Tag Archives: nba

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).

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).

 

 

Kevin Durant: A Game Changer

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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).

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).

NBA predictions 2015-16

After a tremendous postseason, when the Golden State Warriors reigned victorious, there were still a lot of questions to be answered. What if they played the Spurs? What if Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were all healthy? All these questions still remain. At the same time, the Warriors are getting a lot of heat from other teams that remain unconvinced that they’re the champs. A great offseason has led to some powerful additions to many teams which will make this year all the more competitive. So, here are my predictions for the upcoming NBA season:

East Standings:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Washington Wizards
  6. Chicago Bulls
  7. Atlanta Hawks
  8. Charlotte Hornets

West Standings:

  1. Houston Rockets
  2. Golden State Warriors
  3. San Antonio Spurs
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Los Angeles Clippers
  6. Dallas Mavericks
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. New Orleans Pelicans

Conference Finals Matchups:

Cavaliers vs. Heat

Rockets vs. Thunder

NBA Finals Matchup:

Cavaliers vs. Thunder

Awards:
Scoring leader: Kevin Durant, Thunder

Rebounds leader: DeAndre Jordan, Clippers

Assists leader: Rajon Rondo, Kings

3pt % leader: Stephen Curry, Warriors

Blocks leader: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Rookie: Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Coach: Greg Popovich, Spurs

Defensive: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Most Improved: Michael Carter-Williams, Bucks

MVP:  Anthony Davis (Pelicans)

What are your predictions for the upcoming NBA season?

Check out previous posts on Second Take with Spencer A here

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, an 11th 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).

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).