Tag Archives: Marc Gasol

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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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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NBA Season Preview (2013-14)

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To use a quote from LeBron, ”Its about damn time!”

After four long months the NBA is finally back, and to add on to that this might be the most anticipated and could quite possibly be the most competitve season in recent memory! During the offseason you had big named coaches swithcing places, big time players changing teams and players dissing each other to help create rivalries. Blockbuster trades happened as well like the KG, Paul Pierce trade, the Igudola trade and the Brandon Jennings trade. The offseason had everyone impatient and weary as they waited for the season to come around. And from the way things look now, this season should be ten times better than last season.

Before We Start
If you haven’t been under a rock this whole time you should know that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Dwight Howard, Andre Igudola and Andrew Bynum have all changed teams. Garnett and Pierce went to Brooklyn, Howard went to Houston, Bynum went to Cleveland and Iggy went to Oakland. You should also know by now that Doc Rivers left Boston and went to Los Angeles to coach the Clippers. (Smart move by him I know.) The other things that you should know or have an idea about is how Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Danillo Gallinari are all injured, and how Derrick Rose is returning from an ACL injury. And I almost forgot, the Heat signed Michael Beasley and Greg Oden! Now that I’ve filled you in on some of the main things we should be good to go.

Eastern Conference
This year the East should be very competive! There should be battles between seeds 1-4, and then another battle between seeds 6-8. (The 5th seed should be locked up by the Knicks in case you were wondering.) Each team in this conference got better, unless you’re the Celtics or 76ers. Every other team has a legitimate Playoff shot.

The Philadephia 76ers are going to be god awful. They’ll be lucky to win five games. With Nerlens Noel shut down for the season, who might’ve been their best player, (reminds me of Bynum last year) the 76ers will have to rely on Evan Turner; a former number two draft pick who also happens to be a guy who has never averaged over fifteen points a game. Hopefully they’ll be able to get the number one pick in the draft.

The Milwaukee Bucks should be better this season. Yes, I know they lost their two best players in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but if you look you’ll see that they added better pieces. To replace Jennings and Ellis they signed OJ Mayo and traded for Brandon Knight. Those moves made them younger. The Bucks also added solid veterans in Caron Butler, Zaza Pachulia, Luke Ridnour, Carlos Delfino and Gary Neal to help out their bench and small-forward woes. And if Larry Sanders contiues to improve watch out!

The Boston Celtics are going to be without Rajon Rondo for a while. Maybe Rondo should sit this season out while he recovers from his ACL injury like Rose did. That’ll give Boston a chance to draft one of those big time players in the upcoming draft. But um, as far as the team goes, nothing seems to gel. Don’t be surprised if Rondo wants out!

The Orlando Magic aren’t going to be that good either. There should be alot of trade speculation in regards to where Aaron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson end up. Other than that this team will end up having another top five pick this season. Oh and Oladipo should win ROY.

The Toronto Raptors can actually be a legit team. The only problem with them is that they’ll have to rely on the likes of Rudy Gay and Demar DeRozan. Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson, Novak, Tyler Hansbrough, Landry Fields and Augustine are good enough to help them make a run at the 8th seed right? Or will the Raptors look to trade Gay? As of now he’s not a framchise guy…. Decisions, decisions.

The Washington Wizards just made a big move by trading for Marcin Gortat. The Wizards will now have inside scoring and will be able to move Nene back to his natural postion. Off the bench they’ll have Maynor, Webster, Harrington and Ariza. The starting lineup should be Wall-Beal-Porter-Nene-Gortat. Their season will be dependent on the play of Wall….That’s a tall order.

The Atlanta Hawks are going to be solid. Yes, losing Josh Smith hurt, but they added some quality depth in Elton Brand and Paul Millsap. Will they be contenders, hell no. But they’ll continue to be competitve. Al Horford is no slouch! Hopefully, they’ll be able to make some noise at the trade deadline.

The Detroit Pistons are back! With a lineup of Jennings-Stuckey-Smith-Monroe-Drummond, the Pistons should cause alot of problems against teams who like to play small ball. Oh and they have a leader and solid role player in Chauncey Billups. If things get rough he should be able to help guide them. They’ll be top ten defensively. Playoff bound for sure.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to make way for a run at LeBron. They added depth in Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark. Drafting Bennett will help. A.Varejao being healthy will end up being a plus as well. The two major problems the Cavs have are the durability of their stars. If Kyrie can stay healthy they’ll be a Playoff team without question. But if ANDREW BYNUM is healthy and continues his play from two years ago the Cavs may become Dark Horse Contenders…….But then again it’s Kyrie and Bynum we’re talking about. Neither player can stay healthy.

The Bobcats could be a Playoff team this year as well. Kemba should improve, MKG should get better and they also signed Al Jefferson. And if Jordan knew what he was doing on draft night, (history says otherwise,) the Bobcats just might have the steal of the draft in Cody Zeller! A roster that consists of Walker-Henderson-Sessions-Gordon-MKG-Biyombo-Zeller-Haywood-Jefferson is good enough to crack the East’s top 8, right?

The New York Knicks pretty much stayed pat. Yeah they signed Beno Udrih, Artest and traded for Andrea Bargnani but what does that do,seriously? None of them are prime time players or great role players. One player sat on Toronto’s bench and another sat on Orlando’s. The third player should’ve been benched three years ago. Either way it goes the Knicks won’t be too special this season. Thats why Melo is going to leave. Sorry Knick fans.

The Brooklyn Nets are loaded! With the additions of Garnett, Terry, Pierce and Kirilenko the Nets have scoring, depth and defense. Blatche, and Evans will be great hustle guys off the bench with Terry carrying the load and AK-47 playing defense. But one must ask, is Jason Kidd ready to coach a team this loaded? Is he ready to coach period?

The Pacers are coming! During the offseason the Pacers brought in Luis Scola, CJ Watson, Chris Copeland and have Danny Granger back. They have more depth, trade bait, another scorer and more shooters. Roy Hibbert got better and Paul George is now a top three shooting guard or small forward. The rest of the league should watch out.

The Chicago Bulls are going to be spectacular this year. Rose is finally back and is already talking about how much better he has gotten. With Rose healthy, Jimmy Butler improving and the signing of shooter Mike Dunleavy, the Bulls can beat anyone. They’ll have more scoring and the defense should still be stellar. They still aren’t going to beat Miami though.

The Miami Heat are still locked and loaded! ( This will describe how i feel https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/heat-still-nba-kings/) LeBron wants ring number three. Wade wants to show everyone he’s still a top ten player and Bosh wants to be remembered as well. The Heat should be able to coast through the season once again. And if Wade is healthy, Beasley’s head is on straight and Oden can play the Miami Heat might break the Bulls record of 72-10. The only thing that’ll keep them from breaking the record is boredom. I mean they do get bored alot, unfortunately.

East AllStars

Starters
PG- Rose
SG- Wade
SF- Melo
PF- LeBron
C- Lopez

Bench
Guards- Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Deron Williams
Forwards- Paul George, Josh Smith, Horford
Center- Hibbert or Bynum (healthy)

Western Conference
Usually the West has a clear cut favorite. This year no one knows what to expect from the West. There isn’t a team that stands out from the rest this season. Just like the East, the West should be very competitive, from top to bottom. Each team is one injury away from being doomed….The Suns are the only team who won’t have a Playoff shot.

The Phoenix Suns won’t be that good this season. They’ll be the Western Conference version of the 76ers. Just like Philly, Phoenix is tanking in order to secure a top pick. They’ll also be using this season to evaluate Eric Bledsoe, to see if he’s that guy.

The Sacramento Kings are down, and I don’t see them getting up. Cousins got paid, but is he a franchise guy? I’m sorry but the Kings are going to have hell if John Salmons is their best scorer.

The Utah Jazz are rebuilding, I think. By extending the contracts of Favors and later on Hayward the Jazz will have players to build around. Who knows maybe they’ll swing some type of unexpected deal. Sixth worse team in the league, worst case. At best this team can make a run at the Playoffs, for a couple weeks.

The Los Angeles Lakers are pretty much cooked. Kobe’s going to be out for a while and Nash is washed up. Gasol should play well. Hell, he might even get traded. On the bright side, they’ll have money to spend during the offseason. (MELOOOOOOOOOOO) If Kobe comes fast enough though they may be able to make something out of nothing. Maybe, just maybe the 8th seed isn’t too farfetched.

The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t going to do anything. Kevin Love will continue to pad his stats while his team will fail to make the Playoffs yet again. I’ve never seen a “SUPERSTAR” win less than thirty games. OVERRATED, I THINK SO!!!! He’s not the best POWERFORWARD in the league, and he’s not a top tier player..But seriously, will Minny ever stay healthy? Chase Budinger is already out… Hmm haven’t we seen this before?

The Portland Trail Blazers are going to be exciting. They added shooters in Mo Williams and D.Wright, a scrapper in Lopez and Lilard will be better this year. Making the Playoffs can happen, but will it. Hopefully L.A. gets traded if things go south before February. (Thunder, Lakers, Bulls, Cavs maybe?) If he doesn’t get traded it’ll be another wasted year for him….. Could Portland swing a deal to land Rudy Gay?

The New Orleans Pelicans are going to be scary. If Eric Gordon can stay healthy watch out. They added a young Allstar point guard in Jrue Holiday and added a good scorer in Tyreke Evans. If they add one more guy they might be able to make a huge leap! (L.A. or Pau Gasol.) Are they Playoff bound? Yes! Without question. Maybe they’ll become contenders in a couple years. This team should be here for a while!

The Denver Nuggets are going to be fun to watch despite not having George Karl around. Losing George Karl and Iggy will hurt them alot, not having Gallinari is going to kill them as well. I’m sorry, but no Playoffs for them unless one of the top teams suffer a major injury.

The Memphis Grizzlies are still going to be a threat. Losing Hollins is going to hurt, but it’s not like he made their offense good. With the addition of Mike Miller, the Grizzlies will have the one thing they lacked a, consistent shooter. Miller will spread the floor for Z-Bo and Gasol which will make it easier on them….

The Oklahoma City Thunder don’t scare anyone as much. Was it because Durant got exposed? Is it because Westbrook is hurt? Some feel like Westbrook is their best player and without him they aren’t good… Others think this team has ran it’s course and it’s time for a break up…. I guess i’m the only one who believes Durant is coming! The bench should be solid and Durant should grow even more this season, Westbrook as well. Who can beat a team with two top five players?

The Houston Rockets need one year together. The Harden, Dwight duo could very well be the second coming of Kobe and Shaq. Both players are going to have a lot to prove this year. D12 has to prove he’s still the best center and Harden has to show us why he’s better than Kobe and Wade. It won’t be easy this year for Houston.

The San Antonio Spurs just won’t fall off. Ducan and Parker continue to keep the Spurs afloat despite their ages. The Spurs will without question be contenders. Evryone usually puts the onus on Parker, Duncan or Manu but not me. This season the Spurs’ success will be predicated on the play of Kawhi Leonard. They’ll go as he goes. Top ten small forward? I believe so.

The Dallas Mavericks are my Dark Horse contenders. Dirk will be healthy this season and will have way more help. ( Keep in mind his team was on pace to win 50 games last season.) The additions of Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Dejuan Blair, Devin Harris and Samuel Dalembert makes this team deep. They have guards, scorers, shooters, rebounders, speed, athleticism etc. They’re built like the championship team, except better.

The Los Angeles Clippers are serious now. They brought in Doc. Rivers who has already left his mark on this franchise. He’s changing their mentality and creating a culture. CP3 and Griffin also have more help with the additions of Jamison, Collison, Reddick and Dudley. Deepest team in the West? I think so.

The Golden State Warriors suprised everyone last season. Curry became a star, Lee was dominant and Barnes became a legit starter. This season the Warriors should be alot better after adding Igudola, O’neal and Speights. Bogut should be healthier this season as well as Curry. Thompson is going to improve the bench and Harrison Barnes is going to continue to grow. Let’s see how Mark Jackson’s team does in year three.

West AllStars

Starters
PG- CP3
SG- Kobe
SF- Durant
PF- Griffin
C- Howard

Bench
Guards- James Harden, Stephen Curry, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook
Forwards- Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki
Center- Marc Gasol

Playoff Prediction
EAST WEST
1.Bulls 1.Clippers
2.Heat 2.Warriors
3.Pacers 3.Rockets
4.Nets 4.Thunder
5.Knicks 5.Mavericks
6.Cavaliers 6.Grizzlies
7.Pistons 7.Spurs
8.Wizards 8.Pelicans

Top Players Going Into Season

1. LeBron James
2. Kevin Durant
3. Chris Paul
4. Carmelo Anthony
5. Stephen Curry
6. James Harden
7. Derrick Rose
8. Paul George
9. Tony Parker
10. Dwight Howard

(No injured players)

Awards

Rookie Of The Year – Victor Oladipo or Kelly Olynk

Coach Of The Year – Kevin McHale

Most Improved Player – Eric Bledsoe

MVP Race:

1.Rose (Winner)
2.LeBron
3.Durant
4.Paul
5.Harden

6th Man Of The Year – Klay Thompson, Lance Stephenson or Tyreke Evans

Defensive Player Of The Year – Dwight Howard or Roy Hibbert

Scoring Champion- Kevin Durant

All NBA Team (1)
PG- Rose
SG- Harden
SF- Durant
PF- LeBron
C- Dwight

All NBA Team (2)
PG- CP3
SG- Kobe
SF- Melo
PF- Love
C- Gasol

All NBA Team (3)
PG- Westbrook
SG- Curry
SF- George
PF- Griffin
C- Bynum (Healthy)/Duncan/Lopez

All Defensive 1st Team
PG- Avery Bradley
SG- Tony Allen
SF- LeBron James
PF- Serge Ibaka
C- Dwight Howard

All Defensive 2nd Team
PG- Chris Paul
SG- Paul George
SF- Luol Deng
PF- Tim Duncan
C- Marc Gasol

Finals Pick
Heat win 4-2 over Clippers

The Season Is Here
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The Oklahoma City Thunder Were Favored Over Memphis Why? – Omavi Darden

Once Russell Westbrook was lost due to injury, many people still claimed that the Thunder could make it to the NBA Finals without him. I immediately disagreed with that claim.

For starters, the Thunder had a ferocious battle tested Grizzlies team to get by first. I already knew from the jump, that the Grizzlies would give the Thunder serious problems in the interior. The lethal combination of Zach and Marc scoring in the paint area and fighting for rebounds would obviously wear this undermanned Thunder team down over a 7 game series.

Their defensive schemes were just as good. The Grizzlies do a good job of forcing opposing teams top offensive players into spots on the court where there is help defense (greatly reducing the % of attempted shots and good for disrupting an efficient offense).

Next people seem to forget how good Mike Conley is. He is a top 10 point guard in my opinion. He is a good floor general, can stretch the floor with his shooting touch, and isn’t afraid to take big shots down the stretch of tight games. He is so agile and fast, he gives defenders fits trying to stay in front of him and guard him.

People also forgot that Memphis had a Tony Allen and a Tayshaun Prince. These two players are superb one on one defenders, and great team defenders as well. Tony is a quicker more physical defender who can get up in you, and pressure you into tough spots on the court. Prince is a tall/longer/finesse defender who uses his body to maneuver himself into advantageous positions on the court over offensive players (to the point where he can literally dictate the shot that the offensive player takes), and still contests it with his outstretched arms, resulting in a lower % shot. That’s exactly what Memphis wants you to do.

Marc is also the leader of this tantalizing defense. He doesn’t necessarily block a lot of shots or make the most exciting defensive plays, but its his paint presence alone that allows this Memphis team to function so well defensively. His help defense and rotations on defense are crisp as can be. He alters a lot of shots attempted in the paint area, causing them to miss severely. This Memphis team really believes in one another, and the trust factor is the reason they operate so well as a unit. Players know where teammates want the ball on offense, and also know where the help side defense is going to be at.

Memphis doesn’t necessarily have a designated star player on their team that they rely on to get them buckets at the end of close games. However, they don’t need one because they are such a good team. At the end of the day I understand Kevin Durant is a star in this league, and he can drop 40 on any given night. But at the end of the day, one man can not expect to take on a whole team and be victorious. Memphis ended up winning this series 4-1 I’m not too surprised.

Omavi Darden