Tag Archives: Damian Lillard

The Kid from Akron, Ohio

  

Man this kid out of Akron. No, not the kid who became a king, and not the kid who was on a national spotlight at the age of 18. The other kid out of Akron. The one who was a 3 star recruit; that wasn’t even ranked. This kid wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and go to Virginia Tech, but they would not guarantee him anything more than a chance to be a walk on. The same kid who was said to not have the same upside as Johnny Flynn or Ricky Rubio after having multiple explosive games at Davidson. The same kid who everyone tried to write off after multiple nagging ankle injuries that seemed like they would be the death of him. 

Now, this kid is the one who dropped 54 points in Madison Square Garden. This kid has broken the 3 pointers in a season record not once but twice. This kid is the one who we all took notice when in the 2013 postseason he single handily destroyed the Nuggets. This kid is the same one who helped lead one of the greatest teams ever to a 67-15 record. This kid is the one who was named the MVP of the 2014-15 regular season. This kid is now a champion.

Steph Curry has become transcendent across the nation. His disregard for taking the most inexcusable shots and being a wonderful gifted passer at the same time is something to behold. You’re going to have players 10-15 years from now that grew up wanting to be Steph Curry. Therefore, I want to end this debate right now. Nobody outside of Westbrook and Chris Paul is anywhere near the stratosphere Curry is in right now. Those two I can accept, but don’t mention all these guys who either have people get buckets on them daily (Lillard), or cannot ever have a winning record without LeBron playing with him (Kyrie).

We’ve all seen how the league is changing towards outside shooting, and Steph is the spear head of that change. Let this sink in for a moment. Before Steph was in the argument for greatest shooter of all time, the argument was always thrown up whether Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, or Larry Bird were the greatest. All extremely efficient but none of them ever took the shots that Curry takes. Curry nearly shot 50% this season, and all you have to do is look up any highlights against the Clippers and Chris Paul to know none of these shots are simple pull ups or spot ups. He’s arguably the best ball handler in the game and he utilizes that to create shots 30 feet from the basket. It’s something we’ve never seen and likely won’t see again for a very long time.

This past season, Steph averaged his least amount of minutes ever outside of the season he only played 26 games in. Most teams couldn’t even get him to play in the 4th quarter unless they were a worthy opponent. He shot 48% from the field, 44% from 3, and 91% from the free throw line. He averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. He had a PER of 28, led the league in win shares per 48 minutes, and his team was a best 122 points on 100 possessions with Steph on the floor. Steph is on a wonderfully coached team along with crazy amounts of talent all around him. This shouldn’t bring him down as an overall player in any ranking. Jordan had one of the best supporting casts ever in the late 90s and we all agree that he is the greatest player to ever step on to an NBA court, so let’s not try and bring down Steph for the same thing.

In the playoffs, Steph brought his game to another level just like he has every year since destroying the Nuggets. Averaging 28.3 points, 6.4 assists, and 5.0 rebounds all on 45% shooting from the field and 42% from 3. He took the Pelicans’ heat out with that crazy corner 3, figured out Conley then dismantled the Grizzlies play by play, took the MVP runner up head on and came out on top, and took on that other kid from Akron, The King, and kept the Cavs from making any type of comeback scoring 19 in the 4th quarter of the closing game.

This baby faced assassin has a bright future still. The Warriors have a great young core around them that has a good 5+ years left on them. Watch out everyone in the West, because I can guarantee Steph will continue giving defenses hell, breaking the system, hitting shots that you allow 99% of other players in this league to take. Curry is a special talent that wasn’t recognized for most of his life despite being the son of the sharpshooter Dell Curry. He was that other kid who wasn’t being nationally televised in high school. He wasn’t expected to be the next Jordan. He wasn’t expected to even make the NBA as an unranked player and a 3 star recruit. Now he’s making everyone pay and he’s on top of the world.

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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.

NBA Awards 2014-15

Most Valuable Player Award:

 

James Harden: 27.6 ppg, 5.7 reb, and 6.9 apg

Steph Curry: 24.0 ppg, 7.7 ast, 2.0 stl, 48% FG, and 44% 3pt

Russell Westbrook: 28.0 ppg, 8.6 ast, 7.3 reb, and 2.1 stl

Ashimi: I’m not going to go as far as calling James Harden the new “King James,” however with the season he’s having this year I can’t argue with anyone who does. His ability to score this season surpassed every other MVP candidate, and his awareness on offense seems to be improving every year. James Harden has continued to improve his game and confidence every year, and this year Harden has proven to me that he is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.

Hornback: I’m actually of the belief that we should have co-MVPs this year. Curry is THE reason the Warriors are where they are, and Harden has proven to everyone he can carry a team to an elite level. Also, both players have shown a knack to close out games.

Fort: I’m going against the grain here on my pick…Give me Russell Westbrook. He’s having to do everything himself without much help. Rebounding, scoring, facilitating, defending EVERYTHING. If he hadn’t have a missed the games that he did OKC would easily be the playoffs… Take Westbrook away from OKC and they wouldn’t be a 25 win team (including the injuries that is.) If not Westbrook for MVP, give me AD for the exact same reasons. San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three

Carter: Stephen Curry is personally an easy choice for the NBA’s MVP. He’s scoring extremely efficiently and also has led his team to the best record in the extremely tough Western Conference. Curry may have the better surrounding cast, but that doesn’t take away from what he’s done.

Most Improved Player of the Year:

 

Jimmy Butler: 

2013-2014 Stats: 13.1 ppg, 4.9 reb, 2.6 ast, 1.9 stl, .5 blk, 39.7% FG, 28.3% 3pt, and 76.9% FT

2014-2015 Stats: 20.1 ppg, 5.8 reb, 3.3 ast, 1.8 stl, .5 blk, 46.2% FG, 36.6% 3pt, and 84.3% FT

Ashimi: Jimmy Butler has evolved from a player strictly known for his exceptional defense to a lockdown defender who is also an offensive threat. Now that he added offense to his game, he has become an elite player and an important part of the Chicago Bulls’ offense and defense. His stats show his improvement in just one short year and he still has room to improve.

Hornback: I’ve always been a fan of Jimmy Butler as a workhorse and a defensive player. Never did I expect him to come out being a focal point of Chicago’s offense like he became this year. He has shown some star (not superstar quite yet) potential this year.

Fort: I’m going against the grain here again by saying Hassan Whiteside. He was no where to be found last season & then all of a sudden he blew up. In 2011 he basically averaged 2pts 2reb & 1blk. This season he’s essentially averaging 12pts 10reb & 3blks while also recording triple-doubles and breaking Heat rebounding records. Huge jump from a player few knew about going into this season.Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls

Carter: Butler has tremendously stepped up his game and has earned my vote. Now with a good offensive game paired with his great defense, Butler has emerged as a star. He deserves this award for helping shoulder the load following Derrick Rose’s injuries.

Sixth Man:

4

Jamal Crawford: 16.2 ppg, 2.0 reb, and 2.5 ast

Isaiah Thomas: 16.5 ppg, 4.2 ast(entire season) 19.5 ppg, 5.4apg(time with the Celtics)

Lou Williams: 15.5 ppg, 1.8 reb, 2.0 ast

Ashimi: This category is tough, but I have to give it to Jamal Crawford because there have been many games this season in which his spark off the bench lead to a Clipper’s win.

Hornback: I said from the very beginning that Isaiah Thomas would win 6th man before the season started and I’m sticking to that. He should be a starter in my opinion, and is averaging numbers better than most starting point guards in the East. He’s even leading the Celtics to the playoffs.

Fort: Thomas is the obvious pick in my opinion. He’s leading Boston to the playoffs and doesn’t have the same caliber of talent around him like the other candidates. The game would be easier for him if he had just a tad bit more help.

Carter: Lou Williams has been helping Toronto in many ways especially in scoring once DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry went down. He’s been having a career year coming off the bench, and was essential to some team wins by cutting down on his turnovers.

Rookie of the Year:

 

Andrew Wiggins: 16.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, and 1.9 apg

Ashimi: Personally few rookies really stood out to me this year. Orlando’s Elfrid Peyton was one rookie that stood out, however Wiggins is statistically better.

Hornback: I want to go with Mirotic but because he has not done this all year, I’m going to have to go with Wiggins because all year long he’s been consistent. Sad year as we didn’t get to see the full potential of Jabari Parker or Julius Randle. With them, this race could’ve been much more competitive.

Fort: Wiggins…. But as a fan of the Lakers Jordan Clarkson isn’t too far behind. He’s kept the Lakers in most games (that he’s played in) and has been a better overall player than Wiggins & company…. Too bad we didn’t get a chance to see Randle, Embiid or Parker because they would’ve had cases as well. clarkson

Per 36 Minutes:

Wiggins – 16.8ppg  4.5reb 2.1ast 43.6 FG% 31.5 3pt%

Clarkson -17.1ppg 5.0ast 4.7reb 44.8 FG% 31.4 3pt%

Mirotic – 18.2ppg  8.8reb 2.1ast 40.7 FG% 31.7 3pt%

Payton – 10.7ppg  7.7reb 5.1ast 42.7 FG% 26.8 3pt%

Noel – 11.6ppg  2.0ast 9.5reb 2.1stl 2.2blk 46.2 FG%

Carter: Minnesota has had a bright spot this season in Andrew Wiggins. He’s averaged the most points and has had the most 30+ point games out of all rookies. An easy choice for Rookie of the Year, although Mirotic has had a great second half of the season.

Defensive Player of the Year:

 

Anthony Davis: 24.3 ppg, 2.9 blk, 10.2 reb and 1.5 stl

Ashimi: This was another tough category. One player that stood out to me on defense, besides Davis, this season is Joakim Noah. He has been a defensive anchor for the Bulls this season, however Davis has been the best individual defensive player this season. He is literally 7 steals away from recording 100 steals and 100 blocks this year.

Hornback: Defensive player of the year was hard for me. If I considered the latter half of the year I’d more than likely take Rudy Gobert but over the course of the year I’ll take Anthony Davis. Always been a defensive force getting in passing lanes and sending shots to the cheap seats. 

Fort: Anthony Davis. He’s a monster in every aspect of the game. He dominates the game offensively and still has enough energy to be impactful on the opposite end. That hard to find in bigs today.

Carter: Anthony Davis should have been an easy choice. Although he’s been dominant on both sides of the ball, his defense makes the biggest impact in games. He’s such a presence in the paint that teams actively avoid him.

All NBA First Team:

Ashimi:

  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. James Harden
  3. LeBron James
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Pau Gasol

Hornback:

  1. Steph Curry
  2. James Harden
  3. LeBron James
  4. Anthony Davis

5. Demarcus Cousins

Fort:

  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. Steph Curry
  3. James Harden
  4. LeBron James
  5. Anthony Davis

Carter:

  1. Stephen Curry
  2. Russell Westbrook
  3. James Harden
  4. LeBron James
  5. Anthony Davis

 

All NBA Second Team:

Ashimi:

  1. Stephen Curry
  2. Damian Lillard
  3. Kevin Durant
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge
  5. Demarcus Cousins

Hornback:

  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. John Wall
  3. Lamarcus Aldridge
  4. Pau Gasol
  5. Marc Gasol

Fort:

  1. Chris Paul
  2. John Wall
  3. LaMarcus Aldridge
  4. Pau Gasol
  5. DeMarcus Cousins

Carter:

1. Chris Paul

  1. John Wall
  2. Lamarcus Aldridge
  3. Pau Gasol
  4. Tim Duncan

 

All Defensive First Team:

Ashimi:

  1. Jeff Teague
  2. Jimmy Butler
  3. Kawhi Leonard
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Joakim Noah

Hornback:

  1. Jeff Teague
  2. Tony Allen
  3. Draymond Green
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Rudy Gobert

Fort:

  1. John Wall
  2. Jeff Teague
  3. Tony Allen
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Joakim Noah

Carter:

  1. Jeff Teague
  2. Kawhi Leonard
  3. Draymond Green
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Deandre Jordan

 

All Rookie First Team:

Ashimi:

  1. Jordan Clarkson
  2. Elfrid Payton
  3. Andrew Wiggins
  4. Nikola Mirotić
  5. Nerlens Noel

Hornback:

  1. Jordan Clarkson
  2. Elfrid Payton
  3. Andrew Wiggins
  4. Nikola Mirotić
  5. Nerlens Noel

Fort:

  1. Jordan Clarkson
  2. Elfrid Payton
  3. Andrew Wiggins
  4. Nikola Mirotić
  5. Nerlens Noel

Carter:

  1. Elfrid Payton
  2. Jordan Clarkson
  3. Andrew Wiggins
  4. Nikola Mirotić
  5. Nerlens Noel

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For The Fans:

Which player surprised you the most this season?

Who’s your coach of the year?

Who’s your executive of the year?

Comment your picks and winners below!

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