Featuring Opinionated MJ
Just a quick podcast before the NBA Playoff Preview Podcast coming later today (April 13, 2018). Recorded on the morning of April 12, 2018.
I cover LeBron, Russell Westbrook, Harden, and more… All while on the road.
Featuring Opinionated MJ
Just a quick podcast before the NBA Playoff Preview Podcast coming later today (April 13, 2018). Recorded on the morning of April 12, 2018.
I cover LeBron, Russell Westbrook, Harden, and more… All while on the road.
By: Opinionated MJ
Durant will takeover the Warriors by season’s end. He will pry away the grip of the team away from Stephen Curry. Yes, the back to back, unanimous MVP will be dethroned from being king of the Golden State. He will step down, WILLINGLY, and allow Kevin Durant to take the reign. This doesn’t mean that there will be friction. This doesn’t mean that there will be egos clashing or silent envy brewing, no, not at all. It’s just the order of things. In order to have proper success, things must have an order.
You can’t have the same Steph Curry shot selection from the playoffs and have a thriving Kevin Durant in all of this. Not productively anyway. I’m sure he wants to maintain something north of 20 points per game. Lets look at this on the base level: Kevin Durant will take Harrison Barnes shots, plus more. With that being said, there needs to be a pecking order then. I think Steph needs to become a swap option with Klay Thompson. They need to exchange 2nd and 3rd option amongst one another (and maybe even 1st option with Durant on many nights) depending on who has the hot hand, depending on who is defending who, depending on what lineups are in. Everything is situational with this team now. If you know Steph Curry can pull up from 50 feet and make a shot on you and you still have to guard Klay, Kevin, and Draymond also keeps you honest, then what can you honestly do as far as stacking up on defense? There will be no double team that isn’t dissected. There will be no mismatch that can’t be instantly exploited. Let’s not mention the new death lineup. We’ll call it that now. I wish someone credible could read this. Commentators could say, “Uh oh, looks like the Warriors are going with the ‘New Death’ lineup!” New Death. Death you haven’t seen before cause it’s so many ways to kill opposing teams now. Enough sounding like I’m brown nosing. Pistons will sweep the Warriors in the finals. Neutral?
New Death… because Kevin Durant brings them about 3 new dynamics. I’ve come across things that say that he was the #1 player in post efficiency last season and I personally thought that it was their only weakness last year. Not being able to slow down the game and grind it out. They also have Kevin Durant, who can play isolation and create for himself without intimidation or hesitation. I’ve watched Steph avoid contact (guess he was hurt) in the finals, and I also watched Klay avoid it as well and pull up from the elbow. Durant will take the ball to the rack, with authority, and he’ll probably embarrass some opposing defenders and make some nice posters with his new digs on. The shot. The Drive. The Post. The Warriors sacrificed their defense for the opportunity to have what I’d call a “Super Offense”. Their defense should pick back up as the season goes along.
Once Draymond gets through to everyone on the team, everyone gets familiar with their place on the floor in those sets and how to help Durant, Steph & Klay when they run someone off the perimeter. Draymond will now be a rim protector. I think he should be anyway. He did a nice job of fouling LeBron from totally removing his soul in game 7 of the finals. Impressive if you can stop him from hammering you and instead you hammer him. I watched him tangle with Dwight Howard and come out on top. I watched him only be drowned out when there was a Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams combo on the floor to deny him rebounds and the ability to help on certain plays. It takes 2 baby!
They’re vulnerable, though. Everything has to go smooth. They have to iron the kinks out. I think we’ll see some things that we seen with the Big 3 in Miami. This time they’ll figure out the puzzle earlier on because they all lack the ego where they just HAVE to be the #1 Alpha on the team. The thing that everyone is on Durant about will be the same thing that could bring them good success. This is a TEAM sport right? It’s about having help and teammates they said. It’s about having a #2 they said. Jordan couldn’t do it without Pippen and without Rodman they said. Kobe couldn’t do it without Shaq they said. Wait, Shaq couldn’t do it without Kobe and shooters I said! LeBron couldn’t win a ring without Wade, Bosh, and Ray Allen, then Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, JR Smith they’ll say. Everybody needs somebody. Russell Westbrook was a ball hog that had everyone screaming for him to pass the ball to Durant before Durant fell to injury, right? How soon some forget some things. With that said, Russell Westbrook will be your 2017 NBA MVP… IF he can land the Thunder a 1-4 seed. Maybe even a 5 seed depending on his numbers and in-game performances. Especially if he dominates. I can’t wait to watch. I hope to see 2006 Kobe reincarnated.
Just my opinion.
By: Opinionated MJ
Welcome to another installment of the “NBA Landscape” series. Let’s jump right in to a few intriguing teams going into the 2016-17 NBA Season. Representing the Eastern Conference, yes, the conference I think possibly has NO chance to stop Cleveland regardless of how interesting they may get. I Like these teams but I believe they’re still one major piece short. That piece could be the growth of a player already existing on their roster.
The Pacers have found themselves loaded with talent in their starting lineup now and actually look very scary with Paul George another year removed from injury and with an entire season of health under his belt. No Danny Granger curse here. The Pacers now consist of Paul George, Monta Ellis, Al Jefferson, Jeff Teague, Myles Turner, and Thaddeus Young just to name a few. They now have the depth that it takes to make a deep run in the NBA Playoffs. The only question is, will their new coach Nate McMillan be able to translate his defensive prowess into these players and onto the court while also finding an offensive system to get this collection of players to coexist in. I guess people will be saying Teague is declining because he won’t be finishing as much as he did in Atlanta, he won’t have to. Their X-factor that can bring them success is Myles Turner. He needs to grow and continue to expand his game. If he can successfully fit in around a bunch of ball dominant guards, this team can potentially contend against a LeBron James Cavaliers team. If not, they’re doomed to be defeated by King James as easy as Toronto and Atlanta have been in the past.
Very intriguing as well but they’ve also landed an ex-Hawk in Al Horford. I’m not too fond of that 60 win Hawks teams from 2 seasons ago because they still folded against LeBron when it mattered just as they did during the playoffs this past year. They still have Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Gerald Green, Avery Bradley, and the rookie Jaylen Brown. This team just keeps expanding their depth every year. I really think they just need to either find the formula the 2004 Detroit Pistons found by having depth and defense with sparky offense, or they need to try to find a way to land a superstar by DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES! Allegedly they could’ve landed Jimmy Butler, should’ve pushed for DeMarcus Cousins, and were in the running for Kevin Durant. A lot of people thought they would land Russell Westbrook but he decided to stay in OKC. I see Boston being more of the same since Al Horford doesn’t really want to play with his back to the basket. He’ll provide relief for Thomas. The Celtics need more perimeter defenders in case they fall to the injury bug again when it matters most. If you lose Bradley, Crowder, and even Thomas’ scoring when it matters most, you’re doomed. More depth may be the key. Maybe if Jaylen Brown can make an instant impact then they’ll be better than expected. He is their X-factor.
My lovely DETROITTTTTTTTTT BASSSSSSKETTTTTBALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!! I expect big things from this Pistons team coming into the 16-17 season. First things first, young Drummond. You must improve your free throws! This team is doomed unless… Stanley Johnson begins to find his inner Kawhi Leonard. I expect big things from him to go along with his attitude that he stands down to no man. I actually appreciate him for that reason. A lot of Cavs fans and NBA fans around the globe were saying that he should’ve kept his mouth shut. I beg to differ. What better to do being a #8 seed, underdog, gritty, new, young Pistons team making the playoffs for the first time in years and you get to see LEBRON JAMES as your opposition. It’s already win or go home. Sense of urgency from round 1! What better way to improve than to play against the absolute best team in the Eastern Conference and arguably the best player on the planet? Who better to talk smack to so you can be forced to elevate your game or be embarrassed. No matter the result, you win, due to the stage that this team is in. You automatically improve. He’s 19 (probably 20 now). He’s a kid! Already has the mindset of a man ready to put in the work to reach the goals and expectations set by his peers, the fans, and most importantly, his coach. Stan Van Gundy has a real diamond in the rough with Stanley Johnson. He IS the X-factor for the Detroit Pistons. I expect them to be top 4 in the East and as good as top 3. We stole Tobias Harris midseason, we’ve allowed Jackson a year to be the man running the show, we have Drummond who is capable of 20 & 20 on any night, and we also have Morris and KCP who can drop 20 without you expecting it at all. We have a well-rounded team. We just need Drummond to have a season where he plays better defense and can convert on 60-70% of his free throws. We were the BEST COMPETITION IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS against the Cavs. Everybody else tucked their tail in and cowered in fear. I say that with absolute confidence because it is true. LeBron hasn’t had any competition in the east but 1 team every year. The Heat were expected to be the competition but fell to the injury bug, piece by piece.
I’ll stop it at the Pistons. I’ll also get into the Knicks, Bulls, and express what I expect from teams like the Wolves, 76ers, Lakers, and more in upcoming articles. The Knicks are surrounded in mystique at this point. I also wouldn’t sleep on the Bulls. The defense I expect from them would resemble something like that of the Wade, Bron, Bosh Miami Heat. Durant, OKC, Pelicans, Jazz, Suns!! Can’t wait for this season!
Until next article!
By: Opinionated MJ
Your move Russell!
Why not move to the easy conference and position yourself to run for a championship? If you can land on Boston, Miami, Detroit, Indiana… you could easily compete for a finals berth. The only obstacle in the east is LeBron. That’s it, at least for now. Indiana and Boston look more promising now since free agency has began and they’ve made trades and free agency moves up to this point to add to their teams. Westbrook landing on one of these teams would be golden.
I include my hometown Pistons as well. I’d trade Reggie Jackson in half a heartbeat to land Westbrook and have him in Piston blue. Imagine what the pick & roll would look like with him and Drummond and with all the shooters that would surround both of them. Scary. They would be very scary good. Plus I trust Westbrook’s decision making more than Jackson’s. Jackson would pass too late and try to play hero ball late to makeup for it. We will be better next season as well. Top 5 in the east.
I don’t see what team honestly gives up better assets than Boston without knowing if he stays or not. I can see him dominating alongside Thomas and Co. This would definitely be exciting basketball. It would also allow them to run “super small ball” (yes I made that up) with Thomas & Westbrook in the backcourt and Horford at center. Having Crowder gives them someone to “cover” the unstoppable LeBron when it’s time to put up or shutup.
If I’m Russell, if not the Lakers, then I’m looking east. Easiest path to the finals. I know he’d like to go home, which could prevent a Boston deal depending on how much of a homeboy he is. His loyalty may only reside with Los Angeles. I expect to see Russell play for one of the historic rivals real soon. If OKC is smart, they make the move ASAP so they can retool before the season begins…
Image credits to BamBamBam99!
By: Opinionated MJ
Oddly, I believe that these last few hours will serve as a calm before the storm. I expect Kevin Durant to change the landscape and odds of the NBA by deciding to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Yes, the same Warriors I expected to win the championship. Congrats to LeBron! I doled out a lot of venom in his direction and he delivered. I’ll save him for another post. Now, why would Kevin Durant sign with Golden State? It’s almost written on the wall.
I’ve heard things like, “Kevin Durant has personal relationships with many of the Warriors players.” Then I think about articles I’ve come across where the Warriors players were quoted saying things like, “I don’t know why they want him here.” Of course that’s a valid statement, but so is this… WHO WOULDN’T want Kevin Durant on their team? KD on the Warriors would change the Western Conference and make the Warriors even stronger. Now, this doesn’t guarantee a championship but it does guarantee that they’ll be a contender for years to come, if he signs a deal longer than 1 year.
Why should KD waste another year in OKC with Russell if their destiny is uncertain? Who knows what to make of the Oladipo/Ibaka deal? I see it as a step back due to how they were able to handle the Warriors in the conference finals. When they were up 3-1, they were playing like champions and I actually thought they would put the Warriors away, then Klay Thompson happened. With that said, imagine a lineup with Steph, Klay, Dray, and KD. It’s like a fantasy video game. That roster could only be obtained by forcing trades on the offline mode on NBA2K. LOL! Who wouldn’t expect this team to win? This leads me to his other options that he’s already broken down to 2 teams (OKC & GS).
He met with the likes of Miami, Boston, San Antonio, and the Los Angeles Clippers. He decided to turn them all down and left the Warriors as an option. In San Antonio, there would’ve still been the issue of consistency with the bench players, mainly Danny Green and Patty Mills. There would’ve been the questionable production from Manu, Tim, and Tony. Why go somewhere with so many question marks and with a Big 3 past it’s prime? Of course there would be a new Big 3, but LaMarcus doesn’t want to play center and I’m sure he wouldn’t want to see his touches diminish. Nor would Durant.
Miami would’ve been a good option.. if Chris Bosh was healthy. We can stop there with the Heat. The Clippers seem to be plagued by the usual “Clipper Curse”. They can’t ever stay healthy enough to make noise beyond the 1st and 2nd round of any playoff. PERIOD! At this point, health is a problem during the regular season for them. Then you have Doc Rivers who may have too strong a handle on things for KD’s liking. So he scratched them off the list as well.
Boston would’ve been a great place to land especially after Al Horford decided to sign there. KD would’ve easily become the #1 option and the leader of the team and they would’ve been strong enough to get to the NBA Finals. I only say that because we don’t know what Cleveland’s final roster will look like. Delly is already gone, so is Mozgov. Would they get the same production out of their aging vets? Would LeBron take a baby step back? Would Kyrie want to have more say on how things are dictated in the offense considering he did what Russell couldn’t do? Yes, in my opinion, the Thunder lost that series because Russell wanted to put out the fire that is Steph Curry all by himself. He wanted to take the credit. He wanted to be able to boast and be able to do it while still in the series. He’s matured as a player and as far as his knowledge of the game, the pacing, and getting his team involved, but he has to keep his ego in check until the job is done. The only time that it’s done is when you’re already hoisting up the Championship trophy and on your way to receive a championship ring. He’ll be better next season (Westbrook) but will the Thunder mesh fast enough? Will the offense be efficient enough to produce better results than what happened this past season? That is where things get gloomy for me.
This boils it down to joining a team that already has continuity and is very unselfish in Golden State or going back to Oklahoma and jousting for the #1 option spot with Russell Westbrook. I expect that Steph Curry wouldn’t care to be #1 option with KD in the fold. He didn’t care for a finals MVP Award, he didn’t force anyone to vote him unanimous MVP, and he didn’t say anything that would suggest he receive the hate and backlash that he did from fans of rival teams and from his peers in the NBA. Crazy how success is followed by criticism and hate. Too squeaky clean? I guess everybody is used to the Kobe story or how LeBron made himself a villain by joining the Heat. No one likes things that are too good to be true because they don’t see that in themselves. Truth. They don’t want to see the squeaky clean look of KD on the depth chart of the Golden State Warriors either, and I’m sure if he makes the decision to sign there, the anger and hate will follow, the media scrutiny, the rumors of locker room issues, and everything that comes with being a super team will follow. It more recently happened to the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, and Cavs super teams. Why wouldn’t it in this situation right?
I think KD would’ve already made his decision if he were going to stay in OKC. With that said, I expect when we wake up, maybe in 5 minutes he’ll decide, maybe late tomorrow night, that Durant will have joined the Golden State Warriors. If this happens, expect an NBA arms race like you’ve never seen before. Expect LeBron to recruit Dwayne Wade. Expect San Antonio to make a move along with various other West Conference playoff teams. Expect a crazy offseason that’s already been crazy to begin with!
By: Opinionated MJ
The lay of the land currently has Detroit down 0-2. We’ve got heart and we will beat Cleveland. Home cooking is ours next! LeBron’s team showing life. I know what LeBron can do but what can his team do going forward?
I see Dwayne Wade is transforming into his old self. I predicted the Heat would meet and beat the Cavs in this playoff. I thought Charlotte would serve up better competition but the Heat are home. I believe in home court. It’s a reason why they play for it. Losing game 1 on your floor is the only possible problem.
Toronto has given me reason to believe that they can’t make it from just being in the playoffs, early rounds. I guess Stephen A. Smith is saying that DeRozan is gone to the Lakers. So who will follow? That could lead to all types of deals or maybe the Lakers then go draft a big man or Ben Simmons. I’ll go with my cousin on Simmons. I also think the Lakers will land the #1 pick. The league loves them and that’ll be their reward for themselves to find a way to keep relevance in L.A. post-Kobe. How else would they? Are the trio enough going into next year? I believe Randle, Russell, and Clarkson could have a future together.
Paul George has been playing big for the Pacers. Literally. I don’t think anyone has given any real attention to his ascension since Larry Bird wanted him to play the 4. Results for sure.
Boston is one player away. When will Danny Ainge trade some of his picks away to lure in a player? Carmelo to Boston by any chance? Could that be what Boston is missing or do they need more defensive wings to couple with Isiah Thomas?
Tom Thibodeau has become the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Look out league. KG ties into the defensive philosophy from the Boston Championship team. Could provide even more boosts to the grow of their young core. Expect them to make noise in the league next year and be like Utah from this season. Except, I actually expect PLAYOFFS from them. I’m a big fan of Thibs. Wonder if D-Rose for Ricky Rubio would work for both teams? They’re playing a good Atlanta team with some experience.
Does Mark Jackson actually land in Sacramento? Would that be a good fit? You’d think he’d need some shooters or change their philosophy to such. Wait, Seth Curry & Mark Jackson! STORY TO WATCH!
I’m a Lillard fan and I believe he will perform as always. He probably needs another option in case someone else deflates in some games. I see him making a huge push in the future with another piece. Durant? Dwight? DeRozan? Maybe not. Doesn’t have a ring to it. Maybe a rookie big man whose two-way abilities are already with him. Chris Paul is a monster and with Blake having had to watch while he was hurt, we all got to see who needs to dictate the Clippers offense. They need Blake just the same too. I’d like to see Portland’s home-stand.
What exactly are KD & Russ going to do? It’s Russ’ team due to him being healthy with this new group of players acquired last year all while Kevin Durant was out with injury. Notched triple-doubles, massive scoring nights, facilitating, MVP consideration, almost a playoff berth, and learning his teammates and their spots. He’s racking assists cause he finds them in their hotspots directly from an offensive attack. KD must fit in more and become the Assassin always or we should begin to want Russell to take those big shots equally as well. This series is crazy. Dallas with a win going back home. This will definitely be some fun basketball. Quiet rivalry, in my opinion. I won’t be able to call this series til the 5th game. It’ll go 6.
Early Prediction: Warriors Vs Heat in Finals. Warriors in 6. Would be an amazing story for their team if they beat LeBron then Dwayne Wade for their back to back titles.
By: Opinionated MJ
NO! It’s only one game. We already forgot the Spurs suffered a 30-point loss too, I see. With a win against the Golden State Warriors, albeit shorthanded due to injury (excuses everyone says), we believe the Spurs are now a legitimate threat to the Warriors? They are, but the game Saturday night did not make me believe that they will be able to sustain that type of performance over a 7 game series. Not against a fully healthy Warriors team. No.
The Warriors have another dynamic they could run with Andre Iguodala on the floor. He can push the ball, has been shooting well, can cut and slash to the hole and can make big shots when they need it most in order to relieve pressure on the others. He’s also capable of defending 4 positions on the floor and even the center position if something happened where it was LeBron or Kevin Love playing that position in a finals rematch of sorts. Although, for the third time, I don’t see Cleveland making the finals anyway. Iggy can help contain or at least attempt to contain Kawhi Leonard. He can definitely put the brakes on Danny Green and Manu Ginobli. I also think he may be able to do a better job guarding the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge. Let me not continue on this point like that’s what I expect him to do. He’s just a major piece is all I’m trying to state here. He’s the 2015 Finals MVP. Simple.
I see a weakness Saturday, a blatant weakness. The Warriors had nearly NO INTERIOR GAME AT ALL! Well, there’s a reason for that. No Andrew Bogut, no Festus Ezeli, and that meant NO INTERIOR DEFENSE! Draymond Green is good but he can’t defend LaMarcus Aldridge or Tim Duncan. I won’t forget some of the things Duncan did to DeAndre Jordan in last year’s playoffs. Vintage Old Man Riverwalk. They’ll not be another like him.
These teams currently sit at 1-1 against one another and have 2 games remaining that are sure to be entertaining unless both teams are resting by this time. What if Golden State doesn’t lose another game leading up the April 7th game against San Antonio in order to clinch 72 wins? This makes this game beyond must see! This would probably be the most watched game along with the next if the Warriors win this game. The next game would be win #73 if they could streak. It’s no guarantee but they’ll regain a few pieces along the way towards trying to achieve their goal.
I think the Spurs are the ONLY team that can do anything to this Warriors team. No one in the east can hold a candle to them. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook tried and tried in this regular season but haven’t managed to get a win. LeBron didn’t manage to pull out any win either. I’ve seen no guard do anything to Stephen Curry offensively demeaning except Damian Lillard, and that list includes Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, James Harden & Patrick Beverly, Mike Conley and everyone else who was injured last year or just in competition with Steph. All the NBA haters have turned their hate into respect since Steph has been explosive this year. I wonder who the players will vote as MVP this year at their own little award show this time.
The NBA Championship this year only can be obtained by 5 teams, at least from my perspective. The Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Cavs, and Heat are the contenders. Well let’s say 6, I’ll throw the Raptors in there for good measure since they’re making a lot of noise and they are a matchup problem as long as Lowry and Derozan play well. They have a lot of good pieces surrounding them which make them a threat to make the Finals also. Although still, this is Steph and the Warriors championship to lose, if fully healthy. Congrats to the Spurs on a big win. I’m looking forward to the next two games between these two.
By: Opinionated MJ
What a season thus far that we’re having! April is just around the corner. We’ve watched the steady Knicks fall hard from being a .500 team, we’re currently watching the Cavs implode as far as trust is concerned, we seen the Heat improve by adding Joe Johnson into the fold, we’ve also seen the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant lose big games against the Warriors and Clippers. My Detroit Pistons seem to get better one piece at a time, the Bulls have fallen out of the playoff picture (as of this moment at least) and we have no idea what to make of any other team besides the Warriors & Spurs when it comes to actually being true contenders for the championship.
I’ll go in order, firstly, the Knicks. Derek Fisher gets fired midway during a skid although he helped get the Knicks off to a good start. I think it’s time for this team to start thinking “Porzingis” instead of “Melo & Porzingis” and build this team around the rookie going forward. Allow Melo to go wherever he wants as long as they can get some decent players in return and hopefully some picks, even if they’re second round picks. They need youth going forward to continue their rebuild. They should’ve never given away Tim Hardaway Jr. I think he would’ve served as an important piece going forward. They also need to go all out and hire Tom Thibodeau before the Lakers do.
Now on to the Cavaliers. LeBron James… He’s praising Stephen Curry, he’s in Miami, he’s sending out tweets, he’s doing everything to keep the media full of things to talk about and, if true, he’s continuing to give his teammates reason to believe he doesn’t trust them. He didn’t trust them enough in the finals after game 3, and he doesn’t trust them now even with them at full strength. He has Kyrie and Kevin at his disposal and has still lost to the NBA’s top teams and a few teams they probably didn’t expect to lose to, including my Detroit Pistons. Yeah, had to toss that in! LeBron just needs to either leave Cleveland again or try to get Kyrie AND Kevin shipped out of town and somehow turn that into Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony and a true point guard (Mike Conley anyone?) and either more minutes for Mozgov or a more serviceable big man that they’ll actually feed. I’m also not sold on Coach Lue either.
Surprisingly since they’ve acquired Joe Johnson, who I’m also not high on, they’ve been on a roll. Without Chris Bosh! They’ve been showing a different dynamic and they’ve also been able to space the floor a bit more. Dwayne Wade has been playing surprisingly good, so good that all his naysayers should be wondering if he’ll ever truly fall from being efficient and consistent. Dragic is finally coming around and being more productive and they look like they may even be able to beat the Cavs in a 7 game series now. Look for the Heat to rise before the playoffs begin and put themselves in position to compete for a championship with the likes of the Raptors and Celtics too! Never thought you’d hear that, huh?
I’ll be short about the Clippers… They need Blake Griffin for the playoffs but they’ve looked like a TEAM without him. It’s hard to figure how that makes sense but it simply does. There’s only so much Paul Pierce is going to give you, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, and JJ Redick. Their lone star currently on the floor is Chris Paul and we’ve seen what he can do with someone he can throw alley-oops to and with a few good men around him. He needs another star with him to elevate higher and he’s due to make it to an NBA Finals. Anything less for him is honestly a bust. I’d consider trading Blake during the offseason if they lose in the first round.
The Thunder haven’t been so intimidating as of late. They’ve lost two games they should’ve won against the Clippers & Warriors. They’ve also allowed this situation to affect them mentally in my opinion. They look as if they need to retool their bench if they can get Kevin Durant to stay. I don’t really see where he would want to go. This would be his best opportunity to win a championship. He’s definitely overdue for another finals appearance. Russell Westbrook is playing like an athletic Chris Paul this season and I don’t see him bolting OKC either. It’s too much structure in place where they already are to actually leave and think they have a better chance. Unless they go east.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the Warriors championship to lose unless the Spurs can clone Kawhi Leonard.
By: Opinionated MJ
With the 2015-16 season on the horizon, I wanted to put the focus on free-agent-to-be, Kevin Durant, and the player everyone thinks is most likely you be traded this season, Carmelo Anthony. These two players are arguably the two most prolific scorers in the game. The major differences reside in their respective teams position before and after the season. Oklahoma City is expecting to compete for a championship, New York is expecting to compete for a playoff spot and grow on the go en route to their goal.
There is chatter about both players being potentially traded with the most likely being Anthony. He is the offensive crust for a Knicks team looking to implement new players, proceed with the heralded triangle offense, and hang their hat on an inexperienced coach in Derek Fisher. This has all boiled down to Anthony, who many has said is selfish for taking his money, selfish for not sharing the ball more, not a bonafide star cause he doesn’t play on both sides of the ball (unless being motivated to defend a superstar on the opposing team), and basically a waste to have with the Knicks in rebuilding mode. Despite who they selected in the draft, who they selected for a coach, the offense they selected that takes 2-3 years to understand routinely, the murky off-season they’ve had, they end up aiming all of their collective frustration guns at Anthony. He’s the only one that could save them.
I actually expect Carmelo to come out with some fire in him with all the criticism he’s been receiving as of late. Fans questioning him, people making rumors about his wife, people having things to say to him through different media forms, you would think it’s going to give him a huge chip on his shoulder. Not to mention the criticism in comparison to his peers. No MVP awards, no championships, no significant playoff push since his Denver days, this all has to be boiling him. Or maybe he’s just coasting and isn’t taking any of this seriously nor using it as a tool for motivation. We’ll find out soon enough.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see Carmelo moved to Chicago, Dallas or (SURPRISE) Sacramento since there’s loads of chatter about him going to be shipped away. Depending on the season the Knicks have early on throughout the first half of the season, this all could turn out to be true. We’ll begin to feel the pulse in about two weeks.
On the other side of things, there’s good ol Kevin. Setting an early goal to be on Russell Westbrook’s good side and not get cussed out, saying the right things although Scott Brooks was fired and replaced, and coming off a season where he sat cause of foot issues and watched Westbrook rise to another level that may be impossible to coexist with. You have the Washington Wizards maneuvering to lure Durant to their team with them hiring people close to him into the organization. You have the chance of he and Russell suddenly not getting along. You have the chance that they’ll be intact but will lose in an early round to a stacked Spurs or Clippers team, although any team in the west is capable to be honest.
Kevin is seen as a potential next in line torch bearer from LeBron’s dominance to his overdue arrival by finally winning a championship. Should he fail at this during this season, would it drive him from the team he’s been with since day 1? OKC would be crazy to trade Durant knowing it can retain him but possibly crazier to let him potentially walk, so what do they do?
Durant just proclaimed himself the best in the game and didn’t flinch in saying so. That’s loud and clear enough to get the attention of the likes of LeBron, Russell, Anthony Davis, and Stephen Curry. He was clearly the game’s best player during his lone MVP season but can he regain the same magic (and possession of the ball) in order to carry himself to that mountaintop again? If so, would it be at the expense of the growth of not only his teammates but specifically, Russell Westbrook?
I expect to see both of these players of interest succeed this year. Oklahoma City may be the only team that could stop a Spurs team that could become an unbeatable machine with its parts once they all mesh. The Knicks could be a playoff team IF Carmelo is able to will them to a plus-.500 record. I don’t expect the east to become any easier with many teams having longevity and teams making decent off-season moves and drafts that should lunge them further into routine competitiveness amongst the rest of the conference. This may be one of the best seasons this era has seen thus far.
By: Opinionated MJ
Everybody has an opinion about the Detroit Pistons for the upcoming year. I don’t agree with any of them but the positive ones. The ones that talk about Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson becoming first time All-Stars. The one about Stanley Johnson being a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate. The ones about Stan Van Gundy finally having a team that represents his build. Then I hear the negativity. I hear that we won’t make the playoffs. I hear that the Reggie Jackson signing wasn’t a good signing. I hear that Brandon Jennings accepting coming off the bench may be a “lie” in order to appeal to coaches, players, etc. I hear that Drummond will be exactly like Dwight Howard and won’t learn any more moves and be a hustle, pick and roll, and points-from-offensive-rebounds player ONLY (Yeah I made that up). I hear that people dismissing us and saying we can’t get it done. Pessimism is unattractive.
First, let me address the Reggie Jackson signing. Who would’ve been better or available for us going forward? Rondo? Russell Westbrook in 2 years? WHO? Answer me that then also answer if Detroit is a target market for free agents going forward. I believe that we can get a big time player in free agency. We’re one Superstar away from being a very good team. Lets say Drummond, Jackson and Johnson become a big 3, Detroit will be a contender for sure. We can have a homegrown superstar instead of having to sign one. It would’ve been nice to land LaMarcus Aldridge. I think if we would’ve landed Carmelo in free agency last offseason, we would’ve been fine. Stan like his teams to shoot and he’d find a way to insert defense around Carmelo to fill in for his “deficiency” doing so. I’ve seen him play defense, he only wants to defend big time players, you know, LeBron, KD, etc. I’m accepting of the Reggie Jackson deal because there is no one else available and more importantly, HE PLAYS DEFENSE. When Westbrook, Curry, Harden, and others come to town, who did we have to defend them? No one. He also averaged about 17 and 9 during his time in a Pistons uniform thus far. So I’m not upset at all. Coaching is everything.
Next up, Stanley Johnson. The kid says he’s ready to see LeBron. He went up 1,000 notches in my book for this statement. We didn’t have anyone to defend LeBron, Carmelo, KD, now we do. He can also defend different positions AND he is strong. He’s not little, he’s not weak, he’s not scared. I wanted Winslow but when I took a deeper look at him and watched him during the summer league, I fully accepted the pick and I think we have a player who should have been top 5 in the draft. Once he grows into his role and grows as a player under Van Gundy, he will be a force. Mark my words. I don’t know his ceiling but I know it’s high. He can facilitate, shoot, post, pick and roll, defend, rebound, the kid can do it all. Only thing is that he’s a rookie. So he’ll burst onto the scene, then he’ll possibly encounter a rookie wall. Once he breaks it, he’s going to become something special. He’s already embraced the city and as a hometown Detroit kid and a Piston fan, I’ve embraced Stanley Johnson. Good things will come from him. Stay tuned!
Now to Drummond. We know that he’s in control now that Monroe is gone. This is now Drummond’s team to lead. He has embraced that and has already seemingly become a vocal leader and understands that he’s the man now in Detroit. With Jackson facilitating and having shooters around him to give him more space on the floor, it’s time for him to show his growth. I particularly paid attention to his work with Monty Williams from the Team USA practices from last year and he helped Drummond develop post moves. He was pushing Drummond to do more with his game. If Williams helped Anthony Davis, I’m sure he’s able to help Drummond develop in such a short period of time. Let’s also not forget what Van Gundy did for Dwight Howard. Giving certain players the green light allows them to develop in a way that they couldn’t otherwise. He has geared this team towards Drummond, just time for him to step up now. I expect to see him have his best season yet with no Monroe and Smith hogging up his space and touches.
Lastly, our depth and our coach. We have a lot of stretch shooters, decent defenders, and a coach that knows how to make it all fit together. With Morris, Tolliver, Meeks, Cadwell-Pope, Jennings, a few bigs to get a few fouls, I think we have the build of a playoff team for sure. Weak Eastern Conference full of teams with potential (Celtics) and a few teams that have retooled (Pacers), we should be able to find ourselves in the top 5-6 teams of the east. I see it shaking out top to bottom with Cavs, Heat, Bulls, Bucks, Hawks, Pistons, then you can insert two teams after. They’ll have losing records anyway so just take your pick. Just don’t sleep on the Pistons this year cause we are set up to make a run to the 2nd round and maybe the Conference Finals depending on how the seeds fall. Don’t be surprised if we’re able to become the weakness of a Miami, Chicago or Cleveland team with our playing style and depth. We will surprise a lot of people this year. Low expectations but loads of hidden upside. We won 32 games last season, just think about what would’ve happened had we traded or released Josh Smith before last season began. Should leave you confused with what we’ll be able to do. Last time Van Gundy achieved his build, he coached a team to the NBA Finals with ONE Superstar type player, a strong guard, and a bunch of players that can stretch the floor. The formula is proven and still fits and applies to today’s run and gun style.
Prediction: 45-37, 5th or 6th seed in playoffs. Be on the lookout for a possible big trade for us that could put us in the 50 win range.
By: Opinionated MJ
I know you think I’m causing an outrage, but let’s actually seriously take a look at this. I caught Stephen A. Smith during the aftermath of the finals saying something to the tune of, “Cleveland is lucky LeBron didn’t win this championship cause it would’ve given him the opportunity to leave.” Basically, story would be complete for Cleveland. LeBron leaves and leaves Cleveland heartbroken. LeBron comes back and everyone is happy again. LeBron wins a championship in his first year back. It can’t get any better. I doubt it could get better than that. Then he could go west and try to conquer getting out of the western conference which would cement his legacy in my opinion.
So how true was that statement? I believe a decent amount that Steven A. Smith says. He predicted alot of things that have come to pass and apparently has personal relationships with these players. Enough about him though, my point in making this a big deal is the fact that there IS something LeBron hasn’t done: Dominate the Western Conference.
How beautiful would it be if LeBron went to Phoenix last year? Los Angeles Lakers next season? Dallas? Maybe San Antonio? Memphis? Any west team would work. Could you imagine the dog fights he would have with the Warriors, Clippers, Spurs of the future, Grizzlies, Rockets, Thunder (if they keep both KD & Russell), Pelicans???!? I mean I could go on. It’s exciting. It’s also the only thing he hasn’t done.
LeBron hasn’t had competition in the east since my Detroit Pistons and ESPECIALLY the big 3 & Rondo Boston Celtics. Let’s be honest. The Bulls were supposed to be threats but have they actually come close to finally beating a LeBron led team? No. I like the Bulls so it’s no hate. Did the Pacers truly threaten the Heat? Maybe, but they never got the job done. Almost doesn’t count.
It was Boston legitimately and Indiana that (somewhat) make this list as the only true competitors over the last 5-7 years for LeBron. I mean, LeBron has been to the last 5 finals, so you can’t argue my point. Before that, it was Orlando and Boston twice. But wait… Cleveland before that. So he’s been to 6 of the last 9 finals. That’s 66%. Not even San Antonio has been to the finals that many times in that short of a span, 3 of 9. So let’s not say LeBron needs teammates of gold. He’s dragged two Cavs teams to the finals. They said lightening doesn’t strike in the same place twice. There’s a reason he made it that far even with team deficiencies and it’s because of HIS efficiency.
Watch the 2015 NBA Finals again and dare tell me LeBron couldn’t man a western team to the finals. The first “no-no” with this Tristan Thompson thing has come up. The beginning of building a way out. Something LeBron does rather discreetly when he’s going to make a move. If he does win and decide to go west, why not be a Sacramento “King”?
By: Opinionated MJ
Championship for Clippers?
Retaining DeAndre Jordan, acquiring Lance Stevenson, signing Paul Pierce… Have the Clippers now finally put themselves into championship contention instead of playoff contention? They’ve honestly had no excuse to lose in the last two seasons but somehow, someway, we found a way to give them another big room full of excuses. This time they “didn’t have the depth to survive against teams with more depth.” Okay, fine. Still, Blake Griffin improved his shot, Chris Paul improved his balance and also played in all 82 games, and JJ Redick finally made sense to be in someone’s starting rotation. Until the playoffs hit, then came calamity. We overlook the achievement for Chris Paul though, playing in all the games and doing his best to not miss any in the playoffs. In a new NBA world where the players don’t want to play 82 games, they want midseason vacations, a longer break during All-Star weekend, less minutes while they’re in their primes and requests for better teammates, Chris Paul actually found a way to improve. Just hope his critics were paying attention.
The real question now is, “Do the Clippers have the players in place to succeed?” I’m really high on having players who have “championship” experience on your team in order to get to the promise land. Golden State had a coach who has won in different settings. Be apart of the Jordan Bulls and the Spurs organization when they’ve won titles over the last 20 years. He’s been side by side with the likes of Jordan, Pippen, Duncan, Parker, Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich. It can’t get any better than that can it? He has a pedigree and understanding of the game. He also set the team up for success when he asked some of the players to play certain roles that would eventually land them a ring in return. The Clippers now have Doc Rivers along with Paul Pierce this time around step up into those big moments. If Pierce was there against the Rockets, it would’ve been Clippers 4-2. These additions are great for offense but what will they do for defense? Paul Pierce won’t be stopping anyway, and that’s the truth. Lance had a lost season with the Hornets but I’m sure that with CP3 and DeAndre on the floor with him, they’ll be a defensive nightmare and they will be able to hide him and Griffin on nights against the OKC Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. The real question now is, “What about those Spurs?”
Could they beat the Spurs now that they’ve added Aldridge and West to their team? Pierce isn’t guarding Duncan with any success. Did you see what Duncan was doing to DeAndre?!?! He was doing it at 39 years old and almost no athletic effort! So Imagine what pick & rolls will look like with Parker having Duncan and Aldridge at his disposal AT THE SAME TIME! They’ve retained their defense in Kawhi & Danny Green and they also have a system in place that apparently is the direct way to fight against father time. One year they’re old, the next year they are in the Finals. So we would be best to not drop that special “they’re old” line like we do when they have slow stretches. I don’t think that they’ll have any slow stretches this offseason.
Can the Clippers find a way to utilize Lance the way he was used during his last season in Indiana? If they can have him anchor the bench then I truly think they may have something figured out. Jamal Crawford actually wants to leave now and wants to go to the easy breezy Eastern Conference to the team that will damn near have a cakewalk to the Finals for the next 2-4 years, the Cavaliers. I sound like a hater. I am a proud hater of how garbage the Eastern Conference is. Go Cavs, I expect them to win a chip soon anyway, especially if this trade happens, but who is sent back in return? If I’m the Clippers, I’m pushing for Dellavedova and Thompson, yes BOTH! This won’t happen but I’m not helping a Finals team get better. I’m not accepting a JR Smith sign & trade. I would entertain acquiring Timofey Mozgov, sure, but I’ll need a few picks along with it. Hard bargain.
The path to the Finals goes through OKC, Golden State, and San Antonio. No one else is a legitimate threat, including the Rockets. Four headed monster in the West with a few dark horses. The Pelicans, Rockets, Grizzlies, and I’d just throw a #8 seeded Kings team out there just because I truly don’t know who’ll fit into that spot. The Clippers should be able to beat the lower seeds and have shown what they can do against the Spurs which legitimizes whether they could win in the west or not. At least to me. If you can beat the Spurs than you can survive and succeed out west. The Spurs have a way of breaking a team down and shredding away at your strengths. The Clippers proved to me that they’re ready to take the next step, it’s all left up to the chemistry they’ll have with their new additions.
By: Opinionated MJ
What is the more important way to score in the NBA to you? What has happened to the art of the mid-range game? The way Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Richard Hamilton, and the Ray Allen’s of the world used to torch opponents was always a spectacle. Very rare to find it throughout the entire NBA today.
This is currently LeBron’s game depending on who you ask. The driving, the finishing, the kicking it out to the open man. Everyone considers that style of play as MVP basketball. It seems that if Kevin Durant didn’t average the assist numbers he did during his MVP season that he wouldn’t have become league MVP. I certainly don’t think so. So how did Stephen Curry win this year’s MVP award? I think the league is more LeBron, Russell Westbrook, more DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin than anything.
Then there’s the rare few players in the league that can light it up from anywhere on the floor. This brings us to Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
Who is the best shooter?
Could you honestly answer this question without truly thinking that maybe you’re wrong no matter how you answer it? It’s like there’s not enough decisiveness about who has done exactly what you think they should be doing. Stephen Curry should probably shoot more mid-range jumpers but he won the MVP and NBA Championship relying on his three pointer. Kevin Durant has won an MVP and has an NBA finals appearance but we all still think he should be more in control than Russell Westbrook.. wait, do we still believe that? Especially after the season Russell had without Kevin? Could they do it alone? I personally don’t think so. We’ve also seen Durant go for it on his own and he’s basically MVP by himself. So do we judge the winner by their body of work?
We knows who’s won and he’s done so being the focal point of his team’s success in efficiency and judged by win shares. Of course I’m talking about Chef Curry. The guy spent one-quarter of most of the games sitting because he put teams away in short order. He’s been the one who Steve Kerr gave the keys to and told him that the offense is running through him. After being much developed by Mark Jackson, I’ll give him his due, yeah, but Steve Kerr opened up the flood gates for Steph to just come in and shoot, shoot, shoot without a leash.
They said live by the three, die by the three but no one has ever truly lived from it until now. So do we acknowledge that he single-handedly changed the way the game could be played? Not only from an individual perspective but also a team perspective for those who are looking to team build and focus on small ball, Stephen Curry is the carrying the torch into a new era. Before he can truly run freely, he’s already been tasked with validating his championship. Which means his torch is lit but he can’t run just yet, it may go out.
Kevin Durant on the other hand is the silent assassin. The Slim Reaper, Easy Money Sniper. Tall enough to be considered a power forward but skilled enough to honestly play the shooting guard position. The guy who you’d expect to make the game winners that everyone else misses. The man should have a championship title under his belt if it wasn’t for injuries to each of the Thunder’s big 3 over the last 2-3 seasons plus the loss of James Harden. The man can shoot over anyone but seemingly only has a problem when Chris Paul guards him. Keep that dribble closer! I’ve seen Kevin Durant do some things I didn’t think were in him during his MVP season. It seemingly made it over the hump into superstar territory with the way he closed out teams. He had the best scoring tear since Kobe had his launch of great games strung together that led up to 81 and thereafter. He’s been the one man who everyone wants to see get a chance to run his own team and be the focal point, or at least convince Russell to defer to more often cause he can take you promised land easier than Russell can. He can shoot from anywhere on the floor just like Steph Curry and can also drive to the hole and make plays for his teammates. So much talent and basically gives his team the same package that Stephen Curry does.
So you still have only one answer and it has to be one or the other. Which answer do you give? What do you consider? If you take away all the accolades, who is the winner?
I’m going to go with Stephen Curry.
By: Opinionated MJ
Much is to be said about playing the game the right way. A few teams have actually won this way and of course all the championship teams would say they played the right way. So what defines your own definition of what “playing the right way” is? There are a few head coaches who preach this and some of them had success. Names like Greg Popovich, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle, and Doc Rivers, they all follow the mantra of playing the right way. Although there’s an unspoken element in all of this.
No one talks about having veterans in place and hungry youth all at the same time in order to push beyond boundaries and limits teams thought were placed on themselves. The Golden State Warriors had this element, the Miami Heat had this element, and the Spurs, Celtics and Lakers can also be thrown into this fray. For the love, my 2004 Pistons are also a “play right” team.
Now speaking of these veterans, we have the Boston big 3 with older veterans behind them and with young Rondo hungry to win. Young LeBron and Bosh leaned on Dwayne Wade’s experience and the veterans Shane Battier, Ray Allen, and Chris Anderson in place. During Kobe’s fourth run with his Lakers, he had Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher as those who were experienced, with a young Trevor Ariza. The mighty Spurs of course had their own big 3 at the helm full of experience in Duncan, Parker and Ginobli, with more experience in Diaw and with youth in Kawhi, Green, and Mills. The Champion Warriors have Curry, Thompson and Green with vets Iguodala, Bogut, Lee and Barbosa isn’t exactly too old but he’s battle tested. Lastly, my 2004 Pistons had hunger and youth in Prince and Hamilton, and had loads of experience with Rasheed and Chauncey. Plus you had to fear the fro! Big Ben Wallace!
On the surface, these teams all had two things in common: great coaching and teamwork. It gets no better than the Spurs and Warriors who put together remarkable runs built on ball movement, spacing, and defense. The Spurs single-handedly put together some of the best team basketball seen since the beginning if basketball itself. I’m too young to have seen but research had led me to understand that basketball wasn’t so much of an individual sport as it can be now, at times. It was about sharing the ball and creating an advantage by player movement and moving the ball constantly until you found the open man.
This should serve as a PSA for the current and future stars who think the buck stops with them. It just doesn’t. Although having a superstar never hurts.