Tag Archives: 2017-18 NBA Season

NBA Outlook: One Month In

By: Opinionated MJ

Well well, how the mighty have stumbled. Both the Warriors and Cavs came out of the gate stumbling over their own feet. We just seen LeBron have to drop 57 in a performance that exhibited his paint domination, especially when you don’t have a rim protector. You need that to beat LeBron. We’ve seen the Warriors lose to teams that are truly suiting up to take their best shot at them. They didn’t get it together until they played the Spurs this week. We’re about 4 weeks in.

The surprises of the first month to me are the Clippers, Magic, Celtics, Pistons, and Grizzlies. They’ve all come out and have tried to set a tone for the beginning of the season that they can only build upon. No one expected the Grizzlies to be putting on such a strong start. Especially out west. The Pistons sat atop the east for a second, so did the Magic. Extra shocking indeed. The Clippers have shown what their new culture is since they’ve moved on past being “Lob City”. They seem to be more about ball movement and defense all while playing through Blake Griffin. Lastly, who would’ve thought that the Celtics would’ve endured the loss they suffered in the first game to Gordon Hayward? They’ve run off on a win streak, including a huge comeback against the OKC Thunder. Their youth along with Kyrie Irving and a surprising start from Al Horford have carried them along.

My early picks for MVP are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Russell Westbrook. Giannis is leading by far with me giving the other nod to Russell because of his willingness to incorporate his teammates while still very closely averaging a triple-double, again! Giannis came out the gate like a man on a mission. Maybe Kobe challenging him to become MVP has given him a straight path in the focus department. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s in the east and because of it he can surely attain this feat if he continues this trend. He’s got to land his team in the top 2 seeds out east and top 5 in the NBA and he’ll receive my vote.

My early vote for Rookie of the Year is Ben Simmons with Jayson Tatum following behind him in second. I’ve got Kyle Kuzma as my sleeper. He’s sneaky good and even reminds me of Kobe sometimes. Guess it just cause he’s a Laker. It’ll be interesting to see what November will bring us. October was a bad month. Numerous injuries, bad starts to strong teams, and slow beginnings to some big name rookies.

My pick for Most Improved Player is clearly Kristaps Porzingis. No argument at this time.

I’ll provide more insight on these topics and more in the next podcast. Be on the lookout for that.

Hello November! Don’t forget to set your clocks back!

ViLLaiNy ii

By: Opinionated MJ

ViLLaiNy ii

Villainy

You gave your all to an organization who didn’t bring in any real talent during the time you were alone. You had a losing record and faced multiple injuries during this time. You were on the up and up, improving the team and having an improving record as each season passed. You thought that you were the man. Apparently everybody was too busy hoping for the hometown kid to come home. Although you won an All Star MVP award and was considered one of the best scorers of our game, you simply weren’t enough in the eyes of many.

Villainy

You think that you’re about to be able to recruit. You’ve been given the keys by management and the build upon the 30+ win season begins. It is the East right? Everyone’s wondering will you sign. You finally decide that you will. Then someone who believes you’re a better 2 guard at this point than the man they’re leaving behind decides to come back home. All the acclaim you’ve built up. The style of play you’re accustomed to? Gone in a split second the moment the hometown kid came back home from school, early. He already achieved greatness. In my eyes, he seen you as someone he could use to help him propel his town to it’s very first championship. It’s on!

Villainy

You’ve inherited the best player in the game and now he expects everyone to listen, learn, and follow suit. Some of you are still used to your style. Some were confused as to why the draft pick was traded that would’ve improved team defense and been someone who would’ve developed under two great players. The tweets begin when the team runs into friction. The ability to just take a back seat, sure. Why not? He did win without you? Right? HE needs you NOW! Fit in!

Villainy

You show that you have what it takes to help him get over the hump against all the little challenges of the East. Skating to the finals like it’s a roadmap you’ve always known. You just didn’t have the team around you to do it. Round 1, round 2, round 3, and you’re down. He’s alone and he fights his hardest but comes up short. Everybody needs somebody. They thought you would be a great defender on the Golden Boy. They thought that your handle, your skill, and your ability to shoot, close, and simply get to the rim would’ve been enough without another piece that went down in Round 1. They were wrong. You were needed now more than even because the rest simply wasn’t enough to get it done with the best in the game right now. The King.

Villainy

You’re back. You’re in the same position as last year. You take a couple hits first, land one, and then get a haymaker. You look down and out but then there’s some scuffling. It opens the door a bit. The light is out. You score in barrages. Contested, uncontested, demolishing defenders trying to make a name for yourself in this capacity. Your first full Finals visit. You’re in control of the ball, Robin, the #2, the one who can’t do it alone! You’re the one to carry us to the promised “Land”. We never knew you were capable of this? Or was that a farce? You’ve got MVP in front of you. Who cares about the conditions? You shoot… silence falls.. You score! Dagger! The likes we’ve seen from Kobe and Jordan before you! Let’s not forget about Ray Allen, Robert Horry, and even Steve Kerr and Paxson to name a few more. Where do you fall in amongst those that have made big shots? They proclaimed you better than the MVP, the Golden Boy. BETTER! You earned it. The best player in the game calls you a god! What can be sweeter?

Villainy

The season begins and you flash the ring! Smiles everywhere. Things intact to outside eyes. If only you could now take the reigns the same way the reigns were handed to your partner in crime. I watch you want more and more and be looked off plenty. I watch you fall against competition without your partner in the game. I watch you play around people who have no chemistry without him because, well, it’s all about him. The only remnants left from your 3 years is the player that was drafted alongside you. Nothing is yours. You don’t have a say, you don’t have the keys. You don’t have a primary role, you’re secondary at best? You make it again, to the promised land. This time, there’s someone else who’s jousting for the #1 spot. He’s your opponent this time. Where do you fit in? No time to think about that. They’re throwing punches, two jabs and an uppercut. You take your deepest breath collectively as a team and come out of the corner throwing like we’ve not seen in this battle yet! It looks promising. Looks like last year! No. Wait. It’s a loss. You’re not wanting to stick around if your partner is gone. You’re appreciative of being able to be here with him on this journey you two have been on. You’ve been wanting to be the focal point but even that was highlighted in the final moments of game 5. You were blamed. Others? Well, they did their job. Did you do yours?

Villainy

There’s rumblings about last year after the championship. Trade. Trade. There’s the same rumblings again. Then on draft night, the public has been put on notice that a deal was on the table to move you? Yes! YOU! The one who brought the hometown King a hometown ring. The one who knows how to break down opposing defenses with control of the ball. Then days later, you ask out, privately, appropriately. Soon after, news breaks out: “Irving asks for trade.” Why? You don’t want to play with the best? You think you’re better? You think you can win without him? You never had a rinning record Kyrie! You never amounted to anything alone. You’re nothing but a solo failure. You’re nothing but a product of your environment, in my eyes. You’re becoming a man. Sports analysts ask questions, other players question your motives, your drive, your mentality. They say you’re a big baby, you’re spoiled, you’re stupid, you’re lost, you’re crazy, you’re never going to amount to anything alone. They always told you to do what people said you can’t, right? You’re your own man. You don’t need to ride coattails, you don’t ride a wave. You were the final wave. You held your own in the Finals. You proved your worth in series prior to entering the final round. Your ability to score propelled your teammates and gave them relief on the offensive end. Sometimes so much that they became ineffective. That was your fault. Ball hog. You’re crazy to want to leave! Who do you think you are?

Villainy

You’re spotted on a plane singing. You’re mocking? The former MVP of the league is taunting, but you’re in the picture. Fully guilty by association, forget the Golden Boy. You set this up! You had to! News is coming out that you didn’t talk to teammates for a month. Rumors come out that you’re a bad teammate. You’ve got an attitude. You’ve got a disrespectful side. You believe that someone released the information. Your partner. What if this was all the plan? What if it’s not? No one has thought of it that deeply. You know, that you didn’t want to play here without him. We’ve not heard from you. Many see your perspective. The Ex-GM, teammates, etc. Who cares what you think any longer? You’re traded! Goodbye

Villainy

Press conferences. First Take appearances. People trying to decode your verbiage. Trying to find out if you’re leaving cause you don’t want to play with him. You don’t like him? What went wrong? You don’t even mention his name the entire time. Not you. People assume and speak for you. You put out your video after the trade. Didn’t mention him. You mentioned wanting to become a complete player. Wanting to become a point guard. Wanting to have control of your destiny. Wanting to become your own man. The headline. Not just some footnote, no matter how important you were. You didn’t want to be page 2. Page 2 only features the part of the article that wanes into obscurity. The headline receives the first of everything. Why couldn’t you eat the scraps? You want the big piece of chicken now? Ok Kyrie. Ok.

Villainy

You’re back like you never left the team cause your first game is at your old home. You’re looking focused, ready. Game on! It’s finally underway! We’re going to settle the score tonight! We won’t have to wait for the playoffs. Wait… No. NO! You’re #2 is down. Your #2 is down and out. He’s done for the season. Everything is in a flux but somehow you all come together. Brand new to one another, you all form a will to play for your fallen brother. The offense was off, the defense can focus on you and be dishonest. You come back. You have the last shot again, right wing going towards the corner against your ex-partner you didn’t want to continue on with. This is your moment. It’s up! Silence… You miss. The criticisms ensue. You came up short! See, you can’t win without him! You don’t amount to anything without him! No go cry in the car about everything. About leaving. About losing your #2. About losing the game. You had the chance, it was in your hands in game 1. Who gets to prove themselves as soon as they set themselves into a new position? A new situation? Who gets that chance?

Villain, you’ve become. The story of the Villain is always undone. Untold. One day you just wake up and you’re the bad guy. Wanting to be a man. They wanted you to remain a boy, a child, a peasant, a servant. They wanted you to be the personal assistant to a King. They now see you as a kid. They wanted you to be the 2 in the 1, 2 punch when the conversation arises. They wanted you to be left in ruin if he decided to leave. They wanted you to settle into your role until HE thought it was your time. Tomorrow isn’t promised. I respect your decision. First they love you then they hate you, then they’ll love you again. It’s life. Especially the life of a villain.

XVIII

By: Opinionated MJ

XVIII

You have got them growing green with slight envy while you’re looking notoriously Grinchy… You moved a man who came back from a knocked out tooth and a very close loss in his life, his sister. You also moved a man who lost his mother moments after the deal was struck. It seems like it voiced the feels this deal left on many hearts of NBA players, agents, and fans. You’re a mean one. Chasing gold. All business. No soul? Mr. Grinch.

You’re asked constant questions pertaining to people that are now apart of your past. You didn’t mention them, they were mentioned to you… The reaction to your response is full of anger. Full of wanting you to remain a boy. Wanting you to remain a “cog”. For the fans. For the city.

You? Yes you. You didn’t sign up for this. Are you willing to accept the change in reality that this has awarded you? Was the risk worth it? Did you forget the business end? Do you want him as your teammate after assuming there would be another point guard to run the show? You said he recruited you before. I seen a smile on your face. You said its now full circle. I believe you. I believe in both of you.

You though sir, you’re now hated for wanting to be your own man. As a man, we all want to get away from the nest. We don’t always end up with step brothers, but sometimes we do. They’re not blood. So how much do you care for them, really? We’ve seen this before. Although it differs. A few good men escape from their situations in order to reach a common cause. Chasing gold. Leaders. Leaders of their very own before they sacrificed to overcome the very man that mentors you. The very man who dropped 60 on you too, sir. From the organization your current organization hates. Their sworn rival. Some would say after a certain move next summer, we’ll be setup to see a potential finals match-up featuring the two of the classic rivalry.

You. You left your team after beginning to reach your potential. You’ve been through constant downs, with one up. Then you leave to be with someone who will expand your game. Someone you’re familiar with. That’s the thing that’s missing from this entire equation in people’s minds. We’ve forgotten about the coach. We’ve forgotten since Erik Spoelstra, Steve Kerr, Luke Walton, Tyronn Lue, and David Blatt, have been the coaches we’ve seen reaching the mountaintop. Rather they’ve won or lost, they’ve been there. We haven’t seen Greg Popovich reach the finals in the last 3 off-seasons. Phil Jackson never came back to coaching. Pat Riley hasn’t come downstairs again. The others? They just have yet to reach the promise land. Though they represent that promise to the fullest extent.

Enough third person. This isn’t a tale. This is truth: Brad Stevens will bring out even more in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. You can bet that. Danny was cold in his moving but also very bold. Numbers lovers! Don’t you remember Isaiah Thomas numbers before arriving in Boston? Do you remember Al Horford playing any truly meaningful ball in Atlanta? Do you remember believing Marcus Smart wouldn’t develop? What happened that even allowed the Celtics to become the #1 seed in the east last year? I believe the Cavs let them have it at the end. How did they even attain that positioning at all? It’s simple: coaching.

I remember when Brad Stevens first got hired in. He had Rajon Rondo. Truthfully, he held a winning record in the east with Rondo up until a little after they decided to trade Rondo. I’m saying this to remind you of the different players he’s coached. The different minds and styles he’s had to accommodate. He’s succeeded at every turn. Isaiah Thomas didn’t become valuable until Brad Stevens. Prove me wrong. Brad Stevens has done well with every roster, every piece thrown at him.

Now he’s got a bunch of something he hasn’t had since he accepted the Celtics coaching role: scorers. That’s why the went after Isaiah Thomas. Isaiah helped them each this point now. Everyone has been waiting for a big Boston deal. This has huge implications and I think will exceed everyone’s expectations. Potentially out of the gate.

Here’s the names on the 2017-18 Celtics:

Kyrie

Hayward

Horford

Morris

Brown

Smart

Rozier

Baynes

Larkin

With 7 Rookies! 7!:

Tatum

Peak

White

Theis

Yabusele

Nader

Ojeleye

Easily a 10 man rotation with Tatum heading up the bench with Smart. They’re also hunting for another vet to add to this team. Don’t think they’re done dealing either. This isn’t a finished product by any means but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. They could be the quiet killer out east. They don’t have too much of anything and you know that can kill you sometimes. They have enough to complement the next set. After the starters set the tone you could easily begin to mix things up. A rotation with Kyrie, Morris, and Tatum. A rotation with Gordon, Smart, and Al. Whatever combination. Add Brown in with both in flashes. It makes it unpredictable. What’s also unpredictable is how Stevens will put this altogether.

We’ve got to stop looking at players like they aren’t coached. They never reach their true potential without them.

Terror James (LeBron) Will Win the 2018 MVP Award

By: Opinionated MJ

2018 could be havoc for the NBA, especially the Eastern Conference. I want to start by predicting that LeBron James will win the 2018 NBA MVP award. I also want to add that I handed LeBron the nickname “Terror” while watching him play against the Indiana Pacers during the 2017 playoffs. He’s very imposing to those who easily fold. We seen the teams falter and fold that stands in his way. Only two or three teams out east will be able to compete with him and his Cleveland Cavaliers. Those teams include Boston, Washington and Miami. I don’t think anyone else stands a chance.

Getting back to the MVP talk, let’s take a look at who may stand in his way.

Kevin Durant

I had him as my MVP last year until he got injured. He had fixed all of the shortcomings that were expected of the Golden State Warriors. Everyone expected them to fall apart on the defensive end and for their bench to not be as potent as usual. They expected him to bump heads with Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson on the way to hijacking the team from them. He did the exact opposite and also became a more efficient player on both sides of the floor. This year, I expect the Warriors will play an even more balanced style and this alone will eliminate him from beating LeBron for the MVP award.

Kawhi Leonard

We all expect Kawhi to continue to do what he does on both ends of the floor. He’s already been a defensive player of the year multiple times and has been the engine, body, and wheels for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have added Rudy Gay and I anticipate that this may cause a decrease in scoring for Kawhi, although, it may actually give him easier opportunities on the floor and allow him to be more efficient. What’s truly stopping him from winning. You’ll see why when I get to explaining why LeBron will.

Russell Westbrook

The Oklahoma City Thunder have acquired Paul George and many expect that Russell’s numbers will take a dip. I actually expect him to maintain his numbers. He’ll be able to be more efficient and rely on someone to pick up the load when he burns out as we finally seen in the playoffs. This also gives Russell another player to facilitate to cause this is clearly Russell’s team. I’m still anticipating 30, 8, and 11 assists this year from Russell. Still great nonetheless. Again, I’ll explain how LeBron still still overcome another great year from Russell as well.

James Harden

Two words, Chris Paul. Enough said.

Why LeBron will win

LeBron has new teammates, has a few challenges to face in order to keep Cleveland afloat. They’ll be awaiting Isaiah Thomas to be at full health. They’ll have the injury prone Derrick Rose on the floor alongside him and he’ll most likely start at point guard to begin the season. Both not Kyrie Irving, which adds to how LeBron will be able to win the award.

LeBron does not have another superstar next to him and could actually help every player increase their efficiency and numbers this year playing alongside him. I think Isaiah will take a scoring hit but will still be more efficient with LeBron having most of the attention from opponents to free him up offensively. I’ll also add that LeBron will have to be a defensive anchor for this team now. I know they added Jae Crowder, but he actually declined a bit on defense last year.

The Cavs will now be able to feature Kevin Love in a more prominent role with Kyrie gone and Isaiah out early on. Expect a rise in his numbers courtesy of LeBron. I also believe that LeBron still be hyper motivated considering how Kyrie left, how much social media hate he’s been receiving, how much criticism he’s been receiving from sports analysts, and simply because now, not only do the Warriors stand in his way, but another true rival has arrived. His old rival, the Boston Celtics who now host Kyrie Irving. Hypothetically, LeBron is also in a contract year. He will deliver. You can bet on that.

All factors considered, I expect “Terror” James to land the MVP award for this upcoming season for all the reasons above. I also believe that he will have to be more of a coach on the floor with this new team while developing new chemistry and keeping his team ahead in the win column. Coach Lue will finally be exposed. He’s either a good coach or a LeBron figurehead. LeBron’s numbers should be similar to last year but it’ll be the storyline and the seeding that’ll determine rather he receives the award or not. What better story could there be for this year? My early prediction is that LeBron will win this MVP.