​Why LeBron James Should Be In the Conversation As One Of the Greatest Basketball Players Of Our Lifetime


By: Opinionated Reezy




Let me begin with a disclaimer saying this is not, let me repeat, NOT an Anti-Jordan, Anti-Kobe, Anti-Anyone blog, rant, etc. It is a pro Lebron post and once you read till the end, I hope you will at least agree that Lebron James should be in the conversation as one of the greatest Basketball Player of our lifetime.
Let’s first get the stats out of the way. In this case, we will compare the stats for Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron James.

Michael Jordan

1072 Games  30ppg  6.2rpg  5.3apg  49.7%fg  32.7%fg3  83.5%ft  50.9%efg  27.9 PER  214 Win Shares

6x NBA Champ, 11x All-NBA, 3x AS MVP, 5x MVP, 6x Finals MVP, 9x All-Defensive


Kobe Bryant

1346 Games  25ppg  5.2rpg  4.7apg  44.7%fg  32.9%fg3  83.7%ft  48.2efg  22.9 PER  172.7 Win Shares

5x NBA Champ, 15x All-NBA, 4x AS MVP, 1x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 12x All-Defensive


LeBron James

998 Games  27.1ppg  7.2rpg  6.9apg  49.8%fg  34.0%fg3  74.4%ft  53.2%efg  27.6 PER  194.4 Win Shares

3x NBA Champ, 12x All-NBA, 2x AS MVP, 4x MVP, 3x Finals MVP, 6x All-Defensive




LeBron James has a PER on par with Michael Jordan while exceeding in rebounding and assist averages. His scoring is down, but in favor of his assist averages. One thing to keep in mind is that he is still going so I imagine his scoring numbers may drop slightly, but only because his rebounding and assist numbers are increasing. Yes, I am predicting that in the game, LeBron will be changing his style of play once again to increase his longevity, but to also make him even more of a threat on the court. This is not the only reason I am saying he is one of greats, so let’s dig in.

For starters, LeBron James is in great company with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, as it is common place to hate greatness in the moment. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James have each had their fair share of criticism during their rise to greatness. I for one participated in some of it as we all did. Some of the comments were:

Prima Donna

Ball Hog

Can’t be touched without the refs fouling

Over rated

Can’t win without…..

Every time this happened the players shouldered through and proved the doubters wrong. They showed how great they were. LeBron is doing that very thing now and the haters are waiting for him to fail. He will need to embrace becoming the villain in order to completely shoulder through.

Second, LeBron James came into the league in 2004, 7 years after Kobe and 20 after Michael Jordan. LeBron had the blueprint of what to do and what not to do by watching the trailblazers before him light the world on fire, on the court. LeBron is great because he is a student of the game and would have patterned himself after greatness. He also had the ability to watch Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and others whom he would adapt his style of play to. We all know his Basketball IQ is off the charts and because of that he would already have his body prepared to counteract the “Jordan Rules”, he would know at a certain point he would have to adjust his weight like Kobe to make his body respond better, and that he would need to have a consistent team around him like Magic and Bird had. Remember, when LeBron James entered the league from High School the highlight of his game was not his scoring, it was his court vision and passing. His first commercial for Nike had nothing to do with him scoring, but him assisting. The NBA (more so the Cavaliers) forced him to play more like Kobe and MJ. He is not playing as he intended to, more like Magic Johnson.

Third, despite all that was mentioned above you still have to play the game and having all the raw potential won’t prepare you for the actual rigors of an NBA Season and seasoned talent that is there. It took Michael Jordan seven seasons to get to the NBA Finals. Those prior years he was losing and learning, getting better, but more importantly, so was his team. His major benefit, even to his admission, was that he was playing in an ultra-aggressive conference at the time. Once he got there he couldn’t be stopped and it was a sight to see. Kobe Bryant took three seasons to get there and he benefitted two ways. The first was having Shaq who went through hard knock life lessons of playoff basketball in the East and the second was learning in a now ultra-talented western conference that was tired of losing to Michael Jordan and adapted to beat him even though he was gone.

Lebron James had to take his lumps as well. Prior to his time in the NBA he hadn’t really lost or experienced what that felt like. Yes it took him four seasons to get to the NBA Finals and he did that with a team comprised of Boobie Gibson, Mo Williams, Drew Gooden, and Donyell Marshall. Additionally, LeBron was playing in a decimated eastern conference after the void of Jordan’s absence and the NBA’s obsession with finding the heir apparent. LeBron James finally has a team that would be considered on par with what Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had (yes, I am including the Miami years) in terms of consistency and overall synergy. This is not to make excuses for LeBron, but I don’t want to frown on success either.  We love posting memes about Jordan failing X number of times and coming back without realizing that LeBron needs to fail to get better. What is unfortunate for him is that failure only seems to occur when the title is on the line.

Fourth, is the future! LeBron just broke the top ten in career scoring and can easily get to sixth place based on his current trajectory. What is equally fascinating is that he is eighteenth in career assists and is a little over 1000 away from cracking the top ten. With his current trajectory, he is on par to hit that in two seasons. Once that occurs he will be the first player in NBA History to be in the top 10 of both offensive categories (scoring and assists).

There is no denying that Michael Jordan is the best and I believe that his overall contributions to the game would make him a great candidate to replace Jerry West as the logo; however, we should never be afraid to see someone else rise to greatness. If we did that we would still be heralding Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics as the greatest ever and there are a multitude of reasons why that is simply not true. There will come a time when a player will perform on the court and will rightfully be considered the greatest ever. When that happens, we should look at more than just the number of championships they have. We should look at the moments, battles, the moments within a season, all of it. It is for all of that I would say LeBron James deserves to remain in the conversation as one of the greatest players of our lifetime.

​Should Players Sit Out Games To Rest During the NBA Season?

By: Opinionated Reezy




One of the lessons from the Greg Popovich era of coaching is resting his key players during the season to rest them.  Coming from the Bad Boys Pistons era basketball this is a foreign concept; however, I must admit there are some strategic elements to it.  We are going to take a look at should players sit out games due to rest during the NBA Season.


How are NBA Seasons constructed?

Per ESPN the 82-game season started in 1967 to allow a team in the 12-team league to play conference rivals eight times and inter-conference foes seven times.  As the league expanded the number maintained and adjusted accordingly.  Additionally, 82 was chosen primarily to balance revenue and player salaries and secondary was the wear and tear on the athlete’s body.  In short, we have an 82-game season today because we have one in the past.  Dissecting the question of whether players should sit out games due to rest during the NBA Season is to first answer if an 82-game season is too much?  I believe it is.

What is the goal of a Team in the NBA?

The goal the NBA is to provide the best service and entertainment for their stakeholders, which would be the fans, media, and sponsors, not necessarily in that order.  The owners get a share of the revenue from media and sponsors, but that is not the only way they make the bulk of their money.

NBA Owners have their own subset of stakeholders, which would include Season Ticket owners, who buy into the direction of the team sight unseen so to speak, the actual players, the city, and sponsors.  Therefore, their goal mirrors that of the NBA, but they also want to win a championship for their city as fans want to see winning teams and will more than likely become season ticket holders if there is a pattern of success.

So, should a coach make decisions that would net a more favorable outcome to the end of the season?  Yes, they should.

To rest or not to rest

For the right reasons or result, I believe it is feasible that a coach would sit someone out due to rest.  Some of these reasons can be considered selfish, but again intended for the right purpose:

1. Preparation for the Off Season:

 You are already in position to be in the playoffs and the final games truly don’t have an impact on your position or seating, why over extend your star players?  This is a great time to limit their minutes or rest them and allow the seldom used talent to get in their rhythm.

2. Preparing for potential conference rivals:

 I know this is a weird one, but having your star players in the game can mask potential weaknesses in your team.  By resting them you can expose those weaknesses and between prepare your team for potential matchups once you get to the post season.

3. Protect players from injury:

  The NBA is a different game than it was years ago, and a body can suffer from wear and tear easier.  We notice the major injuries but not the minor aches and pains that can impact the game.  Successful teams go through all 82 games and some degree of a post season.  Resting players, especially older players, becomes smart to keep those players at optimal condition longer.

4. During an away game against a team of no consequence:

  Yep, selfish, but should the Golden State Warriors risk Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, or Kevin Durant against the Dallas Mavericks this year during an away game?  Maybe, but not always.  Sit one of them.  There will be people saying that the fans pay to see them play.  While I get that, the home fans of Golden State matter more than the away fans of Golden State in this example.  If resting the players for a few games means you get more out of them when they get to the playoffs, I would make that move in a heartbeat and ask for forgiveness during the championship parade.

The Kobe Kids and How Kobe Made Them Better

 

 

 

By: Opinionated MJ

 

Who would’ve thought? An Article about Kobe making his teammates better. Although, yes, he’s retired. He’s no longer a member of the Lakers roster. He’s no longer in the locker room. He’s no longer giving anyone the infamous death stare. He’s no longer just jacking up jumpshots with a focus on increasing his total points number to etch himself in the top 5 of scoring for years to come. He’s no longer handing down his criticisms and showing no emotion when the kids are excited and jumping around. He was like a father to these Lakers for a couple seasons and it paid dividends.

 

I read an article and seen video from NBA analysts that explained how the whole Kobe rebuild experiment worked. Let Kobe shoot away, increase the chance for lottery picks, and develop the young players while he is still there. Let that Mamba Mentality rub off and let’s see how they perform once he’s gone and they are unleashed. Here we are now. Luke Walton brought the championship culture from being a member of the Golden State Warriors coaching staff. He also brought championship experience, playing experience, and even having been apart of a Phil Jackson team (if that matters), allows him to relate and give great advice to the young Lakers. Maybe his coaching last year while Kerr was out wasn’t a fluke. This offense is nearly identical to the offense run in Golden State. Just different players who share similarities with those on the Warriors.

 

Back to Kobe. They say he was never able to make his teammates better. In theory, this is true. He didn’t set them up well unless he wanted to, he didn’t increase their numbers, blah, blah, so on, so on. He made Lamar Odom better, he made Andrew Bynum play to his potential, he made Gasol tough as a Laker, he made Shaq step his game up and compete with him as well in the past. Isn’t that making your teammates better? Fast forward. He jacked up shots but led by example. Having a killer instinct that is all over these Lakers now, right now. He left them with a sense of freedom now to play their game and know that execution is everything. He didn’t have to have gaudy assist numbers, he didn’t flirt with triple-doubles every night, he didn’t shoot lights out from 3, he didn’t shoot beautiful floaters over big men constantly, and he wasn’t the one to shy away from the blame, from the final shot, from being hated. He wasn’t even appreciated until he declared retirement. Yet, he still found a way to improve the young Laker kids and help propel them to this surprising start to the 2016-17 NBA season.

 

If you look at the holdovers from the past couple of seasons, those are the players affected the most. Julius Randle, Nick Young, and Jordan Clarkson are those affected the most. They have come out and been surprising individually while also playing well within Walton’s team concept. They defeated the Warriors handily. They had a major comeback against the Sacramento Kings. They’ve also competed in every game this season. They’ve been highly competitive. Which wasn’t expected at all. Everyone expected another lottery season. Why has no one expected this team would rise like last year’s Utah Jazz? Maybe everyone had higher expectations on the Minnesota Timberwolves. They have saavy veterans who will help with the growth of the Kobe Kids in Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, and Lou Williams. They have consistency with their offense now that they have a coach that won’t limit them and not use their strengths, sorry Byron Scott. They can now spread their wings, and the ball, now that Kobe is gone. What he left behind was will. Will. Something that can carry you when the odds are against you. He left behind professionalism. A way to carry yourself from game to game, media conference to media conference, practice, and games. He left behind Mamba Mentality. I’m sure you Cleveland Cavs and Kyrie Irving fans know about that. Even he gave Kobe praise. Kobe taught the young Lakers, and others, to push the button and not care if the shot falls or bricks. He taught them to go for it. Leave it all on the floor and deal with the success and/or ramifications later. He taught them how to be leaders and how to translate that to the basketball floor. He left his imprint on this current Lakers team. It’s up to you to see it. If you were never a Kobe fan and didn’t watch him from day 1 up to now, you wouldn’t understand what he left behind and how he affected these Lakers. They’re exceeding expectations. Russell Westbrook can set his teammates up from drives, LeBron as well on drives and from the post, Steph sets his teammates up from 40 feet away by being a threat to shoot anywhere and simply find an open man or angle, but if you take them away from their teams they will surely lose their way and won’t play the same. The difference is, Kobe improves you individually and that will trickle down and around every which way. The proof is in these Lakers. Watch, enjoy, and remember how they became this way. Imagine if Ingram had a season alongside Kobe.

 

I predict they’ll win 30+ games this season. I won’t be surprised if they make a big move and land a star either now or in the upcoming offseason that will put them over the top. It’ll be fun to watch them rise in the west again. It is much more wide open this year from 4 thru 8. Let’s see if they can land a playoff berth and make some noise.

Thru Their First ​Five Games… Which Team Do You Think Is Better?  Is There a Better?


By: Opinionated Reezy



At the time of this writing,we are five games into the NBA and so far the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are picking up where they left off.  They both are number 1 in their respective conferences and they are winning games pretty decisively.  That being said there are elements to take note of when trying to determine which team is doing better.

So let’s first look at the overall numbers

Cleveland Cavaliers

Total Pts: 572

Effective FG% 54%

Total Turnovers 61

PPG 114.4 2nd in NBA

OPPG 104.0 15th in NBA
Golden State Warriors

Total Pts: 577

Effective FG% 55%

Total Turnovers 78

PPG 115.4 1st in NBA

OPPG 108.6 22nd in NBA

Source: http://www.basketball-reference.com



Note: The effective field goal statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3pt field goal is worth one more point than a 2pt field goal

Despite how you may feel about the roster and who has the edge, the math tells you that both teams are closer to equal than you may think.  Now there are many who will say that Golden State still has the edge because they are in the west and the one loss may suggest that as being accurate, but let’s look at the numbers again to justify that.  Remember that we are five games in so all teams are 95 – 98% healthy, there is only one basketball, and all records are set to 0 – 0 at the beginning of the season.

Cavaliers Opponents Record PPG Effective FG%

NY Knicks 1 – 3 96.8 48%

TOR Raptors 3 – 1 104.5 50%

ORL Magic 2 – 3 96.4 46%

HOU Rockets 3 – 2 110.2 55%

BOS Celtics 3 – 2 110.8 56%




Warriors Opponents Record PPG Effective FG%

SA Spurs 4 – 1 105.2 50%

NO Pelicans 0 – 5 98.2 45%

PHX Suns 1 – 4 104.0 46%

POR Trailblazers 2 – 3 110.6 51%

OKC Thunder 4 – 1 102.0 46%

Source: http://www.basketball-reference.com



Again with minor differences on both sides, the opponents have been fairly similar in their respective output.  I cannot in good conscious place an edge on any team without being biased so for the purpose of this article let us place emotion aside and say we are looking at two teams who are literally two sides of the same coin.  This means when they meet up, we have to consider the strengths and weaknesses.   Here are some observations on where both teams lie.

Golden State Warriors

Strength – 

Offensive Power house:  Golden State has the ability to shoot from anywhere, with a starting lining capable of holding that effort from anywhere.  They are fast break nightmares because they can stop and pull up on you from virtually anywhere.

Kevin Durant: With an effective FG% of 64%, Kevin Durant will shoot the lights out on you.  He is balling without regard for anything and that makes him dangerous.

The Splash Brothers:  They are still there and they are angry.  Not good for teams in their path.  Kevin Durant creates the perfect smoke screen for them too.  They don’t need to be the scoring leaders, just provide the mental haymakers to teams who think they are going on a run.

Weakness – 

Defense:  The Cavaliers aren’t fairing that much better in Opponents Points per game, but where the points can be scored makes all the difference in the game of momentum.  Slashers have the ability to have a field day with Golden State as their defense stoppers aren’t as effective in keeping guys out of the middle.  A key component in the warrior’s loss was the lack of Andrew Bogut in games 6 and 7.  The loss to the Spurs came in part because Kawhi Leonard had a field day from inside.  Momentum…

Ball Movement:  Surprised, don’t be.   Golden State is top heavy from the points perspective.  It is their main strength, but when the ball doesn’t move, defenses can disrupt things.  This is becoming evident with Golden State.  Currently Draymond Green is the leader in assists with 7.2 per game, but the funny thing with assists is that it represents two things, a pass to the open player and that player successfully executing on that play.  Despite how easy Golden State makes the three ball, it is still a low percentage attempt (generally speaking) and if they get sloppy, those can become easy 2’s on the other end.

The Bench: Doesn’t mean anything now, but can and will mean a whole lot as the season progresses.  Golden State lost and as a result they depleted their scoring power on the Bench to a degree.  Now, they have to rework them into the rotation.  Running a team to the brink has its pros and cons and if the bench can’t fill the void when needed it can pose to be an issue.  We have seen great teams fall due to lack of a bench.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Strength –

Lebron James:  At the moment, Lebron is averaging a near triple double and solidified his role as being the facilitator with 22 10 and 9.  That is scary because he is forcing the cavaliers to be a cutting team and to always be ready for the ball.  He is also trying to reduce the number of minutes he is on the floor to prepare for the off season.  Lebron is ultimately playing a Magic Johnson type game right now, which is what he should been doing for a while.

Defense:  When looking at the activity around the basket there are three players dominating the rebounds, Lebron James (9), Kevin Love (8), Tristan Thompson (10). Rebounds lead to second chance attempts or potential fast breaks, and represents that the lane is clogged.  Now, this means very little if you shoot from 15 ft and out like Golden State prefers to do, but you at least cut off options to score in General and you increase the chances against softer interior teams of recovering the ball.

No Pressure:  The Cavaliers brought a title to the city of Cleveland and made millions happy.  Lebron did what he set out to do 13 years ago.  Now the team can truly have fun.  Their goal, not matter how they get there is to get back into the playoff race and secure home court for as many rounds as possible.

Weakness – 

Lebron James:  How is this possible you ask?  Currently, the Cavaliers go as Lebron goes.  Now, it may be appropriate to say that the weakness is Kyrie, but not true.  Lebron moves the ball and is the better facilitator.  If something happens to him the Cavaliers have a greater chance at nose diving than Golden State would if something happens to Kevin Durant or any of their starting five.  If the CAV’s can find another facilitator then things are ok, but if not… watch out.

Bench:  Better than Golden State, but not necessarily good for the duration.  There are glimmers of hope in Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert, but you will need more for the long haul.  With minor exception, the bench is relatively the same so it should make for easier inclusion into the system, but they cannot slouch.

Ball Movement:  Yup, equal opportunity here.  The Cavaliers are unstoppable when the ball is moving because they will make the defense work, but when the ball stops, they go from being Hulk to Bruce Banner almost instantly.  Golden State can flirt with the hero ball because of who they have on the roster, but not the Cavaliers.  If they want to win, they need to learn to keep that ball moving and keep defenses on a swivel.

At the end of the day, emotions will place you in any bucket in terms of you believe has the edge; however, I suggest we all buckle up for an exciting NBA Season because the numbers say that the unstoppable force is gearing up to meet the immovable object.

ViLLaiNy

By: Opinionated MJ



Villainy. 

Hated by Cavs fans around the world. They won’t stop trolling the Warriors at every turn although they won the championship coming back from a 3-1 deficit. They want to believe that LeBron is why Kevin Durant went to Golden State when truthfully, that process started in the FIBA games from two summers ago, before Durant withdrew. If you ask Andre Iguodala, it was when he played with Durant and also developed a relationship. Sounds like the formula that made a big 3 in Miami. 2 attractions relocating though. Durant is alone in this one.

Villainy.

Stephen Curry. Baby faced assassin. Family man. Son of a baller. Riley Curry. God fearing. Not big enough to survive the NBA.

Klay Thompson. Smooth criminal. Ladies man. Silent threat. Plays well on both ends. Almost traded for Kevin Love.

Draymond Green. Heart of the team. Good defender. Good facilitator. Loud mouth irritation for the opposition. Risen from doubt. Doubtful he will adjust well to the NBA.

All drafted by the Warriors.

Villainy.

Winning the 2014-15 Championship while being called too young. Too inexperienced. Too lucky. Helped by injuries to all important guards in the playoffs other than Steph himself. Landed a championship over a depleted Cleveland Cavaliers team that required LeBron to play a bit different and to much praise. No criticism against him becoming a volume shooter in order to attempt to carry this team to a championship. I seen percentages I’ve never seen from LeBron. Only from the likes of Russell Westbrook, Kobe, and Iverson. They have always walked the volume path and get verbally shredded.

Villainy.

James Harden being voted MVP by the players but not the official MVP. Peers didn’t like, don’t like Stephen Curry. Many fans disliking the Warriors winning, following up their accomplishments by telling them, “it was a fluke.” Warriors reacting in incredible rage to the naysayers by having a 73 win season that no one wanted them to achieve. First ever Unanimous MVP in Stephen Curry.

Villainy.

Stephen Curry injuring himself in the first round of the playoffs. The initial injury actually occurred mid-season. Forgotten. It would serve as a detriment going forward. Draymond Green doing Bruce Lee kicks (LOL) in order to contain his opposition and maintain an intimidation factor. Klay Thompson rising to the occasion to save their season by exploding. Going to the finals again against LeBron James, carrying a beautiful 2-6 finals record. 2-1 if you ask die-hard LeBron fans. I call them “god-LeBron” fans. They don’t count the Spurs sweep, the second Spurs beatdown cause Mr. Wade wasn’t 100%, or the Warriors loss because Kyrie and Kevin were out.

Villainy.

Arrive to the finals. Steph limited by injury. Draymond getting suspended for being stepped over like he’s not there inciting everyone to think he punched LeBron in his lower extremities. Watch the tape again. LeBron request, suspension granted. Bogut stopping LeBron at the rim, injured. Iguodala able to defend LeBron well, limited by back injury suffered in game 6. A low IQ exhibition of decision making by Ezeli and Varejao. The greatest block ever by LeBron? His fans say so. Also, maybe not enough changes by Kerr? Why should you bail on your gameplan? Stay the course. Give up a huge 3-1 lead. Should’ve won the series. Lost 4-3. Failure. Congrats to LeBron for his ring for Cleveland!

Villainy.

When Steph Curry received MVP, LeBron dismissed that Steph was MVP. Wanted to redefine what MVP and best player is. Only to Steph though. No prior MVP award winners. Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Kobe.

Villainy.

Successfully defeating the team that holds the best regular season record. Wearing an Ultimate Warrior shirt in celebration. Claiming the “high road” during the war. Now trolling with the internet trolls with a 3-1 lead drum (beating) subliminal setup. Funny indeed. Tombstone cookies for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Uncharacteristic of LeBron, from my perspective. High road? Fun times. Gloating about a team that didn’t gloat about beating you the year prior. Maybe they did. Maybe I missed it. Definitely no trolling.

Villainy.

The worst loss possibly ever converted into the best free agency win possibly ever by landing Kevin Durant to play alongside your drafted stars. Durant had to leave OKC behind for this. Leave Russell Westbrook behind for this. Joining the team he lost to, that lost too. Especially after nearly handing them defeat one series earlier. Ring chasing with the best team that didn’t win the championship. Why not? Being trolled by fans for his decision.

Villainy.

Steph being told he choked. They forgot he was injured. They said don’t complain but complained while they were missing their stars. Double edged sword. New season upon us. Narrative this year is that the Warriors are villains. How they arrived here was by pure hard work and dedication coupled with a few mistakes and bumps. 1-1 in the last 2 finals over the last 2 years. Chosen as the favorite at season’s beginning. I don’t think the favorite should be anyone but a champion unless catastrophic changes took place.

Villainy.

Cleveland vs Golden State III predicted by oddsmakers and analysts all over.

Villainy.

I don’t think the Warriors represent villainy. 1 Championship in 2 tries, 3 all stars, 2 MVP’s awarded, Coach of the year, 73 win team coming off a championship run… 

Villainy.

Sounds more like success. More like victory. This time with a chance of redemption amidst a bloody sea of hatred.

Villainy.