Tag Archives: NBA Finals

Kevin Durant: A Game Changer

0728490001467212179_filepicker.jpg

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.

Image via davidsantana.sportsblog.com

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 NBA Finals are Complete… What’s Next?

A 73-9 team versus a team that hasn’t won since… ever. Who would you have bet on? Last night, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers faced off for the second straight year, but this time, things were different. Kyrie Irving was healthy, along with the less important Kevin Love. After the Cavs looked lost and they were down 3-1 in Golden State, they turned it around and won three straight games to bring a title back to Cleveland, something LeBron James promised when he was drafted out of high school in 2003. The King fulfilled his destiny, but what does this mean for his legacy? And what will last night’s loss mean for the Warriors?

LeBron James, a 3-time champion, did someone that no one—not Jordan, not Kobe, not Kareem, not Magic, not Bird—has done. He led all players on both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, as well as recorded the first NBA Finals game 7 triple double since James Worthy! LeBron James certainly proved his greatness this series, and led the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history. However, let us not say he did it by himself because he did not. Kyrie Irving, for one, was essential during this series. The physical play of Tristan Thompson definitely elevated the Cav’schances in this series as well. Role players such as J.R. Smith, Richard Jefferson (yes, he still plays, but he just retired) and even Kevin Love in game 7, completed the puzzle to defeat the defending champs and reclaim the gold. So, what does this mean for LeBron’s legacy?

LeBron James is an all-time great player, but where does he rank? Well, this is a question that many people can dissect and analyze. In my opinion, it is too hard to say at this point in his career, and unfortunately it would not be fair to start ranking him until his career ends. He is 3-4 in the finals, a 4-time league MVP with career averages of 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. His versatility is unmatched by anyone, due to his size, strength and ability, but his greatness will either continue to grow or falter as his career continues, and we just need to wait and see. Maybe he has lost a step—we have seen moments of fatigue and wear—but nonetheless, he played like a champion should in games 5-7.

Now, to the Warriors. What does their loss mean for them?

73-9 was the greatest regular season record of all time. However, there is no ring to accompany it. Stephen Curry deserved to win MVP for the regular season, and he should be viewed as the greatest shooter ever, because he is. However, regardless of a knee “injury” Curry deserves to take a majority of the blame for the series loss. In games 1-3 he was practically invisible, and while he began to heat up in the remaining games, last night he missed his last handful of shots in the final 4 minutes of the game.

However, Draymond Green deserves some blame for the series being extended but he certainly made amends for that by putting up a near triple double last night with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists. Klay Thompson came up small last night as well putting up only 14 points on 17 shot attempts—not good. It seemed to be a case of youth for the Warriors; they showed their vulnerabilities against a hungry, physical Cavaliers squad. With Green’s suspension, the momentum of the series completely shifted to LeBron and crew, as they took full advantage. Now, the Warriors of 2015-16 can be seen as the greatest regular season team of all time, which in part is what they wanted. However, the talk about being better than the Showtime Lakers or 96’ Bulls can be put to bed for now.

I think we know who’s feelings are hurt now…and I don’t think looking at those new Curry shoes will help anyone right now.

Will we see another rematch next year? If so, how will that end?

Image via solecollector.com 

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?

FullSizeRender-3

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).

NBA Finals Recap

 

What a series we just witnessed! The series we saw was quite entertaining, however the offensive talent level was much lower than in years past. Nonetheless, the Golden State Warriors are the new NBA Champions!

Although LeBron James was phenomenal in this series, averaging an historic 36 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists (approximately), he did not have the appropriate pieces around him to get the job done. Kevin Love going down in round one, and Kyrie Irving going down in game one hurt the Cavs much on the offensive, however not so much on the defensive. This was a different LeBron than we have seen before. His usage rate went through the roof as he was carrying this minimally talented team consisting of Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova. The fact that Lebron was able to win two games was a miracle in and of itself considering the players who surrounded him. Not to throw shade at Mozgov or Thompson because they are legitimate NBA starters, but J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova are reserves- and they certainly played like it. As we saw in game six, Lebron ran out of gas and gave up because he knew he couldn’t carry these bums past the sharpshooting Warriors.

It certainly didn’t help the injury-ridden Cavaliers that the MVP Steph Curry was on the other side of the ball. The play of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Harrison Barnes was inconsistent. However, Andre Iguodala was the unsung hero of this series, at least until he was awarded finals MVP. Iggy is clearly the third best player on the Warriors besides the splash bros. He won the MVP not just because of what he did offensively, but because of his immaculate performance on the best player in the world. Lebron’s production dramatically changed when Iggy was covering him. He shot 38% while the Cavs were a -55 when he was on the court. When Iggy was off the court, the Cavs were a +30 while Lebron shot 44%. When Steve Kerr made the adjustment to put Iggy into the starting lineup, David Blatt left big man Mozgov in the game, daring Iggy to shoot from the perimeter- and he did so. He averaged a pedestrian 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists a game, but his impact was far more than pedestrian, and his consistency and indirect and direct impact allowed the Warriors to capture the title. Steph Curry was very good, but choked in game two and did not play well in game three until the 4th quarter, so this vote was based on consistent dominance, something only Iggy showed.

What does this mean for Lebron’s legacy? Well, if you scratch the surface, it looks like another finals loss for the King. But if you actually take the time to look at his stats, you’ll realize he had no help and willed his team to two games versus the best team in basketball- pretty unheard of. This series does not really propel him upward on the “top 10 players of all time” list, however it certainly does not drop him down. He played a great series and ran out of mental and physical gas against this deep, cohesive Warriors attack. Lebron will be back to the finals, maybe even against Golden State again next year- who knows?

Image via theguardian.com 

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).

NBA Preview

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 2.47.54 PM

This off-season was full of excitement. With Lebron James returning home to Cleveland to join Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in exchange for number one pick Andrew Wiggins, Lance Stephenson joining the Hornets, Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler joining the Mavericks, Loul Deng joining Wade and Bosh in Miami, Paul George sidelined for the season with a broken leg, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant also out for six to eight weeks with injuries, and the Knicks resigning Carmelo Anthony and adding a new head coach, Derek Fisher, are all big and crucial moves that will impact the NBA season.

Here are my predictions:

Eastern Conference Playoff Standings:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers (58-22)
  2. Chicago Bulls (56-24)
  3. Miami Heat (53-29)
  4. Washington Wizards (51-31)
  5. Charlotte Hornets (50-32)
  6. New York Knicks (47-35)
  7. Toronto Raptors (44-38)
  8. Boston Celtics (41-41)

Western Conference Playoff Standings:

  1. San Antonio Spurs (62-20)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers (53-29)
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder (53-29)
  4. Dallas Mavericks (51-31)
  5. Golden State Warriors (50-32)
  6. Portland Trail Blazers (47-35)
  7. Houston Rockets (46-36)
  8. Los Angeles Lakers (45-37)

NBA MVP: Blake Griffin; Projected Stats: 24 PPG, 12 RPG, 5 APG, 2 BPG, 1 SPG , 55% FG, 36% 3pt FG

With the additions to the Cavaliers, Lebron James will be dominant. However, he will share dominance with Kyrie Irving. As for reigning MVP Kevin Durant, he will miss the first six to eight weeks of the season and it will take him a while to get back into the flow. I predict Blake Griffin will win MVP since he has shown major improvements in the last three seasons and has taken his game to another level, adding an effective three-point shot to his loaded arsenal.

Eastern Conference Finals: Cavaliers over Bulls in 7

Western Conference Finals: Spurs over Warriors in 6

NBA Finals: Spurs over Cavaliers in 6

NBA Finals MVP: Tim Duncan

The old, boring and slow San Antonio Spurs will find a way to yet again reach the NBA Finals for a third straight year. They share the ball like nobody else and have fantastic team chemistry. The Spurs cannot be stopped, and will repeat as NBA Champions.

What are your predictions for this upcoming NBA season?

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).