talented role players, KD would certainly be a great fit as a leader who could guide the younger players to capture a ring. There are better possible destinations, but don’t rule Boston out.

Priority: Medium

 

Minnesota Timberwolves

Andrew Wiggins. Karl Anthony-Towns. Zach Lavine. How much fun could KD have up in Minneapolis with these three high flying, rising NBA stars? With a scorer like KD on this squad, he could take attention away from those three, thereby helping those guys have a bigger impact on the game. While these three are talented, they do not yet know how to win in the NBA, and KD could definitely show them the ropes and we could see some Harlem Globetrotters-type heroics if KD signs up.

Priority: Medium

 

New York Knicks

Why would anyone go to New York? The franchise is a complete mess; however, KD is very fond of 7’3” Kristaps Porzingis as well as Carmelo Anthony. With a scoring duo like KD and Melo, two of the top 5 NBA scorers, how could they be stopped? While they’d be exciting to watch, I’m not sure the Knicks would become a title contender—but the team would certainly better than it is now. While I’m hopeful, I don’t see this nor would recommend this to KD for his own sake. However, I would recruit him hard and accept him with open arms. Who knows what the Zen Master could do?

Priority: Low

 

Golden State Warriors

Champions, yes. Now if KD went to the Warriors, who would be the best on the team? Would there be tension between Curry and Durant? Would they need to lose Klay Thompson in order to obtain Durant? The infinite questions make this a questionable call. While the Warriors certainly shouldn’t deny KD if he wants to join, I don’t like the idea of Durant joining a team after they beat him. I don’t like the idea of two superstars teaming up by way of free agency—they would either be too dominant or there would be too many issues. Sounds like someone we know… anyway, I feel like KD won’t want to go to the bay area this offseason. But if he did, the Warriors should do whatever they ccan to get him.

Priority: Medium

 

San Antonio Spurs

This is a great franchise with a great coach. However, KD’s own team just eliminated this team in the semi finals, so why join someone you beat? It’s a lateral move from OKC, and it’s not always easy transitioning to play with the Spurs from another team (just ask LaMarcus Aldridge). However, if KD did join the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard could go back to playing power forward like he did in college or KD can play the two.

Priority: Medium

 

Los Angeles Lakers

Please, no. Yes, LA is a wonderful city with great food, nice cars, and bright lights. If he really loves LA, he can go there during the summertime or when he retires. Not now. No. Please don’t go, KD!

Priority: Very Low

 

Washington Wizards

This has been reportedly out of play, but DC is where KD grew up so maybe nostalgia will kick in and he’ll play for the Wizards. Other than that there is a pretty low chance he will sign with them. John Wall is great and they’d work well together. Beal and KD would be entertaining together, though Beal’s injury is concerning and the Wizards lack of talent off the bench would be a downgrade from OKC.

Priority: Very Low

 

Houston Rockets

As you know, James Harden played with KD on OKC and, together, they made the finals! But don’t ask KD whose fault it was that they lost…I think we all know who pulled the disappearing act. The Dwight Howard/ Mike D’Antoni part two will be comical and entertaining, however I don’t think KD needs nor wants to be part of a reality show in Houston. Stay far away from Houston, please. While James Harden is a super talented player, he is not a winner by any means and he and KD would play off of each others’ bad habits similarly to the way Westbrook and KD occasionally do in OKC. James Harden is also a loser, and, like Westbrook, he would dominate the ball too much.

Priority: Very Low

 

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 spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

The Knicks Luck (or lack thereof)

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After a gruelingly painful time watching the lottery on Tuesday night as the Knicks received the fourth overall pick, many Knicks fans (including me) got angry and emotional. However, if we step back, we can see what the fourth pick really means for the Knicks.

In Chad Ford’s projected mock draft, he has the Knicks selecting guard Emmanuel Mudiay—not my first choice. Although Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor won’t be available, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise—or just another Knicks failure. Assuming Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell is taken, we will be left with Emmanuel Mudiay.

Mudiay is a 6’5” point guard originally from Africa. He moved to Texas to play basketball and was eventually recruited by Larry Brown at SMU. Brown is one of the best basketball coaches in the world, and he had very high praise for Mudiay. But Mudiay decided to forgo his season at SMU and play in China. He seems to have NBA potential, and although I would prefer D’Angelo over him, he may just work out.

Every franchise needs a point guard at the helm, because it is a point guard’s league. Assuming the Knicks select Mudiay or Russell, they do not need to feel as much pressure to sign a guard this summer as opposed to if they got Okafor or Towns. However, it has been rumored that the Knicks will be open to trading the pick. In order to satisfy their fan base, the Knicks will need to trade their pick for a proven star—not some inconsistent head case.

The Knicks have about $30 million in cap space, and if they trade Calderon they could have a bit more. There are a lot of good unrestricted free agents this summer that the Knicks have a chance to get at the guard position—and that I would be interested in—such as Goran Dragic, Louis Williams, and Wes Mathews. DeMarre Carroll and Mike Dunleavy could be signed to veterans’ minimum deals and could serve as good role players. Other free agents such as Greg Monroe (unrestricted) and Tobias Harris (player option) have expressed interest in signing with New York. However, Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge have ruled out coming to the Big Apple.

Non-unrestricted free agents that would interest me are Draymond Green, DeAndre Jordan, Corey Brewer, and Tristan Thompson. With all the money flowing in the Knicks pockets for the offseason, they should be able to grab at least two or three marquee free agents, if not four rising stars/proven players. If the Knicks fail to sign three marquee free agents, then Phil Jackson is officially inept and clearly does not know what he is doing. Assuming they draft Russell or Mudiay and don’t trade the pick, they should first look to sign a big man such as Greg Monroe who has expressed interest, following with the signing of a guy like Draymond Green or Tobias Harris—and if they have enough money, maybe Louis Williams or Wes Mathews. Of course these pieces are interchangeable, like if they don’t sign Green to get Dragic instead and if they don’t sign Mathews to get Harris instead, that type of thing. Assuming they then get three marquee free agents, and have one of the top players in the draft (along with Carmelo Anthony), we should begin to sign role players such as DeMare Carroll and Mike Dunleavy. If Phil Jackson is such a mastermind, this should be doable.

The biggest mistake the Knicks could make is to throw max dollars at a guy like Kevin Love, an unproven winner (even though it appears the Knicks don’t care about winning) and to just sit on their hands after his potential signing. The Knicks must be aggressive this offseason, hopefully getting rid of Tim Hardaway Jr. Assuming all works out (50/50 chance), the Knicks should have two very good guards, Carmelo Anthony playing alongside another proven forward, and a proven big and a very good bench. If this fails, the Knicks will have Carmelo Anthony, a top-four pick and Kevin Love having signed a max contact along with DeMare Carroll starting on a $10 million/year salary.

The fourth overall picks over the last five years have been Tyreke Evans, Wes Johnson, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Cody Zeller- not such a great list. Although Johnson is the only real bust, Evans and Waiters haven’t been horrible, but certainly haven’t lived up to their expectations thus far. Thompson has become a dominant rebounder and physical presence, as Zeller has fallen through the cracks but still has time to grow.

Let’s see what happens moving forward. But Knicks fans should brace themselves because the team still has the worst owner in sports and a coach who does not really seem to know what to do.

About me: I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. 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).

Are New York Sports Teams Going Down the Drain?

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Over the last year, New York sports teams have been a shell of what they once were, causing stress and anger among its fans.

In the MLB, the New York Yankees and New York Mets missed the playoffs this season and it wasn’t pretty. The Yankees lost a lot—Robinson Cano went the Mariners, Alex Rodriguez was suspended, and Mariano Rivera retired. It doesn’t seem like the bleeding for the Yankees will stop anytime soon, especially after they lost their 20-year captain, Derek Jeter.

In the NFL, the New York Giants and the New York Jets have combined for five wins so far this season—that’s as many wins as the Buffalo Bills have achieved this season with Kyle Orton as their starting quarterback. The Giants have had many injuries, especially among their starters including Victor Cruz, Rashad Jennings and Prince Amukamara. The Jets have had a lot of quarterback changes, and have finally sidelined Geno Smith for Michael Vick, who on Sunday led them to their first win in two months. Their secondary is relatively empty and that has hindered the progress of their entire defense. In my opinion, the general manager of the Jets, John Idzik, is mainly to blame due to the fact that he did not go after big name defenders—their biggest weakness.

In the NBA, the New York Knicks haven’t been impressive either. Although they resigned star forward Carmelo Anthony, they still have a void of surrounding talent. With Derek Fisher as its new coach, the Knicks have struggled mightily in the triangle offense, so much that the commissioner even took a shot at their horrendous play. Due to their lack of talent and everything associated with them, they have been awful. They traded for a new point guard in Jose Calderon. However, he has been sidelined with injury and has not played yet. Ironically enough, the Knicks have beaten two hyped up machines—the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Charlotte Hornets. However, they still sit at 2-6 and do not look like they will get any better. As for the Brooklyn Nets, they sit atop the Knicks at 4-2 and have looked relatively good so far. Besides the Bills and Nets, who are a couple of games over .500, New York sports has been an absolute disgrace. Something needs to change quickly! Fans expect more and want what they want when they want it.

As for the Knicks, they need to get Calderon back, and need to acquire a good interior defender who can also help out on offense such as Marc Gasol. They also need to shop J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway, Jr.,, and Iman Shumpert in order to find value that we can use because all three shooting guards have similar strengths and weaknesses. They also need to develop Cleanthony Early into a productive NBA player.

The Giants need to fire their defensive coordinator and acquire new, young talent on defense. At the end of the season, they also need to fire Tom Coughlin and acquire at least two new good offensive linemen.

I’m still a fan of New York sports teams, especially the Knicks and the Giants. But I hope things change for the better, and soon, because it’s gotten ugly and painful and I’m not sure how much more I can take.

Who’s to blame for the poor performance of (most) New York sports teams? Owners? Coaches? Players? Fans? Media? Weather?

Check out some of my recent Second Take With Spencer A posts here.

About Me:

I’m Spencer (Alexander) Zied, a 10th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball, football and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees, Oregon football and North Carolina basketball teams. 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).