NBA Playoff Races

NBA Playoff Races

There is only a month remaining in the NBA season, and the NBA playoff races are heating up. There are so many questions left to answer. Who will get the one seed in the West? Who will be the eighth seeds in both the East and West? There are so many seeds undecided and positioning is going to very important in who will make deep postseason runs. Here is what to watch for in the final four weeks of the season.

Western Conference: First Seed

NBA Playoff Races

(Photo Credit: Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)

There is still much to be decided in the West. The race for the first seed has really picked up since Kevin Durant got injured. The Warriors lead has vastly shrunk.

Their lead for the first seed is down to just a game and a half over the Spurs with 14 games remaining. This is an important race for the path to the conference finals and then having home-court in the conference finals.

Neither team has to worry about their first round matchup as both should win in short, easy series. The team who gets the second seed would likely see a tough series versus Houston in the second round. That is what both San Antonio and Golden State want to avoid. Both teams want to go into the conference finals as rested as possible.

Golden State and San Antonio will meet on March 29. It will be a huge game in deciding who wins the number one seed.

The Spurs and Warriors both have nine home games remaining. San Antonio has six away games while the Warriors have five. Both teams’ remaining opponents have a win percentage of 53 percent.

It will be a close finish and will come down to the final days of the season. Golden State will hold on to that number one seed as the season ends.

Western Conference Race for 8th

The Denver Nuggets currently hold the spot for the eighth seed in the West with a record of 33-35. Portland (30-37), Dallas (29-38) and Minnesota (28-39) all still have a shot to get the eighth seed.

This four team race is really close to becoming a two-team race between Denver and Portland. Denver has been playing much better lately and looks like a playoff team. They only have five home games remaining and that could be the factor that costs them that playoff spot.

Portland, on the other hand, has 10 games remaining at home and their remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of 49 percent. The Trailblazers will end up getting the eighth seed in the Western Conference with all those home games remaining against subpar teams.

The Rest of the West

NBA Playoff Races

(Photo Credit: http://deadspin.com)

Golden State and San Antonio are fighting for first and second. Denver or Portland will get the eighth seed. That leaves seeds three through seven.

The third seed is pretty much locked into Houston. Utah, Los Angeles (Clippers), Oklahoma City and Memphis mathematically can catch them, but it would take a total collapse by Houston to do so. Utah is the current four seed, but only four games separate Utah, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Memphis.

Russell Westbrook is close to breaking the single-season triple-double record and the Thunder are 29-6 when Westbrook gets a triple-double. Predicting he breaks the record means the Thunder will win at least eight more games. If that happens the Thunder will end up in the four or five spot.

Utah will get the spot the Thunder do not get, meaning they will also be the fourth or fifth seed. The Clippers will finish with the sixth seed and Memphis will remain as the seventh seed.

The East’s Top Half

The Eastern Conference is divided in half in terms of playoff seeding. Teams seeded one through four can end up in any one of those spots while teams five through eight will end up in the bottom half of the seeding.

The Cavaliers are in the top spot with a record of 45-22. The Celtics are two and a half back, the Wizards are three and a half back and Toronto is six and a half games back of the top spot. There should be a few changes in the top four seeds in the final weeks.

The Celtics remaining opponents have a win percentage of just 44 percent. They also have nine home games remaining while the Cavaliers have nine road games remaining. it is safe to predict the Celtics being only two and a half back will finish as the first seed and the Cavs will finish as the second seed.

The Wizards have 10 road games remaining and all that travel will catch up with them. The Raptors remaining opponents have a win percentage of just 47 percent. The top of the east will finish as follows: First Boston, second Cleveland, third Toronto, and fourth Washington.

The Rest of the East

NBA Playoff Races

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

Teams seeded fifth through 10th are separated by just five games. There are four spots for six teams.

Currently, it stands as Atlanta as the fifth seed with a record of 37-31. They will make the playoffs without question.  The Pacers are 35-33 and being above a .500 win percentage will be enough to get in as well.

That leaves Milwaukee, Detroit, Miami and Chicago fighting for the seventh and eighth seeds. Chicago has lost Dwayne Wade for the remainder of the year with an elbow injury. They were struggling with Wade and won’t be able to win enough games without him in the final month to make the playoffs.

Milwaukee is an exciting team with a star in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will lead them to a playoff appearance this season. Their remaining opponents have a win percentage of just 49 percent.

That leaves Miami who is 33-35 and Detroit who is 33-36. Both are fighting for the final remaining playoff spot. Miami started the season 10-31 and has since been on fire. No pun intended, but they have been heating up.

These teams have one more meeting against each other and that could be the deciding factor. The Pistons do have the easier remaining schedule of the two teams. This race is hard to predict, but in the second half of the season, the Heat have been the much better team.

The Heat will end up making the playoffs and Detroit will be the odd team out in the Eastern Conference Playoff race.

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2017 NBA Mock Draft

2017 NBA Mock Draft 1.0 (Pre-Lottery)

This mock draft will factor in team needs heavily rather than who is the best player. The draft order won’t be set in stone until the lottery takes place, but the talk is already starting on who will go number one overall.

Many scouts and experts are picking Markelle Fultz to go first, but it depends on who wins the lottery. Right now these predictions will be based solely off current standings and will continue to be until the draft lottery takes place. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA mock draft.

1: Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Josh Jackson sG Kansas

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

The Boston Celtics do not need a point guard. Fultz may be the best player in the draft, but Isaiah Thomas isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Thomas is also a proven player while any player coming out of college is unproven.

Fultz may be the best player in the draft but doesn’t fit what the Celtics need. The Celtics play great team defense and need a scorer to take the load off of Thomas.

Josh Jackson could prove to be a valuable scoring option for Boston as he averages 16.7 points per game. Jackson in a two-way player capable of becoming a superstar. Boston would be smart to add him to their core.

2: Los Angeles Lakers: Markelle Fultz pG Washington

Picking what the Lakers will do is extremely difficult. They just spent the 2015 second overall pick on a point guard. The Lakers issue is veteran leadership. They have a core of young players who just need time to develop. L.A. could trade this pick for a star player, but if they do keep it expect them to take the best available player.

That would be Washington guard Markelle Fultz. Fultz is averaging 23.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and six assists per game. Fultz also has a player efficiency rating (PER) of 28.6 and is clearly the best player in the draft. The Lakers can not pass on that just to fill a position of need.

3: Phoenix suns: Jayson Tatum Sf duke

Jayson Tatum has a well-polished iso game that is NBA ready. The Suns have a star in the making with Devin Booker and need to find a player to grow alongside him.

Tatum could grow to be a solid second option in the NBA. He can score anywhere on the floor due to his ability to create off the dribble.

One of his biggest weaknesses is his shot selection. Due to his height and ability to shoot over defenders, Tatum tends to settle for difficult shots. Shot selection will improve over time and the Suns may be able to find a Robin for their Batman.

4: Orlando Magic: Lonzo Ball Pg UCLA

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit:https://www.bostonglobe.com)

Everyone is talking about LaVar Ball’s opinions rather than the play of Lonzo Ball. Ball can ball. It is as simple as that.

His father may be onto something when talking about how good his son can be. However, talking so openly may hurt his son’s draft stock.

Sticking strictly to Lonzo and his basketball ability, it is clear that he is a top prospect. Ball is a great passer with a high basketball I.Q. In the NBA Ball will be a floor general capable of running the team from the court.

Many scouts compare him to Jason Kidd, which is a pretty accurate comparison. Having a Kidd-like career would be an amazing accomplishment for anybody. Orlando needs a franchise player and that is exactly what Lonzo Ball will be.

5: Philadelphia 76ers: Malik Monk Sg Kentucky

Trusting the process hit yet another bump in the road this season. Joel Embiid suffered another injury after appearing in just 31 games. If that wasn’t enough, last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, will not make his debut this year either. The 76ers still believe those pieces will result in playoff appearances and maybe even titles.

Interestingly enough, reports came out that Philadelphia brass believes Simmons will be the point guard. That is why they will use this top-five pick on Malik Monk.

Monk has proven to be a flat-out scoring machine and that will translate to the NBA. Drafting Monk will allow the Sixers to develop Simmons as their point guard while putting a scorer in the backcourt beside him.

Creating a powerful backcourt could be the key to a deep postseason run. They already have a great frontcourt player in Embiid.

6: New York Knicks: Dennis Smith Pg N.C. State

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: William Howard/Icon Sportswire)

The Knicks need a young explosive point guard who will grow alongside Kristaps Porzingis. Carmelo Anthony is on the back half of his career and will most likely be out of the picture soon. Derrick Rose has been very respectable in New York, but he is not the same player that won the league MVP.

Dennis Smith is a top-five talent who will fall a bit due to some of the other needs teams have. Not all are looking for a point guard.

The Knicks would get a Russell Westbrook type of player by drafting Smith. He can score, pass and rebound with the best of them in college. He also has insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.

Smith would be a great pick here if the Knicks want to take steps towards becoming a playoff team.

7: Sacramento Kings: Jonathan Issac PF Florida State

The Kings need to start from scratch. Buddy Hield seems to be the guy that Sacramento will build this team around. It looks like Willie Cauley-Stein will be the man up front with DeMarcus Cousins now out of the picture.

Jonathan Issac would be a great fit with this team. Issac is a great rebounder and can run the floor well for a big man. He also shoots well from all areas of the floor. He could play at small forward or power forward in today’s NBA style. The Kings would find a great player with lots of potential.

8: Sacramento Kings (Via Pelicans): De’Aaron Fox PG Kentucky

The Kings can afford to be risky with one of their two top-10 picks. Buddy Hield will need a backcourt partner in crime, and Fox could fit that mold.

Fox is unique because he is left handed. It is sometimes hard to defend left-handed players because defenders are used to right handed defenders. He is also extremely quick and defenders may have trouble keeping up with him.

Fox will need to work on shooting with more consistency. With Hield alongside him, all Fox needs to do is run the offense.

9: Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen PF Arizona

2017 NBA Draft

(Photo Credit: http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu)

Dallas got their center when they traded for Nerlens Noel. The guard positions seem to be held down as well with the emergence of Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry. That makes Lauri Markkanen a perfect option for the Mavericks.

Dirk Nowitzki will be going into his final season and the Mavericks need to find his future replacement. Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to replace the greatest European player in NBA history.

Drafting Markkanen will allow him to develop in his first season before Dirk rides off into the sunset.

10: Minnesota Timberwolves: Harry Giles PF Duke

The Minnesota Timberwolves are right on the cusp of becoming a great NBA team. Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins are continuing to grow and will be one of the most dangerous duos in the NBA in the coming years. They have already begun to show signs of it. Point guard is not an issue as they have Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, and Kris Dunn. Picking Giles would be a shock here at number 10, but could be a huge steal.

Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the number one overall pick before he began having injury problems. We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender under Tom Thibodeau.

This pick could be a bust, but it will more likely create a young core in Minnesota capable of winning championships.

11: Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges SF Michigan St.

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports)

The Hornets need a solid wing player and Miles Bridges would be a good fit.

Bridges is a dunking machine and plays with an extremely high motor. One of Bridges’ weaknesses is that he has no true position. Shooting guard, small forward and power forward are all in play for Bridges. Charlotte would likely play him at small forward.

Bridges has also shown consistent improvement in his shooting since high school.

12: Portland Trailblazers: Robert Williams PF Texas A&M

Robert Williams can jump out of this world. He can put anyone on a poster and loves to do so. There are countless highlights of him dunking on opponents.

Williams has a 7-foot-5 wingspan, and he knows how to use it. That wingspan allows him to excel as a rebounder and shot blocker.

One thing going against Williams is that he is raw as a big man. He lacks consistency like many raw prospects. The better competition gave him trouble, but with development from NBA coaches, he can turn into a solid NBA starter.

13: Miami Heat: Isaiah Hartenstein PF Germany

The Heat have been amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need. The Heat need a power forward that can stretch the floor since Whiteside is the inside presence.

Isaiah Hartenstein would be a great fit in Miami. He is a versatile left-handed player who can not only score inside, but outside as well. Hartenstein is a great passing big man with a high basketball I.Q.

The downside with Hartenstein is his immaturity and lack of experience against tough competition. However, his potential makes him a lottery pick.

14: Chicago Bulls: Frank Ntilikina Pg France

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: https://hardwoodhoudini.com

One thing is clear in the NBA: teams need a franchise point guard. The Bulls do not have a franchise point guard on their roster and will be looking for one in this year’s draft. Drafting at the end of the lottery does not leave them with many options, but it will allow them to take Frank Ntilikina out of France.

Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater, but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.

All the skills are there for Ntilikina to become the franchise point guard the Bulls desperately need.

15: Denver Nuggets: John Collins Pf Wake Forest

Denver has a lot of young talent, and Collins is a bit of a project. If the Nuggets take a year or two to develop Collins, then he can become a valuable asset.

16: Milwaukee Bucks: Justin Patton C Creighton

There have been a lot of problems with Greg Monroe in Milwaukee. The Bucks have found a star in Giannis Antetokounmpo and need a big man inside to feed off of him. Justin Patton from Creighton can be that guy.

17: Detroit Pistons: Ivan Rabb C Cal

There have been swirling rumors that Andre Drummond was going to be traded just before the deadline. That still may happen in the offseason, and the Pistons need to prepare for that. Ivan Rabb would be a great fit with Stan Van Gundy.

18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard SG Duke

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Kennard has been unbelievable in the second half of the season for Duke. Paul George is rumored to be on his way out of Indiana via trade or free agency in two years. Kennard may not become a franchise player, but will come into the NBA as a scoring machine.

19: Atlanta hawks: TJ Leaf PF UCLA

Drafting a power forward may not make sense with Paul Millsap around, but TJ Leaf is a bit of a project. Millsap will want to be on a contending team as his career unwinds. Everyone knows the Hawks are not winning a championship. Drafting Leaf now gives him time to develop until Millsap leaves.

20: Portland Trailblazers (Via Memphis): Justin Jackson SF North Carolina

Justin Jackson would be a great fit in Portland alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The two guards can focus on the scoring and Jackson can be the team’s wing defender. Jackson is capable of guarding multiple positions and would be a solid pick by the Trailblazers.

21: Oklahoma City: DILLON BROOKS SF OREGON

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports)

It is clear that Russell Westbrook needs help. He is an animal but can’t do it on his own. Dillon Brooks is one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball. Brooks is capable of being the second option to Westbrook and a true sidekick that Westbrook desperately needs.

22: TORONTO RAPTORS: DWAYNE BACON SF FLORIDA STATE

Toronto has one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Bacon can come in and be a solid rotation player allowing the Raptors to deepen their bench as they continue to chase a championship.

23: ORLANDO MAGIC (VIA LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS): TYLER LYDON PF SYRACUSE

Orlando is a tough team to gauge and need a lot. Lydon would be a head-scratching pick, but something they would do. Lydon won’t become an All-Star but will be a solid rotation player in the NBA.

24: Brooklyn Nets (via Washington): JOSH HART SG VILLANOVA

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: AP)

Brooklyn needs anything and everything and is nowhere close to being a good NBA team. Josh Hart could bring a culture change to the franchise. He is a leader and a winner and the Nets could use some of that in their locker room.

25: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): BAM ADEBAYO PF KENTUCKY

Adding Bam Adebayo to pair up with Hart could be the start of turning things around. They won’t win many games, but the rebuild has to start somewhere. Adebayo is a solid prospect with lots of potential.

26: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN PF PURDUE

The Jazz are in as good of a position as the Celtics. They will finish as the fourth or fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks. Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench.

27: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (VIA CLEVELAND): RODIONS KURUCS SF LATVIA

Kurucs is a project and Portland can afford to draft a developmental player this late in the first round. Kurucs is versatile and can be a valuable scoring option in the NBA.

28: LOS ANGELES LAKERS (VIA HOUSTON): DONOVAN MITCHELL SG LOUISVILLE

2017 NBA Draft

(Photo Credit: By Pat McDonogh, The CJ)

The Lakers have youth on their side and drafting Mitchell will allow them to continue to build assets as trading blocks so that they can get superstars back in Hollywood. Mitchell is a solid shooting guard who can be a solid sixth man in the NBA.

29: UTAH JAZZ (VIA GOLDEN STATE): JOHNATHAN MOTLEY PF BAYLOR

Utah needs some frontcourt athleticism. Derrick Favors has only had one really productive season and looks to be on the decline. Motley’s offensive I.Q. makes him a perfect fit in Utah to be a solid role player on a solid playoff team.

30: SAN ANTONIO SPURS: THOMAS BRYANT C INDIANA

The Spurs are like the Patriots. They know what they are doing and you don’t question them. LaMarcus Aldridge’s future is in jeopardy due to health concerns. With Kawhi Leonard being a two-way star, the Spurs need a big man who can protect the paint.

 

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(courtesy of Forbes)

The Swift Downfall of the Chicago Bulls

There exist only three certainties in the world: death, taxes, and the implosion of Rajon Rondo. I can’t imagine anyone is too surprised after his latest escapades. If anything, it’s surprising that it took this long for him to blow up on his new team.

Rondo went in on his teammates on Instagram with this tirade early on Thursday night:

This comes after a post-game rant from Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade that called out their Bulls teammates following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The Bulls appear to be in a freefall after exceeding expectations at the start of the year.

More than anything, this instagram rant seems like Rondo’s way of saying he wants to be traded. This is not the first time Rondo has had some regrettable antics (ahem) but this is probably the most destructive act of his career. After all, the Bulls are still in playoff position and have one of the leagues premier players in Jimmy Butler.

It’s hard to blame this all on Rondo though, as the Bulls’ season was bound to unravel at some point. They signed Rondo and Wade over the summer to try and make a push this season after losing Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Signing washed up stars may not have been the ideal move for this team however.

The Bulls roster this year consists of Jimmy Butler in his prime, Wade and Rondo as they decline, and a myriad of young budding players including Michael Carter-Williams, Denzel Valentine and Doug McDermott. With that mix of upcoming and declining talent, their pace was simply unsustainable.

It’s hard to predict what comes next for the Bulls. Rondo will almost certainly hit the trade market sooner rather than later. All eyes have to be on Jimmy Butler. Butler has been the center of rumors for a while now. In past years he was often linked to the Boston Celtics. Is it finally time for the Bulls to part with their superstar. For the next few years it will be hard to get past the Cavaliers in the East, so a rebuild may not be the worst idea.

Only time will tell what will happen to the team, but one thing is for sure. They’re dysfunctional, and they’re a mess. It’s unlikely that they retain their playoff spot, and it’s almost unthinkable that they could do any damage in the playoffs. Like it or not, the Bulls have hit their fall from grace. And thanks to Rondo, it’s not gonna be pretty.

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Seven Stats or Less: Atlanta Hawks

This 2016-2017 season for the Atlanta Hawks has been a bit of a roller coaster. After the events of the offseason, there has been some expected trauma. Now in the middle of an 8-1 stretch in their last nine games, things have seemed to settle down for the team that sits fourth in the jumbled Eastern Conference. Today, we’ll go over some Atlanta Hawks stats that help illustrate the team’s structure.

The team is sure to be a major player at the trade deadline, or then again maybe not. That’s how it has gone for the Hawks this year, a hard team to grasp a handle on, but very entertaining to follow. On to the stats.

  1. This season for the Atlanta Hawks sees them 21st in offensive efficiency and 8th in defensive efficiency. Losing Al Horford and Jeff Teague undoubtedly hurt the offense, but the defense has remained steady. Trading Kyle Korver a couple of weeks ago will have its effects. However, Mike Dunleavy has showed he should be able to contribute the team in his two showings for the Hawks. Coach Mike Budenholzer and his staff are making sure that even if the team isn’t scoring, the opponent isn’t either. The team also adept at forcing turnovers and creating offense out of the oppositions’ mistakes – 17 points off of turnovers.
    Atlanta Hawks Stats

    Via USA Today Sports Images

  2. Atlanta is long and rangy on the defensive end and they know it. When the team is engaged, they use that length and energy to become a terror on that end. Top ten in deflections and recovered loose balls, getting in the passing lanes and or poking balls away is and easy way to disrupt what teams are doing on offense. Out-hustling the other five guys on the court for loose balls is a great to build momentum and keep possessions alive.
  3. Before the home loss to the Boston Celtics, the Hawks were on a seven-game winning streak and playing well. Someone who went a tad bit under the radar was Dwight Howard, specifically his rebounding. During the win-streak, Howard posted 2 games of 20+ rebounds. Over the last five games he’s averaging 14 rebounds. Grabbing boards at such a rate is still excellent to see from the 31 year-old big man.
  4. The lineup of Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap, Dennis Schroder, and Thabo Sefolosha per 100 possessions has a 27.6 net rating. The offensive rating of 120 is an elite showing. Although the lineup has seen limited floor time, this is clearly a five man deployment that has shown prodigious results for Coach Bud.
  5. Dennis Schroder is third in the league in drives to basket, ahead of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, albeit only by a few percentage points. Peculiarly, Schroder is only attempting a little over a free throw per game in such instances. For context Jimmy Butler attempts four free throws.
    Atlanta Hawks Stats

    Via USA Today Sports Images

  6. The endowment of the starting point guard responsibilities has given a jump to the touches of Schroder. With 71 touches a game, Dennis has 12 more touches than the next player. Schroder has played well enough in his new role, knowing that there would be an adjustment period for the third year guard from Germany.This significant of a jump in load has shown the ups and downs of Dennis, but hopefully in the years to come as he becomes more comfortable his game will catch up to his role.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s on the Haus: January 8

It’s on the Haus is a daily installment of sports and esports news from the past day. Rather than waiting an entire hour to see the big news on a television program, or come to multiple stories on multiple websites to get your sports fix, It’s on the Haus gives you the biggest sports and esports happenings, all in one place. You may feel guilty for reading this concise article that gives you everything you need to know, but don’t worry, It’s on the Haus.

 

Get Dumped Then, Oakland and Detroit

The Houston Texans took down the depleted Oakland Raiders 27-14 in the first game of the 2017 NFL Playoffs. I was rooting for the Raiders to pull this one out, hoping Connor Cook would avenge Derek Carr’s broken leg. Of course, whichever team I root for loses in the first round (#WhoDey), so I guess I should’ve rooted for the Fighting Brockweilers, so as to not curse the beautiful and classy Raider fans. Whatever Houston. Have fun getting whipped by whomever you play in the divisional round.

In the second wild-card game of the day, the Seattle Seahawks euthanized the Detroit Lions, 26-6. I don’t recall watching a team die as slowly and miserably as the Lions did. I feel for Lions fans because as much as you want your team to win, sometimes it’s not meant to be.

However, Twitter dot com has shown me how annoying Lions fans are by calling for Matthew Stafford to be named MVP, elite, and savoir of all things good. I retract my previous statement. Just sit there and sulk, Lions fans. Blaming the refs for 20 years of terrible football really fills the void, doesn’t it?

High Schoolers Play Football on National Televisions

January 8 sports news

Jeffrey Okudah could make an immediate impact next year for Ohio State. (Photo: Eleven Warriors)

The 17th edition of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was played yesterday afternoon. The East defeated the West, 27-17 and the majority of people who watched the game are older than those that played in it.

Seven All-Americans announced where they intend to attend school this fall, including the number two ranked player in the nation. You can find where each of the seven teenagers decided to attend school and which schools were closest to landing the coveted prospects in this neat table below.

OT Foster Sarell, No. 2 overall, No. 1 T Stanford University, over Washington and others
CB Jeffrey Okudah, No. 7 overall, No. 1 CB Ohio State, over others
CB Darnay Holmes, No. 12 overall, No. 2 CB UCLA, over Ohio State and others
S Bubba Bolden, No. 55 overall, No. 6 S USC, over Ohio State, Arizona State, and others
OT Chuck Filiaga, No. 98 overall, No. 14 OT Michigan, over USC, Oklahoma, and others
RB Eno Benjamin, No. 143 overall, No. 8 RB Arizona State, over Texas, Iowa, Michigan, and others
WR Jamire Calvin, No. 254 overall, No. 36 WR Oregon State, over Nebraska and others

East quarterback Hunter Johnson was named the game’s MVP. He threw for 91 yards and one touchdown. Johnson will take his talents to Clemson next season, and sources tell me there’s a job opening at quarterback next season for Clemson.

It is Finished

After two days of speculation, Kyle Korver is officially a Cleveland Cavalier. Cleveland shipped a protected first-round pick to Atlanta and gave away Mo Williams and Mike Dunleavy in the deal. The Cavs also gave away this year’s first-round pick to Portland for their 2018 first round pick in order to make the deal work.

This seems like a good deal for Cleveland, but LeBron James is still not impressed. King James demands a backup point guard, so it looks like Cavs general manager David Griffin still has some work to do. Either way, with all the weapons already in Cleveland, “Kyle Korver” and “splashes a wide open three” should be paired together a lot as Korver becomes accustomed to his new offense.

I’m supremely convinced that this move was made to replace the GOAT of all GOATS, Joe Harris. Harris averaged a modest yet respectable 2.7 points per game last season for the Cavs, before suffering a broken foot that ended his season. Harris is now averaging 8.9 points per game with the Nets, showing he’s clearly a spectacular player.

I could easily drop 40 points with a 66 overall Joe Harris on any scumbag who tries to front me on NBA 2K, so don’t test me. His range is legit, and his heart just won’t quit.

He Indefinitely Tripped Him

Grayson Allen (maybe) tripped another player in his first game back from his one-game suspension, which came about for tripping players. Take a look at this footage (ha, get it?), and decide for yourself.

Grayson Allen is doing a great job of reinforcing Duke basketball stereotypes. Rather than slapping the floor on defense and diving for loose balls like any white basketball player should, Allen cries like a preppy white-collar teen. I’m convinced Grayson Allen will not rest until he kills a man via tripping, so yeah, he tripped the poor soul.

Hey, Grayson Allen, just stop that.

 

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Kyle Korver Trade Gives the Cavs Much Needed Depth

Somewhere in the depths of suburban Ohio, David Griffin will be sleeping a little bit easier tonight. This is of course due in no small part to his signing of Kyle Korver today.

Griffin is no stranger to big signings. Two season ago Griffin traded for Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Timofey Mozgov in the offseason. After signing Lebron, Griffin traded Andrew Wiggins to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. Last season, Griffin acquired Channing Frye.

The litany of moves made by the GM over the past few years have transformed the Cavaliers into the dominant force they are today. His latest acquisition of Kyle Korver, for what is reportedly Mike Dunleavy and a first round pick, could make them the outright favorite to repeat for the NBA Championship.

Kyle Korver

Kyle Korver should have many open looks in his new offense. (Photo: Zimbio.com)

Korver has been one of the best three point shooters in the league since he was drafted in 2003. He’s hit 41% of his looks this year from beyond the arc. More importantly to the Cavaliers, he’s hit 48% of his looks when he’s open. When it comes to playmaking, the Cavs have a once-in-a-generation talent in Lebron James. Needless to say, Korver is going to get his looks this year.

In the bigger picture, this solidifies Cleveland’s chances of representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Championship. The Raptors pose a threat, especially if they can obtain Paul Millsap by the deadline. The Celtics also pose a threat if they can strengthen their team with a deadline trade. Ultimately though, the Cavaliers should ride their star power and depth to an Eastern Conference Finals victory and a third straight Finals appearance.

The most likely scenario remains a rematch with the Warriors. Ever since the signing of Kevin Durant, the Warriors have been the heavy favorites to take the championship. The Warriors’ biggest weakness however, continues to be a strength for Cleveland. Simply, their lack of depth.

Despite what is most likely the strongest starting lineup in basketball, the Warriors bench is the weakest of any contender. Andre Iguodola has struggled compared to last year, and they have minimal depth in the frontcourt.

The Korver trade strengthens the Cavaliers bench and makes them even deeper than they were before. Mike Dunleavy was barely playable for the Cavs, and Korver can immediately bring a scoring presence to this lineup.

The Cavaliers already had Channing Frye, Kyrie Irving, J.R Smith and Kevin Love raining threes. On top of that, Lebron is having one of his best seasons from beyond the arc at 37%. The addition of Korver makes them one of the deadliest teams from long range in the entire league.

This trade makes the potential Warriors-Cavs rematch even more interesting as the amount of offensive firepower continues to grow between the two teams. The deal should boost the Cavs odds of taking the title, all with another deal on the horizon. The Cavs are reportedly in the market for a backup point guard, which could give them an edge on the Warriors. Either way, this will hopefully kick off one of the more eventful trade deadlines in recent years.

 

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January NBA Playoff Predictions

As we head into the new year, here are the NBA playoff predictions for who will grab the 16 spots in the NBA playoffs this spring.

East

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs will most likely rest their starters heading down the stretch. The Raptors will most likely make a push for the top spot, and could make it close. The easier schedule will let them grab the top seed in the East. Projected win total: 62

NBA Playoffs

DeMar DeRozan (Photo courtesy: chch.com)

2. Toronto Raptors: The superstar backcourt in Toronto, coupled with their depth, makes them almost a lock for one of the top two seeds. They’ll most likely push Cleveland for home field advantage towards the end of the year. The tough schedule down the stretch will have them fall into second. Projected win total: 58

3. Boston Celtics: Boston looks to be a prime candidate to make a big splash at the trade deadline. Either way, the streaking Celtics will grab the third seed and home court in the first round. As their young backcourt and wings continue to develop the team will only continue to improve. Projected win total: 52

4. Milwaukee Bucks: The rise of the Greek Freak and Jabari Parker will propel the Bucks passed the Hawks and Hornets and give them home court advantage in the first round. Their schedule gets easier as the season progresses as well. Look for them to grab a few key wins in the next few months. Projected win total: 44

5. Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks might be sellers at the deadline, but either way they look to rise up in the weak Eastern Conference. The Hawks backcourt may prove to be their downfall in the stretch run. If they can get some solid guard play at the deadline, they may rise even further up the conference. Projected win total: 42

6. New York Knicks: The Knicks will benefit from any easy schedule over the next few months. If Derrick Rose can continue to adapt to the offense and get Kristaps Porzingis more involved in the offense, this team can compete with anyone. Projected win total: 41

7. Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets will drop down the stretch as they face more Western Conference opponents. The pace of the Hornets is unsustainable and they will likely fall in the muddled East. There are so many average teams in the East that it could go any way, but the Hornets will drop down to 7th. Projected win total: 41

8. Washington Wizards: The Wizards will ride their trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter to the last spot in the East. The Wizards bench may be one of the worst in the league right now. But the return of Ian Mahimi an the hopeful improvements of Trey Burke will help this team grab the last seed. The weak Eastern Conference will also help them sneak in with a sub-.500 record. Projected win total: 38

West

1. Golden State Warriors: The Golden State Warriors will remain the top seed in the West. They’ll face stiff competition from the two teams below them. But, ultimately, they are just too good. It’s hard to see the Warriors losing more than six or seven more games this year as they just don’t face enough tough competition. Projected win total: 70

NBA Playoffs

James Harden (Photo courtesy: nba.com)

2.  Houston Rockets: The Rockets have weathered through their tough schedule this far. In the second half, their schedule gets even easier. The Rockets will spend much of the next two months beating up on the weak Eastern Conference teams before holding on to grab the two seed. The Rockets will also pursue the 2nd seed more aggressively than the Spurs will. Projected win total: 62

3. San Antonio Spurs: Greg Popovich will most likely rest some of his starters down the stretch. The seeding doesn’t really matter for these yearly powerhouses. They are just too good to slip much past the 3rd seed though. Projected win total: 58

4. Utah Jazz: Look for the Jazz to make some small moves at the deadline. Home field advantage will be more important to the Jazz as well. Their depth will allow them to chase the four seed more aggressively. Projected win total: 52

5. LA Clippers: The Clippers look to be potential players at the trade deadline. But, their health will make it tough for them to keep up in the second half of the year. Hopefully when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are back on the same floor they will be able to push back up the standings. Projected win total: 50

6. Oklahoma City Thunder: No doubt, Russell Westbrook’s push for averaging a triple-double will allow the Thunder to win enough game down the stretch. Also, after these six teams there is a severe drop-off in talent in the west. The combination of Westbrook, Steve Adams, Victor Oladipo and Damontis Sabonis will lead the Thunder to the 6th seed. Projected win total: 48

7. Memphis Grizzlies: Memphis has the firepower to compete with anyone, but injuries will make it tough for them to compete with the better teams in the East. Look for them to slump down the stretch as they try to get healthy for the playoffs. Projected win total: 44

8. Denver Nuggets: The 8th seed in the West is a mess. Currently, Denver, New Orleans, Sacramento, Portland and Los Angeles are fighting for it. Denver, ultimately, will grab the last seed in the West assuming one thing. They need to grab a piece at the trade deadline. Denver has to be the biggest player at the trade deadline. They must deal one of their big men to give this team the final push it needs to become a playoff team. If they do, they will get the 8th seed. Projected win total: 36

 

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NBA Season Preview Series by Danny with the J: Southeast Division

The 2016 NBA season is rapidly approaching and with the wild offseason over, the time has arrived for assessing the status of teams heading into training camp and predicting what fans can expect out of their respective teams. Disclaimer: We in no shape or form claim to know everything about basketball, but we do confess our love for the game and will make statements for each team built on sound arguments. With that in mind, let us begin…

Atlanta Hawks

  • Offseason: The Hawks added Atlanta native and 3-time Defensive Player of the Year in center Dwight Howard and point guard Jarret Jack in free agency. However, the Hawks lost 4-time NBA All-Star Al Horford to the Celtics as an unrestricted free agent. Atlanta also traded away Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers in a 3-team deal that gave Atlanta the number 12 pick overall in the draft, which was used on Baylor small forward Taurean Prince by way of the Utah Jazz (the third team in the Teague-trade). Atlanta also drafted DeAndre Bembry out of St. Joseph with the 21st pick and Isaia Cordinier in the 2nd round (44th overall) who had played for French club Denain ASC Voltaire last season.
  • 2016-17 Outlook: Trading Jeff Teague meant that the Hawks were ready to hand the keys of the car to backup point guard Dennis Schroder, who is entering his third year in the league and letting Horford go in free agency allowed the Hawks the cash to spend to bring in Dwight Howard. As far as predicting their season, the Hawks look to be in playoff contention, but it will be a tight race in the division.
    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: DeAndre Bembry #43 of the Saint Joseph's Hawks handles the ball against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the Championship game of the 2014 Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 16, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 16: DeAndre Bembry #43 of the Saint Joseph’s Hawks handles the ball against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the Championship game of the 2014 Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 16, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Jay: The Hawks make the playoffs if Dwight Howard returns to DPotY form; they lost Horford who is a solid defender and Howard’s defensive prowess was hard to find at times in Houston. Hopefully the Hawks treat him better than James Harden did.

Daniel: The Hawks have a playoff pedigree, and adding a player that has been to NBA Finals shouldn’t hurt in theory. However, the fit between Paul Millsap and Howard will be interesting to watch develop. Millsap, in my opinion is the best player, but they need Howard to provide some semblance of elite level defense if they want home court in the playoffs. While there might be a drop-off in play-making and floor leadership with Teague gone, Schröder definitely could add a change of pace with his fast-twitch, sneaky aggressive game.

Charlotte Hornets

  • Offseason: The Hornets had a busy offseason. They resigned Nicholas Batum to a new deal, traded the 22nd pick, Malachi Richardson, to the Sacramento Kings for Marco Belinelli, and used free agency to let some players go and new ones come in. Charlotte signed Roy Hibbert, Ramon Sessions, Christian Wood and Brian Roberts. The Hornets also lost Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee and Al Jefferson to free agency.
  • 2016-17 Outlook: The Hornets, like most teams in the eastern conference still have a long way to go to compete with Cleveland for eastern conference champ, but like the Hawks, they are in playoff contention. Frank Kaminsky is still in development, Kemba Walker is still as underrated as ever and they still need a third piece that can take away pressure from Walker to create offense and wreak havoc for opposing teams on the defensive end of the floor.
    Courtesy of www.nydailynews.com

    Courtesy of www.nydailynews.com

Jay: Charlotte misses the playoffs on top of the All-Star game being relocated. Kaminsky does take a noticeable step in development, but it isn’t enough to get past Atlanta or Washington.

Daniel: Losing Lin was HUGE. Time and time again Lin could either relieve Walker during the games when the defense would load up on him or his shot just wasn’t there. Then there were the times, namely during the playoffs, when they could play off each other and serve as an above average tandem in the backcourt. With Lee gone also, the depth of this team took a hit. Adding a dinosaur of a big man in Hibbert could end up being a net zero of a move. Trading him by the trade deadline is the best case scenario. Without adding anything or hurting the team, his presence should go unnoticed. Kaminsky could take a step, but it won’t be enough to help them gain playoff contention.

Washington Wizards

  • Offseason: Bradley Beal was resigned to a large extension according to the previous standard set by last year’s salary cap; much like other NBA teams did with their “indispensable” guys. The Wizards’ notable free agent losses include Ramon Sessions, Nene, Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson. Outside of Ian Mahinmi, there weren’t any other noteworthy free agent pickups. Washington didn’t have a draft pick, but they did hire former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
  • 2016-17 Outlook: The Wizards have new coach with a similar group of guys. Something they seemed to have been missing in the past couple of seasons. Can they finally take the division from Atlanta or Miami?
    courtesy of USA Today Sports

    courtesy of USA Today Sports

Jay: I say they make the playoffs. John Wall puts up better numbers and dare I say puts himself in the MVP discussion as a dark horse? They’re talented. I hope Brooks can put it together.

Daniel: If Bradley Beal can stay on the court he could have a special season. The one thing about Brooks is that he rides his stars, for better or worse. The ball should be in Wall and Beal’s hands for most of each possession. If Brooks can bring some ingenuity, (something he’s never been known to consistently possess) this backcourt, with the pieces around them, can be an Eastern Conference contender.

Orlando Magic

  • Offseason: The Magic helped shakeup the basketball landscape this offseason by trading away Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illyasova and their number 11 pick, which turned into Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga), to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka. The Magic also drafted center Stephen Zimmerman out of UNLV. Orlando had a busy free agency period as well; they brought in Bismack Biyambo, Jeff Green and DJ Augustin. Orlando also let go of Brandon Jennings and traded Shabazz Napier to Portland.
  • Outlook 2016-17: Magic fans can be excited for this season; Ibaka paired with Nikola Vucevic looks pretty appetizing to watch along with Aaron Gordon being the modern human highlight reel.

Jay: Playoffs aren’t far from Orlando. It’ll come down to the final 10 games of the season, but they will miss the playoffs this year. They will be respectable though. They will look to be one of the more competitive teams in the east in spite of not making the playoffs. The team doesn’t have the coaching to get there in my opinion.

Daniel: New head coach Frank Vogel has manned a top ten defense for the last five seasons. That’s what they are going to have to hang their cap on. They have the athletes to be an absolute wall defensively in the interior. Shooting will be a problem. Ibaka is an elite shooter but he HAS to be fed the ball. Sophomore Mario Hezonja has shown signs of developing into a reliable shooter and offensive threat. The point guard position with Elfrid Payton is going to be intriguing as he may be starting caliber.

courtesy of orlandosentinel.com

courtesy of orlandosentinel.com

Miami Heat

  • Offseason: A new era has begun in Miami; Dwayne Wade is gone, Whiteside is the new face of the Heat, and there is a bunch of young developing talent. The Heat added Dion Waiters and Derrick Williams along with retaining Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson. The team unfortunately didn’t have a draft pick this year.
  • 2016-17 Outlook: Chris Bosh has yet to be cleared to play by Miami team doctors, so until then, Heat fans should get used to seeing Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Hassan Whiteside and Derrick Williams running the floor. Young is the best way to describe this group that is most likely to be around after veterans like Goran Dragic and Udonis Haslem are gone.
    nba.com

    nba.com

Jay: I wouldn’t expect playoffs this season. Maybe next season if Richardson, Johnson and Winslow take large steps in their development by the season’s end, but not this season with Bosh not cleared to play.

Daniel: Ummm, what happened with the Heat? No Wade, and they gave “Bumpy” Johnson a 4/$50 million a year contract. Pat Riley has to be sick to his stomach with the events of the last 2-3 seasons. The Bosh ordeal has just been saddening. They had a nice year last season, but it won’t be as pleasant for the “Timberwolves East.”

A Mid-Summer Dream: Watch the NBA Summer League

 

Courtesy of USA Today Sports

Courtesy of USA Today Sports

After the confetti has fallen and the champagne showers have completed it’s on to the NBA draft. The Woj bombs, the draft day trades, and the “anticipation” of the number one overall pick keeps us engaged for about 30 minutes of the two-hour showcase.

The free agency frenzy can be entertaining. Everyone is glued to Twitter and the ESPN affiliates just to find out what sources has to say next.

But the real summertime gem is the NBA Summer League. This is usually reserved for basketball junkies to have something to chew on. It takes a certain amount of convincing to get a casual fan to tune in. Here are five reasons that you should.

Ummm, It’s Still Basketball

The summer league allows the uber basketball fan to enjoy some competition. The games usually lack sustenance. And the games at times can be unpalatable. However, what the games lack in nuance they make up for in enjoyment. There’s something about watching otherwise unknown NBA players sense their opportunity and having the desire and competitive drive to go out and take it. Oklahoma City Thunder Guard Cameron Payne is far from an unknown. Hitting a game-winner in this fashion is sure to boost his confidence. This wasn’t just a lucky shot after a last minute heave. That was a shot that was beget from sublime execution in crunch time from the players. To a basketball puritan there is nothing greater. Exciting right?

First Look at Special Potential 

The NBA Draft Lottery is always an intriguing part of the draft. Days, even weeks before the draft each pick is scrutinized and debated. The expectation of course is on the top picks, but there are some later lottery picks that can steal the show. Whether it’s a record setting three-point barrage or a total obliteration of the competition, summer league is your first chance to see a player present the prologue to his career. Last year in the Las Vegas Summer League, 14th overall pick Devin Booker put on an absolute show with 31 points and nine rebounds. His well-documented shooting ability was on full display. Once he got his chance during the regular season, all that witnessed his breakout had no choice but to think back to that performance.

Exciting Finishes

Per NBA.com, the rules of Summer League are as follows: Two minute overtime period, each team is allowed one timeout, each team is allowed one advance, penalty begins on the second team foul, the second overtime period is sudden death (first team to score a point wins). Sudden Death.

Can this be moved to the NBA? The very idea of Stephen Curry or Damian Lillard with the ball in their hands in such a situation is something hoop-heads can only dream of. Watching it play out in Summer League is the next best thing, and it doesn’t take way from the excitement.

Close-knit Environment
One of the best things about summer league is the intimacy of the event, specifically the Orlando Summer League. It’s just pure unadulterated basketball. The pomp and circumstance of a regular season NBA game is amazing, but the setup of summer league matches the time of year.

Devin Booker (1) put on a show in the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League. Courtesy of USA Today Sports

Devin Booker (1) put on a show in the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League. Courtesy of USA Today Sports

The exceptionally low-key environment augments that the focus is all on the players and the action of the game. When the ball-handler calls out an offensive set, you can almost see the wheels turning as the players are trying their best to execute. The audibility of defensive coverages gives you an inside track of sorts.  You can’t get much closer to the game than in summer league.

Even if they lose, Teams still have a chance at the Championship 

The Summer League at its heart is still a competition. Each player on a team is competing for, not only a roster spot, but also a championship. The two previous champions have been the Sacramento Kings in 2014 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2015 of the Las Vegas Summer League.

Each team has the opportunity to accrue points as the tournament goes along. There are 8 points available from each game. Four points for winning the game, and 1 point for each individual quarter won. The two teams that have accumulated the most points will play in the championship game. This adds to the drama of the tournament in nail-biting fashion. Winning a matchup doesn’t guarantee a place in the championship game.

All in all the Summer League is the biggest basketball event of the summer outside of USA Basketball. It’s something to look forward to when the headliner games run dry. But I’m sure you don’t need much convincing by now.

Dwight Howard and the Celtics need each other

Courtesy of USA-Today Sports

    Courtesy of USA-Today Sports

Free agency means about the same amount to teams and their front offices as it does to the players. This is the time to fill a need or multiple needs if the cap space allows. Whether there is a 3 and D wing player on the market or a point guard who can run an offense, if the price is right GMs will most assuredly have no issues getting out the checkbooks. Players can also enjoy the feeling of being courted and having the option to choose between a team that can aid them in revitalizing their respective careers or have a chance to finally compete for that elusive NBA title.

For Dwight Howard the answer is simple. The Boston Celtics, according to ESPN reports, could be a potential landing spot. Should such an event occur, it wouldn’t be a bad move for either party.

The Boston Celtics could add some rim protection and frontcourt depth to their guard-centric roster. While giving Howard an opportunity to prove he can be mature enough to provide not only his physical gifts but, also veteran leadership to a team that still might be a couple of years away from true contention.

 

Courtesy of USA Today Sports

Courtesy of USA Today Sports

If the Celtics want to take a jump past the Atlanta Hawks and maybe even the Toronto Raptors it wouldn’t hurt to give Howard a chance. The center position is still an important one even in the days of pace and space. The Oklahoma City Thunder took down the 67-win San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals. This was in part to their fantastic frontcourt play from Enes Kanter and Steven Adams. While he isn’t as young and spry as those players, Howard still has the experience and desire to play at a high level.

Last season Howard averaged 13.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and shot 62% from the field. He also pitched in 1.6 blocks. The 13 points were among the lowest of his now 12 year career. Even in 2011 where he only played 54 games due to back injuries and subsequently back surgery, he averaged 20 points a game. Howard’s rebounds were also among the lowest outputs of his career.

Some of this can be attributed to his diminished role in Houston, particularly on offense (he averaged only 8 shot attempts, the lowest since his rookie season). The bulk of which played out in the media. His low rebounding numbers can probably be a sign of athletic regression. This is common among players his age that play such an unforgiving  and punishing position.

With all of that said, Boston still shouldn’t feel hesitant to pay him. He still very much provides what they need from an interior player standpoint. The Celtics ranked 22nd in blocks per game last season. Conversely, the Houston Rockets were middle of the pack ranking 13th. However, Howard’s 1.6 blocks a game are more than team leading shot blocker Amir Johnson at barely over 1 a game.

While his defensive impact wasn’t felt a whole lot in Houston, his 3.1 Defensive Win Shares (DWS) would rank tops on the team, 2nd to only Jared Sullinger.  For the Celtic’s, who had 4th best defense in the league last year, Howard’s presence shouldn’t hurt it all. In fact, the way head coach Brad Stevens has his team playing defense, Dwight should have more of an opportunity to be an above average rim protector. This is true even in a year where he’ll be on the wrong side of 30.

Dwight Howard should take this free agency and look at teams that can give him a couple more years of contention. Danny Ainge should use the same period of time to convince Howard that Boston can give him a taste of what winning, and winning with a smile, feels like again. It’s a win-win for both.

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