Paolo Banchero has been the real deal for Orlando

With the first half of the season well behind us now – we have had a great look at the current rookie class. And it is without a doubt that Paolo Banchero has had the biggest impact this year. He was not only the best player in the draft, but was ready to step in and contribute from the start, which he did. In his opening game he scored 27, grabbed 9 boards and had 5 dimes vs Detroit. Orlando gave Banchero the keys to the car from the start and he responded. The former Duke star is hitting 47% from two, along with his 6.6 rpg, which is 2nd on the team, and his 3.6 apg which is 3rd. Banchero is impacting the team and has been key when they win, even though it hasn’t been frequently, he has been the cog to this team. Particularly on the offensive end of things, they have leaned on the 250lb PF quite a bit this season.

Banchero makes defenders pay if they get complacent on defense – if they aren’t on top of him from the beginning he can rip past them and get to the cup. He also has shown to have very good vision, with his smooth play-making ability, especially for a big, as he has excelled passing out of the post, and off the dribble. Banchero knows when he has gotten some space to work, and can take a slower defender off the dribble and knock down an open shot.

He has good size at 6-10, and has no shortage of strength, which has allowed him to defend on the interior and has given him the ability to be a very active rebounder, as he has had 22 games with 8+ boards, including 13 games with 2 or more on the offensive side. He has been comfortable cleaning the defensive glass and getting off to starting the break. He has gotten into the lane with ease, putting the ball in the hoop, and has also been able to drop shots from the midrange, hitting 49% from 16′ and in. He has the ability to threaten defenses as a shot creator and playmaker and being the VegasTopDogs of this years draft.

The Magic have had a nice improvement from last year. Last season, they won 22 games for the entire season – they are on track to win about 30 games this year, which isn’t good, but they have certainly improved as a team. The Magic still need a real SG very badly – making a move should probably be something they are looking into. In a perfect world for them – they get themselves a stud at SG, and let Banchero continue to develop, while watching the 20 year old be their leader on the court. This would help solve some of their offensive woes that have been plaguing them. It seems to be, in the current game, a team needs a star guard to win in this league. Banchero tagged up with a real SG could get them in the right direction as a team, unfortunately that will not be an easy task.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard brought the Clippers to another level

The question after every off-season transactions always is the same. Are the teams better than it was last season? Obviously no team wants to sit stagnant, especially if one of the bottom tiered teams that is looking to generate a league buzz and get better, and compete.
Adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to LA brought some serious talent to a rusty team dynamic – that just wasn’t getting it done. Adding MVP-like player like Leonard is immediately going to help make any team better. And then LA also picked up a 9 year vet Paul George – who buried 39% from deep last year, as George hit big shots all season for OKC last season. The Clippers have thrived with him on the court since his arrival in LA. Kawhi Leonard’s stat lines don’t tell the full story with his play, he brings a quiet leadership and a cool calmness over anything. Kawhi is definitely an offensive upgrade to the SF position over Danilo Gallinari – and, with his ability to handle the ball and create his own shots, he brings more fluidity to the game for them. And Leonard – known around the league as “The Claw” – impacts the game at the defensive end as well, bringing a great instinct and quick hands, verified by his career 1.8spg and career 100 def rating.
Leonard knocked down 49% of his shots last year in Toronto, and led them to the championship – who could possibly complain about that? He has been their key roll man on the pick and roll during this season, and he has done excellently there as well. He gets himself involved all over the court, and when he is spotting up, he’s been hitting 46% of shots from the field this season. Kawhi also brings some post up opportunities – and defensively, we know he’s been more than pretty good as well.
Paul George is a superstar player who is often overlooked – and he is currently dominating from behind the arc for them – a spot that has produced 3+ three pointers /game, along with hitting 39% from deep. And despite all of his really sweet numbers – the biggest impact he brought to LA has been a massive impact on floor spacing – when George is on the floor, the Clippers 4th ranked offense runs like butter. To the point – where quite a bit of the teams offense runs through him, and that’s how it should be with PG13 landing on this team.
When Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the teams SG he made the Clippers young and they weren’t gelling as they should have been – that’s why LA decided to go in another direction. Not that he is a bad player by any means – and he is going to have a very good career – but he didn’t create the mismatches, and he also seemed to struggle against bigger defensive guards. Paul George is a very capable scorer against better players and is a defensive upgrade, as a plus.
LA has some talented young guys, like 22 yr old Landry Shamet – who will learn so much playing with great players like George and Leonard – these 2 superstars will handle the load and live up to their names and expectations. This has been a huge win for the Clippers. This team will only get better during the season, and as I expect them to, the Clippers are going to be a 55 or more win team. LA had a couple of things that needed to be worked on, and with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – those things look like they have been fixed.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.


= 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

New Orleans Pelicans the team to beat in 2 years

New Orleans surrounded Zion with some really good supporting talent, dropping Ball and Holiday in their backcourt, as they are 2 of the better wing defenders in the game, along with Zion, who himself is a strong defender. Then they added 6-9 Ingram as a 2nd scoring option and he has been awesome with his 25ppg and JJ Redick as their screen shooter. Plus Jaxson Hayes and his “oop” machine ability, the New Orleans Pelicans will be in the playoffs very quickly.
Zion is going to be the star for New Orleans, he is a middling shooter, a good defender, and strong rebounder, and an instinctive passer. Williamson struggled with a steady jump shot, hitting only 24 trey balls in 33 games in Duke, and players in the NBA aren’t going to leap out of his way like they did in college. It is going to be fun to see how his game style translates as the season goes on – he isn’t going to push everyone around in the paint anymore, at 6-6 and 285lbs. But already he has shown his exceptional basketball ability at the next level with 22ppg and 8 boards /game.
In the trade they made with the Lakers – the Pelicans in the long haul, will be better than the Lakers. Lonzo Ball is a great defender and passer, Ingram has more than shown his ability to light it up while waiting for Zion to get healthy – and will be a great 2nd scoring option to Zion, as his smooth touch and shooting off screens, has shown. And Hart will be a great 6th man with his shot selection and rebounding ability and Hayes will give them another solid player, especially on D.
This trade will go down as a Vikings – Cowboys Herschel Walker level – trade over time. Which we know made Dallas the team of the 90s. The Pelicans are going to be set up for a decade. This trade was all or nothing to get James a ring in LA, and he very well might get it this year. We all know, the fans, the management and certainly LeBron needs it. The biggest worry in the back of my brain I would have, if I am a Lakers fan, is Anthony Davis staying healthy. And if Davis is going to keep improving his production as he has, he has never played a full NBA season since coming in the league back in 2012 – which could be a huge concern for LA. If the Lakers don’t win a title in the next 2 years – we will all talk about how this trade destroyed the Lakers. Getting rid of everything they did is a lot to dish for just one guy – even if it’s a star like Anthony Davis.
So the true impact of the trade will remain to be seen, the Pelicans got some promising young players with their trio of 1st rd picks, and with their potential, and skills – I still feel they will win the trade in the long run. Their strength will be offense – New Orleans is going to eventually have one of the most feared frontcourts in the game, and the backcourt defense should get even better – as Lonzo and Holiday are both excellent. I like the Pelicans team really because of their system, and they’re going to run – which will be great for Lonzo’s game. With guards that can move the ball with speed, and Ingram and Zion both can run as well. A basketball team can be turned around with 1-2 guys who are top notch players – the Pelicans have their guys to go with. These guys all bring scoring and hope to New Orleans. This was a haul for the Pelicans and it sets them up better for down the road then the Lakers. With Ball, Holiday, Ingram, Zion, Hart and the 7-0 foot Hayes – who has great shot blocking ability and is going to be a supreme lane clogger for New Orleans in time. They will be ready in about 2-3 years time, right when the Lakers are going downhill.

Why is nobody concerned about the Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder lineup is going to be a really tough guard if they can find a way to get into the playoffs. I know we are a long way from the tournament – but they have some heat on that team, and I think more should be keeping an eye on them. They have several guys who are all above average to top end shooters, with 3 guys who can knock down 46% or better from the floor who take 12 or more shots / game, and they don’t have anyone on the team who soaks up a ton of wasted possessions, chucking up bad shots. They have a handful of guys who can also put the ball on the floor, and make plays as well.
Dennis Schroder has compiled an impressive body of work statistically with 18ppg and 47% shooting – coming off the bench, and still amassing 31 minutes /game. Schroder was the teams best player vs 2 of the better teams in the conference, the Clippers and vs the Jazz during a 2 week stretch, when he netted 28 and 27 points on 49% shooting in those games, which shows he can get it done with ease. Schroder hasn’t had great postseason success – when playing with Atlanta for his first 4 years in the league, with just one strong run in 14-15 when he didn’t get a lot of shots and never saw the court much.
Chris Paul’s shot creation skills off ISO plays have been incredibly good for a guy of his age. Paul turned 34 years old and has been having his best shooting season since 16-17 season, at 47%. He is super effective, and still plays good defense, as well, as he is tops on the team in steals. At 34 years old – he is bringing the veteran leadership for this team, Paul has everything you could want from an offensive centerpiece, including, the veteran smarts to not force bad shots. Paul can fade off into the corner, not touching the ball, then suddenly has 4 quick possessions in a row where he is either scoring or assisting. Could you imagine what he could have done for this team in his prime?
Then there is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – who looks incredibly comfortable on the court with exceptional scoring skills. As a scorer, he’s the real deal – getting to the rim whenever he wants to, and he can drop shots from all over the court, he attacks with ease off the dribble going to the bucket, his 19.9 ppg is tops on the team. I actually think he is one of the better scoring jump shooters I’ve seen in awhile, and is showing more at a young age than many players. I also feel his quickness off the ball is very good, as he gets separation off the dribble and can drive to the rack. He isn’t an All-Star yet – but he is as close as it gets. His potential is sky high, as well at the fact that he is very athletic, and of course, he is just 21 years old.
If Paul can lead this Thunder team and sneak into the playoffs this year, as a potential 6th or 7th seed, they match up well vs a currently 2nd seeded Denver team, who they have played tough this year so far. Steven Adams is good for a double-double every night with points and rebounds. OKC is a good team, that could be a tough out if they make it to the NBA playoffs.

Does the NBA need a change

The current game in the NBA has changed so much today. There are virtually no down low scoring options,  opposed to back 30 years ago, when there were guys like Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Patrick Ewing, who were all steadily putting up 20 or more a game. Shots for bigmen has also declined, as they are not looked to as inside/out game – opposed to the older big fells looked to as the inside option as 1 – getting their shots in the 80s and 90s.
Is it due to better players – or is the whole system is broken?
29 year old SG, Steph Curry has ruined today’s generation with the 3 point shot. The deep ball was an added weapon – something that no one relied on, it has now become the true essence of a teams offense to run through. I understand that basketball has evolved, as any sport always does. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed for the better though. And don’t get me wrong, I like Curry as a player. I think he is talented and an amazing shooter, but over the last 5 years in particular, there has been a huge difference in how kids learn the game these days. No one knows how to move without the ball anymore, they stand around the perimeter and wait for the ball to swing to them to get their chance at a 3.
The younger generation growing up all want to be Curry. College basketball is becoming that as well. Golden State started a great downfall in the NBA. With players pulling up for a 3 on a 2 on 1 break, changes everything we learned in fundamental hoops. When it works, it is great. When it doesn’t, bricks are flying – and it’s like watching a sloppy gym class game. 30 years ago, players like Larry Bird, and Darrell Griffith were lethal as their teams deep ball masters, they would end up the season with 90-100 treys – and they were likely in the top 3 in the NBA at the end of the season. Fast forward to 2017 – there were 104 players with 100 or more 3FG made on the season. Think about that for a brief moment. Does this men they were better players back then – or just the amount of opportunity? We know the answer.
The lack of ball movement down low and set play fundamentals has been diminished. The players of today are bigger and more athletic than the players from 20-30 years ago – yes, but a skilled overall game is vastly lacking. The basics and fundamentals are focused on far less by today’s generation of players. The game has evolved to just about shooting 3’s everywhere on the court. It has become unbalanced with the core emphasis on firing off 3’s.
With almost half the leagues teams putting up an average of 30 or more/threes a game, it is making the game repetitive and blah to watch at times. Something should be done to change it. Bring back a bigman who can dominate the game from down low. Watching a player stick a 28 footer is awesome – don’t get me wrong, as a lifelong fan of Larry Bird – I have loved the deep game. But when players take 60% of their shots out behind the arc, it lessons the impact to me. Somehow, someway. Players are just driving to the hoop, and dishing out to someone spotting up, we all see it every game, it is so predictable.
Maybe push the 3pt shot back even 4-5 feet – modify it. It doesn’t mean players like James Harden, and Steph Curry wont still drill their shots. But, when they start shooting 2-10 from there and not 5-10 every game, the game plan will be more than just dribble off the pick and chuck it from the arc. If they’re not going allow guys to play hands on defense in this soft basketball era – they need to move the 3pt line back. The game has far too much isolation ball and it has gotten to the point of being boring, at times. The NBA has gotten very soft, where pretty much everything seems to be a foul –  I think the evolution of the 3ball is also a symptom of that.
Where’s the inside game, the up and under? Where’s the 12ft jumper?  Bring it back to when, power forwards and centers were actually part of the offense, and not just surviving on offensive rebounds. It was a nice novelty when a team had a “shooting big man” like Dirk Nowitzki, who could drift out and create a matchup problem for a team – but now it is every team, every game. I think that is why players struggle to make a mid range jumper anymore.
The 3 is used far too much, of course we expect some 3 pointers put up, but because of the constant 28 footers – the tough physicality of the game is being abandoned. I love physical basketball, players who can shoot, but not guys who are terrified of getting into the paint, and do mans work. No teams play hard nosed basketball anymore. No tough in your face ball down low.
I hope the game will adjust, it went from dump down post plays to more of the pick and roll, to the now drive and kick with 3 point shot. Teams will make the adjustments on their defenses planned all around stopping the 3 pointer, and I hope down the road all the players who are living from the three point line, start to deal with a better defending of the arc and a massive defensive void in the lane will begin. A player comes up and destroys the league with a ridiculous mid range/post up game. Which will turn the league back into a battle in the paint.

Will the Detroit Pistons make the playoffs in 2018

The Detroit Pistons are a fun long shot pick because of LeBron leaving (again.) The Pistons have far less to worry about knowing they won’t be playing behind LeBron and the Cavs, a very good feeling for any Eastern Conference team, this year.
It is certainly a little hard to get a full feel as to how talented the Pistons team can be, because they have quite a few guys who have put some miles on their feet.  They have been counting on Blake Griffin to bring his 25pts + and ready to go for them, and their front-court to contribute significantly. And that isn’t really a bad thing. Griffin brings offense, Andre Drummond can rebound with anyone, and has done it with ease. 27 year old Reggie Bullock brings deep shooting skill for them at the guard position, and Drummond also has brought a greatly improved passing game from the 5 spot. The Pistons need to still improve defending the ball but they have improved their scoring greatly, up from 104 to 111 this season. If the Pistons offense keeps getting better with the 6-11 Andre Drummond and a fully healthy Blake Griffin, and continued improvement from Reggie Bullock, the Pistons could end up being decent. Their scoring has gotten better with an improved game on the court. A mix match backcourt has done just fine for them.
And this year with the Cavs drowning and Boston struggling like they have, things have opened up tremendously this year. Overall, the East has declined significantly with the leaving of LeBron to the Lakers, and other teams have added their different parts, and it has been a lot of fun seeing how they have meshed together as the East’s biggest mountain has now left the building. It seems that the Pistons and their fans have accepted a losing culture, with a sad 38 game win avg/season since 2010 and just 3 seasons with 35 or more wins, this is now their chance to make a move.
The big gift is that, LeBron James is not in the conference, or the division this year, which adds pressure to all of the teams, as he was constantly leading his teams to championships each and every year for almost a decade says Vegas Expert Mike Anthony. So now, the teams that were close, feel they should be next in line, and the teams that were on the outside looking in, are feeling they can make it now. The Pistons were significantly weaker last year vs the division, than they should be now.
Their starting line-up , decent depth & made a serious needed change at head coach – it is now time to man up & play with the big boys, the Milwaukee’s, the Raptors and the 76ers in the East. With the quiet talent that the Pistons have on their roster they should be able to make the post season. And the truth is, Detroit is probably the 2nd best team in the Central division. Not to say they can’t blow it, so they need to stay on track, solo led Charlotte can show up and wreck all their plans, and the Heat are not that great, and Cleveland are not even close right now.  And the Bulls are not just a player or 2 from being good – they are several players away from being even tolerable to watch.
Detroit has seemingly overtook the Washington Wizards and their dynamic duo in the conference this year. I see 40-43 wins for them this season and that puts them just getting into the playoffs. This Detroit team won just 39 games last year, and the Pistons have been a struggling team that has made the playoffs just once, since 2009. But, I would say, the Pistons are much further along talent wise than they have been in some time.

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.

Why Jimmy Butler is a great fit for the TWolves

The 6-7 SG has been nothing but a role model and class. He is just 28 years old with a career scoring avg of 16ppg.  Along with a 1.5 spg /career, and dishing 5 apg /career. Which makes him a pretty good ball player as well. With a quick shot and off the dribble ability, putting up 24 ppg along with 6 rpg, 6apg in 2016, combined with really good defense – with 2spg, along with drilling the ball from deep at 37% – he is an immediate asset. He had 35 games scoring 25 or more points in 2016. This season, he already has 23 games with 25 pts or more. Along with 26 games with 3+ steals or more in 2016 – 17 games with 3 steals or more in 52 games in 2017. He has certainly not slowed down in leading his new team.
Butler is also not an arrogant, or obnoxious player. That we unfortunately have seen from many of the star players in the NBA over the years. Heart is one of the great things I want to see from my guy on the court. He is a guy who genuinely seems to just want to win. He has the heart of a lion just like the handicappers at VegasTopDogs.
Any kind of past negative comments about him being a miserable teammate were unfounded and untrue, in my opinion. Most people would get frustrated real fast with how the Bulls had been running things over the last several seasons. Butler wanted to win and build a team for Chicago for years down the road, but oddly enough, the Bulls have become incredibly bad at building around their star players as of late. Jordan Bell is gone from the 2017 draft and Denzel Valentine hasn’t shown any kind of major potential for them, and Valentine is also shouldering terrible defense and has been struggling off screens.
Chicago put the wrong personnel around Jimmy. Instead of knock down shooters or a rock star PG, they gave him team destroyer, Rajon Rondo and aging DWade.  Once again, that’s on Chicago’s front office failures and just not knowing what to do. The Bulls notion of building around one guy was asinine – the way to build a championship contender in this day and age, is like the Celtics or the Spurs. Boston and San Antonio have built teams with several stars and a team style and system. The days of one guy putting a team on his back, sadly, are over in the NBA. It seems to be all about massive star power and stacked teams.
The trade that went down, was really nothing more than a daylight robbery from the Timberwolves. Minnesota gave up an injury prone player, in Zach Lavine and below average PG and the poor shooting Kris Dunn for a player with the skillset of Butler. So far, Lavine and Dunn have not been blowing away anyone – and Butler is putting up 23ppg for Minnesota.
The bad shooting T-Wolves were 20th in the league shooting the trey. Hitting just 34% in 2016. Butler also helped that problem – by hitting 37% of his shots from behind the arc in 2017. The league now is not one in which you can survive without knocking down the 3 ball. Butler has shown that with ease. 3 out of the top 5 winning pct. teams in the NBA are in the top 10 in the NBA in 3pt shooting pct., and 4 out of 5 are in the top 10 for 3 balls made.
Karl-Anthony Towns has been awesome, and Butler has added a solid piece to their puzzle. Wiggins needs to keep improving his defensive efficiency as he has been good on the offensive side of the ball. The best part for them, is that he is still only 22 years old and can get better. Butler has been netting 23ppg this year, while leading his new team in shooting pct. for players shooting 15 or more times/game and free throw attempts/game. Wiggins is not one of the better defenders in the league, and the Wolves can be even that much better, if he picks it up on defensive side of things.
Butler has been reunited with Tom Thibodeau that has been a great mix for their team. And Tom has been getting very good things from the team this year, so far. One of the hidden upsides, as well, with Thibodeau, is that this team will greatly over perform from the likely 3-5 seed and this team will be something to be seriously watchful of. The city could be very proud to get deeper into the season, instead of the looming dumpster fire, that typically sits in the back of their fans heads. At the top of the NorthWest division, and 4th in the Western Conference, they are starting to really hit their stride, and will only get better.
A very important thing Butler has brought with his game is perimeter defense for Minnesota. Wiggins has all the physical measurables, at 6-8 and 200lbs –  to be a great wing defender, with nice length, and speed but he hasn’t gotten there yet. I think Wiggins is a very talented player – but he tends to make a lot of silly mental mistakes on defense. Jimmy has the ability to take the other teams top wings, and Wiggins can just work on shutting down the secondary scoring threat, it takes pressure off of him. Butler’s D, immediately has helped the Wolves, just as much, if not more than his ball control and scoring ability, as Butler is sitting 4th in the NBA right now, with 2 steals/game.
This nasty trio in Minnesota might actually be better than the top 3 in Houston. I’m not saying they are, before people get all besides themselves, but if they keep the chemistry there, it just might end up that way. So far, with their scoring and ball movement, it has worked pretty well. Teaming him up with Towns and Wiggins has been great to watch. I am really excited for this team and its future. As Jimmy and Wiggins have given the Timberwolves a really interesting duo in the backcourt.
Minnesota is going to continue to continue to win more than their share of games, this is a very solid team. Minnesota got their 3rd piece to go forward with young guns Wiggins and Towns, and the Wolves should be dangerous for the next 5-10 years because of the youth, talent, and coaching of their franchise. They are one of the best offensive teams in the league at 109 ppg – the Timberwolves have really improved their already talented team with adding Jimmy Butler.

How far can the Milwaukee Bucks go in the NBA Playoffs

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks 6’11 guard/forward is leading the way for the team this year on both ends of the court.
He is averaging of 23 ppg and 8.6 rebounds while also adding 5 assists per game for the team.
They are currently tied for 5th place in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks have had many years with a long history of failure. 15 Ws in
2013 and 31 in 2011 were some of the more recent disasters for the
Bucks. But, the owners have been very aggressive and have shown some
very sharp skills in trying to build a winning atmosphere in

Head Coach Jason Kidd has been very good behind the bench. And I don’t
think that it will take him long to get this team back into the 45+
win column, like they were, when they were in their heyday of the 80s. They are currently on pace to win over 40 games this year.
They keep just getting more pieces for Kidd, which is a good thing.
Milwaukee had a terrible offensive in 2014, but, they did have some
players and a little something that resembled something good coming
Jabari Parker is also giving them 20 ppg and Greg Monroe is a means of getting points, playing defense in the middle

They should finish the season being top 6 team in the East, without question. They first
need to build for their conference, bottom line. Keep in mind, the
East isn’t as weak as it had been for years, anymore.
Now, what Monroe brings to the Bucks is a toughness. A very solid
inside scoring threat, he’s a guy capable of dropping 20 and 12 and
hitting 50% of his shots for them. They have Matthew Dellavedova who is averaging 8 ppg and 5 assists.

Putting SG Khris Middleton and Antetokounmpo on the wings, and throw in Parker at PF.
That could cause some headaches. Monroe may not be lightening quick,
but he isn’t your typical slow footed big man. He’s not hurting the
Bucks by not running the floor in a streak, and with his boxing out,
he can get a break moving down court with a defensive rebound.
He is a good fit for the young Bucks, they had to get a big man who
can rebound. No question about it, Monroe is a major upgrade in the
scoring sheet.
The Bucks are making all the right moves this year and flying under the radar. I have a feeling this Bucks’
team will make some noise in the NBA Playoffs this year.

Written by Mike Anthony for