Tag Archives: Tim Duncan

MoNeYBaLL 50 NBA Podcast: What Defines An NBA Organization

By Opinionated MJ

NBA Overload (Stats VS Effect): MoneYBaLL Episode 3

By: Opinionated MJ & NilClassic

Stats vs Effect

LeBron vs Kobe

Tim Duncan

And everything NBA!

Enjoy and thank you for the support!

Twin Towers!?!?!! DeMarcus Cousins & Anthony Davis

By: Opinionated MJ
Cousins and Anthony Davis Will Make Big Men Relevant Again


The return of the big man is on the horizon. The respect for Big Men will return along with it. Once DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis hit the floor together, we’ll begin to see what a twin tower tandem can do together. The first true big man duo since David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Unless you want to count Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol or Zach Randolph & Marc Gasol. There will be huge differences, including the fact they both are averaging 20 plus points a game and 10 plus rebounds a game individually. They can also both stretch the floor from mid range and from 3. I can imagine that if Alvin Gentry can adjust his playbook to benefit having both players on the floor at the same time, we’ll begin to see immediate results.

We know they need more roster moves, of course. I am one who believes they’ll be ready out of the gate, from the interior at least. How much more were the players the Pelicans traded away doing that DeMarcus Cousins can’t do? Nothing! Who do you prefer? Grinding always resulted in success, as recently as the finals, we’ve seen that. LeBron and the Cleveland Cavs worked inside out and dismantled the Warriors that way. So maybe there’s another kryptonite being constructed to take on the “invincible” (not) Warriors. They can be defeated. The Pelicans greatest strength is their greatest weakness, having two bigs that can get it done and definitely needing the supporting cast to play their roles to perfection. It’s the Spurs that they need to worry about. They don’t have an answer for Kawhi Leonard. That’s a fact.

I know you all probably think I’m getting ahead of myself in excitement, hell, they could lose all of the rest of their games and I’ll still be a newly minted bandwagon fan. I’m here for the long haul as long as this duo is together. I’m sick of the Warriors and Cavs, and the finals match-up everyone predicts between the two. I’m ready for someone to disrupt them both. Put them on notice. I think this will be the greatest threat to the entire Western Conference and to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the future. Funny how there’s no other east teams mentioned. Even the Rockets just got stronger. It’s time that another potentially strong team came up from the ashes in the entire NBA.

Bash this move while you can but the New Orleans Pelicans were not in any better shape going forward if they stood pat. They’ve been struggling for years and made the playoffs two years ago only to be ousted by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. They’ve had no success other than that, not since Chris Paul. It’s been even worse that they’ve lost a key player in nearly every season since Davis became a Pelican.

Cut them some slack. Give them a chance and congratulate the New Orleans  Pelicans as an organization. Give DeMarcus Cousins a chance to grow fit those who don’t see the progress he’s already made in the maturation process. Kudos to the front office! No other GM’s decided to go in another direction entirely. A few deals at this deadline were made but the majority all opted to play it safe. I’ll even give the Kings organization credit for finally letting him go and allowing both the organization and Cousins to find other ways to succeed instead of accepting being stuck. Playing it safe though is fine, it’s job stability. For those who desire to win? It’s win or go home.

​LeBron James, Top five NBA player of all Time?

By: Opinionated Reezy



There was a discussion on ESPN First Take where the discussion was whether LeBron James is in the Top five all-time NBA Players. This is because LeBron James hit another landmark this season by surpassing Moses Malone in the all-time scoring list, putting him at eighth.  He is also currently sixteenth in assists.

Steven A. Smith gave a very poor answer to the question as there really is not an “it depends” to this questions.  To paraphrase he said:
LeBron James is Top five for 46 minutes
LeBron James is not Top five for the remaining 2 minutes

Now, before we continue let me state for the record that I DO NOT believe LeBron James is a Top five NBA Player of all time YET, but he has earned the right to be in the conversation.  

Let me explain why I feel Steven A. Smith’s answer was poor and then I’ll comment on the Top Five list in general.

After Michael Jordan’s real retirement in 1998 the NBA has been on an unhealthy pursuit to find the heir apparent.  Every time you saw a player that could dunk and exhibit some leadership skill they were measured against the legacy of Jordan.  There have been on two players who have really survived that high mark of excellence, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.  Of the two ONLY Kobe Bryant can truly be compared to Michael Jordan.  He was the heir and overall, we overlooked his greatness until he gave all he could give. Kobe lives for those final two minutes like Michael Jordan did, Kobe has ice in his veins, Kobe is the one kids today should look at if they “wanna be like Mike”, be like Kobe.  LeBron James lives for 36 minutes.  He wants to play the game in such a way where he can prepare for the next one, and that means building the lead and letting the team finish the job. Amongst those are expected to score who are not point guards, he is deliberately on the all-time assist list as he is better suited as an all-around team player.  That sounds more like Magic Johnson, than Michael Jordan.  I would imagine for LeBron James, if he must take the last shot then win or lose the game would be considered a failure to him.

I find Steven A. Smith’s answer to be poor because it is, once again, viewing the world only through the lens of Michael Jordan.

I will repeat Lebron James is not a Top five all-time NBA Player yet.  For me he hasn’t achieved enough moments that would cause pause, He hasn’t really garnered a signature trait that would make you say “uh oh”.  It is coming though.

So, who is currently listed in the Top Five?  Per Bleacher Report:

Michael Jordan (SG)

Bill Russell (C )

Magic Johnson (PG)

Kareem Abdul-Jabar (C )

Larry Bird (SF)

LeBron James (SF)

Wilt Chamberlain (C )

Tim Duncan (PF)

Shaquille O’Neal (C )

Hakeem Olajuwon (C )

Here is where I have an issue.  Where is Kobe?  For all the reasons, I listed above, here is how I would change the list:

Remove Wilt Chamberlain – Great Player, but others have achieved more with less.

Insert Kobe Bryant into the Number 5 spot – symbolic that his airness and rightful heir would end cap the top five.

Drop Larry Bird to 6 and Lebron James to 7.

I am not a fan of lists that heavily laced with Centers so that is my bias however, I believe the list with the adjustments is fair.

What do you think?

​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.

Landscape of the NBA: Summer 16 (Part II)


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.

 

Indiana Pacers

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.

 

Boston Celtics

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.

 

Detroit Pistons

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!

“The Decision II featuring Kevin Durant”

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!

Steph Pressured, Uncomfortable, Reeling, Slipping?

NBA: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Mar 19, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) passes over San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

 

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.

Tim Duncan: Year of Appreciation

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Tim Duncan: Year of Appreciation

By: Opinionated MJ

 

Tis the season for old Kobe. How quickly we forget the possibility that this is also Tim Duncan’s last season. We won’t be giving him a farewell, we won’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye, we won’t get a chance to marvel at his bank in jumpers, his surprising defense, and his footwork that could only be matched by Kobe himself IF he would actually work the post. Enough of Kobe now. Let’s actually talk about the man who could walk away from the game with 6 NBA Championships if his team could win this year.

Tim Duncan is arguably the best Power Forward to ever play the game. Some would debate that Larry Bird is, but he didn’t have the same longevity that Tim Duncan has. We could say that it’s because of the organization, we could say that it’s from having selfless players around him who are all focused on the prize, willing to take pay cuts, willing to sacrifice individuality for a greater cause, not being a part of a big market, seemingly walking around without egos, and always being slept on every year until they ultimately reach the Conference Finals or the NBA Finals en route to an NBA Championship. It’s always the same story, honestly. Season begins and someone else is chosen as the #1 cream of the crop. Cleveland was last year’s favorite although the Spurs hoisted the title the year before over the Miami Heat, Golden State was the champion during the more recent season and they are now considered the favorite, and we could honestly say that Miami was the favorite two seasons ago after repeating as NBA Champions. When are the Spurs ever the favorites anyway? Seriously? Before the last 3 titles were handed out we had the Cavs, Heat, Lakers and Celtics, considered as favorites over the previous 5-10 years.

You look at this team now and it has the makings of a continued dynasty. They have a Kawhi Leonard who has emerged as a two-way star, they have a LaMarcus Aldridge who is basically the next to take over the reins inside once Tim Duncan is gone. They still have Tony Parker who should be able to keep going at a good rate over the next 2-3 years (potentially 5 solid years). Ginobli will be gone after this season, right? I think this will be his last go round. Tony Parker could honestly retire in 3 years if he wanted to and he’ll ultimately need to pass the torch to someone who’ll fill in as his replacement, like Kawhi is to Ginobli, like Aldridge is to Duncan. They need a replacement for Tony and they’ll be fine. They have depth and they also have the personnel behind the players to continue this dynasty. I think it’s legal to call it that right? They do have the most wins as a trio (Duncan, Parker, Ginobli) in NBA history, they do share 5 titles together, and they all are cut from the same selfless cloth. Now Kawhi, LaMarcus and an anonymous PG of the future will carry this team into the future. For now, though, they are a legitimate threat to the NBA landscape and they are a legit championship contender. We still haven’t seen the best of the Spurs yet. They haven’t fully meshed with Aldridge and West coming in, not yet. They fight hard and get it done when they need to like they did the other night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, closing out that game while Cleveland was pushing like a bull to steal a win.

We need to appreciate Tim Duncan and we need to start watching him the same way we watch Kobe… Like this is his last year. Don’t wait till it’s too late. I’m enjoying what I’m seeing from him. We’ll probably never see someone so fundamentally sound ever again. Champion on all levels.

Chip for Clips?

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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.

Inside In

San Antonio Spurs players Tim Duncan (21) holds his MVP trophy while teammate David Robinson (50) holds the championship trophy after the Spurs beat the New Jersey Nets 88-77 to win the NBA Championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in San Antonio, June 15, 2003. The sports year in Texas got off to a rousing start with Bill Parcells saying on Jan. 1 that he had agreed to coach the Dallas Cowboys and soon after, the San Antonio Spurs gave David Robinson the ultimate reitrement present, an NBA title. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, file)

By: Opinionated MJ

With LaMarcus Aldridge agreeing to join San Antonio, the Spurs look primed to bring a certain style back to the game that has definitely been endangered. The league has been pushing fastball and the Golden State Warriors fit that model. They’ve done away with voting for “true” centers on the All-Star ballot and now we’re using the term “3 & D” and the important “stretch 4” to describe players that should be playing the power forward position. We’re playing two shooting guards, two small forwards, and a “big”. Let me explain that the easy way: Steph, Klay, Barnes, Iggy, Green as a starting 5. Basically two shooting guards and nearly three small forwards. How many “true centers” do we have there? None. League wide? Cousins, Hibbert, Gasol (Marc), Drummond, Howard, Bogut? Okay, we have more than I thought and I could name more, I think. We’re going to see something like a David Robinson and Tim Duncan frontcourt this upcoming season with Aldridge on board. It’s already July so only three months before we get back into the game on the daily.

Be prepared to be reminded of what the 90’s and early 2000’s basketball looked like, offensively, especially if the Spurs plan on winning a championship as constructed. I don’t think they can get it done without adding at least another shooter or two, and one that can slash. I’ll be direct, they need to replace Bellineli. Period. He made it where Ginobli didn’t need to be as important against other teams when the postseason arrived. Ginobli served as icing on the cake. The only way they can survive as constructed is if they move their plan of attack (and I always compare them to the 2014 Championship Spurs) under the three-point line a bit more. With Aldridge, Duncan, and West, they can play in the mid-post area. The same area Michael Jordan acquired rings from. This of course also allows Duncan to rest even more definitively with West added. He should never play more than 28-30 minutes a game with them both being added to this team. Tiago Splitter was decent but he misses a lot of close shots that could tip the scale of a game. I’m talking easy lay-ups. Aldridge won’t miss those. West is more reliable in that area as well. I expect them to outrebound and outscore opponents in the paint EVERY NIGHT! Same way I expected the Big 3 Miami Heat to win championships, no less. The Spurs sure have a way of deflating current champions when they don’t occupy that spot themselves.

Outside of the Spurs, they only have 4 threats depending on how Free Agency boils down. The Warriors, Thunder, Cavs, and the Clippers IF they can retain DeAndre Jordan. Don’t forget they’ve acquired Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce. As I write this, the Clippers representatives are at his home and not allowing any reps from the Mavericks to enter his home. Reports say that they will stay there until he re-signs with them. Smart move huh? How can you get kidnapped at your own home? Crazy stuff. Anyhow, the Spurs should be able to outlast just about anyone in the coaching department, but you can’t coach how to stop Steph from pulling up in your face from distance and making it unless you employ a fierce trap defense which will leave you with holes. I am one who believes that the Warriors were NOT at full strength in the Finals. Say what you will but didn’t Klay only score 6 points in the last game? Didn’t Steph only wake up at the end of game 3? Draymond didn’t get acclimated until game 3. Adjustments weren’t made until after game 3. I also don’t think the Clippers had the depth to win this year. I’m still shocked they allowed a comeback from 3-1. So atrocious. You know they cried in the car after that.

The dark-horse in all of this is the OKC Thunder who, when healthy, have the Spurs number. Keep Enes Kanter to go with Ibaka and Adams. Slim Reaper returning from injury with Russell Westbrook who could carry a team to the #3 seed in the east? PROBLEMS! They too, need to acquire RELIABLE shooters. They have my boy Kyle Singler who they acquired from my Pistons but they traded Jeremy Lamb away. Who on that team can shoot besides Durant? Russell? I don’t want to see Ibaka shooting long 2’s and 3 pointers when he has Durant to do that for him. They have to acquire someone who will make a difference. I wont sleep on McGary either. Do I really have to speak on Cleveland? Simple. They have LeBron James.

This league is a guard’s league right now. It seemingly has always been. Nothing works without a decent point guard in place either. Now, we’re requiring every position to have skills like guards instead of serving their very own purposes. I mean, LeBron played the 4 & 5 during the playoffs. Handled the ball, setup the team, set the pace, controlled the game. He did it all. So thinking there’s an easy way to get past Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley, there isn’t. Anthony Davis is also on the prowl. If Jrue Holiday can stay healthy, you can add him to that list along with the Pelicans. The Rockets could be a threat but they can’t let go of too much depth. I’m also believing that the Kings with Rajon Rondo will be a problem if they can get Cousins and Karl to mend their differences (I truly don’t know about that though) and if they let Rondo dominate the ball and his teammates be happy with that decision. Imagine if Phil Jackson could coach the Kings… Now wake up!

The western conference remains stacked and we could analyze what each team could do to beat the Spurs. Simply said, the Spurs can’t be handed the title while they have a little less depth in the backcourt and still no assurance that Parker and Ginobli will be healthy. If Tony Parker is down and out, you can French kiss that ring goodbye.