Earlier this week, the NBA put out their KIA MVP Ladder, ranking players based on their production so far this season. Below are the top five MVP candidates so far.
Current NBA MVP rankings
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
2. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
3. Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
4. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
5. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
With all of these guys having some of the best teams in the league and them all being some of the most popular names in basketball, it’s no surprise these guys are atop the list.
The next five
6. James Harden, Houston Rockets
7. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
8. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
9. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
10. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
As the list moves into the next five, it’s no surprise the guys listed above are there either. They’re just as popular as the guys above, it’s just their teams haven’t had as much early success.
And five more
11. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
12. Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat
13. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
14. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
15. Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics
Then there’s these guys, who are having successful seasons early on and are still popular names, but aren’t as popular as the top tier guys.
The guy who should be in the conversation
With most of this list I agree, but there’s one huge disagreement. That’s the absence of the name Pascal Siakam. I get Siakam isn’t a super popular name. Last year was the first year most people knew who he was! Instead of being a star player, he won Most Improved Player. While that is an accomplishment, winning Most Improved doesn’t make you a star.
I understand that Siakam has yet to play an entire season as the main guy for his team, but based on what he’s done so far this season, he absolutely should be in the MVP conversation.
Through the Raptors’ first eight games, Siakam has led them to a 6-2 record, which currently puts them second in the Eastern Conference. In those eight games, Siakam has averaged 27.9 points (7th in the NBA), 9.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He’s doing all that while shooting 51.9% from the field and 41.3% from three-point range.
First of all, why is the NBA’s seventh leading scorer not in the top 15 in the MVP race? Guys like AD, LeBron, KAT and Booker are all on the list, and they’re all currently averaging less points than Siakam!
Second, how in the world is Kendrick Nunn, an undrafted rookie, ahead of Siakam? Nunn is averaging 16.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game and ranks 12th on the list, yet Siakam is left off? Makes perfect sense!
Where should Siakam rank?
If you ask me, Siakam should at the very least be ranked in the top 10. Let’s take a look at the guys in the top 10 and briefly compare them to Siakam.
Jokic currently has his team at the same record as the Raptors and in the same playoff spot, only in the Western Conference. However, he averages 16.3 points, which is 11.6 less than Siakam. Jokic averages 0.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists more than Siakam, but there’s no way that’s enough to overtake him.
Booker has his team off to a worse start (5-3), and is also averaging less points and significantly less rebounds. Lillard currently has the Blazers at 3-6 and not in a playoff spot, so I’m not sure why he’s even on the MVP list. He may be the league’s second leading scorer, but MVP’s don’t play for losing teams. Irving is kind of in the same boat as Lillard. He’s the league’s third leading scorer, but his team is just 4-4 and seems to be struggling to finish games. If anyone ranked six through 10 has a legit case, it’s Harden, who has his team at 6-3 and is the league’s leading scorer right now.
Now let’s move to the guys ranked in the top five. Embiid currently averages less points and assists, while shooting worse percentages from the field than Siakam. I’d easily take Siakam over Embiid for MVP right now.
This is where it starts to get interesting. AD and James are both averaging less points than Siakam, but they do have the best record in the Western Conference right now. You could make the argument here that Siakam has less help, because he’s not playing with a top five NBA player, while these two guys are.
That leaves us with Kawhi and the Greek Freak. Both guys are averaging more points than Siakam. With both of their teams sitting right where the Raptors are, I think I’d have to put these guys above Siakam at this moment.
I don’t know if I can pinpoint a specific place for Siakam to rank right now, but I’d say he’s at least in the top five. At the very, very least, he should be in the top 15! Again, how on earth is Kendrick Nunn ranked over him, or even in the top 15 at all?
Pascal Siakam may be last year’s Most Improved Player, but he’s this year’s star for the Toronto Raptors. Siakam is a star, yet most people don’t see it. It’s time to start recognizing Siakam as more than the guy who helped Kawhi a year ago. It’s time to recognize him as a legit MVP candidate. Let’s give him the recognition he deserves.
Today we’re taking a look at the top 10 shooting guards in free agency and where each of them could go. In case you missed any of the other positions so far, follow the links at the bottom of the page.
Top 10 shooting guards
1. Klay Thompson
Current Team: Golden State Warriors
New Team: Golden State Warriors
It’s going to be tough to believe Klay Thompson will leave the Warriors. If he does, it’ll be because of Kevin Durant staying. I say that because Thompson went from being the second option to the third, and it showed a lot through the past few seasons what its done to him. He’s one of the best defensive guards in the league, and I honestly want him to sign with the Lakers, but he’ll be injured for most of the season. That injury could just have him take a short term deal with the Warriors, despite how many teams may want him. I find it hard for the Splash Brothers to split up.
2. Jimmy Butler
Current Team: Philadelphia 76ers
New Team: Houston Rockets
According to the reports, the Sixers want to keep Butler on a max deal. However, there are several teams in the hunt. The Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets are two teams favored to land him. The Clippers want to try to get a pairing of Kawhi Leonard and Butler together, but that’s not going to happen. The Rockets have openly said they want to do a sign-and-trade with the Sixers to get Butler. Of course, the Rockets can’t just sign him straight up. However, a deal that sends both Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker to Philadelphia with some first-round picks could do it for both sides.
3. J.J. Reddick
Current Team: Philadelphia 76ers
New Team: Los Angeles Lakers
The Sixers will be losing out on another great shooter. Honestly, as a Lakers fan, I’d rather have one of the top two guys here, but they haven’t been able to get the money right yet, and Reddick should once again sign a one-year deal with the Lakers and see how it goes before signing long term.
4. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Current Team: Los Angeles Lakers
New Team: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers missing out on Butler gives them a bit of nerve as they look for a true three and D guy who can help their team. That will also allow them to continue bringing Lou Williams off the bench as the sixth man. Caldwell-Pope is a better player than he’s been given credit for. Let’s be honest, the Lakers couldn’t keep up with the rotation of their players. That was one of the biggest issues with the coaching staff. Caldwell-Pope often found himself behind in the rotation, so hopefully, it’s better for the Clippers.
5. Terrance Ross
Current Team: Orlando Magic
New Team: Indiana Pacers
Terrance Ross is one of the more underrated guards in the league. I think he’ll really be able to shine in Indiana with Ricky Rubio and Victor Oladipo. He fits that type of offense and he’ll have a much larger role in the beginning of the season with Oladipo trying to recover from injury.
6. Rodney Hood
Current Team: Portland Trail Blazers
New Team: Portland Trail Blazers
Hood will continue to be the sixth man for the Blazers. Although, there have been talks of him also joining the Lakers and reuniting with LeBron James. The Blazers and Hood fit well together. He helped them get to the Conference Finals in a tough Western Conference. He plays well off the ball with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. I can see him being a huge part of the team again this year.
7. Danny Green
Current Team: Toronto Raptors
New Team: New York Knicks
With the recent news of Marc Gasol opting into his contract, it makes it more obvious that Green could be on the move, especially if the Raptors really do want to bring Kawhi Leonard back. I think Danny Green will be a good fit in New York, putting himself in the Big Apple with DeAndre Jordan, Marcus Morris and R.J. Barrett. Green could continue to be a starter for the Knicks as they slowly progress with Barrett taking over. I think they could be a bit better if they get the right pieces around them.
8. Jeremy Lamb
Current Team: Charlotte Hornets
New Team: Chicago Bulls
With the Hornets spending all the money on keeping Kemba Walker and adding Enes Kanter, they’ll be limited on certain things. With Malik Monk likely to continue to be the starter, Lamb could go elsewhere. I think Chicago would be a great place for him. The Bulls could use all the guard help they can get. Lamb would be a nice piece off the bench for the Bulls behind Zach LaVine and could turn into a nice role player like he was in Charlotte.
9. Wesley Matthews
Current Team: Indiana Pacers
New Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
I think this is a dream made to come true. The Thunder haven’t had a shooting guard who’s shoot first since James Harden, and they need the extra offense. I know Matthews is much older now, but he’s one of the leagues best veteran leaders, and he showed that last season with the Pacers. The problem is that he has to be a starter to be successful. That’s why he’ll succeed with the Thunder alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
10. Austin Rivers
Current Team: Houston Rockets
New Team: Orlando Magic
I don’t think Rivers will be staying with the Rockets. They already have a lot of things to figure out trying to get Butler. Rivers is a nice bench piece to have. With the Magic losing Ross, I think Rivers could be a great addition. He can also play both guard positions, which is a bonus if Rozier and Fultz struggle.
If you’re a fan of the NBA and not a Golden State Warriors fan, there’s a good chance you’re rooting against the defending NBA champions this postseason. It’s about time we see the Warriors’ dynasty come to an end, but is there a team who can dethrone the Warriors?
On my way to work a few days ago, I asked my co-worker who he thought, if anyone can, has the best chance at dethroning the Golden State Warriors as NBA champions. He answered by saying the Philadelphia 76ers. I politely disagreed, but realized I didn’t have a sure answer to my own question.
Who do I think has the best chance to dethrone the defending champs? We’ll get there in a minute, but first let me tell you why I don’t think it’s the 76ers. Yes, the 76ers have a starting lineup that’s perhaps the second best in the NBA, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the best chance at beating the Warriors.
For any team to beat the Warriors, there are two main things that team needs to do. What are those two things?
Play great defense
For the 76ers, I believe their talent matches up to what the Warriors have, but their shooting doesn’t. Ben Simmons can’t shoot, Joel Embiid can shoot, but he’s not consistent, and both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are solid shooters, but neither measure up to what the Warriors can do. I’m confident in JJ Redick as a shooter, but he’s not going to have the ball as much as Simmons, Embiid, Butler and Harris.
As far as their defense goes, the 76ers rank seventh among the 16 playoff teams in points allowed per game. Not bad, but it’s also not great either. In order to beat the Warriors, I think a team needs to have a great defense while also having a great shooting team. I believe the 76ers could win a game or two against the Warriors, but I don’t think they shoot well enough or play good enough defense.
Is there a team like that remaining in the NBA playoffs? Yes.
Who is it? The Milwaukee Bucks.
How did I come to the conclusion that the Milwaukee Bucks have the best chance to dethrone the Warriors? Numbers, of course! Let’s take a look at how the Bucks fit the qualifications of shooting well and playing great defense.
Of all the teams in the playoffs this postseason, the Milwaukee Bucks rank second in points per game, behind the Golden State Warriors. Their 117.6 points per game is the closest average to the Warriors’ 120.8 points per game.
We can’t just look at points per game. We’ll also look at field goal and three point percentage. The Bucks have a FG percentage of .476, which is second only to the Warriors’ .491 FG percentage.
Then there’s three point percentage. The Boston Celtics actually have the best percentage in the playoffs, but the Warriors are second and the Bucks are third. The Bucks have a three point percentage that’s almost identical to that of the Warriors. The Warriors have a three point percentage of .384, while the Bucks shoot a percentage of .380. The Bucks may not seem like a team who can compete with some of the best shooters in NBA history from the three point line, but their numbers say otherwise.
The Warriors play great defense, but their points per game allowed actually rank 13th among all playoff teams. Regardless of if their defense is doing well or not, the Warriors have the best offense, which means if a team is going to take them down, they must play great defense.
The Milwaukee Bucks have the fourth best points allowed per game average in the playoffs, and are third among active playoff teams. They also rank 3rd among active teams in FG% allowed. To top that off, the Bucks rank first in blocks per game in the playoffs.
According to the numbers, the Milwaukee Bucks may not have the best overall defense among playoff teams, but they’ve got a defense more than capable of locking down their opponents. They’re towards the top when it comes to defense. Combined that with the second best offense, second only to the Warriors, the Bucks have everything they need to dethrone the Warriors if they were to meet in the NBA Finals.
Which remaining NBA team is best equipped to dethrone the Warriors? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Okay, so that was one of the more boring first rounds of NBA playoff history. Looking back at the early round predictions, things went pretty well for us, except what Damian Lillard did to Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
I never thought the Blazers had a real chance to beat the Thunder if it went to all seven games, but they didn’t even need that. I knew Lillard was underrated, and I love how he’s always been an underdog his whole career, but he made Westbrook look like a rookie out there.
But aside from Lillard’s incredible series winning three-pt shot over Paul George in game five, several other things happened too.
Things like the Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley giving it all they have against the defending champion, Golden State Warriors. That even resulted in ejections by both Beverly and Warriors’ Kevin Durant. And of course, DeMarcus Cousins got injured again. Lou Williams was also proving why he is the best player ever to come off the bench.
The Houston Rockets took care of the Utah Jazz with ease, as James Harden and Chris Paul proved to be too much for Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz.
Speaking of handling, the Spurs and Nuggets battled their way into a game seven, and it could’ve gone either way. But the Nuggets found a way to wrap up the series behind Nikola Jokic’s triple-double.
The Eastern Conference playoffs weren’t worth watching at all. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics swept their opponents in four games, and you would’ve thought that the Indiana Pacers would’ve given the Celtics a bit of a challenge.
The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers lost shocking game ones, only to win four straight games and finish the series in five games.
But now that we have the next round of matchups set after a long seven-game series between the Spurs and Nuggets, we will take a look at the second round predictions.
Before we get started, I would like us all to take a moment of silence for one of the greatest Celtics in history, John Havlicek, as he passed away on Thursday at the age of 79.
Western Conference: Eastern Conference:
Warriors vs. 4. Rockets 1. Bucks vs. 4. Celtics
Nuggets vs. 3. Blazers 2. Raptors vs. 3. 76ers
That’s what the playoffs look like, but let’s see what our predictions are!
4. Rockets over 1. Warriors in seven
3. Blazers over 2. Nuggets in six
1. Bucks over 4. Celtics in seven
2. Raptors over 3. Sixers in six
4. Rockets over 1. Warriors in six
2. Nuggets over 3. Blazers in five
1. Bucks over 4. Celtics in seven
2. Raptors over 3. Sixers in seven
1. Warriors over 4. Rockets in seven
2. Nuggets over 3. Blazers in six
1. Bucks over 4. Celtics in six
2. Raptors over 3. Sixers in seven
1. Warriors over 4. Rockets in six
3. Blazers over 2. Nuggets in seven
1. Bucks over 4. Celtics in six
3. Sixers over 2. Raptors in seven
Aman seemed to be the only one who picked the Blazers and Spurs to win their first-round series, and he got the number of games right for them too. But this round should be different. The question is, can the Rockets beat the Warriors in the second round? Aman and I both think that’s the case here. I honestly believe that with a healthy Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, and James Harden, the Rockets could do it. The addition of Kenneth Faried off the bench is also a plus because it will force the Warriors to make adjustments when Faried and Capela are on the floor together. Will the loss of DeMarcus Cousins affect the Warriors in their pursuit of the three-peat?
Nonetheless, I think the winner of this series will make it to the NBA finals, and that will be more clear in a few more weeks. Aman doesn’t seem to have faith in the Blazers in this round, as we saw Lillard play lights out. Look to see him do more of what he has been doing because that guy is hungry and unless he gets a snicker, he’ll never be satisfied.
Everyone seems to think the Bucks will eliminate Kyrie Irving and the Celtics in either six or seven games, making them the front runner for the NBA finals. But Dan thinks the Sixers will knock off Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors, while the rest of us believe the Raptors will face the Bucks.
Behind all the great picks in the NFL draft, there was still the first round of the NBA playoffs being wrapped up. Though you might have tuned out of the last few games, we should now look at the next round. We continue to give you our predictions for the next round, through to the NBA Finals.
Now that the NBA is in it’s annual All-star break and the trade deadline has passed, it’s a perfect time to evaluate the contenders in the Eastern Conference.
When LeBron left last summer, the Boston Celtics became the clear favorite, with Toronto a close second due to the addition of Kawhi Leonard. However, after two thirds of the regular season, there are now four legitimate contenders fighting for the throne in the Eastern Conference. Who will be wearing the crown come May?
The Bucks are the current one seed in the East and have a legit MVP candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis leads the Bucks in points, rebounds and assists and is gaining confidence every night.
I would not want to play Milwaukee in the playoffs now that Giannis is developing that mindset. The addition of Nikola Mirotic helps the Bucks’ perimeter game and frees up the lane for Giannis to drive more.
The only downside I see for the Bucks is the lack of proven veterans. In the playoffs, the defense picks up and experience is huge. Giannis will get his every night, but if teams key on the role players, Milwaukee could be in trouble.
Toronto is completely selling out on winning this year. Kawhi Leonard is a free agent this summer and Marc Gasol has a player option. Both players could leave at the end of the season. Additionally, the Raptors were even rumored to be shopping Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline.
Burning bridges with Lowry after what they did to DeRozan last summer is a very risky play. The future in Toronto is so uncertain, that if any year is their year, it has to be this year. Toronto could potentially be in for a rebuild in the near future.
Now that the Raptors kryptonite, LeBron James, is no longer in their way, maybe it’s their time to be Eastern Conference champions. But can you imagine the Lakers somehow making a run to the NBA Finals and LeBron continuing his son’ing of Toronto? Obviously, it won’t happen, but it’s fun to think about.
The new look 76ers are a scary team. Immediately after the trade deadline, Philly won games against the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, following that with a close loss to a Kyrie-less Boston team at home.
The Phantastic Five starting lineup: JoJo, Ben, Tobias, Jimmy Buckets and JJ is arguably the best starting five in the league, right up their with Golden State. Even with the loss to Boston, the good news for Philly fans is that this team had very few practices between the trade deadline and these three games.
The Sixers were playing pickup basketball and learning how to play with each other, while winning purely due to their talent. However, once Brett Brown can implement plays and this team builds chemistry with the new additions, they are my pick to come out of the Eastern Conference this season. Who knows? Maybe they can even challenge Golden State for a championship. If you think you’re sensing my Philly bias, just wait and see, this team is the real deal.
In order for the 76ers to make the NBA Finals, they will most likely need to first overcome their Boston problem, having lost 10 of their last 12 games to the Celtics.
Boston was the preseason Eastern Conference favorite and a team that has impressive bench depth. If you said at the beginning of the season that Boston would be fourth in the East at the All-star break with no serious injuries, I would’ve bet you my entire bank account on the Celtics being top three.
Boston was adding Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to a roster of young stars in the making who took LeBron James, the seven time consecutive Eastern Conference champion and GOAT, to a Game 7 in the Conference Finals.
Fast forward to now with all the drama surrounding Kyrie’s pending free agency, an underperforming Hayward and a roster full of young players who are not satisfied with their new roles, and the Celtics are the team who need this mid-season break the most. Although, when the playoffs come, I think all the noise around this team will dissipate. Defense picks up in the NBA playoffs and the game slows down a lot, both which should benefit the C’s style of play. If Philly is intimidated and can’t mentally overcome their big brother, Boston Celtics, then Boston will be representing the East in the Finals this season.
Remember last year when the all the talk in the NBA was about restructuring the NBA playoffs and possibly even rearranging conferences because the Western Conference was far superior?
I believe the West had something like 15 of the top 16 ranked players based on some complex statistics. The one Eastern Conference player was obviously LeBron James. The interesting part to me was that this was less of a desire for star players to play in the West, as much as it was a desire to not have to play against playoff LeBron until the Finals. And you know why my theory is still supported now, because the year LeBron goes West, the East stacks up with star players.
Now, less than 12 months after the conference realignment talk, the Eastern Conference is, in my opinion, the stronger conference. The four teams at the top of the East are loaded with talent. That will play out with much more entertaining and competitive playoff series.
It is no longer inevitable that the Warriors and LeBron will face off in the NBA Finals. I never expected to see so many teams in the East selling all out the season immediately following LeBron’s departure to the West. Yet, that is exactly what Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia and Boston are doing. Even considering my analysis above, I think it is extremely difficult to separate any of the above four teams.
I will not be the least bit surprised with whichever team makes the Finals this year out of the above list. Each has unique strengths. The team that comes out on top will be the one who gets hot at just the right time. The one thing I do know with absolute certainty, is this is the most excited I have been about the upcoming NBA playoffs in many years.
The NBA trade deadline has officially come and gone. Before the deadline hit, we saw several trades made around the NBA. We saw several contenders make moves to make them better, while other teams weren’t as fortunate with their trade situations.
Like anytime there’s a trade, there’s going to be winners and losers. My fellow Fourth Quarter Sports writer, Jon Geib, and I have worked together to put together a list of the biggest winners and losers of the 2019 NBA trade deadline. How did your team do? Let’s find out!
NBA trade deadline winners and losers
Winner: Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers were very active at the NBA trade deadline, notably adding Tobias Harris
and getting rid of Markelle Fultz. The first trade sent Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, Landry
Shamet and four picks to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott. The Sixers gave up a lot, but this trade showed they’re all in on trying to win a championship this season.
Harris is a much needed upgrade at the power forward position. Boban provides a serviceable big man to backup Joel Embiid. The starting five in Philadelphia featuring Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick, is easily the second best in the entire NBA, behind only the Golden State Warriors.
The second trade of Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic, returned Jonathan Simmons along with a first and a second round pick. Jonathan Simmons adds depth to the bench, which is the number one criticism of the current Sixers’ roster. Elton Brand took some risks this year, especially with Butler and Harris on expiring contracts, but for this season the Sixers were definitely winners at the NBA trade deadline. – Jon Geib
Loser: Los Angeles Lakers
Obviously, you expected to see the Lakers in the loser category after they failed to land
Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans at the deadline. Magic Johnson was willing to
trade all the young players on his team, any and all future first-round picks, Luke Walton, three
of his dogs and his first born son.
Honestly, I think the Pelicans did the Lakers a favor by not accepting any of the Lakers’ trade offers. The Lakers were clearly panicking and willing to overpay a ridiculous amount and mortgage the future of the organization in order to appease LeBron James. The young players for Los Angeles were clearly impacted by all of this trade talk. It was visible in Tuesday’s 42-point loss to the Indiana Pacers, who are currently missing their best player, Victor Oladipo.
There is a very realistic chance that Anthony Davis will not join the Lakers until 2020. By then, LeBron will be turning 36 during the season. I can assure you the Lakers did not anticipate their biggest NBA trade deadline acquisition to be Mike Muscala. – Jon Geib
Winner: Los Angeles Clippers
Ironically, the team who made the blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia 76ers were also
winners at the trade deadline. It is rare that both teams benefit from a trade, but that is the case
The Clippers did not want to pay Tobias Harris a large contract this summer, as they are hoping to acquire not just one, but two star free agents in the offseason. The Clippers acquired Landry Shamet, a rookie guard who is rapidly gaining confidence in his shot and has the potential to be a young JJ Redick in the making. They also flipped Mike Muscala from the Sixers to acquire Ivica Zubac, a young big man with potential, and Michael Beasley, who I presume will be bought out, from the Lakers.
But wait, the Clippers were still not done! They traded Avery Bradley to the Memphis Grizzlies, which created even more cap space. The key for the Los Angeles Clippers this season is to drop out of the playoffs, where they are currently the eight seed. If they miss the playoffs, they retain their first-round pick for the upcoming 2019 NBA draft, which was supposed to go to the Boston Celtics. Bravo Jerry West, bravo. – Jon Geib
Loser: Boston Celtics
The Celtics did not make any moves at the trade deadline, so you may be asking “How are they
losers?” Well, it is that exact reason I include them as a loser at the trade deadline. There are four strong teams vying to win the Eastern Conference this year: Toronto, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Boston. Three of those teams strengthened their roster at the trade deadline, and one team did nothing.
Toronto added Marc Gasol to give them a strong presence in the post. Milwaukee added perimeter shooting with Nikola Mirotic. Philadelphia bolstered their starting lineup with Tobias Harris. By keeping the roster intact, Danny Ainge made a statement that he believes the Celtics are strong enough with the current roster as is to win the Eastern Conference.
Boston has been under-performing this season after high expectations based on last
season’s deep playoff run. The reintegration of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to the lineup
has surprisingly caused problems for a young roster that took a LeBron-led Cavaliers team to
Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston’s inaction at the trade deadline
could very well be the reason they do not win the East. In turn, it could be the reason they lose Kyrie Irving this summer to free agency. – Jon Geib
Winner: Toronto Raptors
Sitting as the number two team in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors were already considered one of the legit title contenders in the conference. However, they saw their Eastern Conference challengers make some great moves, meaning they had to make some too.
The Raptors made a few moves, but by far their best move was acquiring Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks this season. Gasol is going to be a legit post presence for this team. He’ll also add another good defender to a roster already including Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka and Danny Green.
Gasol is easily an upgrade over Jonas Valanciunas. Losing Delon Wright and CJ Miles will make the most minimal impact for the Raptors, if it makes any impact at all. Neither of them played very much. The Grizzlies got an impactful player while not having to give up any players who were really valuable to them. Great trade for the Raptors. – Joel Deering
Loser: Mike Conley
The Memphis Grizzlies made their fair share of trades before the NBA trade deadline. They traded Marc Gasol to the Raptors, Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green to the Clippers, and Shelvin Mack to the Hawks. In return for those players, the Grizzlies acquired Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round pick from the Raptors, Avery Bradley from the Clippers and Tyler Dorsey from the Hawks.
Sitting at 22-23, the Grizzlies are currently the second worst team in a loaded Western Conference. Regardless of who they got rid of or who they got, they’re not going to be a playoff team. That’s the very reason why Mike Conley is an NBA trade deadline loser.
Conley’s name was heavily involved in trade talks, as was Marc Gasol’s. The difference is, Gasol now plays for a team who’s surely going to be a playoff team. Not just a playoff team, but a playoff team who has a legit chance at representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. While Conley saw Gasol leave, he stayed put in Memphis, where he’s going to have to play the rest of the season with a team who has no shot at making the playoffs.
To make it worse for Conley, it’s kind of his fault. There were rumors he was targeted by the Jazz, but then reports came out saying Conley didn’t want to play there. Utah currently sits at 31-24 in the seven spot in the Western Conference. They’ve got a real shot to be in the playoffs. A player as talented as Conley deserves to be in the playoffs, and he could have been. It’s too bad he ruined it for himself. Have fun watching Gasol in the playoffs come playoff time, Mike! – Joel Deering
Winner: Milwaukee Bucks
Already the best team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks made a move to help secure their status as one of the best in the league. By acquiring F Nikola Mirotic, the Bucks surrounded MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo with another weapon. Mirotic was having a career year with the Pelicans when he was playing. In 32 games played this season, he’s averaged a career high 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds.
In exchange for acquiring his services, the Bucks gave up Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson and four future second-round picks. Jason Smith played in six games for the Bucks. His best stat was averaging 2.2 points per game. Stanley Johnson was acquired for Thon Maker in a trade with the Pistons, but he never played a single game for the Bucks. Four picks could be considered a lot, but they’re all second-round picks.
Essentially, the Bucks gave up pretty much nothing for a legit NBA player. When Mirotic gets healthy again, he’s going to be a huge addition to the Bucks. He’s going to be huge for the Bucks in their playoff run. – Joel Deering
Loser: New Orleans Pelicans
While the Bucks won the NBA trade deadline, the New Orleans Pelicans did not. To recap the Mirotic trade, the Pelicans lost a 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game guy for Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson and four second-round picks. Smith averages 3.2 points per game on the season. Stanley Johnson averages 7.5 points per game this season. Between the two of them, they average significantly less points than Mirotic by himself.
The Pelicans acquired Mirotic from the Bulls last season for three players and a first-round pick. He was huge in the Pelicans making the playoffs last season. He’s been injured for a good chunk of this season, but you’ve seen the impact him not being around has had. The Pelicans are 24-31 and the third worst team in the Western Conference. With Mirotic now gone, the Pelicans likely have no shot at making the playoffs, even if Anthony Davis does play the remaining games.
Speaking of Anthony Davis, he’s still a member of the Pelicans after the NBA trade deadline. That could be a big mistake on their part. The Los Angeles Lakers were the biggest buyers for Davis. They offered the Pelicans quite a bit, including Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and multiple first-round picks.
Instead of accepting any offers from the Lakers, the Pelicans continued to raise the price higher and higher. Now they didn’t get anything for Davis. They’ll still have opportunities to trade him, but will any of their offers be as good as what the Lakers were offering? Maybe, or maybe not. – Joel Deering
This week I will take a look at the point guards in the Eastern Conference. The Western Conference clearly has more notable name point guards, but the East might be more top heavy with true point guards such as Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons.
With LeBron no longer in the East, the point guards below have a chance to do something that hasn’t been done in eight years. That’s make the NBA Finals. Once again, the below list is in no particular order.
Team: Boston Celtics Shooting: A-, His shooting is impressive from all spots on the floor. Kyrie is a clutch shooter as well, hitting one of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history to secure Cleveland its first ever title. Rebounding: C+, Not a primary skill for Irving, but not needed in Boston. Assists: B+, Kyrie averages modest assists in the NBA, but his assists are usually dimes due to his impressive court vision. Basketball IQ: B+, On the court, Kyrie is one of the smarter players in the league. Off the court, we all know that his IQ isn’t as high, as seen in his belief that the Earth is flat. Contribution to team’s success: A, Last season the Celtics did not have experience playing with Kyrie before his injury, but this year they are learning his importance to the team’s success. He will be needed if the Celtics want to have a deep playoff run.
Team: Philadelphia 76ers Shooting: F, Can I give a grade lower than an F? Last season, he shot a total of 42 shots outside of the paint. That is about 1 shot every 2 games and he was 12 for 42 on those shots. Rebounding: A, Simmons is right up there with Westbrook as one of the best rebounding guards, granted Simmons’ height and weight help him in this category. Assists: A-, Due to his tentativeness to shoot, he creates a lot of shots for his teammates, averaging over eight per game in each of his first two seasons of NBA play. Basketball IQ: A, I consider Ben’s court vision to be his greatest strength. He sees the game one step ahead of almost everyone on the court. That allows him to impact the game immensely. Contribution to team’s success: B+, Simmons is the motor that drives the offense, but with Joel Embiid leading the league in 20 point and 10 rebound games, Embiid is establishing himself as the #1 in Philadelphia.
Team: Toronto Raptors Shooting: B, His shooting is slightly above average for point guards in the league. In the playoffs however, he has seen his fair share of shooting struggles. Rebounding: C, Lowry doesn’t show much effort for rebounding, but at a generous 6’0″ height, it makes sense. Assists: A-, This grade is reflective of this season, as he has improved his assists by over three per game and is currently fifth in the NBA, averaging just a shade under 10 per game. Basketball IQ: B, Kyle is a relatively smart player, but I think his team would have greater success in the postseason if he made better decisions with the ball. Contribution to team’s success: B, This team goes as Kawhi Leonard goes at the moment. When healthy, he is arguably a top three player in the league. However, with Lowry’s improvement in his passing, he can prove to be valuable for the first seeded Raptors.
Shooting: B, Wall’s greatest strength is his speed and ability to attack and finish at the rim. His shooting is generally not something the Wizards rely on to win games. Rebounding: B-, Wall’s effort are fans’ main critique. I think this can frequently be seen in his lack of effort on the glass. Assists: B+, Averaging 9.2 per game prior to his season ending heel injury, Wall sees the court very well and finds his open teammates. Basketball IQ: A-, Maybe a point of contention for those who think he causes problems on the Wizards due to his on court play, but I believe he is an underrated player who is phenomenal at seeing the game as it develops. Contribution to team’s success: C+, I feel bad putting the grade this low, but the Wizards seem to play better without Wall. The other players get more shots and have more opportunities to show their growth, such as Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. I think on a different team this grade would change.
Shooting: B+, I would consider Walker’s shooting to be the opposite of Kyle Lowry’s. Walker is a modest shooter, but he seems to shoot best when the lights are brightest, hence his nickname: Cardiac Kemba. Rebounding: C+, He averages less than four rebounds a game for his career and doesn’t make it a large part of his game. Assists: B, As a shoot first point guard, assists come second to Walker’s game. Basketball IQ: B, I think he is an emotional player who sometimes gets caught up in the intensity of the game. It only becomes a negative when he forces bad shots. Contribution to team’s success: A, The Hornets are a franchise that has struggled in recent seasons, but the one bright spot in the team’s struggles has been Kemba, who the Hornets need to make it a priority to rebuild around.
Honorable Mention: Eric Bledsoe
Eric Bledsoe is an intriguing player. He has had an up and down career since he came out of the University of Kentucky. Bledsoe is most well-known for his tweet, “I don’t wanna be here” when he was with the miserable Phoenix Suns that he claims was about a barber shop he was in. However, in regards to his on court play, I believe Bledsoe is underrated and generally gets a bad reputation. Milwaukee seems to have been a much needed change of scenery for Bledsoe, as he can play second fiddle to Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is a serviceable point guard who has definitely made the Bucks better and can run an offense very well.
Who is the Point God of the Eastern Conference?
Once again we come to the question of who the Point God is, this time in the Eastern Conference. I’m not sure I have revealed yet that I am a die hard Sixers fan. In expressing that, it may make my opinion seem biased. Now, if I had one season and had to draft a point guard from the above list, I would choose Ben Simmons. I understand his shooting is not just bad, it is horrendous, but there’s a reason he is frequently compared to LeBron James. Simmons’ skill set is incredibly rare. I may be old fashioned with how I like the point guard position to be played, but Simmons’ assists and court vision make him a unique true point guard in this new era of guard play.
We are now a quarter way through the 2018-19 NBA season and things are just starting to get a bit more exciting.
The last time we spoke, I shared with you a little about the Jimmy Butler and how that might impact the 76ers. Well, the Philadelphia 76ers aren’t done making moves yet, as they are planning on shopping one of their young stars. I’ll get into that a little bit later in the ‘Hot team’ section. There have been other rumors of players from other teams who may be on the move too. That could change over the next two weeks. Until then, let’s see how things have changed from the last time we did a season review.
1. Raptors (18-4) 1. Clippers (13-6)
2. Bucks (14-6) 2. Warriors (15-7)
3. 76ers (14-8) 3. Nuggets (14-7)
4. Pacers (13-8) 4. Thunder (12-7)
5. Pistons (11-7) 5. Grizzlies (12-8)
6. Celtics (11-10) 6. Trail Blazers (12-8)
7. Hornets (10-10) 7. Lakers (11-9)
8. Magics (10-11) 8. Kings (10-10)
As you noticed in the last article, the standings have once again changed. Some new teams have made the jump into a playoff spot over the last two weeks. Those teams are the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers. Other teams, like the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers, have continued to win games and be the hottest teams in leagues.
Where does your favorite team fit? Are they one of the colder teams, like the Portland Trail Blazers or San Antonio Spurs? Let’s find out!
I wouldn’t necessarily say the Hornets are a super cold team, because they’ve been able to win and lose games at the same rate. They are currently 10-10 and 7th in the East standings. Last time, they were 7-7 and still in the playoffs. Of course, the Hornets are expected to be one of the teams in the mix for one of those final two or three playoff spots. We should likely see them stay at this pace and finish with 40 wins, clinching a playoff spot. There has to be some stretches of games they win and carry on a hot streak! Let’s see where they’ll be in two more weeks.
Last time we saw the standings, the Nets were actually the 8th seed. Since then, they have lost five of the last seven games. Now that’s the Nets team we’re use to seeing! I mean, I’m glad they got off to a hot start, but it wasn’t going to last that long. It would be nice to see them back in the playoffs though, so maybe they can manage to put a nice run together again and sneak into a playoff spot.
Portland Trail Blazers:
The Blazers were one of the top two teams in West two weeks ago, but they have now lost five of their last eight games and are currently 6th. The good thing for them, is they’re only 1.5 games out of the top spot in the West. At this point in the season, it’s still open wide until somebody like the Golden State Warriors starts to separate themselves from the rest of the teams. I still think the Blazers will make playoffs. The real question is, how far in the playoffs can they go? Let’s continue to watch as Damian Lillard leads his team.
San Antonio Spurs:
The Spurs had a strong start to season, but their recent slump has knocked them out of the playoff picture (for now). Don’t expect the Spurs to miss the playoffs, but it is kind of surprising how they are playing as of late. Losers of five of their last eight, the Spurs need to figure out a way to win consecutive games. However, there is no need for a panic attack just yet. The Spurs have made the playoffs for 21 straight seasons under coach Gregg Popovich. They will likely continue that streak this year.
Los Angeles Clippers:
Are you surprised the Clippers are the top team in the West standings? I’ll be honest, I am too, but they have found a way to play together and win five of their last six games. Can they continue to stay hot? Yes! Finishing the season with the best record in the West, not going to happen! It’s still interesting to see how this team has bounced back from all the star talent they have lost over the past two seasons. Maybe they can do better now than they did before.
These Raptors are for real! Kawhi Leonard is proving why he deserves to be one of the best players in the world. This team has only lost four games thus far this season and have the best record in NBA. With their 122-117 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Raptors have won six games in a row after losing three in a row. They have some tough games against the Warriors and Nuggets coming up later this week, so let’s see how well they can play against those teams.
Los Angeles Lakers:
Are you surprised to see the Lakers in the playoff picture this early in the season? Let’s be real, we are talking about a team led by the best player in the world, LeBron James. James and the Lakers have won five of their last eight games to get them to where they are now. They have lost twice to the Orlando Magic within that time and took a huge loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, but we already know it’s going to be a long season for the Lakers. They are still looking for more help for James.
They brought on Tyson Chandler after he completed his buyout with the Suns, but now there are reports of Washington’s Bradley Beal likely coming to the Lakers. That will be an interesting pairing if that were to happen. What would they give up to get him. How will it impact the moral of the team?
So far Jimmy Butler has been able to help the Sixers win games, as they maintain their top three spot in the East. The Sixers aren’t happy with one of their young players and are looking to trade him for the right price. That player is 2017 No. 1 overall pick, Markelle Fultz, who hasn’t lived up to the hype. Fultz has been injured most of his time with the Sixers, which hasn’t allowed him to develop into what the Sixers wanted from him. Despite all the trade rumors on Fultz, the Sixers have continued to play well.
Teams to Watch
With all the teams around them either rising or falling in the standings, the Kings have been right where they want to be, for now. They have actually been playing very well, but most of their opponents were teams with losing records. They have taken advantage of that, as they should. The real question is, how long they can keep it up? Can they go on a hot streak and make it into the playoffs by the time the season ends? They are definitely holding their own right now, as some of the better teams continue to struggle early on in the season. What do they have to do to keep it up?
The Mavericks aren’t yet in the playoff picture, but all the teams from six to 14 are within three games of each other. That means the Mavericks have a chance to get in the playoff picture early in the season. With DeAndre Jordan and Harrison Barnes continuing to play well with the young guys, they could quietly make some noise in the West. Don’t forget about the best Mavericks player of all time, Dirk Nowitzki.
Orlando is one of the surprising teams this year. How many of us thought they would already have 10 wins on the season after playing 21 games? I thought they would’ve lost four of the 10 they won, but they were able to pull together some good wins. If they can continue to do so, they might actually stay in the playoff picture.
The Pistons are one of those teams many expect to actually make the playoffs this year. With the way Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson have been playing lately, they could very well be a top team in the playoffs. They are one of the teams that make you fear them when your favorite team is going up against them. They could either destroy your team or be destroyed. That’s what this Pistons team is all about. Can we see them do some damage through the length of the season? Let’s keep watching as Griffin leads them this season.
Don’t forget to let us know how you feel about your favorite team! Visit us again in two weeks for an update on the season!