This offseason for Kevin Durant could be Thunderous


The 7 time All-Star, Kevin Durant is going to be a highly sought after free agent this off season when the NBA Playoffs are completed. He made a little under 90 million during his time in Oklahoma City, while scoring 17,000+ points and snagging 4500+ rebounds in his 9 year career. He will also be garnishing a ton of expected attention from many other teams looking for the “final piece”, or “the big draw” to their teams to help them in their quest to become a world champion.

The “Durantula” has been nothing short of outstanding in his excellent career, doing everything he could do in his power to get his team to the next level, including getting them to the NBA Finals in 2011-2012. Where he was outstanding, but attention was drawn away from their truest star, by their shooting PG, Russell Westbrook. He was getting 4 less shots/game compared to his “point guard,” who Durant was shooting much better than, at 54-41%. And Westbrook, at times, took over considerably, with seemingly his own game plan entirely at times. Maybe a change would be in the best interest for Durant, at this point in his career, for the upcoming talented free agent.

Some teams that I feel would be definite landing pads for Durant to have a strong chance at going to in the summer are the Pelicans, the Celtics, the Raptors, or even the Clippers. I am going to break down the team I think would be the best fits for him to go to.

The Raptors should make a heavy push to get Durant. They already have some excellent players in DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and big boy rebounder, Jonas Valanciunas. If they were able to make a move ad get Durant, that could be an insane grab. They have some flexibility and could trade a producing veteran, like DeMarre Carroll or talented youngster, Terrence Ross and even a 1st rounder to get him. I also think they have a very real shot at doing such.

This last year has shown me that the Raptors have finally found a real identity and are going to be a contender for years to come. The East, on the whole, is a weaker conference, and the Raptors can make a very real run for the tittle, with a serous move like that.

Another team, I think would be a great fit would be the Boston Celtics. They would already have a fantastic supporting cast that would accommodate his style of play, and he’d at last have a good coach in Brad Stevens. If the C’s could land him, they would be the “Beast of the East” for several years down the road, that is a guarantee.

They have the complete package for him to join. They have a backcourt with Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, both who can score and both are not afraid to give up the ball when they are instructed to do so. They have a lock down defending guard, as well in Bradley, and an underrated shooter, and defender, in Jae Crowder. By adding Durant they get the explosive “superstar” that has the very real capabilities to drop 40-45 on any hot night. And on top of that, Boston has the cap space to make the moves necessary with over 50 million to spend. As well as they have a talented bench which is possibly one of the best in the NBA. If there is a Coach who can satisfy the needs of a Durant, Stevens is just that.

Cleveland is currently the only real contender in the Eastern Conference. They have packaged the team to beat across the board, for now, to make other teams very concerned when they come to their doorstep. They have beaten the Celtics, and the Raptors, 8-5 combined in their last 2 seasons’ matchups. With LeBron James, Kyrie and KLove they have a power squad every night. This is a pretty common agreement amongst the majority of fans. KD to Boston would definitely put them over the top. And Coach Stevens would coach circles around Tyronn Lue.

Beyond it simply being a great fit, system wise, the history in Boston is very rich and the fan support is top notch. He could ask legends, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen, when they went to Beantown. Durant could really build himself a mighty legacy and become immortalized as a Boston legend, to stand next to the other greats.

Things to consider, if Durant goes to a team, like the Clippers, I question if everyone will jump on him for it, just like they did with Lebron and when he went to the Heat. Taking off to a team that is already very good ( a top 2 finish in their division every year since 2011-2012 and 5 straight playoff appearance in the last 5 seasons )and make them just that much better, is often frowned upon in any sport, basketball in particular. Because it has been happening so much lately. Basketball is dictated by the players now, not by the teams themselves. It’s unfortunate, the times have changed. Loyalty to a team is only and oftentimes only as loyal as the dollar they put in your pocket, or the players you can join up with. Players in this generation simply don’t have the killer instinct to stick with a team, through thick and thin, defeating everyone in their path anymore, we have “witnessed it” before.

And it wold be essentially the same exact thing that LeBron did. Just that Durant would be leaving a much better supporting cast in Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. LeBron was dragged through the mud for leaving a team with Sebastian Telfair, Delonte West and Anthony Parker, and still got them through 5 Eastern conference semis, 2 Eastern conference finals, and a Championship game while carrying that well below average team, on his shoulders. So I really hope if he goes to a power contender, that his name is brought up in the same path as LeBron. Otherwise, it is bluntly biased and uncalled for.

Although, I feel the main reason LeBron has been hated so much for going to Miami, was the way he approached it. The outlandish TV special was just beyond ridiculous. Not condoning the idiocy of it, but I am sure if he had the chance to get a “do over” he would do it very differently. I think he was a young guy, with bad advice and counsel, and he has apologized for the renowned debacle numerous times.

Wherever Durant decides to go, if he leaves, he will make them for the better. I am hoping he goes to a team that is on the brink, like the Celtics, a place where he is gong to bring them to the next step. If the C’s could lure him to Boston they will win another NBA Championship, and could build another dynasty for the next 5+ years. Rumors also have the NY Knicks and Miami Heat very interested.

Written by Tony Karpinski of

Tracy McGrady and the Spurs

How much will Tracy McGrady impact the Spurs for the playoffs, if at all? The Spurs picked up the 33 year old Tracy McGrady bringing him to a team that has been punctured with injuries. He will give them depth and experience on the team.

Make no mistake about it; McGrady has had a very good career, with averages of 20 pts, 6 boards and 4 assists in 15 seasons. And he yet individually plays better in the playoffs, at 25 pts, 6 boards, and 6 assists, but his playoff record has never been good, his teams have never done much.

He has gone through a surplus of teams in his career, bouncing around and playing for the Raptors, Magic, Rockets, Knicks, Pistons, and Hawks. Obviously he was mainly successful when he played for Orlando, where he averaged 28 in his career there. Coming off his worst season for Atlanta in 2012, scoring 5/game, he fell off into the Chinese basketball league, where he was averaging 25 pts and 7 rbs. The guys he was playing in China certainly cannot compare to the athletic capacity the NBA owns in its amazing cache.

They obviously picked up T-Mac to help them in their injured areas they are dealing with. How much is he really going to help the Spurs? How much more is left in the tank on this guy? Teams keep trying to pick him up economically and roll the dice, hoping they can get a touch of what he used to be, back 5-6 years ago. But we are still talking about a guy who has averaged only 7 ppg over the last 3 seasons in the NBA. Do they feel he has a game or 2 where he can drop 25 off the bench?

He has had some really first-class playoff games in his career, with 42 pts, 8 rbs, and 10 asts vs the Bucks in 2001, and 37, 8, and 7 vs Dallas in 2005. But that was a long time ago. How far behind are those days of T-Mac? At 33, he is certainly on the back 9 of his career, along with all the injuries that beat him. And he has always been considered a fragile player, always will be under the “what if umbrella.”

As a back up, he is still a guy who could get another 2-3 years, and get a team 8-10 a night. Look at Ray Allen at 37 and what he is doing. Let alone, Paul Pierce at 35, still putting up 19 & 6 for the Celts. When Tracy was playing for the Hawks, he was only playing 16 minutes/game. How much time do the Spurs plan on playing him, I would expect around 15-20 minutes. As long as his soft shot hasn’t left him, he can make a team pay if they leave him open, or him splicing off screens.

The Spurs are losing momentum rapidly, and are spiraling. Tony Parker being not 100% is an enormous blister against them; I just don’t see the Spurs seeing a long run in the playoffs. Any team that plays them now, I think feel they have an advantage over them, no matter how team oriented the Spurs are.

The Spurs who rank 5th shooting the deep ball, they can put McGrady as a spot up deep ball shooter, McGrady, for his career is a sturdy shooter from long range. He could fit in well, in their scheme.

I do think this is going to be a rough ride for the Spurs though. I think the Spurs did the best thing they could do with what they were forced to deal with. With a potential 1st round out, it wouldn’t shock me by any means. They don’t match up well vs some of these younger, faster teams.

It’s easy to forget how good T-Mac was, 10 years ago, when you see him now, only a ghost of his former self, when he was a real big time baller, scoring 28/game. I hope McGrady does well, but I think that the belief may have assembly.

Written by Mike Anthony of

Defense and Totals in the NBA Playoffs

by Jim Feist of

The NBA playoffs are rolling
along, which is a good time to revisit an old sports adage: Defense wins
championships. Some teams are already in that playoff mode while fighting for
positioning, with the Grizzlies on a 42-19 run under the total playing on one
day’s rest. Even an attacking offensive team like the Oklahoma City Thunder
ended the regular season on a 10-3-2 run under the total, priming that defense
for another long postseason run.

Look at some recent Super Bowl winners.
It was defense that topped offense in January, with the high flying offenses of
the Patriots and Falcons losing the Conference Championship games at home to
defensive-oriented Ravens and 49ers. The Patriots lost twice to the Giants with
the New York defense stepping up and taking charge, holding the Pats explosive,
no-huddle attack to 14 and 17 points. You might not remember, but QB Peyton
Manning didn’t have a stellar postseason seven years ago when he won his only
Super Bowl, with 3 TDs and 7 INTs. The real story for the Colts’ run to the
title was their improved defense, especially against the run, that allowed 14
ppg to opposing offenses in the postseason.

Who was the better defensive
team in last year’s NBA Finals? Miami ranked fourth in the NBA in points allowed
and 5th in field goal shooting defense, while favored Oklahoma City ranked 17th
in points allowed. The better defensive team won four in a row after dropping
the opener.

Two years ago two of the best defensive teams in the league
met as the Mavericks upset the Heat in six games. Three years ago Lakers and
Celtics dueled in a defensive series and in 2009 the Lakers held a high scoring
Orlando team to 75, 96 (in overtime), 91 and 86 points in four wins.

Michael Jordan may have been best known for his offense, but it was the
team’s defense from 1996-98 that netted the Chicago Bulls three straight titles.
The same was true for the Lakers during their recent run. Let’s look at Jordan’s
Bulls. When Jordan won his last championship in 1998, the Bulls were a great
defensive team and notice that Chicago went 13-6-1 in games “under” the total
during the 1998 playoffs. In 2003, the Spurs went 15-8-1 “under” the total on
their way to winning the title.

Coaches are a big part of this. Memphis
Head Coach Lionel Hollins prefers a slow, defensive-style despite a lot of
young, athletic talent. Indiana Coach Frank Vogel has gotten his team to play
choking defense, tops in the NBA in field goal shooting defense and second in
points allowed.

What led the Miami Heat to the NBA title in 2006? Dwyane
Wade and defense! The Heat went 10-2 under the total their final 12 playoff
games, which concluded with their four-game winning streak over Dallas in the
Finals. They were coached by Pat Riley, who understood how important defense and
rebounding are.

Six years ago in the Finals, the Spurs swept by holding
the Cavaliers to 76, 92, 72 and 82 points. Three of the four games went under
the total. The Cavaliers averaged 80 ppg in the Finals, 16 points below their
regular season average. One thing that happens is that strong defensive teams
play as hard as they can defensively during the regular season a lot of the
time, but not always.

Sometimes games are blowouts and teams will coast
on defense or have fun trying to score in the fourth quarter, rather than work
hard playing defense (which isn’t noticed as much by the fans as is a flashy
offensive play). This is human nature, as it’s an 82-game regular season, so
it’s difficult and tiring to play all out on defense for six months.

Once the playoffs roll around, however, it’s a different story, as there
are fewer one-sided games and opportunities to coast. Since the postseason is so
short and every game means something, it’s more likely teams will go all out on
defense. In fact, defense has a tendency to get better as the playoffs go along
because the games mean more the closer you approach the Finals.

The last
eight seasons, the “under” is 91-79 combined in the Eastern/Western Conference
Finals and the NBA Finals. Remember that in five of six recent seasons the
offensive-minded Suns were knocked out by the Spurs and Mavericks and Miami ran
defensive-circles around the Thunder in the Finals. Chalk up more triumphs for
defense over offense!