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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

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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.

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.

Rockets(2) vs Clippers(3) Legacies On The Line

This should be a very fun series all the way around. The Rockets have the runner up in the MVP ballot against a very determined squad led by two superstars; Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Both teams were very close in their regular season production, but the Rockets did it without their 2nd best player in Dwight Howard. Howard is healthy now and has been looking like the prime Dwight Howard that led Orlando to the finals.
  Throughout the year the Clippers have been desperately trying to find a way to help their bench deficiencies but to no avail. They had Nate Robinson for a minute who ended up being injured, Glen Davis isn’t the worst thing in the world, and Jamal Crawford’s +/- hasn’t been pretty this year either. Oh, and there’s Austin Rivers who gives every Clipper fan a heart attack when he steps out onto the floor. Depth is key in the playoffs and it’s been awhile since we’ve seen a true contender rely on their starters as heavily as the Clippers do. One injury to that lineup would completely tear them apart. Even if it was Matt Barnes, the +/- takes a significant drop.
  On the other side you have the Rockets who basically have been playing like Harden and everyone else up until the playoffs. Dwight Howard has been the best Rocket in the playoffs for 10 of the past 11 (excluding Harden’s 40+pt performance) games now, and I don’t see that disappearing. Despite how many feel about Howard, there is no denying that he turns it on when playoff time comes around. Josh Smith was extremely effective against the Mavs in the last round but he does that every time he faces them so it wasn’t too big of a surprise. If they rely on Harden to be 44% of the offense like he was all regular season, then I doubt they’ll have a chance to win.
STARTERS:
PG: J. Terry vs C. Paul
SG: J. Harden vs J. Reddick
SF: T. Ariza vs M. Barnes
PF: T. Jones vs B. Griffin
C: D. Howard vs D. Jordan

KEYS:
  Outside scoring has been difficult for the Clippers as of late. That outside shot will be key to opening things up for Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to create inside. They need at least 8-12 3-pointers a game to have a chance at winning.
  Jamal Crawford needs to be a positive factor for them off the bench. Anytime he shows up it’s usually a win for Los Angeles. If Jamal can have at least 2 or 3 explosive games, then it won’t be good for Houston.
  The Rockets have to find someone to guard Chris Paul. Jason Terry will get torched if he’s the best answer. Harden has the skill set but it has completely vanished since coming to Houston, and Ariza just doesn’t seem fast enough. Losing Beverly hurt a lot because they need him especially right now.
  If the entire team contributes the way they did against the Mavericks, I don’t know if the Clippers have a chance. The Rockets definitely have more valuable bodies to throw at them while the Clippers will be draining themselves if the Rockets can keep fresh bodies out there.
  I have the Clippers beating the Rockets 4-2. It’s crazy every logical thought in my brain says that Houston is the right pick, but seeing Chris Paul willing his team through that game 7 victory has taken me over. Another part of it is that I’m not sure if I trust Harden in the playoffs quite yet. Oh, and don’t worry about missing the games as they’ll probably last all night long with hack-a-Howard, hack-a-Jordan, hack-a-Dorsey, hack-a-Smith, etc…man that’s an exciting rule.

The NBA Playoffs

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    After about seven months of NBA basketball we’ve finally reached the best part of the season, the Playoffs. To start the First Round off in the Eastern Conference we have the:

1.Miami Heat vs 8.Milwaukee Bucks

4.Brooklyn Nets vs 5.Chicago Bulls

3.Indiana Pacers vs 6.Atlanta Hawks

2.New York Knicks vs Boston Celtics

  In the Western Conference we have the:
1.Oklahoma City Thunder vs 8.Houston Rockets

4.Los Angeles Clippers vs 5.Memphis Grizzles

3.Denver Nuggets vs 6.Golden State Warriors

2.San Antonio Spurs vs 7.Los Angeles Lakers
     Each series has something special going which should keep us entertained throughout!
                  Heat vs Bucks:
Earlier this season Monta Ellis said he was on the same level as Dwade. Shortly after that Jennings said they wanted to play the Heat in the Playoffs. And just the other day Jennings said the Bucks will win in 6. Crazy I know! But with all the trash talk coming out of Milwaukee I feel like the Heat will bring them back down to reality. Heat win this series 4-0.
                    Nets vs Bulls
This series will tell us if we should take the Nets seriously. With D-Will back to his Utah days and Lopez playing at an Allstar level they should be able to beat the Bulls right? The answer is no. Chicago is a better team and will make things look ugly because of their defense. And who knows they may have a surprise return from Derrick Rose. With or without Rose the Bulls will win this series 4-2
              Pacers vs Hawks
In this series we have a budding star ( Paul George,) going against a guy who’s trying to show the world he’s a top notch player (Josh Smith.) This series will be over in 5 games setting up a Pacers-Knicks reunion in round two.
               Knicks vs Celtics:
Upset alert!!!! Ok, maybe not but this will be an interesting series! In this series we’ll see if Melo is the real deal or just a guy with no hope of winning a ring. We’ll also find out if this is Boston’s last stand in the K.G era. I have the Knicks winning 4-3, but don’t be surprised if the Celtics win in six!
            Now lets head to the West.
           Thunder vs Rockets:
Harden vs his old team and good friends turning into rivals.This series will be about Harden showing OKC what they’re missing and OKC showing Harden they don’t necessarily need him. This could also be the series Jeremy Lin breaks out, but I highly doubt it. Anyway Harden and co. may steal one in OKC, but they won’t be able to stop the best duo in the league consistently. OKC wins 4-2
             Clippers vs Grizzles
Rivalry!!!!!! After last year’s series I have a feeling the Grizzles want and will get revenge. The Grizzles will also show us why they don’t need Rudy Gay. The Clippers on the other hand aren’t going to be able to stop the Grizzles bigs downlow. Memphis will win this series 4-3.
               Nuggets vs Warriors
Whoa, Curry vs Lawson; Manimal vs Lee; Jack vs Miller; Karl vs Jackson! This series should be a thriller. Sure Denver doesn’t have Gallinari but G-State doesn’t have Brandon Rush or a healthy Andrew Bogut. Nevertheless this series will go 7 games with the Golden State Warriors winning!
                Spurs vs Lakers:
Upset Alert x10!!!! The Spurs may have one of the best offenses in the league, if not the best, but it has slowed down as of late. Parker is still recovering while Ginobli and Diaw are out. And on top of that they cut Stephen Jackson and signed the First Round Exit Curse himself, Tracy Mcgrady!! But thats not all. Gasol and Dwight have found a way to play together and should be too much downlow for the Spurs. On the defensive side of the ball they’re playing alot better and should be able to stop the Spurs’ offense. And lets not forget Dwight Howard has something to prove and that the other Lakers are inspired and motivated by Kobe Bryant and the death of Dr.Buss….Lakers win this series 4-2.
               Players To Watch:
Josh Smith- wants a Max contact and believes he’s a top 15 player.

Dwight Howard- to show he has what it takes to lead the Lakers.

James Harden- to show he can lead his team with or without stars.

Carmelo Anthony- To show he’s next in line and that he has arrived

Kevin Durant- to show everyone his time is now!

Russell Westbrook- to show the Thunder can win with him and that he’s not taking away from Kevin Durant.

Paul George- to show everyone he can lead the Pacers and that he’s their guy.

LeBron James- to put his stamp on history and spark the Kobe-LeBron-Jordan debate more.

          Honorable Mention:
Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Tracy Mcgrady, Stephen Curry, Ty Lawson, Blake Griffin, Jeremy Lin, Derrick Rose, Jeff Green, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Jeff Teague, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Kevin Martin, Amare’ Stoudamire, Roy Hibbert,  David West.

         April 20th it all Begins!!!!!!

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