Christmas Day Basketball

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Christmas is one of the most exciting days of the year for everyone. However, what I look forward to most is the basketball. This year we have some great matchups and it was not a dissapointing day. These are my opinions on each of the games played on a Christmas Day.

Celtics(118)-Raptors(102)

After falling down 10-0 in the first minute and 58 seconds of the game, Brad Stevens took a timeout and the Celtics did not look back after that. They went on a 28-9 run in the last 10 minutes of the quarter and kept that momentum for the rest of the game. For the Celtics, Jaylen Brown shined. He had a great 4th quarter and finished the game with 30 points on 10/13 shooting. He is for sure one of the front runners for most improved player this year as his offensive game has evolved in his development in becoming a great two-way player. Kemba Walker’s numbers may not jump out at you but I think his impact on the game was the most on his team. Whenever the Raptors seemed like they were going to make a little bit of a comeback, Kemba would knock down a 3 and get the Celtics back on track. His plus/minus was +23 and he finished with 22 points and 4 assists on 50% shooting. Jayson Tatum is having a great season and he is an early canidate for a first time all-star. He didn’t have his best shooting preformance but he was still able to contribute with his 9 rebs 6 asts and 2 steals with a plus/minus of +21. It was also nice to see Gordon Hayward back from injury and shooting effienclty in his role with 2 steals as well. I think this Celtics team is deep and guys like Brad Wanamaker and Romeo Langford will be a big part to their playoff success. It is tough to analyze the Raptors because they are missing their Most Improved Player and future first time all-star Pascal Siakim. Vanvleet had a great game with 27 points, 6 assists and 4 steals. He is a very important piece to this team. Kyle Lowry stuggled a little bit shooting wise but still did not play a bad game. Chris Boucher came off the bench and had a great game. He had 24 points and 2 blocks. Other than that everyone played their role for the most part but we know what the Raptors have been this season with Spicy P on the floor.

Sixers(121)-Bucks(109)

This game was not the most exciting game because it was never really a close game until the end. This game was very informative in fact and I certainly have a lot to talk about for both teams. Even though the Sixers did end up winning, I think many of their flaws were exposed. Defensively, they were flawless. They played tough defense early on Giannis, and he had difficulty finishing around the rim curtesy of Sixers 7 team blocks and 9 steals. They let him shoot 3s as well as the majority of other players on their team. Giannis was 0/7 from 3 and since he was not able to establish an outside shot, the Sixers defense could play off of him. This made it much easier for them to defend him inside which is where he is best. That is the positive I got out of the Sixers today. The flaw is their offense in crunch time. Embid feasted in the first half with a career high of 23 in one half. He finished with 31 and played a great game. Ben Simmons was lethal in transition. He didn’t have to force up a lot of shots because Embid was hitting his 3s early which really opened up the paint for him. Embid made three 3s and so did Horford. Yes, they are above average 3 point shooters regularly, but today they were threats, knocking down shot after shot. Some added help from Furkan Korkmaz’s 16 points off the bench gave them the extra boost they needed. Going back to the crunch time point. Every team needs a closer, and the Sixers don’t have one yet. They entered the 4th quarter up by 27 and after being out scored 36-21 in the 4th by the Bucks(mostly without Giannis), they almost made a comeback. They brought it within 6 at one point and with about a minute and a half left, Tobias Harris hit a deep contested 3 from the left wing that was heaved up at the end of the shot clock. This is not a shot Tobias will hit with consistency, or one you would want to bet your game on. When it comes down to the 4th quarter, the Sixers will have to give the ball to Tobias when they need a bucket. This is due to a lack of iso game with Ben Simmons and Embid being easily doubled in the post late in the game. If Tobias can establish himself as a true closer, I will say the Sixers are a legit contender in the east. Giannis struggled to get anything going offensively. The absence of Eric Bledsoe was also crucial. Although he is not a great 3 point shooter, he gives the Bucks a real point guard that sometimes Giannis needs. Giannis started off the game bringing up the ball a lot more than the end of the game. When the Bucks started to make their comeback in the 4th, Khris Middleton was taking up the ball which worked out really well for them. Bledsoe also brings greats defense as he was a member of the all-defensive first team last year. Khris Middleton is an all-star caliber player, but he is no superstar. He had a great game putting up a stat line of 31-8-4 and making 5/9 of his threes. Not taking anything away from Middleton because he is a great player, but he is not the side kick that the other stars have in this league. My point in saying this is that the Bucks rely on their role players to step up every night, especially when Giannis doesn’t have it. Today they didn’t step up. Korver had only 3 points in his 20 minutes. And Robin Lopez played only 8 minutes but missed 3 threes. For someone who is a career 26% shooter from beyond the arc, that is not where his value is. Other players had also underperformed which is very unlike this Bucks team. The only other time I’ve witnessed their role players underperform severely, was in the Dallas game(with no Luka Doncic) that broke their 18 game win streak. Giannis scored 48 in that game. Although Korver did score 17 that night, Middleton only had 9 (Hence my point earlier-a legit side kick can give you more than 9 every night-but everyone has off games) and Brook Lopez had only 3. If the Bucks role players step up in the playoffs just like they have most of the regular season, and Giannis can establish an outside shot early in the game, this team can make some noise.

Warriors(116)-Rockets(104)

This absolutely amazes me. With all the offensive fire power that the rockets have, the warriors of all teams were able to keep them in check. For the Rockets, I thought Westbrook played well, but he did not shoot well from 3 at all which did not help their spacing whatsoever. He was 0/8 from 3, and still finished with 30 points, proving that he doesn’t even need to take those shots to be affective. Harden was efficient. He had 24 on 9/18 shooting, making 6 threes, to go along with his 11 assists. The name of the game for the rockets is 3 point shooting and as a team they were not great. They shot 31% as a team, due to the struggle of Westbrook, Rivers, McLemore and Pj Tucker. Keeping it simple, Rockets just didn’t hit their 3s tonight and played minimal defense like they usually do. Golden State trapped Harden on defense in the beginning of the game which did not allow him to get the shots he wanted early. He had 5 points in the middle of the second up until he went off for 11 straight. They also played a great team game offensively. All of their starters had a double digit scoring night. Damion Lee had 22 on 5/9 shooting making the 2 threes he shot. He also added 3 steals, 15 rebounds and 4 assists. They also got some big plays down the stretch by who else but Draymond Green. There is nothing special to really analyze about this game besides the fact that the Warriors played good defense and did not allow Harden to get to his spots the majority of the game. They tried to make the other role players of the rockets beat them with double teams and traps on Harden, rather than him going off for 40+.

Clippers(111)-Lakers(106)

Lebron came out cold and Kawhi came out on fire. Kawhi’s first 13 points came in his first 15 minutes on 6/8 shooting while Lebron started off the game shooting 0/7 with 2 points. Lebron was still able to keep his cool and play a good all around game, but thanks to Kyle Kuzma’s 15 first quarter points off the bench the Lakers still were in it. The game was the Kawhi show. He had 35 pts 12 rebs and 5 asts shooting 11/19 and 5/7 from 3. He came up in big moments even when Lou Williams and Paul George had off nights. He made all 8 of his free throws and got the ball in the hoop when it mattered most. He now moves to 15-8 in his career against Lebron. Pat Beverley had a major impact defensively. His plus/minus was +26 and for the majority of the game he was given the Lebron assignment. He had a huge block on Lebron in the final seconds of the game to seal the deal. Paul George struggled from the field but brought his defensive game with him and made a huge impact. The big difference between the 2 teams was 3 point attempts. When Lebron struggled early, instead of attacking the basket like he’s great at, he tried to force up too many 3s which isn’t his game. He was 2/12 from 3 and that is very unlike Lebron to even attempt that many. The lakers attempted 45 threes and only made 12 which is 27% as a team. Half of their made threes came from Kuzma(4) and KCP(2) alone. The clippers on the other hand only shot 25 and they made 9 of them which was good enough for 36%. The Lakers are a team that thrives off 3 point shooting due to their play style with the passing of Lebron. If the players around him struggle to make those shots it could be a tough playoff run for them. However I do think that they are well equipped with shooters and most of them had an off night. One positive from tonight for the Lakers is the play of Kyle Kuzma. Kuz shot 4/9 from 3 and showed the ability to be a valuable asset off the bench, and in the Lakers death lineup. He has been battling injuries all year and hopefully this is the start of him being healthy. I know he put in a lot of work this summer with shooting coach Chris Brickley who is notorious for making players better shooters. Overall it was a great exciting game and it was nice to see both teams at full strength for the first time. I would pay anything to see a 7 game series of these 2 teams in the Western Conference Finals this May.

Pelicans(112)-Nuggets(100)

Brandon Ingram deserves to be an all-star this year and it’s unfortunate that he might not be because he plays in the western conference. Why the New Orleans Pelicans play in the western conference is beyond me. He led the Pelicans to a W with his 31 points on an efficient 11/18 shooting. He has really thrived without Lebron and the reason for this is because he can actually have the ball in his hands. With Lebron, as I’ve explained in previous articles, other players often don’t get their touches even though he leads the league in assists. He leads the league in assists because he is gifted at creating for others, but Brandon Ingram isn’t that type of player. Ingram thrives when he isolates and breaks down the defense himself to score or create offense. He is not the catch and shoot type of guy that Lebron is best playing with. He has truly shined this year and is a candidate for most improved without a doubt. Right now he would get my vote. His 3 point percentage has increased from 33% to 41% and he is averaging 25 points compared to his 18 last year. Now he has the opportunity to get more shots up and he is doing it more efficiently as well. Jrue Holiday continues to improve his trade stock with his 20 points 8 assists and 6 steals. I am curious to see what teams are interested in trading for him because he can be a very valuable player on both sides of the ball. Josh Hart played some nice minutes off the bench and Favors put in worthy time as well. I would really like to see the rookie Jackson Hayes get more minutes. The Nuggets played an all around solid game, but Jamal Murray is slowly gaining the reputation of being a streaky player. After his 28 point performance on Monday night against the Suns, he had only 8 points on 2/10 shooting and was not much of a factor playmaking either. He is still very young at the age of 22 and has lots of room to improve. Jokic was solid but Favors definitely slowed him down a little. This year I don’t think that he is being aggressive enough scoring wise. He is a gifted passer especially at the center position but often does not look to score. In the beginning of games he should be aggressive and look to get to the hoop. This opens up the passing lanes for him a lot more once they start double teaming. This is not a good loss for the 21-9 nuggets as they fell to the 9-23 struggling Pelicans. They need to find more consistency in all of their players not just Murray if they truly want to contend in the West.

My Immediate Reaction to the Blazers Signing Melo

Wow. I am so happy that Carmelo Anthony is able to get a chance on a team this season. Melo has always been one of my favorite. His play style is filthy and makes more difficult shots than anybody in the game. It’s pretty to watch. We all know Melo won’t be his old self on the Blazers, but I do think that he can be a great bench scorer to help out their lineup. They lost Zach Collins to a shoulder injury, which could likely have him out for 4 months or more. This means they have lack of depth at the PF spot. This is where Melo comes in. He’s not being asked to start, or score 20 points a game. He will more than likely be asked to just “do his thing” off the bench and “play his game”. If Melo does this, it adds a lot more depth to this Blazers team who is trying to make a run. I cannot wait to watch more Blazers game, and hopefully watch Melo seize this opportunity to revive his career.

The Ultimate Goal For Every NBA Team: Part 2 (15 teams)

Miami Heat: Get another star

I love Jimmy Butler. I think he is a villain in the news and gets a lot of hate that he does not deserve. Fans hate on the fact that he tried to motivate Wiggins to get to the next level but Jimmy is just a dog, whose always working. Maybe he was right about Wiggins. Past the point. This team is young which is good but I still do not see potential in any of their young assets to become future all stars. It will definitely take another all star on this team to take them seriously. The only one I think has the potential is Tyler Herro, but he is just going to be a rookie this year and won’t be fully developed. If they could use some of their solid young guys as trade assets they may be able to get another star. This could help push them over the hump from being a boarder line playoff team to a solid mid-seed playoff team. I think they should try to make a trade for Bradley Beal and/or John Wall we’ll their asking prices are cheap because of injury. Some young guys they might use as trade bait are Justice Winslow(23), Derrick Jones Jr.(22), KZ Okpala(20). However, if possible I think that they should do their best to keep Tyler Herro(19) and Bam Adebayo(22). These are the two I think are the most valuable assets and have the highest potential on their team.

Miluawkee Bucks: Finals appearance

Giannis is, rightfully named, the Greek Freak. Giannis is a once in a generation type of player. Nobody questions Giannis’s ability to finish at the rim. He is one of the best as he finished with the highest field goal percentage in the paint. Earning his first MVP last season, Giannis led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA and he isn’t satisfied yet. Giannis has also made his goals clear. He wants to become a better “basketball player” this season. He said that last season he would go full force to the rim and that’s all. He wants to develop more as a shooter and a player. This is a great sign in a young player of his caliber because it shows that he only wants to get better. Giannis’s up coming free agency will for sure remain a topic throughout the rest of the season. Enough about Giannis. This team needs to win the East this season to prove that they are the real deal. They have had a tougher time in the playoffs as teams begin to key in on Giannis, and force him to shoot. Devising a game plan for when this happens in the playoffs is essential if they want to win. They gave Giannis a great perimeter shooter this offseason in Kyle Korver, but the impact of losing Malcom Brogdon will for sure hurt them defensively. This teams championship window could be one year or it can be many depending on what Giannis decides to do this upcoming summer. If he stays, the Bucks could be looking at a long tenure of contention.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Develop Youth

The Timberwolves have a pretty good foundation. They have a stud Center in Karl Anthony Towns-who is only 23-that was an All Star the last 2 seasons. Wiggins has been interesting. He has proven that he can score the basketball but that’s really all. He still struggles to become “that guy” in Minnesota like they had envisioned. You would think back to back rookie of the years who were back to back #1 overall picks would pan out a lot better for the Timberwolves. I think they should try to make a move for a point guard. If they can find a deal to trade for D’Angelo Russell from the Warriors this team could become a lot more competitive. I like the young piece they added in Jarret Culver. Culver is a lengthy wing that not only showed at Texas Tech what he can do with the ball in his hands, but he showed potential of being an elite defender. I think the future is bright for Minnesota but they will always remain one piece away because Wiggins does not look like the guy that they drafted him 1st overall to be. If this team continues to develop some decent young players, they could be a very good team in the future.

New Orleans Pelicans: establish roles

The Pelicans are one of the best, arguably the best young core in the league. They stacked up on draft assets this summer and I think hit on most of their draft picks. They acquired Lonzo Ball(21 yrs), Brandon Ingram(22) and Josh Hart(24) from the Lakers in the Anthony Davis deal. Lonzo is a great young facilitator and an intelligent basketball mind. He sees the floor differently than most young players. He makes it seem easy, when finding open players. Brandon Ingram is a gifted scorer and Josh Hart could become a nice bench piece. The rest of their assets they were able to scoop up in the draft. Obviously, with the #1 overall pick they took Zion Williamson(19) who will be a force in the league. With the #8 pick they took center Jaxson Hayes out of Texas who I think can be a solid rim runner and shot blocker for the Pels. Also, with the #17 pick, the Pels drafted Nickeil-Alexander-Walker(21) out of Virginia Tech who ironically, is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s cousin. This man went off in the summer league and has a very bright future. Add in a couple of nice signings like J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors and this could be a playoff team. I think the main goal is for everyone to find themselves in a comfortable role in order to succeed best as a team. This team has a lot of talent, but often teams with lots of talent and different young egos don’t succeed because they are all trying to be a star. If these young guys could find some good team chemistry they could be in for a fun season.

New York Knicks: Development

The Knicks this offseason were not able to sign the big name free agents that they wanted to. Many fans are disappointed in management or ownership. I think the Knicks have found their savior. R.J. Barrett is one of the best prospects in this draft, in some people’s eyes he is the best. The wing from Duke is crafty when he gets to his left and has the potential to be a long time star in this league. The Knicks need to give him opportunity to shoot. Make him your #1 option right now and let him grow into the league. It will take time for R.J. to develop. His percentages may not be pretty at first, but when he finds his way in this league he will be scary. The Knicks have other nice pieces as well. Mitchell Robinson is one of the best shot blockers in the league after only one season. He averaged 2.4 blocks in only 21 minutes a game. If given more minutes, and if he learns to avoid fouling often, Mitch can be a breakout candidate this season and a sleeper for DPOY. Other than these 2, Julius Randle was a solid signing and they have decent young bench pieces. I see Knox as a future bench scorer because I don’t think his game will fit alongside RJ unless RJ plays shooting guard(which is possible). Allonzo Trier A.K.A. Iso-Zo is one of the more fun players to watch on this team. He averaged a smooth 11 points per game last year on almost 40% from the 3. He is a solid young piece that I can see in the Knicks future. Mainly, the Knicks need to focus on developing their young guys so they can use their future assets to build off what they have. It will take time for this Knicks team to be good again, but as of now, I think they are on their way.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Let Shai Play

The Oklahoma City Thunder had an eventful offseason. They watched their core slip out of there fingertips due to the savagery of Damian Lillard. Paul George and Russell Westbrook were moved in deals that gave the Thunder their future. They were blessed to receive a plethora of first round picks. Many say Paul George was traded for a 7th grade Mr because the picks go as far as 2026. Paul George will be 36 then. OKC now has a crowded point guard position. They have Chris Paul, who although is still solid, is not in their future plans. Dennis Schroder was very good off the bench for the Thunder last year, however, at the age of 26, he probably is not in the future plans to team up with this 7th grader. Their last point guard is Shai Gilgious-Alexander. The 11th pick out of Kentucky last year is a 6’6 point guard with great playmaking ability and defensive potential. He averaged 10.8 pts and 3.3 ast in just his rookie season with the clippers. He played in all 82 games last year and shot almost 37% from three. On defense, the night was always tough for his opponents. He averaged 1.2 steals and 0.5 blocks per game as a point guard. I think the Thunder would be making a huge mistake if they didn’t give this guy big minutes next year. He needs the opportunity to thrive but may be denied it because of the team he is on. Hopefully the Thunder find a trade partner for Chris Paul and can LET SHAI PLAY!!

Orlando Magic: Improve

The magic showed some promise last season. First time all star, Nikola Vucevic showed the league what he’s all about. The Magic were able to resign him this offseason, helping them keep their main core around. I think that their starting 5 is filled with potential. Vucevic is 28 and he will only improve. Johnathan Issac was the 6th Pick in the 2017 draft. He’s lengthy and plays good defense. Many want him to make an MIP jump this season. Markelle Fultz was the 1st overall in the 2018 draft, and I fully expect him to live up to that hype. Fultz is a great basketball player who has been dealing with some injury issues that has left many NBA fans concerned that he won’t get back to the level he was in college. However, this kid is special. He’s not like everyone else. Fultz worked hard to get where he was his entire life and was a stud at Washington for a reason. Terrence Ross is always a solid option off the bench and the addition of Al-Farouq Aminu will provide defense and a little bit of shooting. I expect a big jump from Aaron Gordon this season as well. I think this team can be better than they were last year. They made additions and gained experience after last years playoffs. This team may be able to reach at most the 6 seed.

Philadelphia 76ers: Finals Run

If this team does not win the finals this year it is not the end of the world. They have lots of youth in Joel Embid(25), Ben Simmons(23) and even Tobias Harris(27) is still young. Al Horford was a great add this offseason. Although he will start at the PF spot, Horford can play the 5 for Embid’s load management games. Embid has had trouble staying healthy and playing a full season in the beginning of his career. Embid now won’t have to play as many games during the regular season, and can focus on his health. Ben Simmons needs to at least take 3s. He is a great young player, with great defense, rebounding and playmaking ability. The one thing he misses most from his game is an outside shot. Many think if he can develop one, he is a future MVP. The main problem for this team is not having an established closer. The closer is the player on your team, that you are most confident in to get a bucket in a half court set. This is important because as the game slows down and the 4th quarter heats up, players like Ben Simmons and Joel Embid tend to be non factors. Every great team has a closer, and for this team to succeed, Tobias Harris will have to play the closing role that Jimmy Butler played last season. Tobias, however, has yet to establish himself as a true closer. Guys like Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler are examples of bonafide closers, they have proven their ability to knock down clutch shots for their team at the end of the game. This sixers team is missing that and every great team needs one.

Phoenix Suns: Develop More (I guess)

The good news about the Suns is that they are very young. Devin Booker is one of my favorite young talents in this league. He is a walking bucket such that he averaged 26.6 ppg last year to go along with a career high 6.8 ast. He is only 22 but he is a future stud in this league. Deandre Ayton was their number 1 overall pick last year and had a very good rookie season. I think that he needs to be a more aggressive scorer and also improve his defense. The pick and roll with Devin Booker-or newly acquired point guard Ricky Rubio- and Deandre Ayton can be a weapon for this team. Now the reason I said the goal was to: Develop More (I guess) was because this team will probably not compete with the stacked western conference. This team made solid moves this offseason. I really like their young point guard Jevon Carter because he is a really great defender. They acquired Cam Johnson an NCAA veteran from UNC that is one of the best shooters in the draft. There were many other moves this team made this offseason that were solid but the realistic goal for this season is just to keep developing. Devin Booker has come out and said he’s “done missing the playoffs,” and his teammates need to step up and help him out. For this season however, with the youth and a loaded Western Conference, I don’t think that this is their year to make the playoffs.

Portland Trail Blazers: One more piece

The Trail Blazers have consistently been a solid team in the NBA over the past few years. This team did almost everything they could have this offseason. I do think they are contenders to win, but I think they should make a move. That move is to go out and get Kevin Love. I would assume the Cavs would want young players or pick so you may have to include a Anfernee Simoms and maybe a pick or two. Working out the contracts would be hard, but if they can work out a deal than they would have a solid starting 5. The draft was a success this year as the raw talent in Nassir Little fell to them. He is known for his grit and his defensive play at UNC and has promising athleticism to hopefully develop an offensive game. I don’t think there is much to say about this team because they remained mostly the same. I love Dame Lillard, and I would love to see this Finals run occur.

Sacramento Kings: Develop More

The Kings are another team that are a boarder line playoff team but it is hard to believe that they could make it in the West. Similar to the Suns, this team is very young. They have one of my favorite young point guards in the league in De’Aaron Fox. Fox was an MIP candidate last year in just his second season. Swipa, they call him for his blazing speed, also has great scoring and defensive ability. Paired up with one of the most dynamic college players of the last decade in Buddy Hield, and you have a fun line up. These are 2 great young pieces, however they are not their only ones. Harry Giles was a stud in high school, I would love to see him bring some of that to the NBA. Kyle Guy was a fun pick from the former national champions, The University of Virginia Cavaliers and Marvin Bagley III looks to be a great big fit for the future. This teams future looks bright and the core looks strong, however in the stacked western conference I do not think that this is the year that they will compete for a playoff spot.

San Antonio Spurs: Playoffs

The spurs are a very interesting team. I love the way that the spurs front office continues to put a great team on the floor every night. For the past 22 years, the Spurs gave their fans at least one playoff series every year. They are one of the most successful franchises of all time. Lead by head coach Greg Popovich, this squad manages to find a playoff spot every year. DeMar Derozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are 2 very good all-star caliber players that they have on their roster. They are complemented by multiple solid role players from recent drafts. Even with their later picks in the draft, the Spurs are always able to cash in on a great player. Some of their young late round picks in the past couple of years include Derrick White and Dejounte Murray (who I’m really excited to watch play after missing all of last season with an ACL). Lonnie Walker IV is another young player that we were not able to see a lot of last year and I would hope to see a full season out of him. This years draft pick in Luke Samanic I think will be very good for them in the long run. He is a big man that can shoot. Who can’t use one of those? If you want to read more up on the spurs and how they use their late picks in the draft to rebuild, read my article on them on the “free write” page. I look forward to hopefully another playoff season by this team team, but it may be hard in the stacked western conference.

Toronto Raptors: Playoffs

Last season, was a wild run for the raptors. They not only made the move to go out and get Kawhi, but they made many more underrated moves that ultimately lead them to winning their first NBA Finals in franchise history. This season, losing Kawhi takes them out of contention. However, this team does still have the pieces to be a solid playoff team, and because of their experience, maybe they can steal a series. They do still have some solid young players to look forward to in the future. This years Most Improved Player, Pascal Siakim(25), could end up being a first time all-star this year. One guy that flys under the radar a lot is OG Anunoby. The forward out Indiana missed the entire playoffs last year due to injury but he could be the “glue guy” for the future that the raps need. He has great defensive potential and hopefully can develop and offensive game as well. Fred Vanvleet(25), the sharpshooting point guard looks like a pretty good option for the future. Even though he stands at just 6ft tall, he proved to the league he can hang with the best on defense as he played tough defense on Steph Curry and other point guards throughout the entire playoffs. He also proved his ability to hit a big shot. In game 6 of the NBA Finals, he stepped back for a 3 with just under 4 minutes left and the game tied. This was one of the more momentous shots in the game and helped the Raptors become World Champs. Seeing this team without Kawhi is upsetting, but seeing promise in young guys could help for the future.

Utah Jazz: Western Conference Finals

This is a tall task for this Jazz team, but I truly believe with the improvements they made this offseason, that it is possible. Going to the Western Conference means you will probably have to beat at least the Lakers or the Clippers to get there. If the Jazz were to beat one of those teams before the WCF, I think it would be a long gritty series. It would be hard for them to recover for their next series, which would probably be against the other LA team. Donovan Mitchell is a special player, that I personally love because he is similar to me because his first love was baseball. His dad was a professional baseball player so he knows what it takes to be good at a high level. He is viscous at the rim, finishing over defenders sometimes almost a foot taller than him. Put him alongside 2x Defensive Player of the year Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley and Joe Ingles and you will probably have a top 5 defense in the league. I think the signing of Bojan Bogdanovic was very underrated. He averaged 18 a game last year, and shot almost 43% from 3. It will be either him or Joe Ingles who plays the PF, but they will be interchangeable. The added shooting to this team will only help. The main problem I see for this team is their bench. This is one of the best built starting 5s in the league, however, a bench is essential in making a playoff run. Signing Emmanuel Mudiay was also a little underrated too. He can come in a provide some nice bench scoring. Other than that, this bench needs to emerge as a serviceable NBA bench and prove that they can hold their own, before I can call the Jazz a legitimate contender.

Washington Wizards: Reset

In my opinion, The Wizards need a reset. They have failed to pair up John Wall with the pieces to make a deep playoff run, every since they drafted him first overall back in 2010. He showed great scoring, defensive and playmaking ability to go along with his leadership. This is everything you look for in a point guard. Now, he has suffered a terrible Achilles injury, and will miss the majority, if not the entire season. The good news is, they have great trade assets. Bradley Beal and John Wall are both names that have been tossed around the trade market the last couple of years, because this team has remained a boarder line playoff team every year. Now, with the NBA at its peak due to the competitiveness of more teams this season, contention is not in the near future. Rui Hachimura will be a great start to their rebuild. The 9th overall pick this year, showed great potential at Gonzaga. He averaged just under 20 pts and almost 7 rebounds while shooting 42% from 3. Have you noticed the common theme about what I like in player? They can shoot and play defense. The NBA is becoming a 3 point league. Some teams even live and die by it like the Rockets. But it’s becoming essential on every team. For this Wizards team, I think it’s time to throw in the towel and try to get rid of John Wall’s crazy contract, and just start over.

This was the second half of the NBA. I hope you enjoyed and if you have any feedback or just want to discuss let me know in the comments.

The Ultimate Goal For Every NBA Team: Part 1 (15 teams)

This upcoming basketball season is going to be special. More teams right now are getting better and gaining assets than others. However, obviously not all teams can succeed. So teams need to set realistic goals for themselves based off their roster. I am going to explain what I believe should be the goal coming into this season for half of the teams in the league. Stay tuned for Part 2 which will consist of the second half of the NBA.

Atlanta Hawks: Make the Playoffs

This offseason for the Atlanta Hawks was a very successful one. They drafted 2 players with extremely high potential. The 4th overall pick was Deandre Hunter. Coming out of Virginia he is one of my favorite players in this draft as he proved he can be a future weapon with his 3 point shot. He shot just under 44% in his last season at Virginia while also capturing a National Title. The 10th Pick was Cam Reddish who was voted in a pole by the players in his own draft class to finish with the best career. Cam was the 3rd ranked high school player coming into last college season. With a crowded Duke starting line up, his full potential didn’t show but he has the ability to shoot the ball as well as anybody in this draft. The future looks bright with their stud sophomore point guard Trae Young and the pieces around him could propel them to the 8 seed in the East. This gives the young guys the ability to gain more playoff experience in order to continue to develop for the future.

Boston Celtics: Win 50 games

The Boston Celtics are an interesting team because they did lose lots of pieces in free agency, but were blessed with a plethora of draft picks. They took Romeo Langford from Indiana with the 14th pick and I think his ceiling is very high. He can provide some good bench scoring for this season. Grant Williams was taken with the 22nd pick from Tennessee and they also added Carsen Edwards, a filthy point guard from Purdue who went off in the tournament last year. Not only that but they went out and got Tacko Fall, the 7’6 center from UCF. This team won 49 games last year and the losses of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford will for sure show. I believe in this young team and I think this could be the year Jayson Tatum makes that leap we have been waiting for. However, I think a second round exit is warranted as they will miss the defensive impact of Al Horford in the playoffs and many are in question because we have never seen Kemba play with solid pieces around him.

Brooklyn Nets: Make Kyrie happy

This season is obviously not the season that the Nets will be contending. However they will still be a very solid team. As the 6 seed last year they were able to make some noise and show that their young core is solid too. Caris Lavert is an MIP candidate to look out for this season. The additions of Kyrie and Deandre Jordan will only help. I expect this team to be a top 4 seed in the east. The season of 2020-2021 will be when they contend with a healthy KD because that is when this team is the most dangerous. For now make Kyrie happy because Boston went wrong and you don’t want to lose a player of his caliber, at his age.

Charlotte Hornets: Get the #1 overall pick

This offseason was definitely a questionable one for the Hornets. The Hornets were stuck in a tough position on wether to give up on their star point guard Kemba Walker and start the rebuild, or resign him and try to find pieces. Ultimately they made the right decision(or he made it for them) by not resigning him. They gave Terry Rozier a huge contract and I don’t think that his averages of 9 points and 3 assists on 39% shooting last year is worth over $19 million a year. They luckily now have a couple young pieces like P.J. Washington, Miles Bridges and Malik Monk. PJ has a lot of potential. Defensively, he is athletic in his 6ft 8in stature. And was a solid three point shooter at Kentucky shooting 42% his Sophomore year. But they need to be patient and wait for their next couple of years of draft picks to develop and get better talent.

Chicago Bulls: Make the Playoffs

The Bulls got unlucky with the NBA lottery this year. Although they were projected the 4th pick, they fell all the way to 7 for the 3rd year in a row. The 7th Pick, however, has showed some promise for the Bulls. They took Lauri Markkanen in 2017 who set the record for most 3s made by a rookie while making all rookie 1st team. Wendell Carter Jr. Was picked out of Duke by the Bulls in the 2018 Draft. He showed the ability to protect the rim and be a solid all around player for the future. He fits perfectly into the new small ball center role. Lastly, in this years draft, they added Coby White who is a 6’5 point guard out of UNC who is a great scorer and has defensive potential because of his size and athleticism. They also got deep this summer by adding guys like, Thad Young to play defense and shoot the 3. Also Satoransky is a very solid point guard who filled in well in John Wall’s absence. If this team can stay healthy, I believe they can make the 8 seed lead by future first time all star, Zach Lavine. This will give the young guys experience to grow as a team.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Find your guy

Every NBA team has “their guy” and some even have multiple. Whether a team is bad and has a stud to build around or they are contending, every team has “their guy”. But this team is missing that guy. Similar to the Hornets situation. Darius Garland and Colin Sexton are both young prospects that could end up being pretty good. Sexton had a solid rookie season in which he averaged 16.7 points per game. We didn’t see much of Garland in college but we were able to see 5 games in which he averaged 16.2 points and shot almost 48% from three. The Cavs said their goal was to use them in a similar way to a back court duo like Lillard and McCollum, however I cannot see this working out. Sexton (6’3) and Garland (6’2) will have a very hard time guarding opposing teams back courts because of their size disadvantage. That’s why they need to find “their guy” and buy into him. If they find a solid piece to build around and still have a lingering trade asset in Kevin Love, this team could get good again soon. Obviously it could take multiple seasons to find “that guy” but during that time the best thing you can do is accumulate future assets and pieces for down the road.

Dallas Mavericks: Make a playoff push

Last season, Mavericks fans were lucky enough to witness “Luka Magic” which was the very special rookie season that Luka Doncic had. Doncic capped of his season averaging 21.2 pts 7.8 rebs and 6 ast all while taking home the rookie of the year award. Mark Cuban went out and made a move that set up a lethal young duo. The acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis from the Knicks mid season last year shocked the entire NBA. Last time we saw Kristaps on the floor was when he was playing All Star level basketball. He averaged 22.7 points and 2.4 blocks as in just his 3rd season, made the All Star team. Having someone as young as Luka with that high of a ceiling is always a gift as he is even called a generational talent in some people’s eyes. If you add him alongside a 7’3 big that can shoot the ball and protect the rim all while remaining one of the most athletic guys on the court, fans could be in for a treat this season.

Denver Nuggets: Establish yourself as a true contender

The Nuggets have a great foundation, and one of the top young cores in the league. Nikola Jokic is one of my favorite players in the league to watch. He has the vision and passing ability of a point guard with the size and touch around the rim of an elite center. Michael Porter Jr. was a stud in highschool and after missing his entire first season, I’d love to watch him break out. Jamal Murray is a great young point guard who shocked me a lot in the playoffs. He showed the ability to come up in big spots as he went 37/38 from the line during the series against the Trail Blazers and also put up a 21 point 4th quarter to bring the Nuggets back and help them win. Unfortunately this was not enough for the Blazers as they lost the series in 7 in one of the most exciting game 7s I’ve ever watched. Many people last year were sleeping on the Nuggets because of their youth but with one year more of experience now, do not count them out. If they can get better on defense as a team I think they have a serious chance to win the Finals. Finals would set the bar too high as a goal because this team is not championship or bust because they have very young pieces that are still developing. They have a larger window than most NBA teams.

Detroit Pistons: Make some type of move

The Pistons have been one of those teams over the past couple of year who just hang around. Blake Griffin last year had a career year. He made his first All-Star game since the 2014 season and finished this year averaging 24.5 pts 5.4 ast and 7.5 rebs. This was good enough for an All-NBA third team selection. Reggie Jackson has not been the guy they expect him to be but he still has been solid. Drummond is always gonna be a horse on the glass and is a great piece to have on any team. But this team is still not in contention and cannot do much with their roster unless they trade. I liked their first round pick this year in Sekou Doumbouya from France. He is a nice player who can stretch the floor well. Also they signed Derrick Rose who will be a very quality scorer in the starting lineup or off the bench. The moral of the story is that if the Pistons want to be competitive, they need to make a move of some sort to get better because they are a borderline playoff team right now.

Golden State Warriors: Get Klay healthy

The Warriors have been the top contender in the league for the past 5 years. For the first time in a while they can call themselves the underdogs. Many people think that because Kevin Durant left that they are no longer contenders. However, this is not true. Many forget but in 2015, Curry, Klay and Draymond won a Finals by themselves. I know Klay will miss the majority of the year if not the entire year but this offseason they added a really nice asset in D’Angelo Russell. Russell-in just his 4th season-made the all star team for the first time and finished the year averaging 21.1 pts and 7 ast. Russell is only 23 and has a lot of room to grow as the former number 2 overall pick. If they don’t decide to keep him, he can always be traded and definitely will bring in a great haul for the Warriors due to his talent at such a young age. The dynasty is far from over but for this season the main focus should be getting Klay back to his old self.

Houston Rockets: Win NOW!!!!!!!

The Rockets are a fun team that personally, I love watching and I’m even more exited now that Russell Westbrook is there to join Harden. Mike D’antoni has always been a coach known for his offense. He created the seven seconds or less system with 2x MVP Steve Nash and the Suns. With the Rockets he created an offense based around the 3 point shot and iso ball. Harden either creates a shot for himself by stepping back or driving to the rim and then kicks out to one of his shooters. We have seen some historic scoring performances from him in the past because of this. Although we have seen them on top of the West as a 1 seed, they never could get over the jump of the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. James Harden is in his prime right now and the Rockets need to capitalize. They need to win now because compared to other teams they have a lot of smaller of a window due to the age of their players and lack of young assets to trade or develop.

Indiana Pacers: Be solid

The Pacers are a very interesting team because there was not much they can do to improve their team, but they did everything they possibly could to do so. Indiana is not a destination for big names, so it was expected that they wouldn’t be able to sign guys like Kawhi, KD and Kyrie. However, they were able to sign multiple solid players that will make immediate impacts on the team. The signing of Malcom Brogdon was one of the most underrated moves this offseason. He is a guy that any team could use because he can shoot the 3 and play defense. He had a historic season last season but not necessarily because of his numbers, it was his shooting percentages that went in the history books. Brogdon is one of 8 players ever to join the 50-40-90 club. This means that he shot over 50% from the field, over 40% from 3 and over 90% from the free throw line during the course of one season. The other 7 players on this list include names like KD, Steph, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller and Steve Nash who is the only player to do it more than once. It takes this list to truly show the impact that Brogdon has. Because the health of Oladipo is up in the air, the goal for this team is to just be the solid team that they are until he comes back. If he comes back to be as good as he was before the injury, I would love to see this team try to make a run at it all, but I don’t think that they have the star power to do so.

LA Clippers: Become LA’s team (for now)

Realistically we all know the ultimate goal for this team is to win a championship if not more. This being said, they have something to prove. The Clippers have been the little sibling to the Lakers ever since they made the move to LA in 1984. The Lakers have a rich history and it would take generations on top of more generations for them to catch up. Therefore, the Lakers are LA’s team even if they win a championship. But that is no saying that they can’t rule LA for a small period of time. The Western Conference Finals that most people expect in the West is to be Lakers vs Clippers. This is where you have to put your money where your mouth is and prove to the league that you are LA’s team. If Kawhi and Paul George leave the Clippers without a ring, than it is 6 first round picks down the drain. This was an all in move and I’m exited to see how it turns out.

LA Lakers: Championship or Bust

The Lakers have Lebron James. This automatically makes them a contender. Than, you add in Anthony Davis, some guys who can shoot, and you have arguably the best roster in the league. Lebron is getting older-as much as everyone hates to admit-but the league some time in the near future will see Lebron retire. I don’t know if it will be with the Lakers or with another team, but similar to the Rockets situation, their championship window is closing. What makes their situation better for the future than the Rockets, is that they have Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis is only 26 and can definitely attract future free agents after Lebron leaves. This offseason was a huge success for the Lakers because as I mentioned early, they signed a lot of 3 point shooters. Lebron plays best with shooters. He gets the majority of his assists from driving to the hoop and kicking out. This was most apparent in Miami. Looking at the Miami roster you see guys like Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and even Rashard Lewis could even knock down a shot. Comparing this roster to the Lakers, there are many similarities. Some of the shooters on the Lakers roster consist of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley and Danny Green. These players are similar to the players on the Heat team because they play similar roles and don’t demand the ball a lot. I think this team is set up for success extremely well and if they don’t win with Lebron than many might start to question his legacy.

Memphis Grizzlies: Give young players opportunities

The lottery treated the Grizzlies well as they moved up to the 2nd pick in the draft and took Ja Morant. They moved Mike Conley (who was solid but just didn’t fit the timeline) to the Jazz to make room for their new young center piece. The point guard from Murray State showed unreal potential last season. In college he showed off his freak athleticism buy constantly putting opponents on posters. He has a natural will to score the ball. He average 24.5 points and shot 36% from three. Not only is Ja a scorer but he possesses the ability to pass the ball with the best of them. He lead the NCAA by being the only player to average double digit assists with 10 a game. Other than him there are a lot more young players on this team that deserve playing time. Obviously they have Jaren Jackson Jr. who I think will be a great fit at the 4 or the 5 in today’s NBA. But many might overlook their later picks in the drafts over the past couple of years but I think they drafted well. Most fans know about Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant but I think Grayson Allen (23yrs), Dillon Brooks(23), Bruno Cabocolo(24), Brandan Clarke(23), Josh Jackson(22), Tyus Jones(23) and Ivan Rabb(22) all deserve quality minutes to try and prove themselves in this league. I would look out for one or more of these players to break out if given enough playing time. The goal here is think future, because you aren’t going to win now.

These are the first 15 teams in the NBA alphabetically. The second half of the league will be found in part 2. Feel free to leave any comments about anything you agree on or disagree on because I love to discuss.

Why the Knicks striking out this summer could be the best thing that has ever happened to their franchise

The Knicks are one of the most iconic NBA teams and is the favorite child of the media and the League. The NBA loves nothing more than watching big market teams succeed helping them gain revenue and an audience. That is exactly why you would think the Knicks should succeed. However with horrific ownership, multiple draft and trade mistakes and poor development you get the Knicks. Luckily for the Knicks, they might have just found their hero.

RJ Barrett is a 6’7 Sg/Sf from Duke, nicknamed the Maple Mamba. He arguably has a ceiling that is just as high as anyone in the draft(Hot take…I know). He is a crafty wing who showed potential to be a superstar in high school and in college. If given the keys to the city and the team with some successful draft days in the future, they can develop a very strong young core around him(will talk about later). With the potential of a superstar, an NBA built body and the mindset of his godfather Steve Nash, RJ can end up being the savior for the Knicks franchise. It is all written perfectly. The 3rd pick. Like Michael Jordan was the savior of basketball in the late 80s. RJ will be the savior for the Knicks.

Although not getting Kyrie and KD is disappointing, the Knicks might just be better off without them. The reason I believe it is best for the Knicks Franchise is because I think a fresh start is exactly what they need. The Knicks just cleared almost all of their bad contracts, and now have a clean slate. We saw the Lakers this season struggle because their young players were not given the freedom on the basketball court to feel things out, find their way and preform. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are 2 prospects with very high potential but were put into an unfortunate role as more of a spot up shooter alongside Lebron. It is not easy to learn from your mistakes and get better especially when you can’t even play your own game. KD and Kyrie would stunt the development of RJ and with them on the court he would never reach his full potential.

Future talent has never been better as their are more hyped up college and high school-heck even middle school-prospects to come. We saw the Warriors build their dynasty with successful drafts. They were able to pick Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green in the same draft we’ll also drafting a solid role player in Festus Ezeli all in 2012. They got Steph at 7 in 2009 and Klay at 11 in 2011. Originally- of course-with a young core, you are going to struggle. There will be growing pains and chemistry building needed to be successful in the league. The warriors devolved their players to play the role that they envisioned for them and built s championship team. KD was the only signing but even without KD the Dynasty was built through the draft. If the Knicks were able to replicate the success of the Warriors with their drafts, with all of their future draft assets, can create a lethal young core.

The upcoming drafts have players with start studded talent the Knicks should look to draft like James Weissman, Cole Anthony and Lamelo Ball (I purposely did not mention a wing player because of RJ). There is 2 real questions about the Knicks future. 1-Who will they pick? 2-How will the Knicks develop them? Obviously most of the time drafting is not easy(unless you were the pelicans this year). But if the Knicks do not think that they have the right staff to draft the right players than get rid of them. Start fresh in the front office if you need to as well. The staff also needs to find the best in every prospect and bring out the best player in them.

The Knicks are set for the future. The Knicks this year will probably improve a little with young future role players/assets like Trier, Knox and Mitch Rob further developing and of course RJ Barrett. But I would guess that most people will predict that they will miss the playoffs next year. This means that the Knicks will not only have an entry in the lottery, they will have an even better chance than before with the new lottery odds. We saw teams skip all over the place in the lottery this year. Anything is possible as we saw the lakers, grizzlies and pelicans all fall inside the top 5 without even being projected there. Not only that but they have future assets like 2 first rounders from the Mavs in 2021 and 2023. Also 2 seconds from a Charlotte in 2020 and 2021. The Knicks have set themselves up for success with short contracts this summer. When the players they pick in future drafts start to develop, that money will be off their books and it will open room for a big name free agent possibly. This is exactly why they are better off building through the draft. Teams are built through chemistry and failure. They get another lottery pick, than eventually make the playoffs and gain experience and chemistry throughout the journey. Then they are ready to make a run. We saw it just this year with a young Brooklyn team that nobody expected anything out of. They were one solid piece away from making a serious run. It is the players development as a team that makes them great not their individual development.

RJ is a franchise caliber player and can turn things around for the Knicks. I believe that if the Knicks draft well in the future, and RJ develops into the superstar that he has the potential to be, the Knicks will be in good position for years to come. Make RJ the face of not just the team but the city. Give him everything New York. Surround a stud like RJ with the right talent and you are in for something dangerous. The Knicks have a clean slate. If they mess this up, something needs to change in the front office, or Dolan needs to sell the team.

Why Kyrie leaving the Celtics can debatably be worse than when KD left the Thunder (Unpopular Opinion)

Kyrie Irving was nothing short of disappointing in round 2 against the bucks. Kyrie’s ultimate goal was to win a championship with his “own team”. This is what caused the feud between Kyrie and the Cavs. He wanted to take on the leadership role and establish his legacy as the #1 option on a championship team.

Kyrie went down and missed the playoffs last year and we were able to witness the breakout of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier. We saw hints of a very solid young core in Boston (which very much still exists). Kyrie was asked before the season what his plans were for free agency. He responded by saying “this franchise is really built for the next few years of being at the top-tier of teams in the league. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? What more could you ask for from an organization to really elevate your game?” He was also quoted saying “If you will have me back, I plan on re-signing here”. This was before the season started. Kyrie saw the potential in the team with such young players showing hints of potential in the playoffs taking Lebron to game 7 even without Gordon Hayward and himself. But who wouldn’t be confident after the run they had.

After the Celtics struggled during the regular season. As we all know there was much drama between Lebron and Kyrie. Many suspect a reunion between the two in LA. Kyrie texted Lebron, apologizing for being young and immature and not understanding what it takes to be in Lebron’s position as a leader. This caused lots of Free Agency drama. When asked midseason about what he was gonna do. He said “I don’t owe anyone shit.” Clearly showing frustration with the team.

The main reason this can be worse than KD leaving is because of the series that Kyrie had.

Kyrie Irving Eastern Conference Semis shooting splints:

Game 2: 4/18 FG 1/5 3PT 9pts

Game 3: 8/22 FG 2/8 3PT 29pts

Game 4: 7/22 FG 1/7 3PT 23pts

Game 5: 6/21 FG 1/7 3PT 15pts

Although points may seem like he played well in games 3 and 4, this was because in game 3 he was 11/12 from the line and game 4 he was 8/9. To say the least, he underperformed in the second round.

But what makes this worse than KD leaving you may ask other then the terrible series performance and the promises he made before the season? As I mentioned earlier, many are suspect of him going to LA to team up with Lebron, but also going to NY to team up with KD. This completely contradicts the reason he wanted out of Cleveland. To have his own team. This will be a serious blow to his legacy as he failed to deliver as a leader and #1 scoring option. He ultimately bit off more than he can chew. KD had the goal of winning a championship no matter how he did it. Weather it was the #1 option or not, he wanted to secure his legacy as a winner. Which he has. Some may not agree but I believe he is the best player on the warriors team (especially this playoffs). He has taken anything BUT the backseat with the GSW winning 2 Finals MVPs. KD May have different beliefs now however than he did in the 2016 free agency.

Just to clarify, I am not a warriors fan. I was not for KD going to the warriors at all. This is an unbias opinion from a Bulls fan. I just believe that if Kyrie were to leave Boston after such a tragic series, his legacy will take a serious blow. Let me know your guys thoughts.