What impact will Klay Thompson have returning to Golden State

The anticipated return of Klay Thompson this year for Golden State Warriors is exceptionally exciting. Thompson had an incredible career up to the point until he suffered devastating injuries that took him out for 2 years. Klay was a steady 20 point scorer and was dropping 3 threes per game, along with very good defense, and a smooth silky shot that every defender was afraid of. Thompson was the kind of player that you knew was going to get his team 20pts and big shots every game in his sleep.

Golden State gaining Thompson alongside one of the most lethal shooters in NBA history, Steph Curry, again is only going to improve this team. This same team that has been  demolishing opponents all season long without him, adding a player of his skill back is only going to help an already awesome roster.  They’ve been putting up 110 ppg this season, with excellent defense, and top 3 ranked shooting from downtown. The Warriors are already one of the top favorites to win the championship this year – if Klay comes in and just is able to knock down a couple shots here and there until he gets the stamina and full confidence built back up they’ll be fine.

I don’t expect Thompson to waltz back in just dominate and start picking up right where he left off. But the inspiration & threat that he will immediately bring to this team is huge. His return will immediately add one more dimension to their already powerful offense. This Warriors team is already well aware of the awesome damage that Steph and Klay can apply on the court together.

People still have to remember he hasn’t played NBA basketball in 2 seasons. So he isn’t going to explode quickly, it’s going to take some time. I don’t expect him to come in and immediately get 35 minutes a night, but I do expect him to keep efficiency because that’s what great players do. Thompson is going to come into this team and do what he does best – and that’s knock down buckets. I cannot imagine him just fading away into nothingness even after his devastating injuries.

I don’t see him being the same guy that he was – but the Golden State Warriors has numerous players who can all chip in with important points in the game. I don’t think that they actually need Klay to be the 2nd weapon on a nightly basis anymore, what he does give them is that one more threat – where a defender knows that with his shooting ability – he has the ability to drop 25 at any moment. I’m very excited to see Klay back on the court. As a fan of comeback stories and great shooting – it’ll be very nice to see that back. I’m personally rooting for him to do what he does best – shoot the ball at a very high level.

Giannis did things the right way

When Giannis Antetokounmpo was drafted back in 2013 – I’m not sure the Milwaukee Bucks knew exactly what they were getting. I think they knew they were getting player with great defense potential, outstanding length, and awesome driving ability, but did they know they’re also getting a player with exceptional heart and leadership? Yet here we are 8 years later and the Bucks are raising their first championship in five decades.

What Giannis did with the Milwaukee Bucks was outstanding. A team that has been building a contender for the last five years. They finally broke through and became the NBA world champions. They didn’t sputter, they never lost confidence and they actually played as hard as any team I’ve ever watched play. Having trailed 2-0 in two of their playoff matchups, having been blown out by 20 + on several occasions, but they still had the heart and resolve to win those matchups. When trailing the “Superteam Nets” 2-0 in the series – the rest of the series Giannis scored an average of 34.2 ppg on 56% FG and 11.6 rpg to bring the Bucks roaring back. Giannis showed incredible heart and the ability to put his team on his back and bring them the W’s when their back was against the wall. He took that team on his shoulders and led them to the title, the first title in 50 years.

Giannis may not have much have a game besides is driving to the paint – but let’s be honest he truly is one of the most unguardable players I have ever seen play in the NBA. He destroyed Brooklyn with 5 games of 33+pts and wrecked Phoenix for a 35 pt/game average, with 3 games of 40+, including 11 games of 32 or more in his entire playoff run. His ability to take a ball in his hands, dribble 3 times, take two steps, and get a layup is almost unfair. And honestly, I miss seeing a dominant inside game like his, we haven’t seen  a big who scored at will inside for quite sometime, as the league has moved into a guard-centric flow. (How I wish Joel Embiid would learn from his basketball dominance – but that’s another story entirely)

We haven’t seen a masterful big like this and a long time. Mind you, I wish he would stay away from anything outside 10ft. If he would just park himself down low and get himself a better back to the basket game, that, along with his ability the face up with a couple dribbles and take it to the rack, would be ridiculous. The fact that he has no jump shot and you know exactly what he’s going to do when he has the ball – and he’s still dropping 30 + on you, makes what he does even more impressive. They know exactly what is going to try to do, and he still scores without problem.

His likability factor increased tenfold for me, when, in his post game conference interview he said exactly what’s so many feel – he won his championship “the right way.” He didn’t jump teams, he didn’t take off and tag up with another Superstar. He put his Milwaukee team and their fans on his 7-0 frame, and got the job done. That’s what a true leader looks like. He earned his place, he earned his championship, he did it the right way. In a world full of entitled players who all feel they deserve a championship, because of participation trophies, and always try to take the path of least resistance – Giannis, you’re really so much more respected than many others.

Great job Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks, you had an amazing season, you did do things the right way, and from now on out – you gained someone new in your cheering section.

The Miami Heat are being overlooked by many

With the NBA season  back in full swing – and then the NBA playoffs – it is time to ask the question – how long are people going to ignore the Heat?  Miami had been playing some really good basketball this year, and the NBA playoffs will be starting up – it might be time to not.
They have been able to win 84% games at home – where they have been lethal. Miami had won just 39 games last season – but they look to have gotten their heads on straight this year, they have gotten so much better and will likely end up with some court advantage this postseason.

The Heat are very deep, with a lot of guys who can put the ball in the hole, with 8 guys averaging 11 or more /game. Miami made some quality moves in drafting sharpshooter SG, Tyler Herro, and picking up Jimmy Butler – I love the Butler pickup especially. His game is effortless and has shown that with 7 games of 25pts and 6 or more assists. Herro and Jimmy Buckets have been good pickups. 22 yr old Bam Adebayo is also an improving big man with his 16 ppg and 10 rpg as he has been inserted into the starting lineup. The Heat have shown this season they can beat the elite teams with the team they have on the court – as they had gone 2-0 vs the Bucks and 2-0 vs Toronto. I’m not saying they’re going to run through the playoffs – but they’re definitely going to be far more of a handful than some may be expecting. Miami has a roster that can beat anyone in the East, as long as they play to their potential, and I give them a lot of credit, and when the playoffs start, the teams that make some noise are playing 8-9 guys.

More of the media should be putting the Heat in conversation in the top teams of the NBA. And the Heat bring a fiery glimmer of hope to the league that there are still some teams that are making the right moves, and getting better to become a contender in the NBA. Miami are better than the Sixers and their hype train – and they are better coached, I feel the Heat are more well rounded than Denver, as well. Milwaukee has arguably one of the best players in the NBA, in Giannis Antetokounmpo – but his supporting cast is lacking.

There is a player induced mismatch of talent in the league, so to see a team like the Miami Heat coming around and potentially be making some noise is an inspiring and pleasant surprise. I think they are very capable of going deep into the NBA Playoffs in the Eastern Conference this year.

The NBA return will be very interesting

There have been reports all over the news, that the NBA is looking at the possibility of picking up play relatively soon. Players are working out, getting ready for the next step, as they need to start getting mentally and physically ready for the final push of the NBA season. I would think that most players are ready to get back on the court and finish the season they started.
The NBA is targeting July 31st 2020 for a return to play, per Charania. NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league office informed Board of Governors that July 31 is a target date for return of season, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
The NBA seems like they are going to be able to move forward with the season, including an interesting playoff format. There have been talks of having an expanded playoff, a notion that essentially would have teams that were on the brink of making it during the season to play in to get the final spots. The NBA could have “play in” playoffs for teams that were close to the 8th seed – this could be a ton of fun, and borderline brilliant. It would bring excitement to teams that were catching momentum late in the season, until stoppage, or banged up, and were thinking they were done. The NBA having essentially 2 sets of playoffs, one for the top tiered teams and another for the lower tiered teams trying to get in, would be awesome. With a compromised on court season, some teams were already packing it in – this could change that mindset – this breathes new life into them.
From what I have seen, and heard, there won’t be fans, and home court advantage will be nullified, as games will be played at a neutral court and our VegasTopDogs experts will be ready.
Things are going to be different in many ways. The season finishing and playoffs impending, can not only bring some closure to the league’s season, but also some much needed sports excitement. Of course, the playoffs popping up at this stage of the year, could very well lead to the Finals this year going into August, which would be very different. And obviously, the sooner the playoffs begin, then, the sooner the brass can start figuring out when next season can start, with some basis of a game-plan in place.
You cant get to step 2, until you get through step 1.
I think it would be unfair if the NBA went directly to the playoffs, like some have suggested. Especially, when there are teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans and the Sacramento Kings, who were all very much in striking distance of getting into the playoffs in that 8th slot, as the West is filled with teams that can make that jump in. Yes there are some teams altered in some way from the time off – like Philly and Portland, but in basketball, notably, I feel that the better team wins the series, probably 90% of the time. And if a team like the Lakers cannot handle the 8th seed, regardless of who it would be, then maybe there is something to be said there.
We miss the euphoric escape of sports. Sports is something that brings people alive and fills is with excitement. I feel society as a whole, need sports entertainment – we can watch flowers grow, only for so long. It’s good to feel that win as your team is on top at the end of the buzzer, and it is great fun to watch fast paced action with great athletes. These players are getting paid lots of money a year, these guys are young, hungry and competitors, although some are hesitant – I would believe the vast majority of the guys want to compete, at least I would hope so. Anything that brings back some keyhole semblance of basketball, and gets us back to normalcy is going to be accepted. Some may be excited and sit with their fingers crossed – others may not want the season back, under these circumstances – but I think, no – I know – regardless of which side of the fence you stand on, basketball fans will watch the games that return.

NBA season recap and what to look out for

One of the most exciting leagues each year, one of the most followed and that causes the loudest noise in general, the NBA, came to a forced stop a few weeks ago. Coronavirus, or Covid-19, has caused chaos in the sports world and some of the fans that have felt it the most are the true basketball fans, who were enjoying one of the best, most competitive seasons of the NBA in recent years.

This seemed to be like a good year for LeBron James to win his 4th NBA ring, backed up by the greatness of Anthony Davis and a greatly assembled LA Lakers team. LeBron was even leading the race to NBA MVP when the season stopped. The Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the league, according to numbers, and were showing off amazing strength and team play, lead by the “Greek Freak”, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Other teams like the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat or Boston Celtics, in the East, or the LA Clippers, the Denver Nuggets or Houston Rockets, in the West, were giving this season the extra ingredients we were all waiting for, while we got closer and closer to the playoffs.

The NBA has announced that they intend to finish the season, hopefully coming back to action in early June, and moving the NBA Finals to August, considering a probable format change. We all certainly hope this will happen, and we will get to watch the ending of a remarkable season, at least so far. In fact, former players and media have already commented that, if the season were to be completed, we might be in for the best playoff run ever, considering that all the superstars and best teams in the league are getting a 2 month rest, allowing them to get in shape, adjust details, work on the floor and get ready to fight for the ring. This hiatus will definitely help players return in top form and allow veterans like LeBron himself, to get to the playoffs 100% healthy.

These are the individual leaders so far in the 2019-2020 NBA season

          Points per game: James Harden, 34.4 – Houston Rockets

          Rebounds per game: Andre Drummond, 15.2 – Cleveland Cavaliers

          Assists per game: LeBron James, 10.6 – LA Lakers

          Blocks per game: Hassan Whiteside, 3.1 – Portland Trail Blazers

          Steals per game: Ben Simmons, 2.1 – Philadelphia 76’ers

          Field Goal percentage: Mitchell Robinson, 74.2 – New York Knicks

          Three Pointers made: James Harden, 271 – Houston Rockets

          Three Point percentage: George Hill, 48.0 – Milwaukee Bucks

These are the team leaders so far in the 2019-2020 NBA season

          Points per game: Milwaukee Bucks, 118.6

          Rebounds per game: Milwaukee Bucks, 51.7

          Assists per game: Phoenix Suns, 27.2

          Blocks per game: LA Lakers, 6.8

          Steals per game: Chicago Bulls, 10.0

          Field Goal percentage: LA Lakers, 48.5

          Three Pointers made: Dallas Mavericks, 1026

          Three Point percentage: Miami Heat, 38.3

          Free Throw percentage: Phoenix Suns, 82.6

If the NBA playoffs started today, just to have an idea of how things are currently in the league, in the East we would have Bucks vs. Magic, Raptors vs. Nets, Celtics vs. 76’ers and Heat vs. Pacers. In fact, Bucks, Raptors and Celtics had already clinched their playoff spot before the season stopped. In the West, we’d enjoy of Lakers vs. Grizzlies, Clippers vs. Mavericks, Nuggets vs. Rockets and Jazz vs. Thunder. Only the Lakers, so far, had clinched a playoff spot, their first since 2013.

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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.

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Does Kyrie Irving fit in Boston

The numbers that Kyrie Irving has put up over 7 seasons in the NBA are great, Kyrie is obviously a great basketball talent, there is no question about that. But can Irving allow Brad Stevens to coach his game – instead of trying to be the main course? Given what Boston did last year in the playoffs – they have some experience, having a healthy Gordon Hayward and a superstar now, they should be much better. I just don’t feel like Kyrie loves the system. The successful system that got the Boston Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
Without him.
From how well the Celtics were playing at the end of last season and into the playoffs it just looks far different from what we have watched this season.
I don’t think he has fully bought into Brad Stevens’ system and the Celtics culture, Stevens has shown that he has a specific system and it has worked, for 6 seasons, and going 197- 116 (.629) since 2015. Getting to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, with a very average roster, which showcased talents like Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown.
Boston is set up as a team to keep games close – if Kyrie could play within the offense for the first 3 quarters – get others involved throughout, keep Tatum getting his shots, let Gordon Hayward have his looks, then he can begin his showcase for the final 6-7 minutes of the game, I feel it would be more effective. The C’s offense is free flowing where everyone has a part in their offense, for Irving though – it is all about taking over the game. He should know when and how, by now. He is great at the end of games, with accurate shooting and a wicked scoring touch, and Kyrie has a clutch gene, as he has shown with his several outbursts in his career. With his awesome performances in the 2015 finals – he was beyond dynamite when the lights were on. And the biggest issue will be in the postseason when Boston is going up against powerhouse teams, that can put up huge points and have several guys who can score 20 or 30 – they need him because he can take over and score buckets in close games.
He’s shown to be a great player, but when he stops and dribbles for 8-10 seconds it ruins the rhythm of the offense. Guys start milling around – looking at him, then back at the shot clock, waiting to see what he is going to do with the ball. Is he going to dribble until 2 seconds and shoot – or dribble, drive and kick out for a bad three point shot? Irving is then being a detriment to the functionality of Boston. It is those times, on the court, the other players seem bored and almost annoyed with him during the games. Gordon Hayward has played better when Kyrie isn’t playing. With more shots and more confidence – he shows his ability, the C’s seem to play much better, as a team, when Kyrie is not on the court. Boston shoots better, passes better, and they play team ball, the ball moves around, and gets all of the guys involved. Jaylen Brown and Al Horford also play better. It is quite possible they are better off without Kyrie Irving.
If we are being honest, though, at this time, the Boston Celtics are not winning a championship with Kyrie. The Celtics aren’t going to win it without him either. Not as long as Golden State is still running the West with their All-Star team. They bought a team that is so over the top and there is no team right now that I can see being able to handle their talent and firepower. It is extremely tough to compete for a championship in the NBA anymore without having a stacked team across the board. We live in the “players era” – where the top teams need 3-4 guys who can score close to 20/game.
The truth is, they may play better without Kyrie – but without Kyrie Irving they are not winning a title. He’s a big-time superstar and when playoff crunch time comes around – he shows up. Boston is a good team – but as we watched last year play out – when a superstar took it to the next level, they weren’t able to respond. So with that – the Celtics may as well keep Kyrie on the floor as that “just in case” player. Kyrie gives them a threat to have a punchers chance to punch back.

James Harden is the NBA MVP this year

The 2017-2018 season has been a great season with a multitude of players doing some great things on the courts. From Anthony Davis in New Orleans to the Greek freak and his career season, even to LeBron James and his never ending skills. Then there is a special player for Boston, who has been putting up big numbers and shooting 40% from deep.
James Harden laid out the NBA’s 1st 60pt triple-double in it’s history vs Orlando back on 1.30.2018. What he did was beyond something that most would have ever considered a possibility. Hitting 63% from the field and putting the team on his back – along with clutch buckets when his team needed it most. They needed every bit of his massive amounts of production. It was what many would consider an “MVP moment.” That awesome outing vs the Magic seemed to plop Harden, as the favorite for the prestigious award. The award that has gone to players like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Russell Westbrook over the last 5 seasons.
The MVP has found a way to elude Harden twice in the past three seasons. He was 2nd to Stephen Curry in 2015 and yet again to Russell Westbrook last year. And he put together seasons that were certainly worthy of the MVP. The idea of excellence and the definition of the MVP, is of course, purely subjective. Even though the 6-3 Westbrook was the MVP last season with a dismal shooting efficiency, on a sad non-contending team, was last year’s MVP. The 28-year old PG won it last season based on his triple-double gimmick game. When  Westbrook won the MVP in 2016-17, it seemed the standard shifted from best player in the league to just the best entertainer. When things like that happen, you can get the feeling that that winning is no longer relevant. But it should hold some semblance of value, not all of it, but I just cannot see a team that wins only 47 games on the season, having the leagues “Most Valuable Player.”

 

Harden is talented enough to be in the MVP conversation every year. He is an incredible player that more often then not, finds the best way and most efficient route to get his numbers.  As of this article, Harden has gotten a league leading 657 free throw attempts this year, as always, he gets to the line frequently, 5 of the last 6 seasons he has attempted 10 or more/game, which adds greatly to his point total, stops the clock, and gets his team “free points” as he is a very good free throw shooter, at 86%.
Harden has a history of complaining a lot to the refs – and it takes him out his game sometimes. But, if we are being 100% honest, what player doesn’t sell the call in this day and age, whether you like it or not. Harden has been known to embellish contact. If players know he does this, they shouldn’t keep their hands down, defend with their hands up. He is great with crossing the ball over to draw lazy low handed defenders into slapping him on so many shot attempts it’s incredible. Yes, it slows the game down, yes it makes the game boring and can get the team out of rhythm- but as a team, if getting uncontested shots vs contested shots is a bad thing, then call me bad.
Harden has 4793 career free throws vs 4591 field goals made, which is beyond comprehension, as well. As long as the league gives the calls to him, he is going to continue doing his thing.Just because some fans find his style of play distasteful doesn’t mean it isn’t efficient and smart. In an MVP race, it isn’t a beauty contest, and points from the foul line are just as valuable as points from anywhere else on the court.
As every year, we have to mention Lebron James in the MVP race this year. Yes his 27ppg and 9 apg are in the top 5 of the league. But, James still has not been overly dominant this season, and he certainly hasn’t brought the Cavs to the next level, in fact, LeBron doesn’t have the Cavs even to be the favorites in the East. LeBron has had an outstanding career – but he does not deserve to be the MVP conversation this year.
Harden has been more efficient than both LeBron and Curry, leading the Rockets to a far and away better record than the Cavs and a couple of huge wins over Golden State. Harden and Kyrie, in my opinion, should be the frontrunners, but Harden is still the clear choice.
Opponents often have attempted to attack Harden, based on his reputation as a sloppy defender, in hopes of slowing him down offensively, by forcing him to work hard on the defensive end. But this season – Harden is averaging career highs in steals at 1.9 and blocks at 0.7 per game, which leaves most opponents confused as what to do with him.

 

Harden is way ahead of the pack this year. Even if someone is not a big Harden fan, watching him play, verifies that he’s the most valuable player. And when watching Kyrie, Curry, even James, I just don’t feel like any of them quite hold a candle to him. If I am putting together an NBA team, a legit NBA championship contender. And I’ve got the 1st pick, I’m taking James Harden over everyone else. His smooth shot, excellent vision, and basketball smarts make him beyond guardable, and his ability to get to the line whenever he seemingly wants to – brings his team to another level.
Who in their right mind, wouldn’t acknowledge Harden making the Rockets better? He truly is the Houston Rockets. If you were to switch Harden and Curry out,- do you think Golden State would still be anywhere near the top in the West, would the Rockets still be winning like they are? We know the answer.
James Harden is the #1 player in the NBA  this season and my clear selection for the league MVP.