NBA season review: 1/21 – 2/12

We are now at the All-Star break in the NBA season, where, we’ll be delighted with some of the best players going head to head in an exhibition. We’ll also see other stars compete in different competitions, such as the skills challenge, 3-pt shoot out, dunk contest and then, of course, the USA vs. World game.

I’ll tell you all about the competitors in each of those, along with where we stand in the playoff picture as of Monday, Feb. 11th.

Dwyane Wade: Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11 by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

As you can see from the last standings, there’s not much change from last time, besides the teams who have fallen continuously. Those teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves, who you can find more about in the cold teams’ section. What’s the cause of this? Trades, injuries, tanking for Zion? Let’s see what we missed over the past three weeks in the NBA, especially with the Trades and All-Star weekend.

Biggest trades:

Some of the best teams in the league made moves to get better down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs. Some of the worst teams made moves to clear cap space for the hot free agent pool that will be open this summer.

  • Raptors and Grizzlies: C Marc Gasol to Raptors for C Jonas Valanciunas, G Delon Wright, F/G CJ Miles, 2024 second-round pick
  • Pistons, Bucks, Pelicans: F Thon Maker to Pistons, F Nikola Mirotic to Bucks, F/C Jason Smith, F Stanley Johnson and Four future second-round picks (via Detroit) to Pelicans
  • Magic and Sixers: G Markelle Fultz to Magic for F Jonathon Simmons, Protected 2019 first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick
  • Grizzlies and Clippers: G Avery Bradley to Grizzlies for G/F Garrett Temple and F JaMychal Green
  • Kings and Mavericks: F Harrison Barnes to Kings for F Justin Jackson and F Zach Randolph
  • Bulls and Wizards: F Otto Porter Jr. for F Jabari Parker and F Bobby Portis
  • Sixers and Clippers: F Tobias Harris, C Boban Marjanovic, F Mike Scott to Sixers for F Wilson Chandler, F/C Mike Muscala, G Landry Shamet, 2020 first-round pick, 2021 first-round pick (from Miami), Two future second-round picks (from Detroit)
  • Trail Blazers and Cavaliers: G Rodney Hood to Trail Blazers for G Wade Baldwin IV, G Nik Stauskas and Two future second-round picks
  • Mavericks and Knicks: F Kristaps Porzingis, G Tim Hardaway, Jr., G Courtney Lee, and G Trey Burke to Dallas for C DeAndre Jordan, G Dennis Smith, Jr., G/F Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round picks

 

All-Star Rosters:

Now that we are all caught up on what has happened these past few weeks, let’s take a look at the standings as of Monday, Feb. 11th

East:                      West:

1. Bucks (42-14)            1. Warriors(40-15)

2. Raptors (42-16)         2. Nuggets (38-18)

3. Pacers (38-19)          3. Thunder (37-19)

4. 76ers (36-20)            4. Blazers (33-23)

5. Celtics (35-21)          5. Rockets (33-23)

6. Nets (29-29)              6. Jazz (32-24)

7. Hornets (27-29)        7. Spurs (32-26)

8. Pistons (26-29)         8. Kings (30-26)

9. Heats (25-30)            9. Clippers (31-27)

10. Magic (25-32)         10. Lakers (28-28)

11. Wizards (24-33)      11. Mavericks (26-30)

After looking at where each team stands in the playoff race, let’s turn our attention to the teams who have been cold and hot for over the past few weeks.

 

Cold Teams

Miami Heat

The last time we did this article, the Heat looked like a team who was comfortably in the playoffs. Since then, they have traded away two of their better shooters for an experienced veteran, Ryan Anderson. They’ve still got Goran Dragic, but don’t have any player in the All-Star game. Well, there is Dwayne Wade, but that’s only because it’s his final season. Can Wade help lead this young team back to the playoffs?

New Orleans Pelicans

I understand being a bad team when your best player is out, but holding your best player out longer than expected doesn’t help the moral of the team and the players. That player is Anthony Davis. He was one of the biggest names talked about on the trade block, until no deal was done. Davis is now back, but the team has put a limit on his minutes and aren’t putting in enough effort in to win games.

San Antonio Spurs

For the Spurs, it’s been a rough couple of weeks of injuries that has messed up the chemistry of the team. They’re right where they should be in terms of the playoffs, and shouldn’t be on the cold list for long. But the four straight losses doesn’t help. Let’s watch over the next few weeks and see how the Spurs continue to climb.

 

Unless they can make a run for the hot list next week. But that’s then, let’s see about the now and who’s on a hot streak!

Hot Teams

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are currently on a six game winning streak without their all-star guard, Victor Oladipo. The Pacers are in the third spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They recently added G Wesley Matthews to help fill the void left by Oladipo, but they’re streaking and show no signs of slowing down.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Speaking of streaking, the Thunder are winners of 10 of their last 12 games. During that time, PG Russell Westbrook has set a new NBA record for most consecutive games with a triple-double (10). He did that in Monday’s big win over Portland. Teammate Paul George also had triple-double while scoring 47 points. Both Westbrook and George will be a part of the All-Star game this weekend as teammates on Team Giannis.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are all in this season. They made the trade to get Kawhi Leonard in the offseason and have continued to make the right moves all season long! The most recent move was the trade acquisition of Marc Gasol. The Raptors have one chance to win it all before the decision of Kawhi Leonard this offseason. We should expect to see them as one of the top two teams in the East, but can they get to the next level without having to worry about LeBron James knocking them out again?

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As we watch the league continue to play great basketball, we should also remember to spend our Feb. 14th with our lovely partners to show and appreciate how much they truly mean to us. That way you can enjoy all the All-Star fun over the weekend.

What? Did you really think I would tell you to miss the most exciting weekend in the NBA for a date? That’s what restaurants with televisions are for. But also, make sure you don’t get caught looking as she talks!

A Fourth Quarter Sports Christmas: NBA Naughty or Nice List

Merry Christmas! By now you’re probably sitting back and watching some NBA games on Christmas, like you do every year with the family! If you’re wondering what games to watch, you can always look back at my NBA Review article to tell you about the five games today.

Of course, there is no Christmas for the NBA without the defending champs facing their biggest rival on a new team. That is the Golden State Warriors facing LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

I hope that is at the top of your list of games to watch, because I know it is mine! But that’s not the only list you should be thinking about. No, I’m not telling you Santa left the biggest gift for last. Instead, I’m telling you about our “Naughty or Nice” list.

Since it’s Christmas, it’s time for us at Fourth Quarter Sports to provide you with a gift. A gift that does, indeed, include Charlotte Hornets’ PG Kemba Walker. But let’s see what he has decided to pick from Santa’s sleigh.

Fourth Quarter Sports Christmas
Kemba Walker” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 and is mixed with Religion Christmas Eve and Santa hat Christmas photos

We’ll have to wait a little bit longer to get to what exactly Walker and the Hornets pick for the Naughty or Nice list. We will, instead, look at three of the top five teams and their division first.

 

Atlantic Division: Kevin Dannaher

Toronto Raptors:

Nice: SF Kawhi Leonard

The decision to put Kawhi Leonard on the nice list was easier than Santa’s decision to have Rudolph lead the reindeers. The only player shrouded in more mystery than Markelle Fultz is Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors took a huge risk trading their beloved star DeMar DeRozan. It was unknown just how bad Leonard’s injury was, or if it was even real. Kawhi Leonard has put these questions in the past by averaging 27 points and 8 rebounds per game. He has looked a lot like the two-way superstar that led the Spurs to the playoffs every season he was there. The only question left is, will he do it for them next year, or will he leave in free agency?

Naughty: G/F Norman Powell

If I had to put a player on the Naughty List, it would probably be Norman Powell. He’s been injured a majority of the season. Something even more concerning is the Raptors’ three-point percentage. At 34% on the season, they are tied for 24th in the NBA in that department. Players like Kyle Lowry and CJ Miles have gone on awful cold streaks. For this egalitarian style offense, three-pointers are required for spreading the floor and opening up space.

 

Philadelphia 76ers:

Nice: C Joel Embiid

There are a lot of strong candidates for the 76ers’ Nice List. The Jimmy Butler trade has worked out well, and he looks like he’s more than a one-year rental. Ben Simmons still looks like a potential All-star, which is rare for a non-shooting point guard. But of course, Joel Embiid is the name on NBA Santa’s Nice List. He has played himself into the MVP conversation. Averaging 26 points and 13 boards per game, Embiid has looked like the superstar needed for a Finals run.

Naughty: PG Markelle Fultz

I don’t enjoy putting him here, but Markelle Fultz is on the Naughty List. There’s a lot of mystery over whether Fultz is really injured or if he just forgot how to shoot. The Sixers could have even tried to change his shooting form, and that had something to do with it. We may never know. What we do know, is they traded another first rounder to move two spots up in the 2016 draft for Fultz. As the first overall pick, he has averaged just eight points and three assists in the games he does play. If Markelle could return at a high level, then this team could be first in the Eastern Conference. Instead, GM Elton Brand said we may not see him play again this season.

 

Boston Celtics:

Nice: Talent

The Celtics could easily have Kyrie or Tatum on the Nice List, but instead, I’m going to put talent. Boston is probably second in the league (behind the Warriors of course) with the amount of talent they have. They are stacked at every position, and proved it last year with a competitive Eastern Conference Finals despite missing two All-stars. Even though they have had early season struggles, they are still one of the most feared teams in the NBA because of all their talent. Some experts think they’re the only team who can give Golden State trouble if their talent starts playing well together.

Naughty: Chemistry (Team, not Science class, Kyrie) 

Similarly to a lot of college students, Boston fans have to hate chemistry. Everyone knows how much talent is on Celtics’ roster, so why aren’t they the top team in the east? Well, in one word, chemistry. Kyrie Irving explained it quite simply, on offense the team has been selfish. For the past four years, the Warriors have been the best team in basketball. For the past four years, the Warriors have also been the most unselfish team in basketball. Coach Stevens needs to call up Steve Kerr and figure out how to make talented players share the basketball for the betterment of the team.

 

Brooklyn Nets:

Nice: G/F Joe Harris

This player has started every game this season and shot efficiently from the floor while averaging 13.3 points per game. He has been shooting the fourth highest three-point percentage in the NBA on five threes per game. He’s doing this while earning less the nine million for this season and next. Nope, this isn’t Caris Lavert, Spencer Dinwiddie or D’Angelo Russell. This is Joe Harris. All of those players could very well be on this list (not to mention Jaret Allen), but they’re all at least two years younger and will get their shot. Joe Harris has been steady throughout the year, and his hard work and pure stroke has earned him this spot.

Naughty: G/F Allen Crabbe

Allen Crabbe’s story is pretty funny. He was a restricted free agent, and the Nets wanted him, so they offered him a big contract. The Trail Blazers matched the contract, but quickly realized they needed cap space, and he wasn’t worth the money. So the Nets, of course, traded practically nothing for Crabbe and thought they had made a steal. Fast forward two years and Crabbe’s contract is almost untouchable. He is super inefficient and losing playing time to players younger than him. Just from watching him, you can tell he looks lost on defense sometimes. His 18.5 million for the next two seasons (player option he will definitely opt into) is one of the worst contracts in the NBA right now and the reason he is on the Naughty List.

 

New York Knicks:

Nice: Potential 

After saying he would be willing to play for the Knicks, Zion Williamson is atop the Nice List… I’m just kidding. There are a lot of individual candidates for the Knicks’ Nice List, so I’m going to put potential. Is this a cop-out? Absolutely. But I don’t care because there’s a lot to talk about. For example, Emmanuel Mudiay has scored 30+ points in three of the last five games. Kevin Knox has looked like a draft day steal, which is surprising considering he was taken in the top 10. Alonzo Trier took advantage of Frank Ntilkina’s poor play and earned real minutes and a long-term deal. Even Trey Burke could possibly be the future franchise point guard for this team now oozing with young talent. Oh, and not to mention Kristaps Porzingis is coming back from injury next season when the Knicks have enough cap space for a max contract (Could KD or Klay want to play in MSG?)

Naughty: SG/SF Tim Hardaway Jr. 

This award could go to Frank Ntilkina, but with the number of young point guards available for the Knicks, he is somewhat exempt. It may come as a surprise to the average basketball fan, but Tim Hardaway Jr. is on the Naughty list for the New York Knicks. Yes, the same Tim Hardaway leading the team in points and steals per game. His points per game are backed by a high volume and low efficiency. At 39.6%, Hardaway has the lowest field goal percentage in the NBA for a player shooting more than 17 times a night. His three-point shot this year is just average. Despite leading the Knicks in steals, Hardaway is a negative on defense. The advanced statistics even show the lowly Knicks are four points better with him on the bench. All of this wouldn’t be awful, except Hardaway’s contract will prevent the Knicks from having two max contract slots during free agency. Despite his high scoring numbers, it would require shipping away valuable assets to get rid of Tim Hardaway’s remaining 37 million dollars.

Central Divison: Joel Deering

Milwaukee Bucks:

Nice: The Greek Freak’s Supporting Cast

Giannis Antetokounmpo makes the nice list, but we all know that. The recognition deserves to go to his supporting cast. By that, I mostly mean the players in the Bucks’ starting lineup. I’m talking about Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez.

The reason why these four players deserve to be on the nice list is because they’re all making life a lot easier for the Giannis. Giannis is a star, but he’s not a star who has to do everything himself. The other four guys in the starting lineup are all averaging 11.4 points or more. This is one of the main reasons why the Bucks are the number two team in the Eastern Conference right now.

Naughty: PG Matthew Dellavedova

Matthew Dellavedova is no longer a part of the Bucks. He was traded to the Cavaliers not too long ago, but he still makes the naughty list for this team. In his 12 games played with the Bucks, Dellavedova averaged 1.7 points on 31.6% shooting. Those are both career worsts for him. That probably has something to do with why he was traded.

 

Indiana Pacers:

Nice: SG Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo makes the nice list for the Pacers because he’s their best player. He currently leads the team in points and steals per game. He’s also second in assists. Oladipo continues to be the leader of this team. Right now they sit as the third seed in the Eastern Conference. They wouldn’t be there without Oladipo.

Naughty: SG Victor Oladipo 

Yes, Oladipo makes both the nice and naughty list. Oladipo has helped the Pacers earn the three seed in the Eastern Conference right now, but he’s also missed a significant portion of time early in the season. Of the 34 games the Pacers have played, Oladipo has missed 11 games. Those injuries aren’t necessarily his fault, but the Pacers need him back and healthy throughout the season.

 

Detroit Pistons:

Nice: PF Blake Griffin

The Pistons had a hot start to their season. Blake Griffin is one of the main reasons why. He leads the Pistons in scoring and assists, while also being second in rebounds. He’s doing a little bit of everything for the Pistons so far this season. They’ve since taken a fall after starting off hot, but Blake Griffin is doing everything he can to keep the Pistons alive and in a playoff spot.

Naughty: Those who thought the Pistons were a top Eastern Conference team

It’s fair to say the Pistons are an improved team from last season, but it was never fair to think of them as a top Eastern Conference team. They started hot, but it was early in the season. We’ve seen them take a fall, currently sitting in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. We can’t say this for sure, but the expectations for them to be a top team in the conference may have hurt them.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers:

Nice: G Jordan Clarkson

Jordan Clarkson was terrible for the Cavs last season, but this season has been a different story. Clarkson is currently averaging 16.9 points per game. That’s the second most points per game for the Cavs. It’s actually first if you take away Kevin Love, who has only played four games compared to Clarkson’s 33. It’s even more impressive that Clarkson has done this without starting a single game for the Cavs this season.

Naughty: PF/C Tristan Thompson

Thompson could make the naughty list just because he’s a player who likes to talk a lot of trash and get in fights. The real reason he makes the naughty list this season though is because he said earlier in the year that the Cavs still run the Eastern Conference. We pretty much all knew that wasn’t true when he said it, but it makes it worse that the Cavs have done nothing to back that up in any way. Instead of being the team to beat, they’re the worst team in the conference. Thompson needs to think about what he says before he says it.

 

Chicago Bulls:

Nice: G Zach LaVine

The Chicago Bulls haven’t been a good team this season, but Zach LaVine has been a bright spot for them. He’s averaging 23.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and just over one steal per game. This has been LaVine’s best season so far, and he looks like a future star in the NBA.

Naughty: F Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker hasn’t been bad statistically this season, but he just hasn’t seemed to fit in with this team. He just signed with the team in the offseason and now is most likely going to be traded. This signing just hasn’t worked out for either side.

 

Southeast Division: Joel Deering

Charlotte Hornets:

Nice: PG Kemba Walker 

With the Hornets currently in the playoff picture, Hornets fans have to know Kemba Walker is the reason why. Walker is averaging over 24 points per game on the season, which is about 10 more points per game than their next leading scorer (Jeremy Lamb).

In addition to being their leading scorer, Walker is also leading the team in assists and steals. Kemba Walker is having his best season yet. If he can keep this up throughout the season, the Hornets will be back in the playoffs.

Naughty: SF Nicolas Batum 

Nicolas Batum is not having himself a good season. His nine points per game are his lowest since his first NBA season (5.4). In seasons past, Batum has been a significant contributor for the Hornets. This season, not so much. It’s not like his minutes have significantly decreased either, Batum has made small contributions here and there, but he’s taken a step back this year.

 

Orlando Magic:

Nice: C Nikola Vucevic 

Orlando has fallen out of playoff position after holding the eight spot for a while. If there’s any way they’re getting back into the top eight of the Eastern Conference, it’s going to be because of Vucevic. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding. If it weren’t for his average of about 20 points per game, I’m not sure Orlando would score above 80 points in a game. If this team is going to make it back into playoff position, their only offensive weapon has to keep up his great play.

Naughty: SG Evan Fournier 

Evan Fournier makes the naughty list for Orlando because he’s not having a great season. His points per game are lower than the previous two seasons. The reason for that is because he’s shooting the worst three-point percentage of his career. He’s also shooting his second-worst field goal percentage of his career. For a team who already struggles offensively, they need Fournier to step it up, as he’s supposed to be a scoring threat for them.

 

Miami Heat:

Nice: SG Josh Richardson 

Josh Richardson is currently the leading scorer for the Miami Heat. To this point in the season, Richardson is having the highest scoring output of his career. His points per game this season are about six more points than any of his other seasons. He’s also averaging the most rebounds and assists of his career. Richardson is proving he’s developing into a future star for this team.

Naughty: Dwayne Wade’s retirement tour 

Dwyane Wade himself doesn’t make the naughty list, but his retirement tour does. I get it, Miami wants to see Wade go out with a bang. That’s why they’ve been so focused on him this year. Shouldn’t the focus be winning? If Miami truly wants to send Wade out on a high note, they’ll do everything they can to win. I just think this focus on Wade retiring has distracted the team from something more important. They’re in playoff position right now, but I think they could be better if their focus wasn’t on Wade.

 

Washington Wizards:

Nice: F Trevor Ariza 

Trevor Ariza has been great for the Wizards since being traded to the team. In his first three games with the team, Ariza averaged 16.0 points, seven rebounds, 4.7 assists, and four steals. Ariza hasn’t seemed to have a problem fitting in. I’m not sure Ariza is what this team needs to fix all their problems, but he can fix some. Ariza is a veteran leader who can defend and shoot. Any team can use him. So far, Ariza has been valuable for the Wizards.

Naughty: Wizards Front Office 

The Washington Wizards have struggled this season. Their struggles have led to rumors about John Wall and Bradley Beal being traded. The problem with those rumors is that it creates more problems for this team. The Wizards’ front office may be looking to trade one of their star players, but I don’t like how they let the rumors get out.

What I don’t like is that nobody has shut down the rumors. Instead of putting the rumors in their place, the rumors are being allowed to fly around. How can that help your team? It can only hurt them. Obviously, it has.

 

Atlanta Hawks:

Nice: PF John Collins 

John Collins has made great strides in his second NBA season. He’s averaging about eight more points than his rookie season. He’s also averaging more assists and rebounds. Just in his second season, Collins is already showing he’s a future NBA star with his improvement. He’ll only get better as he matures.

In addition to improving his stats, Collins is leading the Atlanta Hawks in points and rebounds per game. Atlanta may be one of the worst teams in the NBA right now, but when they make the jump into the playoffs in a few years, Collins will be one of the main reasons why.

Naughty: PG Trae Young

People fell in love with Trae Young because of his ability as a shooter. Yes, he’s made some good three-point shots, but overall his shooting hasn’t been good. The so-called next Steph Curry is shooting about 25% from three-point range this season. Young is leading the team in assists, which is great, but it’s not why people love him. The reason why people want to watch young players hasn’t been one of his strengths this season, which is why he lands on the naughty list this season.

 

Northwest: Jon Geib

Denver Nuggets:

Nice: MVP numbers from C Nikola Jokic

The Nuggets have the best record in the Western Conference and hold a Western Conference second-best +6.6 points per game differential this season. Nikola Jokic should be considered a fringe MVP candidate leading the Nuggets in points (18), rebounds (10) and assists (7) per game. Lastly, Michael Porter Jr. and Isiah Thomas have yet to play for Denver.

Naughty: No Star power

Denver lacks a proven star and veteran presence. Jokic is proving to be a force and future superstar, but is only 23 years old. The Nuggets boast the youngest roster in the NBA just under 25 years old and are unproven in the playoffs.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder:

Nice: PG Russell Westbrook

Russ, Russ, Russ! Say it three times because believe it or not, Westbrook is going for a third straight season of potentially averaging a triple-double. Paul George has settled into his role as the leading scorer as well, and the Thunder are rolling.

Naughty: Thunder’s bench

The bench for Oklahoma City is shallow. With Roberson hurt and Melo leaving in the offseason, the vast majority of the scoring for OKC is from three players: Westbrook, PG13 and Steven Adams. Hopefully Dennis Schroeder and Nerlens Noel can help with that as the season goes along!

 

Portland Trail Blazers:

Nice: G’s Lillard and McCollum

The big question all Blazers fans ask themselves is, are Dame and CJ considered the best backcourt in the game yet? Well, to the eyes of Portland fans I could say yeah! They combine for an average of nearly 50 points a game and are looking to be comfortable in the playoffs with the fifth seed at the moment, but we know they are known for being hot later. Maybe they’ll finish third best again.

Naughty: No interior presence

But third best and getting swept in playoffs doesn’t help the case of being the best duo. That’s not on them though. I mean, since the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers have lacked a strong interior presence and have trouble rebounding the ball. Where could they get help to find a way to get better? Could Portland be in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes?

 

Utah Jazz:

Nice: C Rudy Gobert

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert is the bright light in Utah. He is improving his game on the offensive end as well averaging 3.6 offensive rebounds per game (eighth best in league). Now only if he could get some help from his supporting cast, like Rookie Of The Year runner up, Donovan Mitchell.

Naughty: SG/SF Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell is still scoring at an impressive clip, but seems to have regressed slightly from his rookie season. Maybe not having an award motivating him this year is the issue. Or maybe it’s another issue. Whatever it is, Mitchell needs to figure it out before it’s too late and the Jazz end up missing the playoffs.

Ben Simmons: Not A Rookie, THE Rookie.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves:

Nice: SG/SF Jimmy Butler 

Getting rid of Jimmy Butler may have been the best thing for Minnesota because of his toxic relationship with individual members of the team. It might have also been a slight decrease in offensive efficiency, but at least there won’t be any troubles in the locker room anymore. The Timberwolves are 10-8 since Butler’s departure.

Naughty: SG/SF Jimmy Butler

However, Jimmy Butler is also the Naughty for Minnesota. He is a top-15 player in the league and the intensity shown in his famous practice for the Timberwolves shows the kind of leader you want for a team. Maybe Wiggins and KAT do need to get in line.

 

Pacific Division: Jon Geib

Golden State Warriors

Nice: The Whole roster 

Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Boogie Cousins. I could list the whole roster, but the Nice in the Bay Area is having the most talented and deepest roster in the league. The video of Boogie Cousins dunking on KD in practice was just the reminder I needed that the Warriors have more all-star talent that has yet to play. It’s disgusting and dangerous they will all be together if they can avoid the conflict.

Naughty: Internal Conflict 

Golden State is losing games while fully healthy, and apparently, there is an internal conflict in the locker room over Kevin Durant’s pending free agency. I know it is early in the regular season still, but this year feels different than the past few. And it’s possibly the last year of the Warriors’ era…

 

Los Angeles Lakers:

Nice: F LeBron James 

Pretty sure this one is self-explanatory: LeBron James. Having the potential G.O.A.T. in the city of Angels finally made the Lakers relevant again and restored the Purple and Gold to glory.

Naughty: Inexperience

The Lakers’ roster is very young and has potential, but Lonzo, Kuzma and Hart are all inexperienced. The lack of playoff experience and short bench could hurt the Lakers come April.

 

Los Angeles Clippers:

Nice: Coach Doc Rivers

Rivers is making the team with no name players a playoff contender. The Clippers seem to be filled with role players who all know their place. Their team ball has them in the top tier of the Western Conference.

Naughty: Defensive effort

The second team in Los Angeles cannot compete with teams who have bonified stars. Skill players cause matchup problems for the Clippers on the defensive end, who are letting up 114.3 points per game.

 

Sacramento Kings:

Nice: PG De’Aaron Fox

De’Aaron Fox is another young star in the making, and dare I say, he looks like a young Russell Westbrook. Sacramento is also scoring 115.3 points per game, which is currently fourth in the NBA.

Naughty: Young guards’ struggle

The Kings’ Naughty is similar to the Nuggets in being a young team. They have a deep bench in the frontcourt, but the backcourt struggles when Fox goes to the bench.

 

Phoenix Suns:

Nice: Duke’s Zion Williamson

Am I allowed to say nothing? Spin Zone though, the Suns may have the best Nice of any team in the league, as they are primed for a great spot in the Zion Williamson sweepstakes.

Naughty: Worst Western Conference Record

Phoenix is last in the Western Conference with an 8-24 record. They also have a Western Conference worst -9 points per game scoring differential. Not a lot of hope for the Suns, especially with rumors of the team possibly moving from Phoenix.

 

Southwest: RahimAli Merchant

San Antonio Spurs:

Nice: PF/C LaMarcus Alridge

This season has been interesting for the Spurs because it’s the first time they don’t have any player on the roster from the 2014 championship team. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were the last remaining pieces, until they were traded.

But that trade was good for Alridge, because with Leonard out all season last year, he averaged 23.9 points per game. He isn’t even close to that mark yet, but he is the top option on the team now despite having Demar DeRozan there.

Naughty: SF Kawhi Leonard

Leonard is on the naughty list for the Spurs. I mean, that probably could’ve used the change away from him anyways, especially since he was probably not going to return. But he could’ve handled the situation a bit better.

 

Houston Rockets:

Nice: SG James Harden 

As long as Harden is out there shooting threes, I’m sure the Rockets will be fine. He has changed the face of the Rockets’ organization since he was traded there in 2011. He made a name for himself and won his first NBA MVP. This season, he’s looking to do more and won’t give up easily. After struggling to get hot early in the season, Harden and the Rockets are finally climbing up the playoff ladder. As long as they stay healthy, we should see them in the playoff picture from here out.

Naughty: PG Chris Paul 

Speaking of health, let’s talk about father time catching up to Chris Paul. He’s been injured this season. It feels like he has been his entire career. I mean, he is 33 years old and has never tasted an NBA Finals in his career. In fact, last year was the first time Paul made it to the Conference finals in his career. It’ll be tough to see him getting there again without him being able to play.

 

Dallas Mavericks:

Nice: SG/SF Lukas Doncic

I think the trade to get Doncic from the Atlanta Hawks for Trae Young and another pick was brilliant. Doncic has been a shining star for Dallas and is the front runner for rookie of the year.  He has also been a reason why the Mavericks are in the playoff picture right now.

Naughty: PF Dirk Nowitzki 

It’s great to be in the playoff picture, but it’s not great when you try to play more years than you should have.

Like honestly, I love Nowitzki and all that he’s done for the game of basketball, but it’s time to hang it up big man! You don’t look like the same Nowitzki I saw beat not only Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in a playoff sweep, but also Miami’s Big Three of LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh in an NBA Finals.

 

Memphis Grizzlies:

Nice: PG Mike Conley 

This was an easy decision. As long as he stays healthy, the Grizzlies are going to be tough to beat. Conley has always been one of the most underrated point guards in the NBA. Being injured never helped him get appreciated for it! Let’s continue to watch what this Grizzlies team can do with Conley and Marc Gasol both healthy.

Naughty: Bench depth

Even with those two guys healthy, they might still need some help. The only way for that to be possible is if the bench and role players start to contribute more. The problem with that though, there never was any PG depth on the Grizzlies teams, even when he was injured the last two seasons. That probably explains why they have been so bad, but addressing this issue in a trade would benefit them.

 

New Orleans Pelicans:

Nice: PF/C Anthony Davis 

Of course it’s Davis! What are the Pelicans without him? I mean, Davis is proven to be the best center in the game and there is no body who can stop him. If it wasn’t for the Warriors being super stacked, I believe we could’ve seen him lead his team past the second round. The bad part about Davis and his success with the Pelicans, is the next chapter of his career.

Naughty: PF/C Anthony Davis 

The first chapter of his career was getting drafted. He has spent the last five years building his name. He will be putting his name on the naughty list, as we all expect him to leave the Pelicans behind and take his talents elsewhere. But where?

I don’t think we’ll be finding out that answer until the Summer when he tells us all.

 

Until then, have a Happy New Year and enjoy the rest of your Christmas day! Also, don’t forget to read the “naughty or nice” list for all your favorite NFL teams as well.

NBA season review: 12/12/18 – 12/24/18

It’s Christmas time in the NBA! As many of us know, this is where the season really starts to get going.

For the first time this season, LeBron James will be facing the Golden State Warriors as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. We also have other interesting games taking place throughout Christmas.

Here’s the Christmas Schedule (Eastern Time)

Milwaukee Bucks vs New York Knicks at 12:00 PM
Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets at 3:00 PM
Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics at 5:30 PM
Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors at 8:00 PM
Portland Trail Blazers vs Utah Jazz at 10:30 PM
Dwyane Wade” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Before we jump ahead to those games, let’s take a look at where each team stands in the playoff race compared to last time. We also have another trade to announce in case you missed it.The trade has finally been done after the wrong people were involved. It was a trade sending Trevor Ariza from the Suns, where he had signed in the offseason, to the Washington Wizards. The final trade included the Wizards sending Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to the Suns.

There has also been a lot of talk about whether LeBron James and Anthony Davis will team up. The Pelicans have openly refused to trade Davis, but James is focused on the summer where Davis and several other NBA stars will be available. After their game against each other this past Friday, James and Davis went for dinner. Maybe something is already in the works. As a Lakers fan, I can’t wait! Fourth Quarter Sports’ Jon Geib has broken down what might happen for the Lakers and Davis here.

Let’s focus on the standings now. As you will see in the previous article, the top five teams from each conference have remained the same. The bottom three spots in the Western Conference have moved around frequently. We should expect to see it like this all season long.

 

East:                           West:

1. Raptors (25-10)     1. Nuggets  (21-10)

2. Bucks (22-10)        2. Warriors (23-11)

3. Pacers (22-12)       3.  Thunders (21-11)

4. 76ers (22-12)         4. Lakers (19-14)

5. Celtics (19-13)       5. Blazers (19-14)

6. Hornets (16-16)     6. Clippers (19-14)

7. Heat  (16-16)         7. Kings (18-15)

8. Pistons (15-16)      8. Rockets (17-15)

9. Nets (16-19)          9. Spurs (18-16)

10. Magic (14-18)     10. Grizzlies (17-16)

 

First, we have the cold teams, all of which have taken a huge drop with consecutive losses.

Cold Teams

Detroit Pistons: 

The Pistons were once a top three team in the East, but have since dropped to the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons went from being 13-5 to 15-16 in the last ten games. We could only hope the Pistons find a way to turn things back around into their favor. Like maybe find help for Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Clearly, this isn’t going anywhere.

Dallas Mavericks: 

The Mavericks have been able to find their way into the Western Conference playoff picture. They were briefly in the playoffs, but have since lost six of their last 10 games. What we all thought was a good thing, looks even worse now! Since the return of Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks haven’t been the same. The potential rookie of the year, Luka Doncic, will look to continue to improve himself and help this Mavericks team make it back to the playoffs after missing out the past two seasons.

Washington Wizards: 

The Wizards have traded away Kelly Oubre Jr. for Trevor Ariza in hopes that Ariza will help them turn the season around. They are currently 13-21 and in 11th place in the East standings after taking another loss to the Indiana Pacers. The Wizards have lost seven of their last 10 games. Fortunately, they are only 3.5 games out of the 8th spot right now. Hopefully, they can start to win games. Or maybe the Wizards organization should listen to what everyone wants. That is to break up the duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal because it’s not working!

Memphis Grizzlies: 

The Grizzlies found themselves on the bad side of things in the month of December, as they have gone 4-8 thus far. They have also lost five of their last six games, which has pushed them from the 5th seed all the way down to the 10th spot. As players start to get healthier and their schedule gets more favorable, the Grizzlies will be fighting for one of the last playoff spots, but they need to find ways to win themselves back in.

 

Hot Teams

Miami Heat: 

The Heat are currently on a five-game winning streak and in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. The last time the Heat lost was when they got blown out of Utah by the Jazz. That game came after the Heat and Dwyane Wade faced the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James for the last time ever. Read about it here! The Heat have been lighting it up lately. They could continue to put a run of wins together, even if they do lose their next game against the Toronto Raptors on the day after Christmas. I mean, I wouldn’t mind winning 10 out of the last 11 games. They have already won seven of the last 10 games and are looking to do more.

San Antonio Spurs:

The Spurs are still fighting their way into the playoffs. We will see them, along with several teams in this season-long battle, but they were fortunate enough to have been able to win seven of their last 10 games. This isn’t a big surprise though. Let’s not forget the Spurs’ head coach is still Gregg Popovich. They will be a tough team to keep out of the playoffs.

Denver Nuggets: 

The Nuggets continued to be one of the top teams in the league. Yes, that’s right, the Nuggets team that was a win away from the playoffs last year are now the top team in the Western Conference as the standings sit heading into Christmas break. How long do we expect to see the Nuggets as the top in the West? I mean, they are playing great basketball under Nikola Jokic. Let’s not forget that guard Jamal Murray has been having a great season, which makes him a candidate for the most improved player.

Indiana Pacers:

Speaking of most improved player, let’s talk about the Pacers and guard Victor Oladipo. The Pacers managed to keep themselves in the race at the top of the Eastern Conference, some of which was without Oladipo. The Pacers have won eight of the last 10 games and have climbed their way up to No. 3 in standings. Can the Pacers turn out to be the best team in the East? They are certainly looking like a team that can be the best, especially if they can remain healthy. Watch out world, Oladipo and the Pacers are coming!

 

As we continue to see all these teams improve over the next few weeks, let’s take a look at teams who should be in the playoff picture next time around.

Teams to Watch:  

Utah Jazz:

The Jazz are having a really tough time repeating what they were able to do last year, but they have shown from flashes for brighter things to come. If C Ruby Gobert and G Donovan Mitchell can continue to find ways to win games, we could very well see the Jazz get into the playoff picture instead of hoping for a chance.

Brooklyn Nets: 

Don’t look now, but the Nets could surprise us all and make the playoffs. Yes, a team that has been one of the worst in the last three seasons can see themselves in the playoffs. They don’t have the record they want, but winning seven of their last eight games is a huge step in the right direction. Can they continue finding ways to win games and sneak their way into the Eastern playoff standings?

Houston Rockets:

Houston, we have a problem! As soon as they fight their way back into the playoffs, they get hit by the injury bug again. That’s what’s been holding them back all season long. They are currently in the playoffs, but let’s see how this Chris Paul injury impacts them this time. We saw what it did in the Western Conference Finals last year, but I’m not sure if they can make it that far this year. Let’s watch and see this one play out.

Orlando Magic:

Magic, oh mighty Magic! What once looked like a team that could be a lock for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, now looks like a team that may be missing out on a great season. Not sure if they are to confident in themselves yet, but they could get themselves back into playoff position soon.

 

And with that, I wanted to remind everyone that we are now at the most wonderful time of the year, which means we are making a list and checking it twice! Santa Claus is coming to town!

Or to your favorite teams’ town. We at Fourth Quarter Sports have taken time out of our holiday to give you all a list of “naughty or nice” things from each NBA team. We have also decided to do the same for the NFL and hope that you all can enjoy them on Christmas day. Also, don’t forget to leave out the milk and cookies for Santa and his reindeers, because he knows when you’ve been bad or good!

NBA season review: November 14th – November 27th

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.

 

East:                         West:

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!

 

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Kemba Walker” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Cold Teams

Charlotte Hornets:

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.

Brooklyn Nets:

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.

 

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Ben Simmons” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hot Teams

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.

Toronto Raptors:

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?

Philadelphia 76ers:

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.

 

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Aaron Gordon Dunk” by Jose Garcia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Teams to Watch

Sacramento Kings:

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?

Dallas Mavericks:

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 Magic:

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.

Detroit Pistons:

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!

NBA Season Review: October 29th – November 13th

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Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s been a month since the National Basketball Association tipped off its season. Going into the season, it was all about the Golden State Warriors and LeBron James’ move to Los Angeles.

There have been several other headlines though. Like the eventual trade between the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs that would have Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan that we spoke briefly about in the last article. As you read along, I will tell you how that trade continues to benefit each team.

But since then, there has been a new emergence in the East. Well, not yet, but it’s coming. The emergence is in Philadelphia, where we should all trust the process. Because whether or not it was part of the process, Jimmy Butler is now a Sixer. It was announced on Saturday during the mist of all the college football games, so in case you missed it, Joel’s got you covered.

What does this mean for the Sixers and the East? We’ll talk more about that as well. So let’s see how things have changed from the last time we did a season review.

East:                        West:

1. Raptors (12-2)    1. Warriors (12-3)

2. Bucks (10-3)       2. Trail Blazers (10-3)

3. 76ers (9-6)          3. Nuggets (9-5)

4. Pacers (8-6)        4. Clippers (8-5)

5. Celtics (7-6)        5. Thunder (8-5)

6. Hornets (7-7)      6. Spurs  (7-5)

7. Pistons (6-6)       7. Grizzlies (7-5)

8. Nets (6-8)            8. Kings (8-6)

If you have been keeping up, you would have noticed there’s been a slight change to the current seedings. It will continue to be changing all season long. But where is your favorite team now?

There are also good teams who have gotten off to a slow start and look completely ice cold.

Cold Teams

DENVER NUGGETS:

The Nuggets got off to a hot start in the first five games going 4-1, but since then they have gone 5-4 and lost four straight games after winning five in a row. The Nuggets looked like one of the top teams in the West. Some might have had them as an early favorite to finish as a top two team and a possible challenge for the Golden State Warriors. With the way they have been playing lately, that may be harder to believe. As of this point in this season, the Nuggets could very well be a playoff team,  but they still have a lot to figure out. The first thing they need to figure out is how to get back on the winning side of things and off the cold teams list.

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS:

The Pelicans started off hot as well, with a 4-1 record like the Nuggets. But they have since dropped five of the last nine games. This is expected from the Pelicans after losing DeMarcus Cousins to the Warriors. It is going to be a long season for Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, but we do expect them to be a playoff team.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS:

Let’s be honest, this was going to happen whether we all liked it or not! The Wizards have never really been a super great team, regardless of having the talented guards like John Wall and Bradley Beal. They may be able to inch their way into the playoffs in a weakened Eastern conference, but they don’t have much expectations besides that. We may end up leaving them off the list all together come next time.

DETROIT  PISTONS: 

The Pistons are looked at as a team that could make a huge jump from last year.  They finished 9th in the standings last year and could be a 7th or 8th seed this year and make the playoffs. They looked good the first two weeks of the season, as Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond were dominating the boards, but they have since slowed down. I expect things to pick up for them again like they have already.

With the cold, there is the hot! And apart from teams we expected to start strong, there are more!

Hot Teams

TORONTO RAPTORS:

The Raptors are looking like the team to beat in the East so far, although the Milwaukee Bucks handed them their first loss the night of the first article of this series. They didn’t let that bother them, as they continued to stay hot and hold control over the Eastern conference. Has Kawhi Leonard given the Raptors what they need to get to the next level? I guess only time will tell in this long NBA season, but it’s going to be a good competition for the top spot in the in the East.

UTAH JAZZ: 

The Jazz started the season off strong with a quick 4-2 start. Since then, the Jazz dropped to 7-6 after losing four straight. Ironically though, the Jazz are currently on a three-game streak. That could be a sign of better things to come on the young NBA season. The Jazz are still trying to figure themselves out and look to continue to increase their record, as they are one of the teams who were on the high expectations list.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: 

This is no surprise, the Blazers have put a good team together. Their only problem has been in the playoffs, where they can’t win a series. Luckily for them, they don’t have to worry about the playoffs until the summer and they can focus on taking the top spot in the toughest division in the league. Portland has to compete with the Jazz, Nuggets, Thunder and Timberwolves just to win their division. It will be an interesting watch as to who can take control over the division this year.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: 

After a quick 0-3 start, the Thunder have found themselves right back in the midst of the competition. Their biggest challenge this season is going to be figuring out how to play without their Triple-Double, Russell Westbrook, who is having a rough time staying healthy in the earlier part of this season. As the season goes on, we expect Westbrook to return and play alongside Paul George, Steven Adams and all the new additions to the team that could play big roles in their success this season.

This time, instead of giving you teams on the rise and teams with high expectations, we’ll just give you teams to watch for. And this should change each time.

Teams to Watch:

SAN ANTONIO SPURS: 

Did you have any doubt about the Spurs without Kawhi Leonard? I didn’t! I’ve grown up watching the Spurs battle and claw their way through the season and make the playoffs each year. And as a Lakers fan, it’s hard for me to admit, but coach Gregg Popovich is possibly the greatest coach of all time. He has managed to take several late draft picks and make them into something good. He doesn’t look like he’s interested in slowing down any time soon. That could be a problem for several teams in the league, especially those young teams trying to take it to the next level.

BOSTON CELTICS:

The Celtics are one of those young teams trying to make it to the next level.  Fortunately, the Celtics only have to face the Spurs twice, so they won’t be affected by Pop’s Spurs. Instead, they will be part of a wide open Eastern conference without LeBron James for the first time in 15 years. Can a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward take the Celtics back to the finals and hope to win it for the 18th time (most in NBA history), or will they continue to be a middle of the pack team like they are currently?

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES:

The Grizzlies have been on a surprising hot start for what they have gone through with injuries over the past two seasons. They might be a surprising team this year and could sneak into the playoffs behind a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. If the Grizzlies can manage to stay healthy, they could likely get themselves a 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs. Let’s keep an eye on them as the season goes on.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS:

Now here’s where things get interesting! The Sixers were already one of the favorites to come out the East, and with the Butler trade they are now considered the front-runner in the East. We have debated in this week’s “Buy or Sell,” so make sure you check that out later in the week. The thing to watch about the Sixers here is how Butler will connect with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons over the length of the season. Butler probably had a better team around him in Minnesota in terms of talent, but they just couldn’t learn to play together. Hopefully he can change his attitude and help the Sixers during their process of wanting to win a championship.

Let us know how you feel about your favorite team and where they are right now. Also, don’t forget to visit us again in two weeks for an update on the season and how each team is doing!

2018-19 NBA Predictions: Playoffs and Player Awards

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Eric Gordon” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Tonight is the night where we see the Golden State Warriors raise their third Banner in four years. The Warriors will tip off against the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the doubleheader on TNT. The first game will feature the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. Both of these games look to be exciting games that should be a big part of the playoff seeding.

If you don’t know by now, the writers of Fourth Quarter Sports have come together to put a series of articles together to break down each division as we see it. Of course, each division was done from the view of one individual writer and everyone else has their own opinions too. So that brings us to this next piece, which you can read below.

This piece will tie all the articles together with everyone giving you their picks for the playoff picture and each round leading up to the NBA Finals. It will also provide you with a unique look at who we think could potentially win the player awards. So let’s jump into it and read all the posts of each writer’s divisional picks. Click the links below to see our individual division predictions.

Joel’s Southeast:                                              Joel’s Southwest:

  1. Washington Wizards (50-32)              1. Houston Rockets (55-27)
  2. Miami Heat (45-37)                              2. New Orleans Pelicans (50-32)
  3. Charlotte Hornets (36-46)                   3. San Antonio Spurs (48-34)
  4. Orlando Magic (33-49)                         4. Dallas Mavericks (35-47)
  5. Atlanta Hawks (30-52)                         5. Memphis Grizzlies (28-54)

Aman’s Central:                                            Mickayeen’s Northwest:

  1. Indiana Pacers (50-32)                        1. Oklahoma City Thunder (56-26)
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers (48-34)                2. Utah Jazz (54-28)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (48-34)                    3. Denver Nuggets (52-30)
  4. Detroit Pistons (40-42)                        4. Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40)
  5. Chicago Bulls (30-52)                          5. Portland Trail Blazers (41-41)

Adam’s Atlantic:                                           Rahim’s Pacific:

  1. Boston Celtics (60-22)                         1. Golden State Warriors (66-16)
  2. Philadelphia 76ers (54-28)                  2. Los Angeles Lakers (50-32)
  3. Toronto Raptors (50-32)                      3. Los Angeles Lakers (46-36)
  4. New York Knicks (27-55)                     4. Phoenix Suns (25-57)
  5. Brooklyn Nets (22-60)                          5. Sacramento Kings (23-59)

After recapping what we all thought of each division individually, let’s take a look at who everyone picked as their playoff teams!

 

Joel’s Picks

Western Conference:                                                   Eastern Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors                                                1. Boston Celtics
  2. Houston Rockets                                                        2. Philadelphia 76ers
  3. Los Angeles Lakers                                                    3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Utah Jazz                                                                    4. Washington Wizards
  5. New Orleans Pelicans                                                5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Oklahoma City Thunder                                             6. Milwaukee Bucks
  7. San Antonio Spurs                                                      7. Miami Heat
  8. Denver Nuggets                                                          8. Detroit Pistons

 

Aman’s Picks

Western Conference:                                                       Eastern Conference: 

  1. Golden State Warriors                                                   1. Boston Celtics
  2. Houston Rockets                                                           2. Miami Heat
  3. Los Angeles Lakers                                                       3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Utah Jazz                                                                       4. Toronto Raptors
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder                                                5. Cleveland Cavaliers
  6. New Orleans Pelicans                                                   6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Los Angeles Clippers                                                    7. Milwaukee Bucks
  8. Denver Nuggets                                                             8. Charlotte Hornets

 

Mickayeen’s Picks

Western Conference:                                                       Eastern Conference: 

  1. Golden State Warriors                                                   1. Boston Celtics
  2. Utah Jazz                                                                       2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Houston Rockets                                                           3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Denver Nuggets                                                             4. Indiana Pacers
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder                                                5. Milwaukee Bucks
  6. Los Angeles Lakers                                                       6. Washington Wizards
  7. San Antonio Spurs                                                         7. Miami Heat
  8. New Orleans Pelicans                                                   8. Detroit Pistons

 

Adam’s Picks

Western Conference:                                                       Eastern Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors                                                   1. Boston Celtics
  2. Houston Rockets                                                           2. Philadelphia 76ers
  3. Los Angeles Lakers                                                       3. Milwaukee Bucks
  4. Portland Trail Blazers                                                    4. Toronto Raptors
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder                                                5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves                                             6. Cleveland Cavaliers
  7. New Orleans Pelicans                                                   7. Miami Heat
  8. San Antonio Spurs                                                         8. Detroit Pistons

 

 Rahim’s Picks

Western Conference:                                                       Eastern Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors                                                   1. Boston Celtics
  2. Houston Rockets                                                           2. Philadelphia 76ers
  3. Los Angeles Lakers                                                       3. Milwaukee Bucks
  4. Utah Jazz                                                                        4. Toronto Raptors
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder                                                5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Portland Trail Blazers                                                    6. Washington Wizards
  7. New Orleans Pelicans                                                   7. Miami Heat
  8. San Antonio Spurs                                                         8. Detroit Pistons

 

Standings Breakdown:

Everyone has the Warriors and Celtics as the top teams of each conference. Everyone except Mickayeen has the Rockets and Sixers at two. Aman also didn’t have the Sixers as the second seed. Everyone does agree that the Jazz, Thunder, Lakers, Pelicans, Bucks, Heats and Pacers will be in the playoffs. Adam and Rahim think the Blazers could still make playoffs. Adam also believes the Timberwolves could still make playoffs despite their Jimmy Butler drama. Adam also believes the Cavaliers will make it back to the playoffs without LeBron James. Aman also agreed; he has the Hornets in there over the Pistons, who everyone else seems to like. But let’s see where that leaves us in the First Round.

 

First Round Playoffs:

Joel’s Picks

1. Warriors over 8. Nuggets in 4                   1. Celtics over 8. Pistons in 4

2. Rockets over 7. Spurs in 6                         2. 76ers over 7. Heat in 6

3. Lakers over 6. Thunder in 6                       3. Raptors over 6. Bucks in 6

5. Pelicans over 4. Jazz in 7                          5. Pacers over 4. Wizards in 7

 

Aman’s Picks

1. Warriors over 8. Nuggets in 5                     1. Celtics over 8. Hornets in 5

2. Rockets over 7. Clippers in 4                       7. Bucks over 2. Heat in 5

3. Lakers over 6. Pelicans in 6                         3. 76ers over 6. Pacers in 6

4. Jazz over 5. Thunder in 7                             4. Raptors over 5. Cavs in 7            

 

 Mickayeen’s Picks

1. Warriors over 8. Pelicans in 4                     1. Celtics over 8. Pistons in 4

2. Jazz over 7. Spurs in 5                                 2. Raptors over 7. Heat in 5

3. Rockets over 6. Lakers in 5                          3. 76ers over 6. Wizards in 5

4. Nuggets over 5. Thunder in 6                      4. Pacers over 5. Bucks in 7                       

 

Adam’s Picks

1. Warriors over 8. Spurs in 4                          1. Celtics over 8. Pistons in 4

7. Pelicans over 2. Rockets in 7                       2. 76ers over 7. Heat in 5

3. Lakers over 6. Wolves in 5                            3. Bucks over 6. Cavaliers in 6

5. Thunder over 4. Blazers in 5                        5. Pacers over 4. Raptors in 7

 

Rahim’s Picks:

1. Warriors over 8. Spurs in 4                           1. Celtics over 8. Pistons in 5

2. Rockets over 7. Pelicans in 6                        2. 76ers over 7. Heat in 6

3. Lakers over 6. Blazers in 6                            3. Bucks over 6. Wizards in 4

5. Thunder over 4. Jazz in 7                              4. Raptors over 5. Pacers in 7 

Breakdown:

After the first round of the playoffs, we get to see some of the similar picks by the writers. Mickayeen seems to be the only one who doesn’t have any faith in the LeBron lead Lakers, but he does believe the Jazz and Nuggets will make it to the next round. Adam has the Pelicans as a 7 seed beating the Rockets. Aman has the Bucks as a 7 seed beating the Heat, and that makes more sense as the Bucks should be one of the better teams. The Sixers and Celtics are the only two teams everyone picked to advance, but will they match up against each other?

 

Conference Semi-Finals:

Joel’s Picks

1. Warriors over 5. Pelicans in 5                        1. Celtics over 5. Pacers in 6

3. Lakers over 2. Rockets in 7                            3. Raptors over 76ers in 7

 

Aman’s Picks

1. Warriors over 4. Jazz in 6                              1. Celtics over 4. Raptors in 7

3. Lakers over 2. Rockets in 7                            3. 76ers over 7. Bucks in 7

 

Mickayeen’s Picks

1. Warriors over 4. Nuggets in 6                        1. Celtics over 4. Pacers in 6

3. Rockets over Jazz in 6                                    2. Raptors over. 3. 76ers in 6

 

Adam’s Picks

1. Warriors over 5. Thunder in 6                        1. Celtics over 5. Pacers in 5

3. Lakers over 7. Pelicans in 6                           3. Bucks over 2. 76ers in 7

 

Rahim’s Picks

1. Warriors over 5. Thunder in 6                        1. Celtics over 4. Raptors in 7

3. Lakers over 2. Rockets in 7                            3. Bucks over 2. 76ers in 7

Semi-Finals Breakdown: 

The Warriors and Celtics are still the teams to beat at this point of the playoffs. Everyone except Mickayeen has the Lakers and Warriors matchup to get back to the finals. But the Eastern Conference is all up to who we think can be the Celtics. Rahim and Adam have the Bucks over the Sixers in seven. Aman has Sixers beating the Bucks in seven and the Raptors is also another team who joins the Celtics in the conference finals, but will they beat the Celtics in the Conference Finals? Let’s find out!

 

Conference Finals:

Joel’s Picks

1. Warriors over 3. Lakers in 6                          1. Celtics vs. 3. Raptors in 6

 

Aman’s Picks

1. Warriors over 3. Lakers in 6                          1. Celtics over 3. 76ers in 6

 

Mickayeen’s Picks

1. Warriors over 3. Rockets in 5                         2. Raptors over 1. Celtics in 7

 

Adam’s Picks

1. Warriors over 3. Lakers in 7                           1. Celtics over 3. Bucks in 7

 

Rahim’s Picks

1. Warriors over 3. Lakers in 7                           3. Bucks over 1. Celtics in 7

Breakdown: 

The Western Conference finals include the Warriors over the Lakers and LeBron. That would break LeBron James’ consecutive streak to the Finals. Mickayeen is still the only one who has the Rockets in the conference finals agains this year. Mickayeen is also the only one who picked the Raptors over the Celtics. Rahim believes the Bucks can knock out the Celtics and have themselves a date with the Warriors, so let’s see how that will play out!

 

NBA Finals:

Joel’s Picks: 1. Warriors over 1. Celtics in 6, MVP – Kevin Durant

Aman’s Picks: 1. Warriors over 1. Celtics in 5, MVP –  Steph Curry

Mickayeen’s Picks: 1. Warriors over 2. Raptors in 6, MVP – Steph Curry

Adam’s Picks: 1. Celtics over 1. Warriors in 7, MVP – Kyrie Irving

Rahim’s Picks: 1. Warriors over 3. Bucks in 5, MVP – Klay Thompson (Leaves GS for LAL in FA)

The 2018-2019 NBA Championship goes to the Golden State Warriors to complete the three-peat! That comes to no surprise with their All-Star lineup. But this will answer a lot of questions for the Warriors. Adam thinks the Celtics will take advantage of Warriors and win in seven games to capture their 18th NBA title and first in ten years. Now that you know who everyone’s picks are, let’s take a look at everyone’s player awards as well.

 

Most Valuable Player:

Joel’s: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Aman’s: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Mickayeen’s: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Adam’s: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Rahim’s: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

James’ move to LA automatically makes him a favorite as MVP, but Adam and Rahim believe the addition of coach Bud in Milwaukee will help the Greek Freak finally get to the next level.

 

Defensive Player of the Year:

Joel’s: Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors

Aman’s: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Mickayeen’s: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Adam’s: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Rahim’s: Anthony Davis,  New Orleans Pelicans

There is no clear consensus on this one. It would be nice to see Leonard win it as a Raptor over some of the best bigs in the league. However, Davis and Embiid are huge favorites as they still have so much more to grow.

 

Rookie of the Year:

Joel’s: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Aman’s: Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers

Mickayeen’s: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Adam’s: Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers

Rahim’s: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Looks like it’s going to be Doncic or Sexton. With the Cavaliers expected to make playoffs by Adam and Aman, it makes perfect sense for them to pick him. But Doncic just looks merely the most NBA ready, and though the Mavericks won’t be in the playoffs, there is still a chance for him to win it. How about Marvin Bagley II, DeAndre Ayton and Trae Young? Will they be part of the picture this year?

 

Most Improved Player:

Joel’s: Julius Randle, New Orleans Pelicans

Aman’s: Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons

Mickayeen’s: D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets

Adam’s: Zach Lavine, Chicago Bulls

Rahim’s: Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers

Another award that is wide open. So many players could win this award. With Randle playing behind Anthony Davis as a sixth man, his name should go up from last year as a Laker, especially when given more playing time. Pistons are a favorite to grab the 8th seed in the East, and great play by Johnson could be a huge part of their success. Russell is on a contract year, and he’s got nothing better to do with the Nets but to continue to improve and get himself a nice contract for the future. Lavine needs to stay healthy long enough to actually improve his game, but he could help the Bulls try to make a push for the playoffs and surprise many. But let’s just admit it, Ball is going to win the award. He’s playing with the best player in the world, and that will elevate his game to a new level as long as he can stay healthy and remain the starter.

 

Scoring Title:

Joel’s: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

Aman’s: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Mickayeen’s: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Adam’s: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Rahim’s:  LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

You can never get tired of watching the greatest scoring performances of the season. You may want to see someone else not named Westbrook win it again. Davis may be the best shooting big man in the league, and if he doesn’t get MVP, he is the front-runner for a scoring title. Adam believes Giannis will win MVP and the scoring title, while Rahim likes LeBron to win it. Who will it be?

 

Coach of the Year:

Joel’s: Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics

Aman’s: Mike D’Antoni, Houston Rockets

Mickayeen’s: David Fizdale, New York Knicks

Adam’s: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks

Rahim’s: Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers

This is interesting! Mickayeen throws in the curveball with the Fizdale pick, but it’s understandable because he is a much better coach than what he’s shown for. Budenholzer has been there before also and with the talented Bucks roster they would finish atop the East. Luke Walton will benefit from the addition of James and all the players who have joined up to help the Lakers get in the playoffs and have success with Walton’s system. But D’Antoni or Stevens makes more sense than the rest. Both of their teams will be in the top of their conference, which automatically makes them a front-runner for the award.

 

Sixth Man Of The Year:

Joel’s: Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics

Aman’s: Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets

Mickayeen’s: Isaiah Thomas, Denver Nuggets

Adam’s: Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics

Rahim’s: Julius Randle, New Orleans Pelicans

Terry Rozier is a heavy favorite for this award. We saw what he was able to do without Irving in the lineup as he led the Celtics to the conference finals. With Irving back, Rozier’s role is made to the sixth man, but he could easily be a starter on other teams who need point guards. Eric Gordon was the 2017 winner, and with the changes to the Rockets depth, he could continue to find a way to produce the necessary numbers to be the winner again! Isaiah Thomas would love to get himself some sort of reward from the league, but he may end up playing more as a starter than a backup with the Nuggets. Randle could only win it if he can have constant playing time to put up consistent numbers. So let’s see who it will be!

 

You have read what each of us at Fourth Quarter Sports thinks about each division and the playoff pictures with the awards, but we would like to see what you think. Don’t forget to subscribe and comment with your picks below!

2018-19 NBA Predictions: Southwest Division

27393977129_baa264500d_o.jpg
Anthony Davis” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The NBA’s Southwest division features three playoff teams from a season ago, making it one of the toughest divisions in the NBA. Not only does it feature three playoff teams, but it also features last year’s best regular season team (Houston Rockets), last year’s MVP (James Harden) and another MVP candidate (Anthony Davis). It also features the Spurs, who are always competitive.

This season should be fun to watch for this division. All three of the playoff teams have added new pieces. How will they all fit in? The other two teams in the division likely won’t make the playoffs, but they did add some exciting pieces and are building for their futures. So let’s take a look at each team in the Southwest division and how they’ll do this season.

 

1. HOUSTON ROCKETS

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 65-17

Postseason Result: Houston took the eventual NBA Champions (Golden State Warriors) to 7 games in the Western Conference Finals, but fell short in Game 7. They had a 3-2 lead over the Warriors, but they couldn’t overcome the loss of Chris Paul.

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • Drafted Vincent Edwards with the 52nd pick in the NBA Draft.
  • Signed G Michael Carter-Williams F James Ennis.
  • Signed F Carmelo Anthony.
  • Traded for G Brandon Knight and F Marquese Chriss.

Offseason Departures:

  • Lost F Trevor Ariza and F Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency.
  • Drafted De’Anthony Melton, but traded him and F Ryan Anderson to the Suns.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

Houston was one win away from making it to the NBA Finals last season, but then Chris Paul got hurt. That injury to Chris Paul really hurt them, as Paul had been their best player through the first five games. Houston went on to lose the Western Conference Finals to the Warriors.

The best team in the regular last year faced some significant changes in the offseason. Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute are both gone. Both of those players were a big part of Houston’s defense last year. Who did they get to replace those guys? Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony is the opposite of both players, being a more offensive minded guy. Anthony isn’t a great defender, and even though he’s been known as a scorer throughout his career, his offense has never been able to carry a team very far. With the Rockets he won’t have to carry the team. That’s for Harden and Paul to do. Anthony will still have to contribute, but in a different role.

It’s been made known that Anthony will be the sixth man for the Rockets, but it’s also been made know by Anthony that he doesn’t want to be the sixth man. There’s the question for the Rockets. How will Carmelo fit in? Will he be a blessing or a burden?

Prediction: 55-27

 

2. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 48-34

Postseason Result: This team was the underdog in their first round playoff matchup against the red hot Trail Blazers. New Orleans was able to sweep the third seeded Blazers in the first round, which then put them in a second round series with the Golden State Warriors. They went on to lose that series 4-1.

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • Signed G Elfrid Payton and F/C Jahlil Okafor in free agency.
  • Signed F Julius Randle in free agency.

Offseason Departures:

  • Lost Demarcus Cousins to the Warriors.
  • Lost G Rajon Rondo to the Lakers.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

Anthony Davis was in the mix to win MVP last season, and he should be expected to do so again this year. Davis is in the prime of his career at 25 years of age. In each of the last two seasons, Davis has scored 28+ points and grabbed 11+ rebounds. Those are monster numbers, which he’ll have to repeat in order to lead his team back to the playoffs and be considered for MVP again.

The big question about Anthony Davis is about his health. Davis always seems to have injuries over the course of the season, but the amount of time he’s out varies. Over the past two seasons, Davis has stayed pretty healthy, playing in 75 games each season. Can he play 70+ games again this year? Davis is the star player of this team, so how many games he plays will determine the success of the team.

Another question is regarding the new pieces the Pelicans acquired in the offseason. The two biggest moves they made were getting F Julius Randle and G Elfrid Payton. Elfrid Payton will replace Rajon Rondo, who moved on to the Lakers. He’s similar in that he can play defense and pass, but isn’t much of a scorer.

Signing Julius Randle was one of my favorite moves of the offseason. Randle has improved every season since entering the NBA. This is going to be his fifth NBA season, and I feel like he’s ready to really break out. If Nikola Mirotic continues to play like he did toward the end of last season and Julius Randle continues his improvement, Anthony Davis will have some real weapons surrounding him.

Prediction: 50-32

 

3. SAN ANTONIO SPURS 

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 47-35

Postseason Result: Entered the playoffs as the 7 seed, which got them matched up with the Golden State Warriors. With no Kawhi Leonard, the responsibility fell on LaMarcus Aldridge to carry the Spurs. Aldridge couldn’t overcome the power of Durant, Curry, Thompson and Green. San Antonio fell to the Warriors 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • Traded for G DeMar DeRozan and C Jakob Poeltl as part of the Kawhi trade.
  • Signed G Marco Belinelli in free agency.
  • Drafted Lonnie Walker and Chimezie Metu in the NBA Draft.

Offseason Departures:

  • Traded F Kawhi Leonard and G Danny Green in exchange for DeMar DeRozan.
  • Lost G Tony Parker and F Kyle Anderson in free agency.
  • Lost G Manu Ginobili to retirement.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

The Spurs have had quite the offseason. Kawhi Leonard didn’t want to be part of the organization anymore, which led to the Spurs trading him to the Raptors. In return for Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs got SG DeMar DeRozan. San Antonio also gave up G Danny Green in the trade. Leonard and Green are two of the better defensive players in the NBA, so it will be interesting to see how their defense fares without them.

Whenever you lose a player like Kawhi Leonard, it’s tough. The good news for the Spurs is that they didn’t have Kawhi for most of the season last year and still made the playoffs. LaMarcus Aldridge was tasked with carrying the Spurs. He did a pretty dang good job, but it obviously wasn’t enough when playoff time came around.

Now Aldridge has another star in DeRozan to work with. We know the Spurs can at least get by without Kawhi Leonard, so now the question becomes, how will Aldridge and DeRozan work together on the court? Gregg Popovich is one of the best coaches in the league, so I don’t see their being a problem in how he utilizes his two stars.

I believe San Antonio will be a playoff team once again. I’d be shocked if they weren’t. Although they’ll be in the playoffs, they won’t make a deep playoff run. DeRozan hasn’t been able to get past LeBron James in the Eastern Conference. Now he’s in a tougher Western Conference, which also features LeBron James.

Prediction: 48-34

 

4. DALLAS MAVERICKS 

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 24-58

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • Drafted G Luka Doncic and G Jalen Brunson in the NBA Draft.
  • Signed DeAndre Jordan in free agency.

Offseason Departures:

  • Lost F Doug McDermott, G Seth Curry, C Nerlens Noel and G Yogi Ferrell in free agency.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

I like what the Mavericks have done this offseason. They got C DeAndre Jordan in free agency, which fills one of their biggest weaknesses from a season ago. The Mavericks were fourth worst in rebounds per game last season, so adding one of the best rebounders in the NBA makes perfect sense.

In the NBA Draft, Dallas made the move to acquire G Luka Doncic, who many considered to be the best player in the draft. Doncic led his Euroleague team to the championship and he won the MVP award. It’s quite the long shot for Doncic to win that award in the NBA, at least right now, but his potential could put him in that conversation down the road.

I’m interested to see how Doncic works together with Dennis Smith Jr. DSJ had a good rookie season, but he needs to improve his shooting. In his rookie season, we saw him use his athleticism to excite us. How well he improves his shooting will essential to the Mavs success down the road.

This season isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be about winning for the Mavs. Instead, this season should be about growth. How Doncic and Smith Jr. play together could determine their future. Can they show signs of becoming a dominant backcourt?

Prediction: 35-47

 

5. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES  

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 22-60

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • Drafted F Jaren Jackson Jr. and G Jevon Carter in the NBA Draft.
  • Signed F Omri Casspi, F Kyle Anderson and G Shelvin Mack in free agency.
  • Traded for G Garrett Temple.

Offseason Departures:

  • Lost G Tyreke Evans in free agency.
  • Traded Ben McLemore, Deyonta Davis and Jarell Martin.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

Memphis is one the verge of “let’s blow this whole thing up.” Marc Gasol and Mike Conley aren’t getting any younger. They can still provide good play for the Grizzlies, but I don’t see them being able to truly compete in the Western Conference.

Because the chances of them competing in the Western Conference are low, I want to focus on their new talent. There’s one player I want to focus on in particular. Jaren Jackson Jr. JJJ was considered the best defensive player in the draft, but he can get his own points offensively too.

I think JJJ is a legit ROY contender. If I were a Grizzlies fan, I wouldn’t be concerned with how Conley or Gasol are playing. I’d be thinking about how JJJ plays. Can he make the transition from college basketball to NBA? I don’t think he’ll have a problem. How quickly will he grow into his potential?

I think he can be a star in this league, and that’s exactly what the Grizzlies need. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the future of this team, so he needs to show he can be the guy to build around for the future.

Prediction: 28-54

 

PREDICTED DIVISION STANDINGS:

  1. Houston Rockets (55-27)
  2. New Orleans Pelicans (50-32)
  3. San Antonio Spurs (48-34)
  4. Dallas Mavericks (35-47)
  5. Memphis Grizzlies (28-54)

2018-19 NBA Predictions: Preview

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Stephen Curry, Bradley Beal” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In the midst of the NFL season, there is the closing of MLB. You can find our predictions for the postseason round by round here.

But that’s not the only major sport taking place during the crazy NFL season. We also have the start of the NBA season, and we look forward to seeing how LeBron looks as a Laker and how the Warriors plan for a three-peat.

Well, don’t worry, because Fourth Quarter Sports has got you covered with a full recap and predictions on all 30 teams in the league. Opening night takes place on October 16th, where the defending champion Golden State Warriors tip off with the Oklahoma City Thunder as the second game of a doubleheader. The first game has the Boston Celtics hosting the Philadelphia 76ers, so be prepared for the exciting NBA season that has already seen a lot of changes.

Those changes will also be given to you in the articles as you read them. I’m sure everyone knows about the more prominent players like LeBron and Kawhi Leonard, but what about Julius Randle and Tony Parker? Don’t worry about looking it up because the crew at Fourth Quarter Sports will give you everything you need to know heading into the season, including our picks for the Title and all awards.

These articles will be posted daily starting tomorrow, October 10th, leading up to the Tuesday night double-header. We know you all are patiently waiting for the official start of the season, but let’s find out where your favorite team will finish in their division.

Here is the tentative schedule for the release of the articles.

October 10th – Southeast Division

October 11th – Southwest Division

October 12th- Central Division

October 13th – Northwest Division

October 14th – Atlantic Division

October 15th – Pacific Division

October 16th – Playoff Predictions and Player Awards

No matter what division your favorite team is in, you should come back every day and see where the other teams finish. It may be more interesting than you think when you look at the Eastern Conference. Each division had at least two teams that made the playoffs. We could expect to see the same this year, but where will Cleveland finish? The Western conference was a two-team show all season, but with the emergence of the Jazz and LeBron joining the Lakers, we may see a slight shift in the standings. Or maybe we will see Russell Westbrook and the Thunder finally beat Kevin Durant and the Warriors and make their way to the top of the conference? How about the San Antonio Spurs rebounding from the Kawhi problems last season? What, and if, will the Minnesota Timberwolves do this season with their Jimmy Butler problem?

That’s why it is imperative for you all to pay close attention to each division as we break it down for you.

Hope you enjoy and please follow along!