Category Archives: Basketball

NBA Preview: Awards, Hype, Prediction Edition

With the NBA Season getting ready to start it’s only right that we answer a few questions in regards to awards, playoff seeding, finals predictions etc…. Please be sure to sound off and voice your opinions and enlighten us on your predictions.

Statistical Predictions:

Who will lead the league in scoring?

  
Hornback: Kevin Durant

Fort: Kevin Durant

Carter: Kevin Durant

Who will lead the league in rebounds?

  Hornback: Andre Drummond

Fort: Hassan Whiteside

Carter: Deandre Jordan

Who will lead the league in assists?

  

Hornback: John Wall

Fort: John Wall

Carter: Chris Paul

Who will lead the league in PER? (Player Efficiency Rating)

    
Hornback: Anthony Davis

Fort: Anthony Davis

Carter: Chris Paul

Who will lead the league in usage percentage?

  Hornback: LeBron James

Fort: Carmelo Anthony

Carter: James Harden

What will be the top 5 offenses?

   
Hornback:

  1. Warriors
  2. Clippers
  3. Thunder
  4. Hawks
  5. Spurs

Fort:

  1. Warriors
  2. Clippers
  3. Thunder
  4. Hawks
  5. Spurs

Carter:

  1. Clippers
  2. Warriors
  3. Thunder
  4. Rockets
  5. Heat

What will be the top 5 defenses?

    
Hornback:

  1. Jazz
  2. Warriors
  3. Bucks
  4. Grizzlies
  5. Wizards

Fort:

  1. Warriors
  2. Wizards
  3. Cavaliers
  4. Bucks
  5. Thunder

Carter:

  1. Bucks
  2. Bulls
  3. Pelicans
  4. Warriors
  5. Jazz

Awards Predictions:

Who will be this season’s Coach of the Year?

  

Hornback: Alvin Gentry

Fort: Erik Spolestra

Carter: Jason Kidd

Who will be this season’s Executive of the Year?

  
Hornback: R. C. Buford (San Antonio)

Fort: Pat Riley (Miami)

Carter: John Hammond (Milwaukee)

Who will be the season’s Rookie of the Year?

  Hornback: Jahlil Okafor

Fort: Emannuel Mudiay (Winslow very close 2nd)

Carter: Karl-Anthony Towns

Who will be this season’s Most Valuable Player of the Year?

  Hornback: James Harden

Fort: Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook

Carter: James Harden

Who will be this season’s Defensive Player of the Year?

  Hornback: Rudy Gobert

Fort: Dwight Howard

Carter: Anthony Davis

Who will be this season’s Sixth Man of the Year?

  Hornback: Isaiah Thomas

Fort: Louis Williams

Carter: Isaiah Thomas

Who will be this season’s Most Improved Player?

  
Hornback: Derrick Favors

Fort: Jordan Clarkson

Carter: Rudy Gobert

All NBA 1st Team

Hornback:
Steph Curry
James Harden
LeBron James
Anthony Davis
Dwight Howard

Fort: 
Russell Westbrook
James Harden
LeBron James
Kevin Durant
Anthony Davis

Carter:
Chris Paul
James Harden
LeBron James
Blake Griffin
Anthony Davis

All NBA 2nd Team

Hornback:
Chris Paul
Russell Westbrook
Kevin Durant
LaMarcus Aldridge
DeMarcus Cousins

Fort: 
John Wall
Steph Curry
Paul George
Lamarcus Aldridge
Blake Griffin

Carter:
Steph Curry
Russell Westbrook
Kevin Durant
LaMarcus Aldridge
Demarcus Cousins

All NBA 3rd Team

Hornback:
John Wall
Jimmy Butler
Kevin Love
Blake Griffin
Marc Gasol

Fort: 
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Kawhi Leonard
Chris Bosh
Marc Gasol

Carter:
John Wall
Jimmy Butler
Kawhi Leonard
Pau Gasol
Marc Gasol

All NBA Defensive 1st Team

Hornback:
John Wall
Tony Allen
Draymond Green
Anthony Davis
Rudy Gobert

Fort: 
John Wall
Jeff Teague
Kawhi Leonard
LeBron James

Carter:
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Anthony Davis
Rudy Gobert

All NBA Defensive 2nd Team

Hornback:
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Kawhi Leonard
Serge Ibaka
Marc Gasol

Fort: 
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Paul George
Anthony Davis
Deandre Jordan

Carter:
Michael Conley
Tony Allen
Draymond Green
Serge Ibaka
Deandre Jordan

All NBA Rookie Team

Hornback:
D’Angelo Russell
Emmanuel Mudiay
Mario Hezonja
Stanley Johnson
Jahlil Okafor

Fort: 
Emmanuel Mudiay
D’Angelo Russell
Justice Winslow
Karl-Anthony Towns
Jahlil Okafor

Carter:
Emmanuel Mudiay
Mario Hezonja
Stanley Johnson
Karl-Anthony Towns
Jahlil Okafor

Playoff Predictions

  
DeShawn Hornback:

  1. Warriors
  2. Spurs
  3. Rockets
  4. Clippers
  5. Thunder
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Pelicans
  8. Jazz

Ryan Fort

  1. Thunder
  2. Warriors
  3. Rockets
  4. Spurs
  5. Clippers
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Pelicans
  8. Mavs

Tyler Carter:

  1. Spurs
  2. Warriors
  3. Clippers
  4. Rockets
  5. Thunder
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Suns
  8. Kings

  
Hornback:

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Hawks
  3. Wizards
  4. Bulls
  5. Raptors
  6. Heat
  7. Bucks
  8. Detroit

Fort:

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Hawks
  3. Wizards
  4. Heat
  5. Bulls
  6. Raptors
  7. Bucks
  8. Pistons

Carter:

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Bulls
  3. Heat
  4. Raptors
  5. Wizards
  6. Bucks
  7. Hawks
  8. Pacers

Final Four

Hornback: 

Spurs vs Warriors
Cavaliers vs Wizards

Fort: 

Thunder vs Rockets
Cavaliers vs Heat

Carter:

Spurs vs Clippers
Cavaliers vs Heat

Finals Predictions:

  
Hornback:

Spurs vs Cavaliers Cavaliers in 7

Fort: 

Thunder vs Heat Thunder in 6

Carter:

Spurs vs Cavaliers Cavaliers in 6

What Makes Him so Special?

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Great players are often defined by legacies, accomplishments, and other stellar achievements. When a great player has a team that fails, we put the onus, the blame, on them. Being held accountable is the responsibility that comes with being great- there is no way around it.

Over the past few decades, the NBA has seen a number of great players fail to win. Dominique Wilkins, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Steve Nash, and Charles Barkley are some of the guys who headline that list.

For a long stretch Kobe (for not winning without Shaq) and LeBron were ridiculed for their teams failing efforts. Carmelo Anthony and Tracy McGrady took some heat. Allen Iverson, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams were mocked. Even Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki had moments of scrutiny as well.

There hasn’t been another guy in NBA history who has been protected and excused for his teams mishaps like Chris Paul has been. He’s the most clean slated superstar ever. We give him all types of praise when he really shouldn’t receive anything at all. He hasn’t done anything.

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Every year there’s a new excuse for Paul’s failures. The excuses have ranged from him having a bad coach to his supporting cast being mediocre. It’s everyone’s fault but his year in and year out.

Recently, when the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against the Rockets Chris Paul was not called out for his play or for his leadership. Fingers were instead pointed towards Griffin for being too young and mistake prone, Jordan for missing free throws, Doc. Rivers for his poor coaching and Clippers not having a bench. (Same downfall and reasonings occurred during his first year with the LAC when Vinny Del Negro was coach. While in New Orleans he didn’t have that great of a supporting cast.)

As the “best” player, the captain, the floor general of a team shouldn’t you be the one who’s held accountable for when things go wrong? Since when do players who rank in the Top 5 ( present day) get a pass and receive little blame?

He doesn’t have an NBA Championship. He doesn’t have an MVP award. And he has not been past the second round of the playoffs.

Outside of Tracy McGrady, Chris Paul is the most underwhelming superstar to have played in the postseason the past 15 years. Instead of bouncing out of the first round like T-Mac, CP3 lasts until the second. That’s not great.

Chris Paul is the only allstar caliber guard not named John Wall or Damian Lillard, who has not been to the Conference Finals. Guys like Mike Conley, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Klay Thompson etc. have all played in a Conference Finals.

After just three healthy years Stephen Curry has already passed up Chris Paul in terms of playoff success. Maybe even career wise.

When you look at a few of the great point guards Paul is compared to each one has something to hang their hats on, and he does not.

•John Stockton appeared in a couple of NBA Finals and is the All-Time Assists Leader.

•Magic Johnson was a 5 time NBA Champ, 3x MVP and 3x Finals MVP.

•Gary Payton won a Defensive Player of the year award, appeared in a few NBA Finals and owns a ring.

•Isiah Thomas was a Finals MVP.

•Jason Kidd appeared in multiple NBA Finals and owns a ring.

•Oscar Robertson was an MVP and NBA Champion.

•Steve Nash was a 2x MVP and was on the cusp of the making the NBA Finals a few times.

Young guards Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose already have MVP awards; Curry has a shot a legitimate shot at winning a ring right now.

With young guys already accomplishing things he hasn’t is it safe to say he’s been leaped over in time? Is Chris Paul as good as we thought or did we overrate him?

Think about it. What has Paul accomplished in his career that stands out and will be remembered? He has no awards that stand out on his resume.

As of now Paul’s three biggest accomplishments have been his endorsement deal with State Farm, bringing the cities of Oklahoma and New Orleans to the NBA landscape and winning Gold medals with Team USA. Other than those feats Paul has accomplished next to nothing.

With the new wave of talent and guys like Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, John Wall and a few more coming into their own time is steadily ticking for Chris Paul to accomplish something of great importance.

He might be the best point guard of his generation. But what exactly does that prove if he doesn’t have the catalog other great players have?

Numbers aside, he has to prove that he’s that guy. And the only way he can do that is by winning. Win an award. Win a championship. Hell, get past the second round.

Twitter: @RyanDFort or
@Fortonsportsinc

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I’d love to hear/see y’all’s thoughts & opinions on this. Comment below and share your feelings.

Warriors (1) vs Cavaliers (2) The Finals Are Here

It’s all been coming down to this moment. The NBA Finals. All the storylines will come to an end with each team looking to capture the Larry O’Brien trophy with just 4 more wins. The Golden State Warriors are looking for their first title in over 30 years, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking for their first one ever. We have the most entertaining and best team by record for the entire NBA season against the best player in the world.
The Cavs have had to go through multiple injuries throughout this years playoffs but still have managed to come out on top in the East; all because of one player by the name of LeBron James. With Love completely out of the picture, they’ve had Tristan Thompson step up and make plenty of noise this postseason. Thompson’s offensive rebounding has sparked the Cavs and it looks like Cleveland could be even better than before if Kyrie can get back to 100%. Kyrie will have to be huge for the Cavs to have a chance against their opponents.

 

The Warriors have looked like the best team in the league all season long and that includes the postseason. Outside of two losses, (that have only helped the Warriors) they have steamrolled through all of their competition so far. Curry has been nothing short of spectacular this postseason, and Kerr has proven time and time again of how great of a coach he has the potential to be.

STARTERS:

PG: K. Irving vs S. Curry

SG: JR Smith vs K. Thompson

SF: LB. James vs H. Barnes

PF: T. Thompson vs D. Green

C: T. Mozgof vs A. Bogut

Keys:

Cleveland has to be perfect in this series. The Warriors are just too good at too many things for Cleveland to be anything but perfect in this series. Thompson needs to destroy on the offensive boards because that could cause Golden State to rotate out of their small lineup quickly. A lineup that has taken out many teams quickly.

Next, someone has to help LeBron. LeBron is going to have Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguadala all rotating on him. This series is going to be hell for LeBron with all those guys guarding him, so someone somewhere has to step up and help releive the pressure off the man. If they don’t, the series could look very similar to the prior Finals of 2007 or 2014.

This is Kyrie’s time to shine. The focus will be 100% on LeBron and this is when this man should be earning his paycheck. Golden State has tremendous defense all around, but it’s going to be centered on LeBron and Kyrie HAS to take advantage of that. If Cleveland is to have a chance Kyrie has to step up and score big time buckets for them.

JR Smith can be ridiculously good and ridiculously bad as most know. If he gets hot he can match some of the 3pt shooting on Golden State, but if he’s off he’ll shoot his team out of the game really quick. Cleveland fans are hoping for the former because if you have JR being efficient, LeBron doing his thing, and Kyrie taking advantage of his opportunities, then that’s a recipe for success.
In game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, we saw just how bad ISO ball can get in Cleveland. If they fall back on that like they do so often, then the Cavs simply won’t win. A solution? Move the ball. LeBron needs to do what he does best and that’s penetrate and kick to the open guy. If they fall back on running an ISO offense late in games, then the team will fall apart.

The Warriors are going against a tall task. Playing against LeBron James. Only 2 teams in the last 5 years have been able to beat him, and both times they were the championship winning teams those years. If the Warriors truly want to win, they will have to go through LeBron to do so. The Warriors need to rotate defenders on LeBron constantly. Never give him the same look and get fresh bodies that are able to at least give him trouble.

Steph Curry needs to continue what he’s done all postseason. Pick his spots, don’t force anything, and continue to be the vocal leader of this machine. If Curry can continue doing so, then the Cavs won’t have an answer for him. He’s too quick around screens, has the fastest release in the league, and his handles are on par with Kyrie’s.

The lineup situation will be very interesting. Tristan Thompson should be able to trounce the small lineup with his offensive rebounding, but Cleveland likes to fall on a small lineup of their own with LeBron at the 4. This will be a chess match between coaches and Kerr has won those all season long. Kerr cannot be anything less than what he’s been all season long which is one step ahead of the competition in preparing his team for what they must face.

Klay Thompson has to get his offense going. He was able to get through the Rockets without being needed to score too much, but this is the Finals. Klay has to hit his shots for the Warriors to be comfortable. To make things easier on Steph, Klay’s scoring efficiency is a must.

Prediction: Curry raises the trophy for Golden State after beating LeBron and the Cavs 4-1. The Warriors as an entire organization are on a completely different level right now. From the front office all the way down to the players; the Warriors are a beat above all their competition. I believe in the end, ISO ball will kill the Cavs while the Warriors thrive off of ridiculous Steph shots and precise ball movement. Regardless of what happens in this series, this is a successful season for both franchises as they both have gone farther than they were suppose to. We should all be entertained by these two superstars, LeBron and Steph, engaging in amazing basketball for the trophy.

You can see the other writer’s predictions below.
Ryan Fort: Warriors 4-1 but if Kyrie is 100% Cavs in 6.
R’Mon Allen: Cavs 4-2
Tyler Carter: Warriors 4-3
Jonathan Ayala:Warriors 4-2
Hashim Ashimi: Warriors 4-2

Warriors (1) vs Rockets (2) MVP Faces the Runner Up

Even though James Harden was in everyone’s MVP ballots as either 1st or 2nd, nobody expected to see Houston still a factor in the playoffs at this point. Now the Rockets are only one series left against the powerhouse Golden State Warriors, who went through the test that most representatives in the finals have to face at some point in the playoffs; which is a team that will beat you up.

As soon as the Warriors got past all those beatings, they came back and completely dominated the Grizzlies in the final 3 games of that series with Curry doing what he does best and making things look so easy. Kerr has proven time and time again that he will be destined to be a great coach, making the perfect adjustments that allow his team to do what they want. The #1 reason for the Warriors taking control of that series was because of his move to place Bogut on Tony Allen. This then forced the Grizzlies to shoot less than 40% in the paint for the rest of that series.

The Rockets were not expected to be here 1 or 2 games ago but nonetheless, the Clippers eventually had the demise so many prayed upon. What the Rockets proved best with that last series is that they have a lot more depth than anyone is willing to talk about. Josh Smith is the X factor for this team, and when he’s going and gets his playmaking going it’s all but over for almost any team they’ve faced. The game that saved the Rockets’ season had the MVP runner up on the bench for pretty much the entire 4th quarter.

The Rockets are 0-4 in the regular season against the Warriors but of course 2 of those are without Dwight, so I’m going to be apart of the “it’s not the playoffs; it doesn’t matter” group for now.

STARTERS:

PG: S. Curry vs J. Terry

SG: K. Thompson vs J. Harden

SF: H. Barnes vs T. Ariza

PF: D. Green vs T. Jones

C: A. Bogut vs D. Howard

Keys:

The Warriors have to not get baited by Harden’s lunges. They cannot let them live at the free throw line like they try and do. Also, somebody has to keep Howard off the glass because: 1. It allows Houston to get up multiple shots, and 2. If they can get the defensive rebound, they can get out and run since Houston’s transition defense leaves much to be desired.

Otherwise they just have to play their game and not allow Houston to get going off of ugly basketball. It seems like when things are going horribly wrong for both teams, that Houston always comes out on top, and I honestly have no idea why that is. Probably something to do with the 31 3-pointers they shoot per game.

Houston has got to find a way to slow down Curry. I don’t know personally where that answer lies, because Ariza will probably be guarding Klay most of the time, but Jason Terry just has no chance against Curry. Houston can’t allow Curry to be so casual and to just pick whenever he wants to get going. Running guys off the 3 point line won’t be enough because out of everyone else left in the playoffs, GS leads everyone in points in the paint. They’re excellent at making that one extra pass for easy layups. Harden has to focus on defense as well as his offense for this series. GS has too many weapons for him to be hidden on defense. Even though his defense isn’t as bad as it once was, Harden still isn’t the most reliable guy on defense, which is totally understandable with the load he has carried offensively all year long; however, NBA champions have to power through things like this, and in the WCF there’s no way Houston can win without Harden fulfilling his potential on both sides of the floor.

Dwight is an unstoppable force when he’s engaged. He’s the one thing GS doesn’t really have an answer for. His athleticism on both sides of the floor can wreak havoc, but if he’s not engaged then Houston’s championship hopes are all but gone. Dwight needs to average at least 5-6 offensive rebounds a game for this team to have a chance.

Prediction Golden State represents the western conference after beating the Rockets 4-1. GS just has too many options: more depth, better defense, offense, and just everything needed to win a basketball game. If Beverly was actually still healthy, then this could be a little bit interesting, but the current matchup just calls for embarrasment on behalf of Jason Terry. The Warriors just faced the toughest defense in the playoffs and walked away with essentially 3 blowouts. This will be interesting to see how these playoffs conclude.

Hawks (1) vs Wizards (5) A Battle of Emerging Stars

This may be the series with the least buzz around it, but may very well be the most important. Both feature teams with emerging star point guards, and both teams are very evenly matched. This will be a series of skill vs coaching.

The Hawks had a slight struggle getting out of the first round due to the odd resilience the Nets showed in the first round. Initially the series looked like a sweep until Atlanta’s offense began sputtering in games three and four. What I took away from that performance is that the Hawks have trouble executing in high intensity games on the road. The doubts they’ve faced all season of not having “that guy” will arise again throughout the series. However, Atlanta does have the ability to score through their amazing offense, and can cause many problems by using Korver to remove an extra help defender. Watch for Atlanta to move the ball swiftly and attempt to create easy buckets to create a rhythm for themselves.

The Wizards showed pure dominance over a decent Toronto team. John Wall has been dazzling through this playoff run and will continue to display it through this round. Paul Pierce has also returned to his vintage ways by hitting big shots when the team needs them. The Wizards have stepped up their defensive play, and only allowed Toronto to score more than 100 points just once in the series. It seems as though they’ve peaked at the right time. However, their issue will be on offense. Depending on John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Paul Pierce won’t be enough. Their bigs, Nene and Gortat, will need to establish themselves going forward.

Starters:

  1. J. Wall vs J. Teague
  2. B. Beal vs K. Korver
  3. P. Pierce vs D. Carroll
  4. Nene vs P. Millsap
  5. M. Gortat vs A. Horford

Keys:

The biggest factor is who will win the point guard battle. If John Wall is able to have another great series, then we can chalk this up as a win for the Wizards. However, if Jeff Teague is able to slow him down and play as an emerging star, then this will be a win for the Hawks.

The Wizards need Bradley Beal to play huge in this series. John Wall helped against Toronto, but this matchup is for him to win. He’s struggled in the playoffs, so this is the perfect time for him to get out of that slump. I see him needing to score 20+ per game to win.

Defense is the last big factor. Both teams play good team defense, but for the Wizards, Gortat and Nene will need to find a way to keep up with Paul Millsap. Being a stretch 4, he has the ability to knock down shots on the perimeter. One of them has to neutralize him.

Prediction: The Wizards beat the Hawks 4-2.

The Wizards have much more firepower than the Hawks and a better point guard. As long as John Wall stays aggressive, and the Wizards continue playing at their peak; I don’t see the Hawks really beating them.

Damaged Goods

NBA Finals Game 7:  Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers

Remember when the Boston Celtics’ new era big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen first assembled? Remember how the biggest questions surrounding that team pertained to Rajon Rondo and his growth, maturity and play? Years have passed since those questions, that team in particular was relevant. But the questions pertaining to Rajon Rondo have resurfaced and will more than likely remain for the rest of his career.

At one point of time Rondo was regarded as the best point guard in basketball. He was a better defender than most, if not all. He was a better rebounder than every other guard. And his playmaking ability was second to none. Some would often harp on his inability to score; while others would simply imply that his scoring wasn’t required. Rondo’s overall game reminded people of Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd two first ballot Hall of Famers who led their teams without having to score.

Whenever the Celtics’ games were televised Rajon Rondo would have ridiculous numbers. He had games where he posted 32pts 10reb & 15ast, 10pts 10reb & 24ast and a game where he posted 18pts 17reb & 20ast ( there were some games better than these). There wasn’t another point guard in the league who could impact the game in the ways Rondo did. Point blank period.

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

Some thought Rondo was a legend in the making, while others viewed him as a player who was a product of his environment.

After five years of proving he’s among the NBA’s elite, (4x All-Star, All NBA Team, 4x All Defensive Team, NBA Champ,) and finally taking the reigns of being the Celtics’ best player, Rondo tore his ACL amidst a career year (arguably). The Celtics’ championship window closed as well as Rondo’s quest in becoming an all-time great.

Once Rondo tore his ACL the Celtics starting rebuilding. They had already lost Ray Allen a season before via Free Agency. And decided that now it was time to part ways with Doc. Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Although injured, Rajon Rondo’s name was constantly linked to rumors. (Pacers, Lakers, Kings, Rockets, Heat etc.)

With Garnett and Pierce in Brooklyn, Doc. Rivers in coaching the Clippers, Ray Allen in Miami and best friend Kendrick Perkins playing in OKC Boston was no longer familiar, no longer a place Rondo wanted to be contrary to what him, his representatives and GM Danny Ainge wanted us to believe.

The following season (2013-14), Rondo returned to the lineup and played in the final 30 games averaging 11.7 points 5.5 rebounds and 9.8 assists. In the games he played he looked a lot like his former self skill wise, but mentally and physically he seemed a tad bit slow and uninterested.

Following the season the Boston Celtics drafted PG Marcus Smart, who many thought spelled the end of Rajon Rondo’s tenure in Boston. At that point in time the team was no longer being built around Rajon. It was being built for life after Rondo.

Initially the plan was for Rondo to teach, mentor and provide the younger Celtics with leadership. The problem with that was how Rondo wasn’t a leader himself. He needed a someone to babysit him; he was incapable of babysitting others.

In the 22 games Rondo appeared in for the Celtics he was pedestrian at best. His defense had plummeted, his quickness wasn’t up to far, he was a liability on the offensive end, his playing time was diminished and the team did significantly better when he was on the bench. Those observations should’ve been a red flag for any team trying to trade for him; not an excuse on why a change of scenery was needed.

After weeks of killing the Celtics the Mavericks traded for their cancer. ”Allegedly” the Mavericks were getting the piece that would propel to them to the top. Instead they got a piece that stagnated, rather derailed their changes of getting over the hump.

The Mavericks were a poor rebounding team and were very mediocre on the defensive end. With Rondo being a guard who excelled in those aspects the assumption was that he’d change those problems. The only thing that changed with his arrival was how great the Mavs were offensively and their chemistry.

To be fair, point guards generally take a long time finding themselves when shipped to a new team. Instead of focusing on the regular season and his putrid performances there we would always elude ourselves into believing his play would rise in the playoffs like they generally would.

After two playoff games Rondo pretty much quit. Like Melo in New York, Rondo checked himself out and used the injury excuse because he no longer wanted to play. Everything had to be about him.

When you think about it Rondo really isn’t the player, the guy we make him out to be.

For starters, Rondo isn’t a true leader. In Boston he was shielded and coaxed by guys like Pierce, Allen, Garnett and Doc.Rivers. As a rookie he had guys like Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown around. All of those guys mentioned were leaders at one point; some were often cited as great leaders. In Dallas no one outside of maybe Tyson Chandler is considered a good leader. Dirk & Monta Ellis are often thrown under the bus for their leadership skills or lack thereof. When surrounded by subpar leaders (hence another Melo similarity) Rondo’s game folds.

Another knock on Rondo is how he just pissed on an opportunity to compete for a championship. The Mavericks have/had enough talent on the roster to make a legitimate push for a title, but because of Rondo’s arrogance and selfishness that goal faltered.

When evaluating Rondo’s play his game is a bit tedious. He’s a step slower than most of the guards at this point. He can’t shoot in a league where shooting is a necessity. And his playmaking ability isn’t as good as we once thought. If Rondo can’t over dribble and hold the ball for an excessive amount of time his not going to be a great playmaker. In today’s game his ball stopping style (Melo reference #3) won’t fit in most if not all of today’s offenses.

Honestly, the game has moved past Rajon Rondo. He’s not a top 40 player. And he can’t run a team that would be functional in the league today.

Teams like the Lakers, Kings, Heat and etc should stay away. If he quit on a team that close to a championship why wouldn’t he quit on a team that’s further away? If he quit on a team that was in the rebuilding phase why wouldn’t he quit on another?

Max dollars shouldn’t be thrown his way. He’s not that top level guy anymore. And he never will be again. Headcase, arrogant and selfishness are the traits of a team killer. Teams should be wary.

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Twitter:
@FortOnSportsInc & @RyanDFort

Do you agree or disagree with this assessment of Rondo?

Clippers (3) vs Spurs (6) Preview : Too Early

Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) vs. San Antonio Spurs (55-27)

Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs

This series will easily be the most anticipated series of the first round. Before the season started no one saw this as a potential 1st round match-up…. And I repeat NO ONE.

In this series we’ll have star power in Blake Griffin, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Chris Paul. We’ll have two great coaches in Doc. Rivers & Greg Popovich. We’ll also have two DPOY candidates in DeAndre Jordan and Kawhi Leonard competing in this match-up. Oh, and i didn’t even get a chance to mention all of the shooting we’ll see or the guys coming off of the bench.

During the early portion of the season the Clippers were a nice team. Once Blake Griffin got injured and missed over a month of play Chris Paul elevated the Clippers to new heights. He was scoring, defending, rebounding as well as facilitating. His play during that stretch was reminiscent to his days in New Orleans. When Blake Griffin returned the Clips continued to ball and surged to the finish line winning 14 of their last 15 games.

For a majority of the season the Spurs weren’t healthy. Injuries to Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard had the team looking older and slower. After all-star weekend the Spurs switched gears and resembled a team trying to repeat as champs. They were the best team in the league over the last portion of the season.

Having played four times the Spurs and Clippers split the season series 2-2. The Clippers had one 20 point victory while the rest of the games were within ten points.

Starters:

PG: C.Paul vs. T.Parker

SG: J.Redick vs. D.Green

SF: Matt Barnes vs. K.Leonard

PF: B.Griffin vs. T.Duncan

C. D.Jordan vs. T.Splitter

In the postseason the Spurs are 8-3 against Chris Paul all time. In their previous match-up the Spurs swept the Clippers.

Beating the Spurs will be no short order for the Clips this time around. The Spurs have a plethora of shooters, guys who can defend and a lot of willing passers. Playing an up-tempo style fits right into the hands of the Spurs as well because that’s their game.

A lot of things ride on this series for the Clippers as well. They won’t have to deal with a distraction in Donald Sterling like they did last year. If the Clippers lose this series Rivers’ job will be at stake, a roster split up would be pondered and Chris Paul’s legacy would be tainted more. They have to make something happen now.

Keys:

Los Angeles

In this series the Clippers need to defend the three ball. If Chris Paul can lock-up Parker and Jordan continues his play on the defensive end it’ll be hard for the Spurs to generate points. If Parker is having his way, getting to his spots and distributing the ball the Clippers are going to have hell. Off the bench Crawford, Davis and Turkoglu need to be dominant. Especially Jamal Crawford. If JC isn’t on his game the Clips won’t have enough firepower.

San Antonio

Make Jordan beat you from the freethrow line. Contain Chris Paul. Go at Blake Griffin on both ends of the court. If Duncan can take Blake off his game and Leonard can defend Paul like he does every other guard/wing the Spurs will be alright. The Spurs know how to win on the road and they own a piece of the Clippers mentally. (Doc. Rivers is already panicking. On offense the ball can’t be stagnant either. Parker needs to be able to penetrate inside and give his shooters some open and easy looks. If he’s getting to his spots and shots are falling the Spurs will cruise to the 2nd Round.

Prediction Clippers beat the Spurs 4-2. It’s about time CP3 gets over the hump. The Clippers are better than ever and Chris Paul seems to be on a mission. Paul-Blake-DJ-JC will show why they’re ready to make that leap. Fun Fact: The Spurs don’t ever advance after winning the championship in the previous year. No repeating for them.

Grizzlies (5) vs Blazers Preview (4) : Injury Riddled

Portland Trail Blazers (51-31) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (55-27)

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Portland and Memphis are two of the most compelling teams out West. Every year they have stretches during the regular season where they look unbeatable and then around playoff time they become super vulnerable. During the offseason both teams improved their bench to a certain extent and during the season made moves that were supposed to propel them to the top of the conference.

In order to beat certain teams in the West Portland had to upgrade their bench. They swung a deal with Denver that allowed them to bring in shooting guard Aaron Afflalo, a nice two-way player. Memphis on the other hand needed a wing player who could create their own shot, score and defend. They made a trade with Boston who sent them small forward Jeff Green. Both of these moves catapulted each team to newer heights. Each team improved depth wise, scoring wise and defensively. But it only lasted for so long.

Starters

PG: D.Lillard vs. M.Conley

SG: A.Afflalo vs.  C.Lee

SF: N.Batum vs. T.Allen

PF: L.Aldridge vs. Z.Randolph

C: R.Lopez vs. M.Gasol

As the season went on both teams were derailed by injuries. Batum and Aldridge have been ailing and missed a few games here and there. Aaron Affalo has an injured shoulder and starting shooting guard Wesley Mathews is out for the season due to an Achilles injury. Memphis on the other have been dealing with injuries that have pertained to Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Both teams are still formidable to say the least.

Memphis won the season series 4-0. Most of the games were competitive but Memphis proved to be the better squad.

Keys:

Portland

Despite being the 4 seed the Blazers will be playing this series on the road where they have struggled. In order to beat Memphis the Blazers need to push the tempo. The Grizz often go long periods without scoring and if Portland can hit shots they’ll have Memphis playing from behind. On the defensive side of the ball Aldridge and Lopez must find a way to stop Memphis’ big men. If they get dominated in the paint the Blazers can hang it up.

Memphis

The Grizzlies smothering defense gets a chance to go up against a depleted Blazers. If Conley can contain Lillard and Gasol can disrupt Aldridge’s flow the Blazers will have to find scoring else where. On the offensive end Memphis just needs to pund the rock inside. There isn’t a team in the league that can contend with Memphis’ front court and that should be on full display this series.

Prediction Grizzlies beat the Blazers 4-1. Both teams are dealing with injuries but Memphis is the healthier squad. If Z-Bo and Gasol are dominating the series will end quickly. Having homecourt advantage also is Memphis’ favor.

Cavaliers (2) vs Celtics Preview (7) : Times Have Changed

Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29) vs. Boston Celtics (40-42)

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In a way I find this series a tad bit ironic. Years ago LeBron’s last game as a Cav was against who? Years later his first series back in a Cavs uniform is against who? Like the Cavs, Boston has went through it’s own mini rebuilding stage. The Celtics got rid of old heads Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, traded away Rajon Rondo & let Doc Rivers walk, replacing him with bright young coach Brad Stevens. This new Celtics team pales in comparison to the old KG lead squad from years past. They may be quicker, more athletic and younger but they aren’t as dangerous as a unit. At least not for the next few seasons.

This past offseason the Cavs went from being a mediocre squad to being a contender. They brought in LeBron James, Kevin Love, Shawn Marion and few other Heat players to shape up the roster. Once starting center Anderson Varejao went down the Cavs brought in Timofey Mozgov and then swung deals to bring in the likes of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Kendrick Perkins. With pieces being juggled around the Cavs struggled early and often. From mid-March to now the Cavs have been rolling and seems like a lock to represent the East in the Finals.

Starters:

PG: K.Irving vs. M.Smart

SG: J.Smith vs. A.Bradley

SF: L.James vs. E.Turner

PF: K.Love vs. B.Bass

C: T.Mozgov vs. T.Zeller

Both teams are going to deal with the inexperience factor. Outside of Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner no one on the Celtics roster has ample playoff experience. Starting point guard Marcus Smart is a rookie in this league and is still learning how to deal with various aspects of the game. I.Thomas, the Celtics best player, comes off the bench and he’s never played in a playoff game. Boston is in the same position as Milwaukee; young, talented and well coached but inexperienced.

Three of Cleveland’s main contributors (Love, Kyrie, Thompson) have never played in a playoff game. With Boston being their opponent the Cavs will have a nice chance to groom and establish themselves as a playoff squad. If Love and Kyrie aren’t playing at a high level the Cavs won’t make it out of the East.

These two teams played four times this season splitting the season series 2-2. They Celtics swept them in their final two match-ups but it doesn’t hold much weight because Cleveland rested their starters. Sorry not sorry.

Keys

Cleveland

The Cavs just need to play to their strengths. LeBron is the best player on the planet and Boston has no answer for him. If Cleveland can get easy looks and lock in defensively this series will be over quickly.

Boston

The Celtics have the better coach in Brad Stevens and as absurd as it may sound they also have the best PG in this series coming off the bench. (Thomas.) If the Celtics can make LeBron work, keep K.Love out of the offense and contain Smith and Kyire they’ll have a shot at making this series interesting. Winning two straight games at the end of the season against Cleveland was a confidence builder. (Btw Boston finished the season 24-12.)

Prediction Cavs beat the Celtics 4-1. A few games may come down to the wire but in the end LeBron James is the best player on the planet and has no business losing this series. Like the Bulls, Cleveland has a chance to tune up in preparation for a huge second round match-up between the two. All I’m waiting for.

NBA Playoffs Preview (Round 1)

 NBA Playoffs Round One:

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Click on each link to take you to each preview/prediction…

Raptors (4) vs. Wizards (5)

Ryan Fort:  (http://wp.me/p33YLP-E8)

Players To Watch:

Lou Williams, Paul Pierce, John Wall, DeMar DeRozan

Warriors (1) vs. Pelicans (8)

 Fort:  (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ek)

Players To Watch: Andrew Bogut, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday

Bulls (3) vs. Bucks (6)

 Fort:  (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ee)

Players To Watch: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, The Greek Freak, O.J. Mayo

Rockets (2) vs. Mavericks (7)

Fort: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ef)

R’Mon Allen:

Players To Watch: Rajon Rondo, Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard, James Harden

Cavaliers (2) vs. Celtics (7)

Fort: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Eg)

Allen: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-ED)

Players To Watch: Evan Turner, I.Thomas, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving

Hawks (1) vs. Nets (8)

Fort: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Eh)

Players To Watch: DeRon Williams, Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague, Brook Lopez

Blazers (4) vs Grizzlies (5)

Fort: ( http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ei)

Players To Watch: Whoever isn’t injured

Clippers (3) vs Spurs (6)

Fort: (http://wp.me/p33YLP-Ej)

Allen:

Players To Watch: CP3, K.Leonard, D.Jordan, Tony Parker

Follow us on Twitter:
@Fortonsportsinc , @RyanDFort & @RmonAllen for live tweets during each game.