Top five NBA coaches heading into the 2017-18 season

Every NBA team is chock-full of talent. Each team needs a good coach to shuffle a lineup and find the players that mesh the right way. Sometimes some of the best teams in basketball don’t work well in a bad coaching system.

Coaches also have to deal with large egos, injuries and the grueling 82-game season filled with scheduling obstacles. It is easy for a coach to let a city, the players or even the fans get the best of them. Here are the top five coaches heading into this NBA season.

Number five: Rick Carlisle

Listen, let’s just forget about this past season and remember the body of work here. Carlisle in his lengthy career as a coach has only had two teams fall under the .500 mark.

He is 28-30 coaching in the playoffs and has an NBA championship thanks to beating the LeBron James led Miami Heat.

Carlisle is 694-520 in regular season games and will become just the 18th coach to hit 700 wins this upcoming season. He also won the Coach of the Year award in the 2001-02 season.

Carlisle has had the pleasure of coaching guys like Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki throughout his tenure and has found a way to get the best out of them.

Number four: Erik Spoelstra

top five NBA coaches

Erik Spoelstra, Photo Courtesy of SI.com.

Spoelstra has risen from a video coordinator to two-time NBA champion and a spot in the top five.

In his first years he obviously benefited from having LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but some of Spoelstra’s most impressive coaching came in the last 41 games of last season. He coached his team from what was a 11-30 season and turning it into 41-41.

Spoelstra has an impressive 70-40 playoff record and has won 61 percent of his regular season games.

Spoelstra will continue to be tested moving forward as his team is no longer the front runner in the Eastern Conference.

Number three: Brad Stevens

Stevens has had a short amount of time coaching in the association and came on board with the Celtics mid-rebuild.

Stevens is 11-17 in the playoffs, but has run into the Cavaliers in two of the last three times he has made it to the playoffs.

The first season he took over as head coach, the Celtics had 25 wins and last season had 53. He also continues to build moving forward with the recent addition of Gordon Hayward.

Stevens has won 51 percent of his games and will continue to improve that mark moving forward.

Number two: Steve Kerr

top five NBA coaches

Steve Kerr, Photo Courtesy of chicagotribune.com.

Winning two out of the last three championships will absolutely win you credit.

Steve Kerr has been fantastic for the Golden State Warriors. He has led the to the best NBA regular season record of all time and has gone 207-39 in three years at the helm. Kerr has proven that lots of talent doesn’t just translate to wins but also to championships.

Kerr has been fantastic, but it has been too small of a sample size to propel him into the top spot. It also doesn’t help that during the playoffs last year Mike Brown stepped in and coached the Warriors extremely well.

This Warriors team has a ton of talent and if Kerr sticks around and can stay healthy, he will quickly approach the top spot on this list.

Number one: Gregg Popovich

Pop has created a way of life in San Antonio. He has created a system that works with nearly all selfless players.

He has created a platform for Kawhi Leonard to grow into a star and successfully passed the torch from Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge almost without skipping a beat.

Pop has 1,150 wins which is more than three of the other four coaches have total games.

He has five NBA championships and some electric in-game interviews. Coach Popovich, if he retired tomorrow, goes down as the best coach in NBA history, but for now he just gets to improve on the most impressive resume we have seen in the game today.

There used to be a day in which people said once Duncan, Ginobili and Parker retire the Spurs will drastically struggle. As Ginobili and Parker begin to pack it up and follow Duncan, the Spurs were the two seed in last year’s NBA Playoffs.

Popovich has created an incredible winning culture and the Spurs don’t seem to be slowing down.

Summary

Good coaches are hard to come by. Many of the best teams have the best coaches to lead the players they have.

Six of the last seven NBA championships have been won by a member of this list. The only one who hasn’t is Brad Stevens.

A good coach creates a culture and can get players to buy into a system. Nearly all of the coaches listed have created a winning foundation and atmosphere during their tenures in the Association. We will see just how good each coach will perform in the 2017-18 NBA regular season and beyond.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of sportsworldnews.com

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NBA regular season change: Will it work?

The NBA schedule has been changed for the 2017-18 season, and the main theme seems to be rest.

The regular season has been expanded by a week and the preseason has been cut short by a week. Ideally the NBA is trying to have stars playing in more games in general and play in more televised games.

By expanding the NBA season, there won’t be as many harsh road trips, or back-to-back games on short rest. With the NBA season shifting slightly, stars will get to play in meaningful regular season games with more rest.

There is also a new rule penalizing teams for sitting healthy star players. What if a star is listed as injured with “shoulder tightness” when in reality, he is just a healthy scratch due to wanting rest? Commissioner Adam Silver is going to have a tough time actually enforcing the rules he is doctoring up this off-season.

The NBA regular season issue

NBA regular season

Resting Cavaliers bench, Photo Courtesy of bcsn.tv.

Players across all sports have been doing it for years: being healthy scratches with bogus injury titles as an excuse. Now that there is a penalty for being a healthy scratch, there could be even more illegitimate injuries.

Obviously throughout last season there were many problems with resting stars. The Cleveland Cavaliers finished in the two spot in the East, but beat the one seeded Boston Celtics in five games in the Eastern Conference finals. Most people knew the Cavaliers were significantly better, but chose to rest stars and prepare for the postseason versus playing out every game.

The NBA has tried to solve the problem of teams playing back-to-back games. LeBron missed eight games in the 2016-17 season, five of them were due to back-to-backs.

The problem is the media partnership with the NBA. Money is being put into the NBA because fans want and expect to see superstars play in primetime games. Ultimately, many playoff teams have made it clear that they would rather coast through the regular season and be healthy and rested for the playoffs than have home court advantage for certain series.

With the new rules, teams will be forced to rest players a lot less.

Will it work?

Honestly it might deter resting players for the most part, but everyone needs rest. If a team knows they can coast through the regular season and still win in the playoffs, there’s no reason to not rest players.

The solution

The NBA season is long and grueling. If the best competition is coming in the playoffs, all the players should be healthy. The mutual agreement should be that stars are rested gradually and not all at once. For instance, if Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Gordon Hayward all want to skip a game to rest up, they should sit out different games so that fans can still get to see stars in every game.

That would also mean that there is still a very competitive product on the court for primetime games. The solution to resting is to spread it out and make it less immediate.

Fans will always complain no matter who they get to see, but if they get to see the majority of their favorite players, they will be more happy than seeing none of them.

The idea of limiting rest makes sense for the league, but if Silver doesn’t enforce his rules right, he could lose some credibility league-wide. If the NBA wants to put strict restrictions on resting players, then there’s a chance some of the best players will be hurt come playoff time.

Extending the regular season will help improve the condition of the players, but if Silver puts in place a gradual resting for stars and starters, not only the players will be happy, so will the league and the fans.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of Carolinablitz.com.

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biggest moves nba offseason

Most impactful moves from the NBA offseason

NBA free agency is just about in the books. There are still a few unsigned players on the market like Nerlens Noel and Ty Lawson, but for the most part all the biggest names are signed.

Some teams majorly improved their roster and playoff chances. Others sat back and watched it happen.

Today we will look at which teams made the most impactful signings. What I mean by impactful is how much better their additions and losses make them.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota is not messing around this offseason. They have gone out and signed Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague. Their biggest move was trading for Jimmy Butler. These guys will join Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins for a scary roster.

To acquire Butler, they had to give away Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. However, Butler and the other free agent signings have made this roster a playoff team. They could easily finish as a fourth or fifth seed in the competitive Western Conference after finishing 13th this past season.

Minnesota is by far the most improved team in the NBA. Just wait until Towns and Wiggins reach their full potential.

Houston Rockets

impactful moves nba offseason

The Houston Rockets now have the most talented backcourt in the NBA with James Harden and Chris Paul. (Photo by SEAN M. HAFFEY / GETTY IMAGES)

The Rockets went out and grabbed Chris Paul and Luc Mbah a Moute from the Clippers. However, they had to give up key contributors like Patrick Beverly, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams to get them.

The team now has a roster that features James Harden, Eric Gordon, Chris Paul, Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela, Mbah a Moute and Nene. If Paul stays healthy, they won’t miss Beverly and Williams too much.

On paper, it looks like the Rockets have clinched the No. 2 seed in the West. If they can add another player this offseason they will for sure have it. Their backcourt of Harden and Paul is going to be impossible to stop.

Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles did not really make a bunch of big signings, but they were involved in one of the biggest trades this offseason. They have also gone through a lot of changes in their roster and for that reason are included in this list of most impactful offseason moves.

To recap, they added Patrick Beverly, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Danilo Gallinari. They also lost Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, Raymond Felton, Luc Mbah a Moute and Paul Pierce.

The Clippers will more than likely struggle to make the postseason after losing Paul. However, they added a bunch of key role players. The star power is not really there, but I could see them finishing with the seventh or eighth seed despite their losses.

Oklahoma City Thunder

impactful moves nba offseason

Paul George will take a lot of pressure off Russell Westbrook. (Photo from SLAM Online)

Oklahoma City is looking like a threat again.

Their trade for Paul George gives Russell Westbrook a star teammate to work with. Now Westbrook will not have to do all the work himself, and the Thunder now look like a potential fourth or fifth seed in the West.

They lost Victor Oladipo and Taj Gibson this offseason, but the addition of George makes them too good to worry about those losses.

OKC needs to do everything they can to keep Westbrook and George together in the next offseason. For now, lets see how this duo performs.

Denver Nuggets

A lot of people think Denver can make the playoffs now with the addition of Paul Millsap to their young roster.

The team has a lot of young talent with Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay, Nikola Jokic, Wil Barton and Kenneth Faried. They also added promising guard Trey Lyles to the roster. Millsap is a veteran these young guns can learn from and do great things with.

After missing the playoffs by one game last season, the Nuggets are now a playoff team, possibly a fifth or sixth seed in the west.

Boston Celtics

impactful moves nba offseason

Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward are reunited again. (Photo from Butler Athletics)

The Celtics made a lot of great moves this offseason. They added one of Brad Stevens’ former players at Butler with Gordon Hayward and also acquired Marcus Morris. They also added Jayson Tatum in the draft with their third overall pick.

The team did lose Avery Bradley in the trade for Morris though. They also lost Kelly Olynyk, another one of their role players.

However, the additions make Boston look like they can keep the top seed in the Eastern Conference this season. Of course that all depends on what the Cavs do with Kyrie Irving and how much Cleveland actually cares about their performance in the regular season.

 

Featured Image by AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King

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NBA's Gridiron Roster

The NBA’s gridiron team

Training camps have opened and football is in the air. As training camps get rolling there will be plenty of talk about what is happening on the gridiron. This means that basketball will be taking a backseat from now until February.

There is one more order of business left to discuss for basketball and its all for fun. Earlier this year, The Game Haus brought you the NFL’s Hardwood Roster which made an NBA roster out of NFL players.

It is time to reverse that and give you the NBA’s gridiron team. The only eligible players are current NBA players. Also, size is not going to translate the way it should just because basketball players are taller.

Offense

Left Tackle: Draymond Green, PF, Golden State Warriors: If there is one NBA player who can protect a quarterback it is Draymond Green. Green is one of the most versatile players in the NBA. His playstyle shows his “I just want to win” mentality. Throwing him at left tackle is smart because he has proven to go that extra mile in order to win. He will rough up defensive ends all game long while making sure the quarterback stays off his back.

Left Guard: Julius Randle, PF, Los Angeles Lakers: The left guard position suits Randle because he has quick feet and is left handed. Guards need to be athletic and showcase an ability to pull on certain running plays. He is extremely explosive and if a play is called that requires him to pull, Randle will explode off the ball and create holes for any running back.

NBA's Gridiron Team

(Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bSTeIhm86A)

Center: Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol is smart, tough and reliable. These are all qualities a team needs from their center. Gasol would be a great leader, thus setting the tone for the rest of the offensive line. Gasol is also a strong guy who could push around opposing defensive tackles.

Right Guard: Steven Adams, C, Oklahoma City Thunder: Right guards need to be maulers in the run game. The first mauler that comes to mind in the NBA is Steven Adams. Adams is a tough, physical player who would excel at run blocking. He isn’t afraid to do the dirty work a team needs from an offensive lineman.

Right Tackle: DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans: Cousins loves to play a physical style of basketball and that could translate well into the NFL. He also finished second in the NBA with 20 technical fouls in 2017. Cousins would be willing to do whatever it takes to win and protect the quarterback. If he is this rough in basketball, imagine what he could do in a contact sport like football.

Tight End: LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron was a stud wide receiver in high school. He is so big that he would have to be a tight end. It has been said for a long time that LeBron is a physical specimen. He would learn how to be one of the best blocking tight ends in the game. LeBron has also shown his freakish athletism when flying through the air for a dunk. In the red zone, not one person in this world would be able to stop him for a jump ball. Seeing LeBron play tight end would be like seeing Gronk hulking up.

NBA's Gridiron Team

(Photo Credit: http://dailysnark.com/washington-fans-legitimatly-pissed-wizards-john-wall-wearing-cowboys-jersey/)

Wide Receivers: John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards: John Wall is a wizard on the court. Yes, that pun was intended, but it is true. Wall is one of the fastest players in the NBA and that could translate as a wide receiver. He has also displayed uncanny athleticism with some of his finishes at the rim. That creativity would be fun in the open field.

DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto Raptors: Imagine seeing DeMar DeRozan fighting for the ball in the air with defensive backs trying to stop him. DeRozan is a high flyer and that would translate to the gridiron.

James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets: James Harden is known for his euro step and getting all the foul calls. Imagine Harden in the NFL getting pass interference calls. As the team’s third receiver, he could work the middle of the field and move the chains not only catching the ball but because of penalties too.

Running Backs: Isaiah Thomas, PG, Boston Celtics: Running backs have to have the mentality that they are better than everyone else no matter their size. Isaiah Thomas is the perfect candidate for that. He is so agile and quick that with his small stature, he could fit through any hole. He would be the perfect scat back for an NFL team.

Steph Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors: The way that Steph Curry can make defenders dance is just silly. Who wouldn’t love to see that against defenders on the football field? Carrying the ball rather than having to dribble it would allow him to shake and bake defenders effortlessly. Curry would be breathtaking to watch on the football field.

Quarterback: Lonzo Ball, PG, Los Angeles Lakers: The summer league was just the beginning of what we are going to see from Lonzo Ball. His playmaking ability was Magic-esque. He can put the ball anywhere he wants to. A quarterback must be able to do the same. Lonzo has the perfect size for an NFL quarterback. He is the best choice for a quarterback because he has displayed amazing passing ability.

Defense

NBA's Gridiron Team

(Photo Credit: http://dailysnark.com/throwback-lebron-kevin-durant-played-football-game/)

Defensive End: Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs: The defensive end position has some of the most athletic players in all of the NFL. Kawhi is known for his world class defense and freakishly big hands. Throwing Kawhi on the end of a line and telling him to rush the passer could lead to a lot of sacks. Leonard would make a great edge rusher.

Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors: Kevin Durant is another freak athlete. If we follow the mold of selecting defensive ends, Durant is another player that can use his athletism to go get the quarterback. Durant would be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

Defensive Tackle: Zach Randolph, PF, Memphis Grizzlies: Defensive tackles have to be some of the most unselfish players on the team. The job description of a defensive tackle is to eat up blocks so that everyone else gets the glory. Z-Bo is the perfect candidate for a defensive tackle position. He will take up those blocks so the rest of the defense can eat.

Kenneth Faried, PF, Denver Nuggets: Faried is just as perfect of a fit at defensive tackle as Randolph is. He will get down and dirty and do what ever the team needs to win. Faried has proven that he doesn’t need the spotlight on him. Any coach would sleep well knowing that Faried could eat up blocks so that the linebackers can run around knocking heads off.

Linebackers: Tony Allen, SG, Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Allen is one of the most lockdown defenders the NBA has ever seen. Kobe Bryant said he was the toughest defender he ever had to face. Allen has that grit all linebackers need to succeed. Any running back that has to meet Tony Allen in the hole is in for a big hit.

Jimmy Butler, SG, Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler is one of the best all-around players in the NBA but he made his name on defense. He has a tenacity about him that Chicago fans fell in love with. Early in his career, he showed no fear in going up against the best offensive players in the game. Throw Butler in at linebacker and you have a versatile defender who can come up to stuff the run or drop back and defend the pass.

Marcus Smart, SG, Boston Celtics: Certain linebackers are just pit bulls and Smart has that pit bull mentality. Any football coach could put him at linebacker and see instant toughness from the rest of the defense. Smart will get physical and isn’t afraid to go toe to toe with other giants. His passion is palpable and his teammates would feed off of him.

Cornerbacks: Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trailblazers: Corners have some of the most difficult tasks in the game. Many people forget to list Lillard with the best point guards and the chip on his shoulder makes him fit the corner mold perfectly. Corners don’t always get the love when trying to stop the diva wide outs. In this passing era, Lillard would take it personally that he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. 

Andre Roberson, SG, Oklahoma City: Roberson is the perfect candidate to play cornerback. Most times the saying about corners is “if they could catch they would play wide receiver.” Roberson has no offense at all and wo

NBA's Gridiron Team

(Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/draymond-green-warriors/)

uld fit this stereotype. He is long and receivers would get frustrated trying to match up with him.

Safeties: Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City: This could come as a surprise to most people. Why not running back or wide receiver? The answer is because the best safeties do it all. They come up and stuff the run game. They also patrol the field looking to destroy receivers and intercept passes. The MVP would be an amazing safety if he played football. Offenses would definitely be game planning against Westbrook.

Avery Bradley, SG, Detroit Pistons: Bradley is another player that has made a name on the defensive side of the ball. Bradley will do a great job at being the last line of defense. He would put fear into any receiver who tries to come across the middle of his field.

Special Teams

Kicker: Draymond Green, PF, Golden State Warriors: Draymond has been known to kick groins. This seems self-explanatory that he would be the team’s kicker.

Punter: Ricky Rubio, PG, Utah Jazz: Picking a punter is tough. If Steve Nash was still playing it would be easy to pick him. Ricky Rubio grew up playing soccer in Spain. He would have no trouble booting the football if the offense stalls.

Returner: Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers: Over the past couple of seasons we have been able to see Kyrie dazzle defenders and the world, with his moves. Irving would be an electrifying return man in the NFL. His moves have proven to break ankles on the hardwood so why wouldn’t that translate to the gridiron?

 

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Featured image courtesy of Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

2017 season preview: Top five NBA backcourts

Many teams have All-Star guards, however few have two of them in the same backcourt. In today’s position-less NBA, most point guards and shooting guards are cut and dry.

Having two guards that can coexist with each other is unique, and can form a potential championship combination. Recent free agent signings and offseason trades have shaken up the list of top NBA backcourts.

Here are the top five guard duos going into the start of the 2017-18 NBA season.

Number Five: Toronto Raptors

top five NBA backcourts

Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry, Photo Courtesy of Fox Sports.

DeMar Derozan: 27.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.9 apg. Player efficiency rating: 24.1

Kyle Lowry: 22.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 7.0 apg. Player efficiency rating: 22.9

It almost seems like year in and year out the Raptors backcourt gets overlooked.

Production wise, the numbers are extremely impressive. The Raptors averaged 106.9 points per regular season game this year. Derozan and Lowry combined for 49.7 of those points.

Both of the two were All-Stars in their 2016-17 campaigns and took advantage of a top heavy Eastern Conference.

Both Lowry and Derozan have a true shooting percentage of above 55 percent, which shows that they are both efficient scorers as well as volume scorers.

On a team that sometimes struggles offensively, the two needed to score as efficiently as they did. Scoring nearly 47 percent of their team’s points last year notches the Raptors’ backcourt at number five league wide.

Number Four: Portland Trail Blazers

top five NBA backcourts

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.

Damian Lillard: 27.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.9 apg. Player efficiency rating: 24.2

CJ McCollum: 23.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.6 apg. Player efficiency rating: 20.0

One of the youngest backcourts in the league is also one of the most impressive.

Lillard and McCollum came from Weber State and Lehigh University and have continued their climb ever since.

McCollum is coming off a season in which he earned the NBA’s Most Improved Player, and Lillard is a two-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year.

Keep in mind that the average player efficiency rating for the 2016-17 season was around 14.9. Both McCollum and Lillard continue to prove themselves year in and year out, keeping their team treading above water.

The Trail Blazers struggle defensively, especially in the playoffs when teams tend to pay more attention to detail. When opposing teams lock down defensively, both Dame and CJ continue their scoring consistently. Unfortunately, the Trail Blazers lack of consistent defense is what keeps them from winning come playoff time.

Number Three: Washington Wizards

top five NBA backcourts

John Wall and Bradley Beal, Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.

John Wall: 23.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 10.7 apg. Player efficiency rating: 23.3

Bradley Beal: 23.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.5 apg. Player efficiency rating: 20.2

This past year’s playoffs are enough to argue that both Beal and Wall belong in the three spot or even higher.

Wall is a consistent double-double performer. Beal is a very good shooter who can catch fire at any moment and stay that way for a whole game.

Wall has become one of the top offensive threats in the Eastern Conference due to his change of pace and fearless ability to get to the rim.

Wall and Beal both turned in their second highest career plus/minuses which was over plus five for both of them.

They fought off elimination and were just a few minutes away from taking the Wizards to the Eastern Conference finals. Barring any physical setbacks, the Wizards led by this backcourt tandem should be right there at the top of the Eastern Conference yet again.

Number Two: Houston Rockets

top five NBA backcourts

Chris Paul and James Harden, Photo Courtesy of Business Insider.

Chris Paul: 18.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 9.2 apg. Player efficiency rating: 26.3

James Harden: 29.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 11.2 apg. Player efficiency rating: 27.4

They have yet to play a single minute together (not counting Olympic ball and All-star games). They are two ball-dominant guards and it very well might take a while to work.

But Chris Paul and James Harden could even be the best backcourt in basketball this upcoming season.

With the two highest player efficiency ratings in 2016, Paul and Harden are the best backcourt on paper. They have 14 All-Star seasons between the two of them.

Obviously games aren’t played on paper and the two have to figure out their playing style together. Harden has to go back to his old shooting guard role and Paul has to get accommodated to his new teammates.

The Rockets may not have put themselves on the same level as the Warriors by putting these two together, but they certainly closed the gap. Houston will skyrocket into a title contender with good play from a strong backcourt.

Number One: Golden State Warriors

top five NBA backcourts

Klay Thompson with Steph Curry in the background, Photo Courtesy of FoxSports.

Steph Curry: 25.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.6 apg. Player efficiency rating: 24.7

Klay Thompson: 22.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg 2.1 apg. Player efficiency rating: 17.5

Anytime you have two league MVPs and six All-star appearances between a backcourt, it’s pretty impressive. Ultimately it comes down to success with these two.

The Splash Brothers are so electric that they draw attention and in turn make their teammates better. Klay has scored 37 points in a quarter and Steph seems to be open even when he isn’t.

Kevin Durant took a little bit of shine away from Klay Thompson this year, as you can see by his player efficiency rating, but success helps overcome that.

Both are automatic from behind the 3-point line, free throw line and make a team pay if they don’t lockdown defensively. The Splash Bsrothers will continue to torch opposing defenses for many years to come.

Honorable mentions

Most of you are probably wondering about Boston or Oklahoma City. Both Paul George and Gordon Hayward are small forwards that will play some shooting guard this year.

In fact Hayward might be the starting shooting guard for Boston all year. With Jae Crowder less versatile, Hayward could land himself in the backcourt with fellow All-star, Isaiah Thomas, which would be a strong argument for a spot on this list.

Oklahoma City is a little less likely of a backcourt. Andre Roberson is a solid shooting guard who plays excellent defense and has value being on the floor. If the Thunder went with a bigger lineup, then Russell Westbrook and Paul George would have a chance to share a backcourt together. If that happened consistently, the two would also find their way on this list.

Conclusion

Strong backcourts can be a winning formula in leading a team. If both guards are versatile and play well together, then there is no reason a backcourt can’t be lethal. The top five backcourts in the NBA have led their teams to deep playoff runs and have taken home many other accolades.

The 2017-18 season will be filled with close games and great teams. We will see how far some of the best backcourts lead their teams come playoff time.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of SI.com.

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Top five NBA Summer League players

The NBA Summer League is a time for players to prepare for the speed of an NBA game. In years past, some of the best statistical summer league stars did not translate their games to the NBA.

Some of the most impressive players of the 2017 NBA Summer League are not who many thought they would be. This summer league is filled with lots of depth and future NBA stars.

Here are the top five players who have turned heads in this year’s NBA Summer League.

Bryn Forbes

top five NBA Summer League players

Bryn Forbes, Photo Courtesy of News Locker.

Somewhat of an expected star in this year’s summer league is Bryn Forbes. Forbes is an undrafted second-year player out of Michigan State.

Forbes is a member of the San Antonio Spurs’ summer league team and has blossomed into a very lethal scorer.

In the summer league, Forbes is averaging 23.7 points per game, while shooting 43.6 percent from the field. Bryn is also grabbing three rebounds and dishing out three assists per game.

He was a known 3-point sniper out of college, and he has added an off-dribble game and has become even more difficult to guard.

Forbes is not a stranger to shining in the summer league, being that he shined almost as bright as a rookie in last year’s preseason.

Forbes could make the step into being a consistent rotation player for the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich.

Donovan Mitchell

top five NBA Summer League players

Donovan Mitchell, Photo Courtesy of Purple and Blues.

Mitchell is the 13th overall pick and has had possibly the best summer league of anyone so far. The extremely athletic guard has impacted the game in many different ways.

In the games this summer, Mitchell is averaging 26.4 points on 39.6 percent shooting. Donovan is averaging 2.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game.

Mitchell has been more offensive-minded after developing his game in his two years at Louisville.

He also has the summer league-high this year with 37 points. In that same game he also had eight steals to show how complete of a player he is.

He has also nearly doubled his point totals in each of his last three years of basketball.

Mitchell is the definition of a player with a high ceiling. He seems to be just scratching the surface of the things that he can do for the Utah Jazz.

Jayson Tatum:

top five NBA Summer League players

Jayson Tatum, Photo Courtesy of Chowder and Champions.

Tatum is the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft. Tatum has lived up to his summer league hype, by both scoring and ball handling for the Boston Celtics.

In the summer, Tatum is averaging 18.2 points on 44.6 percent shooting. Jayson is also grabbing 8.8 rebounds and has 1.5 assists a game.

Tatum has done a little bit of everything for the Celtics. He has made some big shots in the fourth quarter and has also shown he can score off the dribble.

He also has shown that he is a very good rebounding small forward, which is the Celtics’ biggest problem.

Tatum will have to adjust to an off-ball game when the regular season starts, due to Isaiah Thomas, but for right now he is showing that he has a more complete game than people thought.

Dakari Johnson

top five NBA Summer League players

Dakari Johnson, Photo Courtesy of Mash Media.

Johnson is in his third NBA season. Dakari was the 48th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and a former Kentucky Wildcat.

Dakari was a very proven D-league (now G-league) player, turning in an All-Star campaign in 2017.

Johnson is a very physical post player who scores almost all his points around the rim.

No stranger to the summer league, Johnson has 18.5 points on 56.9 percent shooting in four games. He also has 5.5 boards and 1.8 assists per game.

Although Johnson is not rebounding as well this summer as he typically does, he is showing that he can dominate the paint and could help be a rotation big man for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Bam Adebayo:

top five NBA Summer League players

Bam Adebayo, Photo Courtesy of Heat Zone.

Adebayo is the 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Bam is a 20-year-old former Kentucky Wildcat that can really protect the rim.

After not having many plays drawn up for him at Kentucky, Bam is trying to prove himself as an offensive weapon.

This summer he is averaging 16.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists for the Miami Heat.

One of his weaknesses is his free throw shooting and his foul trouble.

Bam is a strong defensive presence and can really provide value standing alongside Hassan Whiteside for the Miami Heat.

Bonus: Okaro White

White is out of Florida State and is complimenting Bam on the Miami Heat summer league team. Okaro is a very good shooter who can stretch the floor.

He is averaging 19 points on 37.7 percent shooting. He averages 8 rebounds and 1.8 assists a game this summer.

As the league shifts to the more athletic big man that can guard pick and rolls and shoot the three, Okaro White’s stock is continuing to rise.

 

As the NBA regular season is approaching, players are searching to make rosters in the summer league. Some of the players who have impressed the most may not translate into stardom when they start playing against the serious talent.

In a league where players are trying to adapt to the speed and skill of the next level, these six players have impressed the most so far in the 2017 NBA Summer League.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of NBA.com

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

NBA Playoff system: time to change

Preview:

In recent history, teams with below .500 records have found a way to slide into the NBA playoff race.

Teams with better records in the other conference have gotten penalized due to their geographical location and not their overall record.

It appears as though the West is turning into a gauntlet and the talent in the East is top-heavy.

Many people around the NBA have talked about moving to a different playoff system. The alternate system would take the top 16 teams with the best records to the playoffs.

Recent History:

NBA Playoffs

Photo Courtesy of Above the Rim

Since 2007, there have been nine teams under .500 teams in the playoffs. All nine of those teams have come from the Eastern Conference.

In the eleven years, two different times there were multiple under 41 win teams in the playoffs.

Eight of the nine teams that made the playoffs with an under .500 record had a worse record than a team who didn’t make the playoffs in the other conference.

The NBA would benefit by having a more competitive postseason and would also make regular season games more competitive.

 

Stars Changing Locations:

All-Stars: Paul Milsap, Paul George and Jimmy Butler are all on the move to the Western Conference.

Many teams in the West now have multiple All-Stars and former All-Stars on their given teams. The Rockets, Warriors, Pelicans, Spurs, Clippers and Thunder all have two or more guys who have been All-Stars in the last three years. Just the Celtics, Cavaliers and Raptors have that in the Eastern Conference.

Its not just the shifting of the talent in between the two conferences. It’s also the depth in talent that’s different.

The Change:

NBA Playoffs

Photo Courtesy of Grantland.

At the end of the day, the best 16 teams should be able to compete for a championship.

For a team to have the 15th best record and not make the playoffs doesn’t make sense.

With the Western Conference as strong as it is, the East is going to have a tough time holding their own.

There’s a good chance Western Conference teams with good records could get snubbed come playoff time.

It’s time to do away with Conference seeding and give the best teams a chance to win an NBA Championship.

 

Feature Image by Chat Sports

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Gordon Hayward free agency: Where he will land

Gordon Hayward began his recruiting tour as of July 1. The three stops he will be making are: Miami, Boston and of course the team who drafted him, Utah.  It is currently a toss-up on where Hayward will land.

Hayward is now the biggest free agent name out there so teams are gunning for him. Here’s what each teams’ advantages and disadvantages are for Gordon’s decision.

Gordon Hayward free agency

Utah Jazz

Hayward’s former team provides less of a threat than you would think.

Gordon Hayward free agency

Photo Courtesy of Torn By Sports.

Hayward is drawn to Utah because it is the place where his wife is and his kids have grown up. He has been in Utah all of his seven years in the league.

However, Hayward openly said that if George Hill was signed by the Jazz, he would strongly consider coming back.

Ricky Rubio was then traded for in the following days leaving Hill on the outs. Hayward then proceeded to opt out of his contract with the Jazz in response.

Ultimately for Hayward it might be time to leave behind Utah and the loaded Western Conference.

Miami Heat

Gordon Hayward free agency

The Miami Heat are the team that could possibly use Hayward the most. The Heat had the lowest point total of any position at Small Forward last year.

They have an established point guard in Goran Dragic and low post threat in Hassan Whiteside. They are just lacking the consistent shooter on the outside that could be provided with the signing of Hayward.

A draw for Hayward to the Heat is that there aren’t any state income taxes, meaning Hayward’s contract would technically be worth more because he doesn’t lose as much money to taxes.

He also would be coached by NBA champion, Erik Spoelstra, which is the only coach of the three that has won an NBA title.

The Heat seemed to be a sleeper to land Hayward originally, but I think they are more appealing than originally thought.

Boston Celtics

Gordon Hayward free agency

Photo Courtesy of Logo Eps.

The Celtics are the most visually appealing to Hayward. If he wants to contend for a championship, the Celtics are the team to sign with.

They are the reigning one seed in the Eastern Conference and just added Jayson Tatum, the number three draft pick.

Hayward would be playing alongside All-Star Isaiah Thomas as well as other key players.

He also has a strong connection to head coach Brad Stevens. Stevens coached Hayward at Butler University for two years and had extreme success going 59-11 together, and finishing runner-up in the 2009 National Championship.

One of the only negatives is Jae Crowder is still around. Splitting time with a solid player in Crowder may be hard to overcome for Hayward.

Where Hayward Will Land

Realistically, if Hayward really likes it in Utah then he might not go anywhere. If he is interested in contending and winning for a legendary city, then Boston is his place.

When it’s all said and done, the Celtics have the best team on paper and seem to be a great fit for him. In a league that’s all about getting paid, and winning rings, Hayward will likely take a little less money to be with a team that’s ready to contend right away.

Hayward will have to move past the fact that he doesn’t like Tom Brady, because when it’s all said and done he might just be sharing the spotlight with him.

 

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2017 NBA Draft: Best value picks

A team doesn’t have to be in the top 10 to get a star in the NBA Draft. Teams like the Golden State Warriors have shown us that. The 2017 NBA Draft is a draft filled with lots of talent at any given position. There was a chance for many teams to find value, even outside of the draft lottery. Here are some of the best value picks outside of the top 10 picks.

First Round Value:

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Harry Giles, Photo Courtesy of Fast Six Pack.

Harry Giles (#20 pick, Trail Blazers, Traded to the Kings)

Giles was the consensus number one recruit in the 2016 college recruiting class. He is a 6-foot-10 power forward with a ton of upside. The reason for his fall out of the top 10 was his injury-filled freshman campaign with the Duke Blue Devils.

Giles has had three knee surgeries in the last four years. Due to his most recent surgery, Giles missed 11 of Duke’s 37 games in his freshman season.

Many of Harry Giles’ strengths have to do with the strength of his knees. He relies highly on his athleticism to play above the rim and get rebounds. He also relies on his strength and motor to outwork his opponents and finish through contact.

Some of his weaknesses are guarding the pick and roll due to his lack of lateral quickness and his free throw shooting ability. Some question his scoring ability outside the paint, however he is a proven low post threat.

Giles averaged 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game playing 26 games in his only collegiate season.

If Giles can get healthy as he enters the NBA, he will create lots of value for the Sacramento Kings and could turn into the projected lottery pick he once was.

Giles, when healthy is a lottery pick, and the season he played at Duke didn’t do his talents justice. He never got a chance to get in basketball shape and in turn get in the rotation for the Blue Devils.

Second Round Value:

Semi Ojeleye (#37 pick, Boston Celtics)

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Semi Ojeleye, Photo Courtesy of Penn Live.

Ojeleye is a little different from Giles, being that Ojeleye is a near finished product. He is 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds of pure athlete. Semi measured at 40.5 inches on his vertical leap in his draft workouts and shot 42 percent from three. He also had 18.2 points per game for the Southern Methodist Mustangs.

Ojeleye was a Duke commit and transferred to the Mustangs, where he began to blossom.

The Celtics get a great athlete who doesn’t need a lot of developing. He is a player who can help on the defensive end and can also stretch the floor with the three ball.

Ojeleye is a large physical presence whose body is already NBA ready. He is ready to be a role player and the Celtics are a team that can absolutely use a pure shooter to add to lots of assets.

Jordan Bell (#38 pick, Bulls, Traded to Warriors)

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Jordan Bell blocking Kennedy Meeks’ shot, Photo Courtesy of CSN.

Even when the Warriors don’t have a pick in a draft they still manage to make a splash.

Jordan Bell is another incredible athlete who averaged 10.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in his junior season for the Oregon Ducks. Bell continued to find a way to improve every year he was in college and had his best offensive season his last year.

Bell is not a huge offensive presence outside of the paint which is why he fell to the second round. He is a great defensive player who rebounds well and protects the rim with his tremendous athleticism.

Jordan measures at 38 inches on his vertical leap and has a seven-foot wingspan, making him a perfect candidate for a rim protector and defensive juggernaut.

Jordan Bell is similar to former Warrior, Festus Ezeli and could possibly fill the role that has been vacant since Ezeli left.

Jaron Blossomgame (#59 pick, San Antonio Spurs)

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Jaron Blossomgame. Photo Courtesy of Draft Express.

Blossomgame dropping this far in the draft was shocking. Many people had Blossomgame higher up on draft boards in the previous year, so for him to fall this far is unexpected. What is not unexpected is the Spurs saw the value in him that other teams didn’t.

Jaron falls to the Spurs and could make an impact right away. With Lamarcus Aldridge unhappy with his situation with the Spurs and Gasol aging, Blossomgame could work his way into the rotation.

Jaron has a very inconsistent jump shot, shooting just 25.5 percent from the 3-point line in his senior campaign. He does have a ton of athleticism. He can guard two to three positions and has excellent timing for rebounding and shot blocking.

The reason for his fall this far in the draft was his dropoff of production from junior to senior year. The dropoff was partly due to the change from power forward to small forward in preparation for the NBA Draft.

Jaron could play two different positions in the NBA. With the league transitioning to small ball, he could become a huge asset in that transition for the Spurs.

Summary:

The 2017 NBA Draft was one that was filled with useful future NBA players.

Whether it is a player going in the top five or a pick taken at 60, any athlete could provide value if they are in the correct system.

Every NBA team is looking for a late draft pick that can turn there team into a title contender. These athletes could potentially be the pieces that could help their teams take the next step to being a contender.

 

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Boston Celtics 2017 NBA Draft options

Boston Celtics 2017 NBA Draft options

The 2017 NBA Draft is tonight and the Boston Celtics once again have more options than any other team in the NBA. With a plethora of draft picks, young valuable talent and cap room, the Celtics are poised to make a blockbuster move.

Yet Celtics fans have seen this too many times on draft day or trade deadlines to except something big to happen. Let’s talk about what could happen, just for fun.

The Boston Celtics traded the No. 1 overall pick for the 2017 draft to the Philadelphia 76ers to move back to the No. 3 spot and a future first round pick (which Is extremely valuable being from the 76ers).

Danny Ainge has said that they moved back in the draft because the player they were eyeing will probably be there at number three. If this is the case then the trade is a no-brainer for the Celtics. The Celtics have a lot of choices leading up to the draft but don’t expect a big draft night trade, it’s more likely to see a trade happen after the draft. But let’s begin.

Trade For Jimmy Butler

Boston Celtics 2017 NBA Draft options

Courtesy of ESPN.com

It’s clear the Chicago Bulls have been shopping Jimmy Butler since the trade deadline of last season. It seems like his price was too high for Danny during the season but now the price for Butler is dropping. It was reported by CBS Sports that the Celtics declined an offer from the Bulls for the No. 3 pick in the draft.

If this report is accurate, it tells me that the Celtics feel strongly that they can obtain a dominate small forward in the draft, rather than taking on Butler with no guarantee he will resign with the team. Don’t count out a last minute deal for Butler out entirely yet though, as there’s still a small chance the Celtics would consider sending other picks or a package of players to land the dynamic scorer.

The Unicorn:

Boston Celtics 2017 NBA Draft options

Courtesy of SI.com

This is by far be the most desirable trade for the Celtics. Getting a guaranteed difference-maker right now with strengths in areas the Celtics have problems in like rebounding and low post scoring would be a dream scenario for any general manager.

The rumors of the New York Knicks willingness to trade Kristaps Porzingis for a high pick in this year’s draft is actually unbelievable. Considering how much he is beloved by the New York fanbase, these rumors come as a shock to the entire NBA community. Unless Phil Jackson knows something we don’t, it would be a big mistake to not go after Porzingis.

Draft options:

The safest and more practical option would be for the Celtics to take the No. 3 pick in the draft which would be a toss-up between Kansas’ Josh Jackson or Duke’s Jayson Tatum. Another option would be to explore trading down again to gather more assets and try to get Florida State’s Jonathan Issac.

The fact is that the Celtics are looking for a forward in this draft assuming they use the pick and in this draft there is plenty of options at that position.

No matter what the Celtics do, they are still the reigning No. 1 seed in the East and have a fun and competitive team. Using these picks might not be the most flashy moves the Celtics could make, but setting up for years of success never hurts either.

There are also so many trades to pursue after the draft concludes and huge cap space points to an exciting summer of free agency.

Overall, the Celtics are in one of the best positions of all the franchises in the NBA. Celtics fans can be satisfied with the excitement that this current team already brings them but there is always room to improve.

 

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