The 5 Best NBA players from each conference

At about 65% through the 2019 -20 NBA season – we have seen some exciting action on the court. We typically know who the star players are coming into the seasons – and who we expect to lead teams – and then we have some unique surprises.
Looking at players this year and their overall court impact – here, we bring you the best 5 NBA players from each conference running the courts this season.

= EAST =

Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers
23 ppg
12 rpg
3 apg

Joel Embiid is a perfect machine with a great scoring all over the court, with the ability to handle business around the rim and some decent three ball shooting as well. He has the the instinctive ability to play some strong defense as his defensive rating verifies and 1.3 blocks /game.

Embiid has answered the call for Philly with smooth shooting and power – all the while, having a pleasant scoring touch – he’s not going to light up the board for 35+ points on a nightly basis, but, let us be 100% honest – Embiid is without question, the most dangerous offensive weapon of the Philly offense – and will be for this team for quite some time.

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Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards
31 ppg
4 rpg
6 apg

26 year old Bradley Beal is a very well rounded contributor for the Wizards and has been electric this season. His explosiveness with his scoring has been incredible to watch. Beal is dead-eye lethal with his shot off the dribble, hitting 46% of shots this year, and burying 35% from deep as well

The 6-3 SG has been superb with point production, as he has been a high volume producer for the Wizards, with 10 games of 40 or more this year so far. The SG takes what the defense gives him, and then if he doesn’t like what they give him – he goes out and takes it, with his dangerous jump shot, that is critically precise from all over.

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Pascal Siakam
Toront Raptors
24 ppg
8 rpg
4 apg

The 25 year old Siakam is averaging 11 points per game higher this season, than his 4 year career average. He has taken full control of the team with fervor – after Leonard bailed on him after last season. The 6-9 SF is exceeding the high expectations the Raptors had on him entering the year with the team being handed to him as the leader.

He has been nothing short of stunning – hitting 36% of his deep balls in 35 minutes /game on the season, Pascal has taken the reigns, while leading the team, averaging 24 points, 4 assists, 8 rebounds.

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Trae Young
Atlanta Hawks
30 ppg
4 rpg
9 apg

The only area Trae Young been shaky with has been his defense – but he certainly fills up the box score, majorly, with nuclear scoring ability and some exceptional ball handling. Bottom line, there is simply no team or player that can contain him on the court.

He has scored less than 25 pts in only 26% of his games played.
Ridiculous.
And remember, he is only 21 years old.
His ability to put the ball in the bucket, has been recognizably impressive.

Trae has been strikingly dangerous this season, with scoring explosiveness and he has only increased his efficiency throughout the year. Young is the only established and legit scoring option in the Atlanta Hawks lineup, there is without a doubt – no cause for anyone questioning of him being here.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo
Milwaukee Bucks
30 ppg
14 rpg
6 apg

Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown no signs of slowing down and obviously popping up in MVP discussions, as he has been dominant. Giannis seems to always be 2 steps ahead of everyone else on the court. 30pts and 14 boards are nothing to ignore – obviously, and his presence with getting to the rack has been difficult to ignore on the court. He is a destructive scorer and has also become a very good passer for Milwaukee, especially when in the paint.

Antetokounmpo has been extraordinarily efficient – he has been hitting on over 54% of his field goal attempts, and granted, 53% of his shots come from within 5 feet of the cup – as he plays more of an old school mindset – get to the rim. He is still working on his deep ball hitting just 31% – but even with the fact that everyone knows he is looking to drive – he still gets 20 shots /game and hangs 30ppg.

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= WEST =

James Harden
Houston Rockets
35 ppg
6 rpg
7 apg

James Harden actually appears to be improving as the season goes on – and that is going to problematic for anyone. Harden explodes when he needs to, with dribbling and a smooth stroke – and can get his shot off vs bigger defenders as well. He has put together high octane scoring displays over and over – many of his big scoring games are due to his ability to draw contact. Drawing contact from a defender and getting to the line are easy points.

He gets to the line an average of 12 times a game, his 6th consecutive season getting to the line over 10 times/game. His 87% from the line is outstanding – so his game has not only been about getting easy points /game – but also getting opposing players in foul trouble.

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Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks
28 ppg
9 rpg
9 apg

Doncic has been beyond efficient on the court – contributing in every way possible for the Mavs across several statistical categories, leading Dallas every night. Through 51 games, Luka is putting up 28pts – 9 boards, 9 dimes and has added 14 triple doubles on top of that.

He is the unconditionally best all around player in the NBA right now. He also carries around a fantastic 27.6 player efficiency rating. Luka is very tough to guard, as he is bigger than most G’s and quicker than expected to many of the SFs that try to guard him. He has been spectacular, and he has a great future ahead, that is only going to get even better.

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Anthony Davis
LA Lakers
27 ppg
10 rpg
3 apg

Anthony Davis’s scoring has been as effective and smooth as usual, and his overall production, both defensively and interior scoring has gotten better what he has done over past seasons, with LeBron, his game is just that much better, which in turn makes the team around him better. He has been a real treat to watch dominate on the court this year.

Davis has brought himself to a new level as a Laker this season – putting up 27 ppg along with his exemplary defensive presence on the court, stuffing 2.5 shots per game so far, tops in his career.  And the fact is – he’s converting shots from all over the court with steady aggressiveness, and knocking down 85% from the free throw line. He is a nightmare, and a seamlessly natural weapon for LA.

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Kawhi Leonard
LA Clippers
27 ppg
8 rpg
5 apg

As long as Kawhi is on the court for the the Clippers – he’s always a threat to post great numbers. 41% of games this season he has put up 30 or more – the 28 year old wing has been rock-steady this season, and his free throw shooting has been exceptional – and is tops in his career at 89%.

He also gets a lot of time as the primary ball-handler for LA – as he has shown that with 5 assist /game that he can keep the game under control. He can find guys, and not make stupid decisions when getting a double team, or when the pressure is on.

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Lebron James
LA Lakers
26 ppg
8 rpg
11 apg

It doesn’t matter who is trying to slow Lebron down – the King still scores his buckets with ease – and can still keep drilling 3balls over and over, as he hits 2.2 /game this season, a career best for the old timer. James has been excellent in all aspects of the game, as usual, including a respectful 35% from beyond the arc.

Lebron has put up better than 25 PPG in each of the last 16 seasons, this year, he has shown with age, he can still produce like the youngsters can – as he has actually gotten even better with his play making ability. He leads the the NBA at 11 assists /game. It is almost as if he is finally in his natural position on the court – finding guys for buckets, James has always been a pass first player, and this year he is really showing the NBA what he can still do.

Is Zion Williamson the next NBA Super Star

Zion was a beast and the best player in the nation in high school a few years ago – many former players have said he was a man playing with boys out on the court. And his play in college has been arguably some of the most impressive I have seen in years, and was the best player in college basketball. What I have watched, is a man ready to play the game vs other men. But, you obviously just never really know how good a player will be when entering the league.
LeBron  James never played college basketball, and came straight out of high school and many of the media already had him pegged as being better than most of the league, which in turn, I really think hindered some of his “like-ability.” But, when LeBron was coming out of high school – he probably was better than probably 50% of the NBA.
That is far from false.
And when he came into the league, and was faster and quicker than everyone over 6-6 despite being the size of PF, and put up 21-6-6 in his rookie year in 2003. So young players, the right young players, can make some impressive and ridiculous impacts on the court very quickly.
Zion is one of those players I think will make a fast impact.
Zion Williamson was a phenomenal college player, putting up 23ppg and 9 rpg – and he comes with a massive amount of potential. His drive to the hoop can be a little sloppy at times, but he has a savage knack to be able to still get his shot up. I don’t think Zion is going to dominate the NBA immediately when stepping on the court, and will need to improve his game, and he will need to continue to work on his shot. But, in the same sense, I think any player worth a lick of being a great – works on his shot and his game. He has mostly been muscling kids on the court – and hadn’t shown a steady and reliable shot. It took Blake Griffin several years before he became more than just a dunker, as he came out in 2009 from Oklahoma as a box player only and dominant PF. Griffin in college, was a wrecking ball who crushed teams with power and leaping ability. Now he has himself a very solid shot, and plays good D, as well.
Those who want to bang on Zion Williamson – let the 19 year old play his first NBA game before people start to “hate” on him. He has shown he has a tremendous work ethic, and he is only going to get stronger, and more explosive as he gets older and more learned. And as his body matures and he gets more acclimated to the NBA – I think it could be awesome and a lot of fun to watch. That’s what I find so intriguing about him- he has such an explosive part to his game that is really exciting and raw – and he isn’t anywhere close his prime yet.
I don’t understand how the thought of a young guys being considered a top tier player as a rookie is so incredibly unheard of. When KD came into the NBA in his first year, back in 2007 – he put up 20ppg and he was just 19, Karl-Anthony Towns at 20, grabbed 11rpg and scored 18/game. Luka Doncic is only 19 years old- and is putting up 21 / 8 / 6 in the NBA. All very young when playing the game at a frightening level. We can all look at guys like Kwame Brown and Greg Oden, and think how they just fell apart at the next level. But, I think Zion’s definitely a better prospect than either of them – so if he does what he is expected to do – he will be just fine.
Can we guarantee Zion is going to be that good? No.
Can he be? Absolutely.

Can LeBron get the LA Lakers to the playoffs

LeBron James did what he does – and skipped town…again.  Switching up the NBA’s balance of power by heading to California. And – of course – there are huge, and possibly even ridiculous expectations. Which, is not exactly a huge and unexpected surprise. I would think that most felt he was always going to Los Angeles, but it is still a big thing, and a momentous occasion when the most dominant player in the league jumps teams. It is mind blowing how he can still reshape the NBA and change teams outlooks so much with a simple decision.
James represents an unfortunate shift in the NBA where players seem to value personal gains over their true basketball legacy. To a point where NBA rings mean more to the players and their personal resume – than to the franchise, to the city, and really, most importantly, to the fans. And it is very sad.
When Durant jumped onto a 73 win team in Golden State – it really changed the view of players today. Kevin Durant’s championships are an absolute joke. Is anyone outside of the Warriors fan-base really impressed with his rings, since he joined them? I don’t think so. The fact that Golden State team could honestly likely beat an all-star team – it is not really their fault – it is the mindset and the culture of the players today.
Problem is, also the mindset of many fans, and this generation on the whole. Fans are quick to bang on a player that leaves their team to jump to a team that has a chance to win – and then they’ll make smart remarks about a player losing 50 games a year and never making the playoffs. Then, at the same time fans get on those same players who want to try and get themselves into a better position to win a ring and leave. That is why the “how many rings does a player have” debate has gotten so ridiculously out of control. Rings are what are played for, but they aren’t played for the player – championships are played for the city, the fans, the team. That is something that is far all too often forgotten about.
It can feel unfairly lopsided, in some ways – it’s asking one man to bring a fumbling and struggling franchise from 30 wins to 65 wins in a heartbeat. Larry Bird, as a rookie, brought a seriously struggling Celtics team from 29 to 61 wins in one season, Tim Duncan, as a rookie, brought a San Antonio team from 20 wins to 56. And in some ways, James going to the Lakers at his ripe age, and not jumping to an already 65+ win team like Durant did jumping to Golden State – if he brings the Lakers team to 50 wins, it actually will still say a lot for his personal force to change a team and its future.
But since the advent of the Heat, back in 2010 – when James jumped ship to join his buddy, DWade – many saw the writing on the wall, players are no longer even close to being loyal to their team. It is all about “my resume” and “my rings.” Is there anything the league can do about it?
The Cavaliers had some recent success especially with their 2016 championship, they obviously didn’t want the LeBron experience to end.
But, James decided J.R. Smith, Jeff Green, and his #2, Kevin Love weren’t going to help him get another ring. So, LeBron did what LeBron does – as many of this recent immediate gratification generation do – he jumped and joined others in LA to try and get his ring.
And having “King James,” many will expect immediate turnaround, and bring 60+ wins – Lakers fans will demand results, even if he is 34 years old and in his 16th season, with thousands of miles of wear and tear on those abused legs. As he wanted to play with other basketball minds, he got Lonzo Ball, who is a smart kid with shot selection and great passing skills. But, Ball’s shooting is still a serious question mark, at a pitiful 36% – but he’s a really exceptional rebounder with 6.9 / game, and a pretty good defender at his position, as well.
The Lakers are coming off of another less than 40 wins season in which they won just 35 games, good enough for them to finish in 11th spot in the Western Conference. They bumbled through the season, with one of the youngest rosters in the league, led by a 20 yr old kid, in Brandon Ingram and a young PF in Kyle Kuzma, both of whom were under the age of 23. James knows 21 year old Ingram has some very serious All-Star potential, and the team is loaded beyond what some may see on the court. The Lakers are massively improved from last season to this season. With a very good 2nd scoring option, in Brandon Ingram, there is only one way for lngram to go on this team, and that is up.
Kuzma and Ingram have so much untapped potential going into their 2nd and 3rd years, that it gives the Lakers fan-base a lot to be excited about to see them next to James and see what they have. Potentially, Ingram and Kuzma can be looking at a wide open floor and 20+ pt scoring seasons with James leading them. With Ingram and LeBron joining forces in LA – it is going to be hard for other teams in the league who can grab and go on turnovers like they should be able to do. Even at just 21 years old, Ingram can turn a bad pass into a quick bucket, and LeBron has awesome instincts to create turnovers as well, with his quick scoring ability.
And if Ball can become somewhat of a threat from mid-range and start hitting better than 36%, and evolves into an above average shooter from the perimeter, teams will still have to pile on LeBron to force those players to beat them outside the paint. And if Ball does that – it is going to be that much better for LA, making teams that much more concerned with dealing with them.
But, LeBron will be living in the shadow of Kobe, Shaq, Magic and Kareem, and fans will let him know if he isn’t coming close to their expectations, and will he be able to handle the pressure? He has not always had the best history when pressured by fans. As he has now jumped to his 3rd team in his 16 year career, it will always be questioned for his legacy. LeBron is looked at as a hired assassin, over a team building, loyal NBA player that brings hope and happiness to a team and their fan-base.
The expectations for at least one championship will be scrutinized – and will remain until he is done playing. But it is going to be hard. The gap between the Lakers and the Warriors is far too wide, LA can still not play with the Warriors, the Warriors are far and away best team in the NBA, if not the best team to take the floor in NBA history. They have an impossible offensive team, a great rhythm, some amazing ball handlers, and ridiculous shooters.
That big body of James along with all the hard miles on his legs won’t keep performing at the top level much longer. The motor and his vicious drives to the rim will eventually slow down, as “father time is undefeated” will come into pay eventually. Taking all of that into consideration, plus the revamped Rockets and Warriors standing in the Lakers way, the odds are strongly against LeBron and LA of winning a title in the next 3 years. I just don’t see it happening.
There is a huge amount of pressure on LeBron, and he brought it on himself. He will be judged, sometimes unfairly and sometimes he will be judged with clear eyes. But, as much as I dislike players jumping ship to better their chances, LeBron did actually go to a record wise worse team than where he was with Cleveland – he also jumped to a  tougher and more competitive conference in the West. If he can turn the Lakers franchise around and get them 50 wins, bring excitement and playoffs to LA, then that has to mean something. James isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, whether it is his attitude, self promotion, or personality – he is a great ball player, and will be under a lot of pressure, even at 34 years old. When you are called the best in the game – when you play for a team, they expect to be competitive, and, at least, be going to the playoffs. And the Lakers will be, by seasons end.

Cavaliers vs. Celtics – It’s a long Series!

LeBron James is LeBron James and there is very little more that can be said about his play in this year’s playoffs and his career as a whole. The man is going for his eighth consecutive NBA Finals appearance and that on its face is a remarkable accomplishment. Of course the argument can be made about the “watered down, Eastern Conference, the “lack of talent” the “mediocre play” and on and on it goes. Maybe these arguments have merit, who knows and honestly, who cares? Lebron is the best player in the NBA at this time and where he fits on the “all-time greatest” list, remains to be seen. He may not be better than Mike right now but let’s face it, he’s giving Mike a run for his money.

 

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Having said all of that… LeBron took a beat down on Sunday at the hands of the Boston Celtics and it wasn’t a gentle beating, it was a boxing match and LeBron forgot to bring his gloves! Where was he? He forgot to show up. Can LeBron make us all look stupid on Tuesday night in game two? Absolutely he can and he just might, however, he must get serious, this Celtics team is not the Celtics team of a few years ago or even last season. This team is for real and they showed their toughness against the Philadelphia 76ers.

 

The bookies are adjusting their numbers as we speak, a final score of 108-83 is not what anybody had predicted and certainly not what bookmakers from Vegas or what the offshore guys were thinking. We all knew the Celtics were good and we all know they have found their niche and its defense, but who knew that they were this good? Are they really this good, or was this a one game fluke and game two will tell a completely different story?

 

Surprisingly, the Celtics and the Cav’s only faced each other three times in the regular season and Cleveland won two of the three. The regular season is so entirely different than the postseason that it’s nearly impossible to take anything away from the meetings. What we have now is what we saw in the previous playoff matchups in rounds one and two.

 

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The Cavaliers have a great response record; when they get down, they get back up and they usually do it in a big way. However, it is safe to say that nobody expected the Celtics to pound the Cav’s by 25 points. This was an embarrassing loss and it was doubly embarrassing to LeBron James. 15 points is weak, James didn’t show up for this game and he let his team down. Don’t count on this to happen twice!

 

10 Star – Warriors looking Like Same Old Warriors – Fearless Unbeatable

 

Follow the numbers, follow the lines and odds. This one is interesting for sure. The more interesting number is the series itself. There are 6 possible games left and you can bet that LeBron won’t be absent again. But don’t think for one second that the Celtics are intimidated, they most certainly are not and they will be prepared for a firestorm from the Cavaliers and LeBron James.

 

Brad Stevens may be the most prepared coach in this postseason. He plays the x’s and o’s to perfection and he gets the most out of his grinders. He will be prepared but not over prepared for Lebron. Stevens is too smart to over adjust to LeBron James.

 

The Celtics most likely come away with a game two win, it will be close and could be a dogfight to the finish but it probably goes the way of the cloverleaf. This will be a big hole for LeBron to crawl out of but if there is anybody that can find a way, it will be LeBron.

NBA Title Contenders

Golden-State-Warriors

With Lebron James coming off a career night on Sunday finishing with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assist, not to mention a quite 3 steals for the King.   Sunday’s game was another example of a Cavalier stepping up with a big performance to edge the Hawks in another close game. For some reason the books have the betting public fooled with a big favorite in Cleveland giving up 8 points at home in Tuesday’s game. Based on the Hawks being a smaller market team in comparison to the Lakers, Knicks and Nets, the public quickly shifts opinion and has a short memory when it comes to Atlanta being the number 1 seed in the East, and easily showing better chemistry throughout the season as a close second to the Golden State Warriors, this elimination matchup should have a line closer to a +3 for the Hawks. During Sunday’s game playing without Kyle Korver a 49% three point shooter for the year, and Al Horford being wrongfully ejected in the 2nd quarter the Atlanta Hawks managed to stay in the game and holding a lead with a minute left in regulation and overtime.

There is no way a better team and number 1 seeded NBA team should be getting 8 points in an elimination game. It’s clear that the Cleveland Cavaliers are simply having good fortune in continuous breaks as the opposition battles injury and controversy. I do not expect Lebron’s Cavaliers to have the same fortune in the NBA Finals against a very deep and balanced Golden State Warriors team. On Tuesday Night look for the Hawks to easily cover and push Cleveland to a game 5 back in Atlanta on Thursday and also go hard on the Warriors to take the NBA Title.

Written by Bill Obrien of VegasTopDogs.com

Would the NBA be a better product if young players were forced to play longer in college

San Antonio Spurs

In a day and age where players options have become so open it gives them all so many choices on what to do. From even going to college, to whether or not they are staying long term, or jumping straight from high school. Should players be able to make their own choices? Of course they should be able to. It doesn’t make any logical sense to say they shouldn’t be able to do as such. Everyone can choose their own path in life.

But, as always, it seems to always come down to making the almighty dollar. And now in a world of the one and done rule in college to turn pro earlier, it is even more ridiculously obvious. Does one seriously think that, that 1 little year in college taking the easiest course is bettering the individual, when everyone and their mother knows the kid is looking to jump ship the second he gets the chance? And the fact of the monster payrolls the players get when going pro, is obviously a very tempting offer. Reading between the lines, if you skip college and go straight to the NBA, even if you aren’t a successful star, you can make enough money from NBA salary to make the decision worth it. Which is sadly becoming a choice that many people want to roll the dice on. Even though most don’t make it, and then they not only have no pro career, but nothing to fall back on either, if they get bumped from the pro level of sports. The money only lasts so long, then what?

The game itself, could be even better if more players were truly ready. And quite obviously, not all players are ready for the next level. I would think that some guys would want to work on their weaknesses in college, before taking it to the pro level. Get their game to the maximum level it can. Think about the kids who jump quick, just to sit at the end of the bench. Seriously, do you think that kids future in the league is bright? Or is he just jumping out and getting paid? Because they aren’t good enough to really be there, which bothers me terribly.

Take a look at 2013 14th pick, Shabazz Muhammad as an example. He was excellent in college. He was scoring 18 a night and grabbing 5 boards a game. Now here he is, in his rookie year in the pros, he’s scoring 4 pts a night, playing 8 minutes a game. And getting paid 1.8 million a year. Does this make sense to anyone, but Shabazz Muhammad? Imagine if he played 2-3 more years in college, he in all probability could have been a 26 ppg guy, running for a title, and in the end, would have likely been a much better player, than he actually believed he was. And yes, would have gotten paid, and probably even better.

The NBA is a business, and it produces entertainment for pay, and that’s fine. But, I think the NBA should be a better tuned machine that picks it’s employees with the absolute best skills to get the big bucks, not a guy scoring 3 a game for millions a year. And I wish the players wanted the best product, and to be the best they can be, as much as the fans, but I don’t think they really care all that much.

If you want to avoid college altogether, then they should have to tryout for the NBA D-league. It’s still pro ball, and they get paid, since that what it really all boils down to. There are vast amounts of very talented players, who not only are playing pro, but are all still looking for that call to get pulled up to the NBA. If truly good enough to make it in the NBA, a D-baller will shine beyond measure. Seriously, think about some of the NBA players who made the jump and were prosperous in the NBA straight from high school. LeBron, he would have lit it up in the D-league. Same goes for Kobe and Kevin Garnett.

Be a better player, to play against the best.

Written by TonyK of VegasTopDogs.com

2014-15 NBA Predictions

Cavs

The NBA season is upon us and we have more to look at as far as who will be winning their divisions, and what to expect this season. Unfortunately, just 8 teams in each conference get to move on to the playoffs, so let’s take a look at the divisions, and how they look to pan out for 2014-2015.

There will be some surprises and some especially painful changes this year, for some teams, and some that will be smiling once the season gets rolling.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

-ATLANTIC
y- Brooklyn Nets 46-36
( 44-38 last year)

x- Toronto Raptors 44-38
( 48-34 last year)

New York Knicks 33-49
( 37-45 last year)

Boston Celtics 31-51
( 25-57 last year)

Philadelphia 76ers 20-62
( 19-63 last year)

-CENTRAL
z- Cleveland Cavaliers 62-20
( 33-49 last year)

x- Chicago Bulls 52-30
( 48-34 last year)

Indiana Pacers 36-46
( 56-26 last year)

Detroit Pistons 32-50
( 29-53 last year)

Milwaukee Bucks 23-59
( 15-67 last year)

-SOUTHEAST
y- Washington Wizards 49-33
( 44-38 last year)

x- Miami Heat 46-36
( 54-28 last year)

x- Charlotte Bobcats 44-38
( 43-39 last year)

x- Atlanta Hawks 40-42
( 38-44 last year)

Orlando Magic 27-55
( 23-59 last year)

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

-NORTHWEST
z – Oklahoma City Thunder 57-25
( 59-23 last year)

x- Portland Trailblazers 49-33
( 54-28 last year)

Denver Nuggets 40-42
( 36-46 last year)

Minnesota Timberwolves 28-54
( 40-42 last year)

Utah Jazz 23-55
( 25-57 last year)

-PACIFIC
y- Los Angeles Clippers 57-25
( 57-25 last year)

x- Golden State Warriors 54-28
( 51-31 last year)

x- Phoenix Suns 46-36
( 48-34 last year)

Los Angeles Lakers 32-50
( 27-55 last year)

Sacramento Kings 30-52
( 28-54 last year)

-SOUTHWEST
y- San Antonio Spurs 53-29
( 62-20 last year)

x- Dallas Mavericks 52-30
( 49-33 last year)

x- Houston Rockets 45-37
( 54-28 last year)

Memphis Grizzlies 44-38
( 50-32 last year)

New Orleans Pelicans 37-45
( 34-48 last year)

z – Clinched Conference y – Clinched Division x – Clinched Playoff Berth

I, like the majority, expect the Cavs to become a dominant force across the league, Denver will be much improved, but just not quite enough to take home a playoff spot this season. It hurts me to say this, because I was pulling for Orlando to get their act together, and show they can be a better team without the pain, that is Dwight Howard from years ago, but I think once Nikola Vucevic stays healthy and Victor Oladipo get on the same page, they can be a duo for year to come for the NBA to deal with. There is no question the Warriors will be even better than last year, considering Andrew Bogut was banged up a lot of the season and they added veteran Leandro Barbosa to fill in.

All in all, it’s going to be great, let’s get ready to enjoy some hoops!

2014 EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS; Cleveland Cavaliers
2014 WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS; Los Angeles Clippers

2014-2015 NBA CHAMPIONS; Cleveland Cavaliers

Written for VegasTopDogs.com

2014 NBA Finals

Miami-Heat-Cheerleaders-nba-picks-predictions-betting

by Jim Feist of VegasTopDogs.com

 Say, what happened to “Youth Must Be Served?” Last year a pair of veteran teams met in the NBA Finals, with Miami winning its second straight title in seven games against the aging Spurs. Lo and behold, the same team teams made it to the Conference Finals again, with the young Pacers and Thunder trying to break through. Two years ago it was supposed to be the time the kids stepped up in Oklahoma City stepped up. OKC came close, winning Game 1 of the Finals before Miami won four in a row. The previous year a younger Miami team came close, carving out a 2-1 series lead before collapsing, as it was those old fogies in Dallas who came away with the title – another veteran team winning the whole thing. You get the sense the NBA is suddenly an old man’s game. In fact veteran NBA teams have been on a roll, with the Celtics winning it all in 2008, the Lakers in 2009-10, the Mavericks in 2012 out of nowhere, and the Heat the last two years. This year young teams from Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington, Memphis and Golden State made the playoffs but are gone.

In 2012 the thirty-something Mavericks won it all as a No. 3 seed. Despite then 26-year old Jose Barea running all over the place, it was a veteran Dallas team behind then 33-year old Dirk Nowitzki, 34-year old Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic (both 34) and 39-year old Jason Kidd. This year the NBA’s Final Four has a pair of young teams (Pacers and Thunder) against the old men of San Antonio and Miami. While the NBA is more of an athletic game, primed for young legs, the experience of the Mavericks certainly helped them two years ago and helped the Spurs plow their way to the No. 1 seed for the second season in a row. But at some point age can work against a team, breaking down from injuries. There really haven’t been many youthful teams winning the NBA title lately. The Celtics and Lakers were veteran teams that clashed in the Finals in 2008 and 2010. The experienced Lakers topped the young Orlando Magic in 2009, blowing out the kids in Game 1, 100-75. Prior to that veteran teams like the Spurs, Pistons and 2006 Miami Heat won titles. Ahh, the Miami Heat. They really aren’t that youthful, with LeBron James the only kid at age 29, and even he’s been in the league ten years. He’s also been in the NBA Finals in 2007 with Cleveland. Dwyane Wade (age 32) already has a ring with the 2006 Heat, a veteran team that also had Shaq, Antoine Walker and Gary Payton. One thing that stands out with the NBA’s Final Four of 2014 is defense.

The Thunder, Pacers, Spurs and Heat all finished in the Top 10 in the NBA during the regular season in either points allowed for field goal shooting defense. Oklahoma City was tops in the West in FG shooting defense, while the Pacers were best in the NBA. This shouldn’t surprise. Two years ago Miami was sixth in points allowed during the regular season, Dallas was 10th; Miami was second in field goal defense (.434%), while Dallas was 8th (.450%). The Western Conference Finals was a terrific clash of Youth vs. Experience. Oklahoma City has 25-year old 6-10 Kevin Durant and 25-year old Russell Westbrook (23.7 ppg), while the Spurs are filthy with age and talent. The Spurs have 38-year old Tim Duncan, 36-year old Manu Ginobili and 31-year old Tony Parker, though the Spurs rely heavily on their bench, which leads the league in scoring for the fifth straight season. So how did defending champion Miami do against the Best of the West? They got crushed by the Thunder (112-95) at home, won at OKC (103-81), got blown out at San Antonio (111-87) and won at home over the Spurs (113-101). Which shows how little stock you should put in regular season meetings, as situational factors and injuries come into play. Are the kids ready to take over? Or will we see another bunch of old men hoist the trophy?

Dominique Wilkins voices his displeasure about LeBron James and his monumental 61 point night.

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LeBron James set a career-high and Miami Heat franchise-high by lighting up the Bobcats for 61 points. James ripped apart the Bobcats with an awesome shooting effort knocking down threes, hitting jumpers from all over the court, shredding a defense, which is giving up only 97 a night to opponents on the season, and is holding opponents to ratty 44% shooting on a nightly basis.

Recently 80’s superstar Dominique Wilkins kind of dropped a bomb on LeBrons massive night, stating that he could have scored 40 points under the same conditions. The 54 year old Wilkins seems a little sensitive to me. Granted Wilkins gives rightful credit to LeBron for his

athleticism and skills, but making this statement is pure idiocy, and is only a soiled point to take a shot at one of the NBAs best players.

When Dominique was 39 years old, playing for his 5th team, he was scoring 5.0 ppg. And scored 12+ only 4 times on the year. So, let’s crush that concept of ‘Nique lighting up the Bobcats now at 54, can we? So why is Dominique going off on James’ night of significant explosion?

It kind of seems to me that “Nique is staying strong with his old school roots, that the NBA is a watered down product than it was in the 80’s when he was playing. And in some facets he is right. This generation of players, are given much more freedom to play than in the 80’s when players banged hard and less was called, hand checking was allowed, and teams like the Pistons slammed you repeatedly over and over throughout games.

But for Dominique to make the statement of eras is a stupid opinion. Wilkins was able to score, and he was a big scorer in the day, I had watched him light it up on more than one occasion. But, ‘Nique was not a good shooter. Let’s be completely honest here. For those who want to bang on LeBron not being able to shoot, are you kidding me? Those days are long gone, James can straight shoot the ball.

Ok, no more with that asinine moot point.

Wilkins won a scoring title in his career, and 2 times scored a 57 points in a game, his personal best. But for someone who had no jump shot, he was a 31% shooter from deep, I’m not sold that he would have knocked down the shots LeBron did against the Bobcats.

It does at times seem like many of the 80s guys have some intense resentment against the kids playing today. When you look at numbers, when ‘Nique was playing, there were consistently a handful of guys scoring 25 PPG. Makes you wonder was the defense really that much better then, or were the players really that much more talented?

Of course there were the legends of the era, and they would have been able to more than handle their own in this generation of players, but again, lets be factual. This generation of players are faster, stronger, bigger than the old school guys
from the 80s.

Just like when we grew up watching Bird and Magic, we all knew for a fact that those guys from then were better than most of the great players from the 60s. There was no way Tom Heinsohn could match up with Bird.

You get what I’m saying here?

Seriously, there is no way Kiki Vandeweghe or Dale Ellis was scoring 25 in today’s NBA, they didn’t have the game that is needed for today’s game.

Unfortunately, it seems that Lebron cannot seem to get a break. People want to say he is not great because he didn’t win a title, he then goes and wins 2. Back to back, mind you. Now his 61 point performance is being picked apart.

‘Nique, your time is long gone, you were very good, but you were not even close to being as good as LeBron is.

Written by TonyK of VegasTopDogs.com

The Race for the NBA MVP is heating up

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The battle for the leagues best player is seemingly getting underway in a very entertaining manner. It’s really starting to get interesting to say the least. It looks like we are going to see a very close finish between Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and LeBron James of the Miami Heat. It is turning into a very good battle between them to see who gets the crown of being the leagues “Most Valuable Player.”

I think a lot on this subject matters what your opinions are on what an MVP is and should be. Firstly, I think both players are having great seasons, and both are easily the top 2 contenders hands down. I think that Durant feels he is done playing 2nd fiddle to Lebron. He has had amazing games this season, hanging 54 on Golden State.

Having a massive triple double game against the Sixers. He carried the Thunder when Westbrook was out. Scoring at will, and dominating the league, with media clambering all over the “Durantula.”

Now, if anyone deserves to knock the King from his throne it should be Durant, and if he wins it, I would be open with the decision. Durant leads the Thunder in most categories. With his sleek shot and quick release, his scoring has been beyond enjoyable. And with his speed and his offensive awareness, he has been unbelievably aggressive with his “taking over games” mentality. And teammates gain confidence from having that kind of player on your team. I have felt for years that Westbrook has held Durant back, and with Westbrook being out for awhile, it allowed KD to shine.

Now, on the other side, I also believe that LeBron is sick of hearing Kevin Durant is now the NBAs best player. He has more to prove to fans again this year. Anyone with a competing side, and a professional athlete in particular, would get real provoked with the fact that everyone is saying that “your time has come, you’re not the best in the NBA anymore.” Durant had a strong stretch this season, around 12 games where he was really playing excessively well. But does that mean he is the MVP of the league?

LeBron leads his team in basically every category as well. Which is the meaning of an MVP. Are you the best player not of just your team, but of the entire league? Let’s face facts here, LeBron is the best basketball player in the world in this era, and he has proven it many times over, no matter who dislikes the concept of it. He is a walking stat filler, across the board, each and every night is a potential triple double.

And let’s also take into consideration, LeBron is having a “down year” by many peoples standards. Only scoring 27 and 7 boards and 7 assists a night. Durant gets 4 more shots a night than LeBron, because of LeBrons sharing play, getting the team involved all the time. LeBron getting 21 shots a game, he would be scoring 33 a night, statistically speaking. And with that, Durant is now his equal?

Durant is a big scorer, not a great defender, where as LeBron is the teams best defender, as well as perhaps the leagues best defender. We all know about him being able to legitimately guard every position on the court by now. That’s a pretty ominous component as well.

For seasons upon seasons those who didn’t like LeBron, for whatever their reasons, have bashed and disrespected him for one reason or another. No one can argue that he has continued to silence the haters for some time now. And that makes them even more angry.

James could be among the game’s top players of all time by winning a 5th MVP crown. LeBron would become one of 4 players all time to reach that awe-inspiring mark. We shall see, Durant could win the MVP, but I always feel it should go to the games best player each year. And to me, it’s still LeBron James. Let’s hold off on taking the crown away from the King, just yet.

Written by TonyK of VegasTopDogs.com