NBA takeaways

Eight thoughts about the NBA season minus LeBron James

The NBA is off to a wonderful, yet somewhat surprising start. The Celtics have won 16 straight games, the Pistons are third in the Eastern Conference and the Oklahoma City Thunder are under .500 despite building a super team in the offseason. Here are a few early season takeaways.

1. Is Lonzo Ball going to be good?

Going into the draft, the Lakers knew they were not drafting Lonzo Ball for his scoring ability, but his shot has been just awful. On shots from 0-3 feet from the basket (essentially layups), Ball is shooting 45.5 percent. His abysmal 22.8 3-point percentage is the worst in the NBA.

NBA takeaways

Hopefully Lonzo can figure out the whole shooting thing (Photo from ClutchPoints)

Instead of panicking, let’s look at some other famous guards. Russell Westbrook shot 47.6 percent from 0-3 feet, and 27.1 percent from three during his first year with the Oklahoma City Thunder. John Wall shot 40.9 percent from the field as a 20-year old in Washington, which is not as poor as Lonzo’s 31.3 percent, but is still weak.

Now for the positives. His assist-to-turnover ratio is pretty solid, and he already has two triple-doubles. Only 12 other guards have eclipsed multiple triple-doubles during their rookie seasons. That list consists of Jason Kidd, Michael Jordan, Chris Paul, Walt Frazier, Tim Hardaway and Kevin Johnson. It also includes Michael Carter-Williams, Jamaal Tinsley, Art Williams and Elfrid Payton.

Long story short, he could be great, but he also could be a major bust. He appears somewhat passive, and walking away from a fight that involved his teammates makes me question his toughness. Only time will tell, but in BBB we trust. Through 17 games, Ball is averaging 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists. The only other rookies to average at least seven boards and seven assists were Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.

2. Ben Simmons is super talented

You can already tell that, barring injury, Ben Simmons will be in the Hall of Fame. He is a lock for NBA Rookie of the Year, averaging a ridiculous 18.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game. The only other rookie to average at least 18-8-7 was the great Oscar Robertson. He is the modern day Magic Johnson, and NBA fans should be ecstatic.

The kid can do it all. He is special in half court, full court, open court, heck, he would probably be good in a court of law. The best part is a guy who has no jump shot is shooting 52.3 percent from the field. Simmons dominates inside, shooting 73.5 percent from 0-3 feet. I pray each and every day that he stays healthy for the remainder of the season.

3. Joel Embiid is so fun for the NBA

On Monday night, we watched Embiid swat Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, then proceeded to talk trash while Mitchell was down. This prompted Mitchell to shove Embiid, who flopped and drew a technical foul as he fell down to the floor.

In a game against the Clippers, Embiid had 32 points and 16 rebounds, while taunting Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The following night, Embiid put up his historic 46-15-7-7 stat line and proceeded to taunt Lonzo and LaVar Ball on social media.

Embiid is a national treasure, and like his teammate Simmons, needs prayers every night to stay healthy. He has a chance to be an all-time great, both on and off the court.

4. Brad Stevens is a magician and Kyrie Irving is special

The Celtics are off to an amazing start at 16-2, but the MVP of their team is not on the court. He is patrolling from courtside and calling out the plays.

Head coach Brad Stevens is the obvious choice for Coach of the Year and rightfully so. Without Gordon Hayward, Boston is riding a 16-game winning streak, and sits atop the Eastern Conference. Their defense has been phenomenal, ranking second in opponent field goal percentage, third in opponent threes allowed and fifth in total steals. Offensively, Boston is first in total rebounds and third in free throws made.

NBA takeaways

16 and counting (Photo from NBA.com)

When the Celtics were sitting at 14 straight, Stevens, in a postgame interview, noted “We gotta play a lot better.” That is a clear sign of an elite coach.

Kyrie Irving is shooting worse from the field, from three and from the line compared to last season. Luckily, Irving looks to be back on track after two dominating performances. Against the Hawks, Irving had 30 points while shooting 10-12. On Monday, Uncle Drew had his best game as a member of the Celtics. In an eight-point win against Dallas, Irving had 47 points (16-22), six assists and was +21 for the game.

He is also the most clutch player in the NBA. In the final five minutes with the score within five, Irving, in 38 minutes, has 65 points (24-39), 10 assists, zero turnovers, and a plus-minus of +40. Momma there goes that man.

5. Victor Oladipo looks like an All-Star

After being the punchline in the Paul George trade, the former No. 2 overall pick is having quite the season in Indiana. Oladipo is averaging 22.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists, while shooting 44.7 percent from long range. All of a sudden, Oladipo is an offensive threat, and has the Pacers above .500.

6. Dwight Howard is a Hall of Famer

On Monday night, Howard had 25 points and 20 rebounds in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. This was his 49th 20-point, 20-rebound game, which is the most of any player since 1983. Yes, that is more than Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal.

NBA takeaways

Dwight Howard will be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame (Photo from USA Today)

This past March in an interview with Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated, Howard was asked about whether or not he thinks he will be the Hall of Fame. He responded by saying, “No doubt. It’s kind of got swept under the rug because the perception of all the things that happened in Orlando. All of the media stuff. If you look at basketball itself, and I don’t ever talk about myself, but winning three Defensive Player of the Year trophies has never been done. Leading the league in rebounding six straight years. All that kind of stuff, I think that deserves it.”

Although he actually has only led the NBA in five total seasons rather than six straight, the eight-time All-Star should walk into the Hall of Fame with ease. It’s so funny because he has had such an awkward career, from dominating in Orlando, to flopping with the Lakers and bouncing from the Rockets to the Hawks and now the Hornets.

Yes, he has probably underachieved, but Howard’s numbers will put him up with the all-time greats when all is said and done.

7. What is going on in OKC?

Of course it takes time to adjust to playing with other All-Stars, but this Thunder team is sketchy. They are 7-9, and Russell Westbrook is shooting worse from the field and free-throw line than last year. He also has less assists per game despite having more talent around him.

Carmelo Anthony is shooting 42.2 percent, which would be the worst field goal percentage of his career. They are constantly letting teams back into games after the first quarter, and have now lost two straight despite being ahead by 20 points in both contests. Hopefully this team figures it out and can compete with Golden State come June.

8. James Harden is the MVP at this point in the season

Harden leads the league in points and assists per game. He is shooting 45 percent from the field, 40.4 percent from deep and 86.4 percent from the line.

Houston leads the Western Conference at 13-4, and Harden was dominating without Chris Paul, the team’s second best player, who was dealing with an injury. He dropped 56 points against Utah, and another 48 against the Suns.

 

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NBA summary so far

NBA Preview:

Well every team has played from 10-12 games so far this season so it’s time to make some reflections on the start to the season.

Whether it’s championship caliber teams struggling, star players off to rough starts or rookies under performing here’s a look at the start of the 2017-2018 NBA season.

Eastern Conference:

I’m going to go out on limb and say no one had the Magic and Pistons in the top 3 in the east through 10+ games. The Pistons have benefited from Tobias Harris’ spectacular play on both ends.

Other teams have shocked the Eastern Conference with their struggles. Luckily for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the season doesn’t end today or they would be out of the playoffs. Not having a second scoring option to go with Lebron has hurt them.

The Milwaukee Bucks have struggled despite MVP level play from Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the addition of Eric Bledsoe, the team should turn it around moving forward.

The Celtics have rattled off 10 straight wins even without their second best player. Brad Stevens has put together great game plans and has transformed a roster full of youth into the best defensive team in the NBA.

Players Worth Noting:

NBA

Kyle Lowry, (Raptors Republic).

Ben Simmons has practically led the way for the Philadelphia 76ers. Once a front runner for the rookie of the year, Simmons has lived up to his anticipated hype. In his last 10 games, Simmons is nearly averaging a triple double. He has 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game as well as a 19.8 player efficiency rating. Simmons is leading a 76ers team through the point-forward position.

Kristaps Porzingis has been incredible for the New York Knicks. In his last 10, Porzingis is averaging 29.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. He is also at an astounding 29.2 for player efficiency rating which is one of the tops in the entire NBA.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the tops in the NBA in player efficiency as well. He sits at 32.7 and is averaging 32 points per game. Giannis is one of the only reasons that the Bucks have been competitive through 10 games.

Kyle Lowry is one of the players who has struggled out of the gates for the Raptors. Lowry is shooting 32 percent from three and 39 percent from the field. He is averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists as the secondary option for the Raptors. All of those per game stats are well below his career averages.

Western Conference:

There isn’t too many surprises in the Western Conference. Some of the bigger ones have been the Thunder, Grizzlies and Clippers.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have struggled to win games. They are getting over 60 points per game from Westbrook, Anthony and George. They are 4-6 and have gotten great play from their big three.

One of the shocking things is how well the Memphis Grizzlies have played. They managed to knock off the Warriors and Rockets already and those two teams are the best in the Western Conference so far. They come out at 7-4 and have gotten help from a rested and ready Chandler Parsons who has just under a 17 player efficiency rating.

Even though the Clippers are 5-5, they have had glimpses of great play. They won their first four and have hit a skid as of late. Obviously their strength of schedule hasn’t been too heavy, but the Clippers are a fringe playoff team and they are only going to get better as the season moves forward.

Players Worth Noting:

Clint Capela has provided a low post threat and has been the second option for the Houston Rockets. Capela is averaging 12.7 points and 10.6 rebounds as well as 2 blocks and 2 assists. He is manning the middle for the Rockets and has helped them to a 8-3 record.

Lamarcus Aldridge has benefited from Kawhi Leonard being out. He is averaging 22.6 point and 8.3 rebounds and has helped a team without one of their stars jump out to a 7-4 record.

A final statistic that is interesting for the league as a whole so far is that Shabazz Muhammad is averaging 10.3 minutes in the seven games the Timberwolves have won this year. He is also averaging 22.3 minutes in the four losses they have this season.

 

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Boston Celtics: Youth leading the way

The Boston Celtics lost Gordon Hayward on opening night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. What seemed like a log jam at small forward and shooting guard a month ago has now grown thin with the injuries to Hayward and Smart. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier have played key roles in life without Hayward.

The Celtics are one possession away from beating the Cavaliers and being 3-1 even without one of their All-Star guards. So how are they doing it? How are they surviving without Hayward? Well many of the young guards are being thrust into important roles and are coming out successful so far.

Brad Stevens

Boston Celtics

Brad Stevens on the Celtics bench (Photo: Business Insider)

Stevens is obviously one of the youngest coaches in the league so it’s only fitting that he’s one of the most important parts of the team. One of Brad Stevens’ biggest attributes is his ability to mesh a bunch of players with different skill sets together. Stevens has really shown that off throughout the first week of the season. Players like Shane Larkin are averaging 15 minutes and Aron Baynes is even starting games.

Stevens has shown that his coaching isn’t built solely around stars. Kyrie Irving’s statistics are down from last season. It’s completely understandable knowing he isn’t playing alongside LeBron James but it’s also a product of Brad Stevens’ offense. Stevens uses less isolation and more off-ball screens and more off-ball movement.

Kyrie’s numbers have improved in certain aspects. He is getting more assists per game and is turning the ball over less as well. Stevens offense makes Kyrie’s 21 percent decrease in points per game understandable.

Jayson Tatum

A month ago Jayson Tatum was going to be battling with Jae Crowder, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown for minutes. As a rookie he is now starting and playing 34 minutes a game. 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game on 48 percent from the field and 46 percent from three.

He has been both efficient as well as a scoring option to take the pressure off Kyrie and Jaylen. Many rookies don’t play three quarters of a game on average. Stevens has enjoyed his versatility as well as his ability to grab rebounds as a power forward.

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown has transformed his offensive game in just a season. He is being more aggressive and almost has to be in this offense. He like Tatum is shooting 48 percent and is second on the team with 18.8 points per game.

Brown has also increased his three point percentage by three percent since last season. He has been his best when he’s gotten out in transition and attacked the lane and with many of the Celtics sets being with four guards, he has the option to almost every time he’s on the floor.

Shane Larkin and Terry Rozier

Every year there are extra minutes that no one knows where they go. Excluding Terry Rozier in this one but Shane Larkin has been receiving those minutes. Averaging 5.3 points and 2.7 assists in 14.7 minutes a game Larkin has provided a spark off the bench that wasn’t originally expected. Larkin has been benefiting from Marcus Smart’s injury and taking full advantage of his minutes.

Terry Rozier for long stretches in the last two years has looked to be the Celtics most consistent rebounder. This season he has a 5.3/1 assist to turnover ratio which is best on the team and 5.8 rebounds as a 6-foot-2 point guard. He is one of the first Celtics off the bench and has gotten Brad Stevens trust.

As a backup guard, not turning it over and providing energy and effort are two of the most important things and Rozier has done both of those things throughout the first week of the NBA season.

The Celtics have been hit with an injury bug to start the season with Morris, Smart and obviously Hayward. As they move forward their rotation will continue to differ being that Daniel Theis will be starting as of Thursday night. Look for the Celtics to continue to improve and for Brad Stevens to continue to put great rotations together moving forward.

 

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The Celtics’ season is not over

A tragic event occurred on Tuesday night. The Celtics new star forward, Gordon Hayward, suffered a brutal injury to his ankle.

Many people are counting this year as a complete loss for the Celtics, and while it is certainly not ideal, the Celtics could still make something out of this. Obviously, the Celtics rally in the second half was electric. Call me an optimist, but I saw enough from that second half team to be able to say they could yet be a top two seed in the Eastern Conference.

When it comes to personnel, I am only going to break down players I think will play an integral role in replacing Hayward in Boston.

Coaching

Brad Stevens

There is a legitimate argument to be made that this man is a better head coach than Steve Kerr, which would make him the second best head coach in the league. That exemplifies just how good he is at his job. While the GM’s of the league may think otherwise, I would say Brad Stevens is the best coach in the league at making adjustments, and he’s only getting started.

The team defense he has designed has even been able to hide Isaiah Thomas on that side of the ball, so Kyrie Irving’s lack of defensive skill should be no problem. With more offensive weapons at his disposal, it will be interesting to see what he comes up with on that side of the ball.

Personnel

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart was the biggest surprise to me on Tuesday, as he stepped up on the offensive end once Hayward left. His post work looked very good, like a budget Chris Paul almost. Not to mention his high effort, high-level defense and pretty decent court vision. A stellar performance from the young man, the Celtics are gonna need a lot more where that came from.

Jaylen Brown

Welcome, Jaylen Brown. A fantastic performance from the second-year man, leading his team in scoring with 25 points. His outside shot still needs work, however, his athleticism really overshadowed his lack of an outside shot.

He looked fierce in this outing as he carved up the inside, with 14 of his 25 points coming off of layups or dunks. His defense was also pretty good in this one, as he was putting up a good fight on every possession, and came away with two steals. He can step and make a difference in Boston.

Marcus Morris

While Gordon Hayward is gone, Marcus Morris should be back soon. Morris is a solid defender, and decent 3-point shooter, with a career 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. He is a great asset, especially for a team like the Celtics, as floor spacing for Kyrie Irving is key. He also brings that toughness when defending on the low block that someone like Al Horford just doesn’t seem to have.

Jayson Tatum

His offense looked very good in the second half of this game after a shaky start. I hope he blossoms quickly, as he has a similar skillset to Gordon Hayward, and could be a great sixth man, or a decent starter.

Aron Baynes

He showed some real value on Tuesday, playing decent interior defense, and grabbing quite a few offensive rebounds. He could log some serious minutes.

This Celtics roster cannot take another injury. With one more hit, even to a role player like Aron Baynes, could be enough to kill them. Though at the moment, I think they still have all they need to seriously challenge for the East crown, even if they will almost certainly fall short.


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Welcome to Boston, Kyrie Irving

Just when you thought the Boston Celtics were done with their off-season journey, they strike again. Boston has acquired All-Star guard, Kyrie Irving, from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Boston has agreed to trade All-Star guard, Isaiah Thomas, Ante Zizic, Jae Crowder and 2018 Nets First Round Pick.

Its been over a month since Kyrie Irving openly talked about his urge to get out of Cleveland. Well, welcome to Boston: home of 17 NBA Championships.

Boston has made the biggest decisions this NBA off-season. They have acquired Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz. They have traded Avery Bradley to the Pistons. They drafted Jayson Tatum. What more can they do? Oh yeah, pick up the one of the best guards Kyrie Irving, if not the best, in the NBA.

Kyrie Irving averaged 25.2 points-per-game last season, while helping lead the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

Photo Courtesy of (NBA.com)

Isaiah Thomas will be truly missed in Boston. His determination to make this team succeed was impeccable. Thomas averaged 23.3 points-per-game last season, bringing the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Ante Zizic is a 7-foot rookie-center, who is on his way to Cleveland now. Zizic made the Boston roster just weeks ago.

Jae Crowder is entering his fifth season in the NBA, after averaging nearly 14 points-per-game for Boston last season. Crowder was originally drafted by Cleveland in 2012.

After this trade, Boston is a definite favorite for the Eastern Conference champions. They fell to Cleveland last year 4-1. Kyrie is ready to play for Coach Brad Stevens, making him a great fit in Boston.

Mark the calendars for October 17th, as Boston travels to Cleveland for the first game of the season. Kyrie will be in the Celtic green.

 

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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.

 

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The new look C’s: Boston Celtics 2018 Preview

As the NBA offseason cycles through, many basketball fans find it hard not to talk about the upcoming Boston Celtics. From trading rising star Avery Bradley and trading the first overall pick, we have just begun on the changes that Danny Ainge and his organization have made.

Gordon Hayward signs with the c’s

Gordon Hayward was one of the biggest free agents available this offseason, and had offers from Miami, Utah and of course, Boston.

Hayward poses in All Star Game gear (purpleandblues.com)

However, Boston had something that stood out more than their past legends, Larry Bird, Bill Russell and a franchise with 17 total NBA championships: Head coach Brad Stevens. For those who don’t know the reasoning behind Stevens, Gordon Hayward played for Brad Stevens at Butler University, where Stevens coached in the past.

Right away, that boosted the Celtics’ chances of capturing yet another NBA All-Star.

Days later, Gordon Hayward officially signed with Boston on a four-year, $127,829,970 contract, doubling his recent contract of four years, $62,965,420 with the Utah Jazz.

The only downside of signing the recent All-Star is dealing with the nonexistent cap space. Boston needed to free cap space to sign Hayward to his full contract, which led to Boston trading away Avery Bradley, a beloved player in the eyes of Boston fans.

Boston traded Bradley to the Detroit Pistons, receiving Marcus Morris. Many are against this trade, but don’t forget the fact that Bradley is a free agent next season, who inevitably will ask for more money. This is something the Celtics cannot afford after the signing of Gordon Hayward.

third overall pick: jayson tatum. sf (duke)

The Celtics drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in the draft.

Tatum poses with the Celtics Front Office (boston.cbslocal.com)

Arguably the best man in this year’s draft, Jayson Tatum will bring his talents to Boston this upcoming season, bringing nothing but excitement to the organization and fans.

At Duke, Jayson Tatum recorded a total of 488 points, averaging 16.8 points per game as well as 7.3 rebounds per game, and shot nearly 50 percent on field goals in his single season with the Blue Devils. Tatum was ranked No. 3 in the 2016 ESPN Top 100 going into Duke University.

By the looks of the media, it seems like Tatum has already built chemistry with this Celtics roster, especially with Jaylen Brown who was a third overall pick in the NBA Draft two drafts ago. The two stars have referred to themselves as “7/11, always open” indicating their jersey numbers and the fact that they both hold great abilities to create openness on the court and sinking any shot.

Jayson Tatum will be a great attribute to this particular Celtics team. Whatever role Stevens gives him, Tatum will exceed.

depth

In addition to Gordon Hayward and rookie Jayson Tatum, the Celtics welcome Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes to the team, as well as key new players like Shane Larkin, Semi Ojeleye and Ante Zizic.

The Celtics made big moves to create a roster that embarks on winning a NBA championship.

Celtics coach, Brad Stevens (bostonglobe.com)

According to ABC News, Celtics president Danny Ainge said “I feel like our team is in better position than last year.”

Not to mention that the Celtics were NBA Eastern Conference finalists last season. The C’s look to change that to NBA East Champions, and even NBA Champions. With these added players, this goal is fully achievable.

How will this be done? Last season, the Celtics finshed 27th out of 30 teams in total rebounds, yet still managed to win the Eastern Conference regular season title. Simply, the Celtics needed more big men.

After one offseason, they have introduced a 6-8 forward in Jayson Tatum, a 7-foot center in Ante Zizic, a 6-10 center inn Aron Baynes and a 6-9 forward in Marcus Morris. These are all solid players with great height.

Mix this height with stars like Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, and you have a team with full potential to raise Boston’s 18th NBA Championship.

Brad Stevens will have a full roster with complete talent this upcoming season. With the new arrivals and established stars, the Celtics are trending up for next season.

 

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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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Top 5 NBA Coaches

Top Five NBA Coaches

The NBA Finals are in full force. Golden State seems to have fielded the best NBA team of all time. During their current 14-0 playoff run Steve Kerr has missed some time. Mike Brown has filled in during his absence more than adequately. Due to the Warriors success without Kerr, some have stated that he is not a top coach in the NBA. If Steve Kerr isn’t a top coach in the NBA then who is? Look no further, Hagan’s Haus brings you the top five NBA coaches in the NBA today.

5: Brad Stevens: Boston Celtics

Brad Stevens has done a phenomenal job with the Celtics. Since entering the NBA from Butler, Stevens has improved his win total every season. In his first year, he won just 25 games. He followed that up with 40 wins, 48 wins and most recently, 53 wins.

Boston is in prime position to contend for an NBA title for the next five to 10 years. Their roster has been loaded with talent and will continue to add more talent. Stevens has a lot to work with but his constant improvement proves that he is one of the top five coaches in the NBA.

4: Scott Brooks: Washington Wizards

Top 5 NBA Coaches

(Photo Credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Scott Brooks is vastly underrated but is a top five coach in the NBA. Brooks got his first head coaching job in the NBA in 2008 with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In that first season, the Thunder only had 22 wins. Since that 22 win season in his first season as a head coach, his teams have never won less than 45 games.

Brooks ranks eighth all-time in win percentage of coaches who have coached over 500 games. He has gone 387-240 (61.7 percent)  in eight seasons.

Scott Brooks biggest accomplishment thus far was when he led the Thunder to the NBA Finals in the 2011-2012 season.

Brooks was hired by the Wizards on April 26, 2016. In his first season with Washington, he improved the Wizards win total from 41 wins to 49 wins. Washington went from 10th in the East to fourth in the East and reached the conference semi-finals.

Brooks is one of the best coaches and has proven so by leading more than one team to the playoffs.

3: Erik Spoelstra: Miami Heat

46 coaches have coached over 700 games in the NBA. Only five of those coaches have a better winning percentage than Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra has gone 440-282 in his career as a head coach.

He coached the Heat to four straight NBA Finals and won two of them. There is a large group of people who believe that Erik Spoelstra was only successful because of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. That notion was put to rest this season.

Nobody would consider the Heat’s roster as a very talented one, especially as the Heat started the season off 10-31. Spoelstra then led the Heat to a 31-10 finish this season, missing the playoffs only due to tie-breaker. The finish to the season opened many eyes around the league to how good of a coach Erik Spoelstra is.

With four Finals appearances in nine seasons and a career win percentage of 60.9 percent it is clear that Erik Spoelstra is one of the top coaches in the NBA today.

2: Steve Kerr: Golden State Warriors

Top 5 NBA Coaches

(Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Sport)

Anyone saying that Steve Kerr is not one of the top five coaches in the NBA needs their basketball card revoked immediately. Yes, he has had a loaded roster since he arrived but Phil Jackson coached M.J., Kobe and Shaq but we don’t hold it against the Zen Master.

Kerr still must make the team one cohesive unit. Managing players egos and personalities is just as hard sometimes as coaching x’s and o’s.

Regardless of the talent Kerr has had to work with it; he still had to get the job done. Steve Kerr is the winningest coach in NBA history. He is 207-39 which is an 84.1 percent win percentage.

Kerr has also gone 45-14 in the playoffs and currently has the Warriors on a 14-0 postseason run, best in NBA history. He has led the Warriors to three straight Finals appearances and is on the brink of winning his second title in three years.

If Steve Kerr continues on this pace he will not only be one of the best current head coaches but will become one of the best all-time.

1: Gregg Popovich: San Antonio Spurs

Nothing in this world beats consistency and Gregg Popovich is one of the most consistent coaches in all of sports history. Pop has been the coach for San Antonio for 21 seasons and the only time he missed the playoffs was in his first season.

Popovich has amassed 1150 wins, ranking seventh most all-time. With another 50 win season, he will move to fifth all-time.

It is okay to assume he does that next season because in his 21 seasons he has had 50 or more wins 19 times. One of those seasons was his first year and the other was during a lockout year in which he still finished 37-13.

Pop also ranks third all-time in postseason wins with 166 and only trails the legendary Pat Riley and the Zen Master, Phil Jackson.

Gregg Popovich has also made it to the NBA Finals six times, winning five of them. Pop is one of the best coaches of all-time, clearly making him the the best coach in the NBA today.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens is the biggest key to Boston’s success

When you look at the Boston Celtics’ roster, a couple names will stand out.

First there is Isaiah Thomas, the NBA’s third highest scorer. The two-time All-Star point guard is the clear leader in Boston. Everything starts and ends with him.

Then there is Al Horford, a 10-year veteran and four-time All Star. He’s also the team’s leading rebounder. There was a lot of excitement among Boston fans when they signed him this past summer. He averaged 14 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in his first season with the team.

The last name that might stand out to you is Avery Bradley. He is more known for his defense, but has improved his scoring over the years.

There aren’t really any weapons on this Boston team besides those guys. A 12-point gap exists between their leading scorer and second-highest scorer in terms of points per game. No one averages even seven rebounds a game on their team.

However, the Celtics ranked seventh in points per game. They also move the ball very well, evidence by their 25.2 assists per game, which ranked fourth in the league. They take care of the ball as well with the ninth fewest turnovers in the league at only 13.3 per game.

All of these things have contributed to Boston getting to the top of the Eastern Conference this season. The Celtics do not look intimidating on paper, so how did they do it?

Brad Stevens took Butler to back-to-back title games. (Photo by Zimbio)

The answer is Brad Stevens. Stevens has done so much for the organization in the four seasons he has been with the team. He took them from nothing and turned them into contenders.

Before Stevens came to Boston, he was working his magic with the Butler Bulldogs. In his six seasons with the team he went 166-49 and brought Butler to the National Championship game in back-to-back seasons. They may not have won either of them, but Stevens put Butler on the map.

Stevens has been known for his young age. When initially hired at Butler, he was the second-youngest coach in NCAA Division I basketball. Later on he became the third-youngest coach in NCAA Division I history to have a 30-win season. He was also the second-youngest coach to make an NCAA Championship game and youngest coach to make two Final Fours.

When Stevens signed with Boston, he was the league’s youngest active coach at 36 years old. The young genius did not have much to work with when he first came to Boston in 2013. Yes, the team went 41-40 the season before, which was good enough for the seventh seed in the playoffs.

However, the team made a blockbuster trade with the Nets and lost key contributors like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. They received Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans, three first-round picks and the right to swap first-round picks this season.

Looking back, Boston obviously won this trade because of the draft picks, but the players they received were not much to be happy about. Joseph was waived not too long after the trade and the four remaining players averaged a combined 18.6 points per game in their first season in Boston. Neither of those guys are on the team today.

The starting lineup featured guys like Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass and Jeff Green. Green lead the team in scoring at just 16.9 points per game. Star point guard Rajon Rondo only played in 30 games due to an injury he suffered in the season before. It was a tough first year for Stevens in Boston as the team finished 25-57.

In Stevens’ second season, he improved the Celtics to a 40-42 record. It was not a winning record, but it was 15 more wins than the previous season and was good enough to get Boston back to the playoffs. They suffered a first-round sweep to the Cleveland Cavaliers, so there was still a lot of room for improvement.

The Celtics finished 48-34 in the next season, but still couldn’t get past the first round of the playoffs. They lost to the Hawks in six games. At least it was not a sweep like the previous season. This year, they finally got past the first-round.

Brad Stevens

Imagine how much better Stevens will get as he continues to gain experience. (Photo by The Boston Globe)

Now in his fourth season, Stevens has the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. They finished first in the East with a 53-29 record. Only the Cavs stand in their way of returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. It is going to be a tough task considering LeBron James has been in the Finals the last six seasons.

Regardless of the end result, look at what Stevens has done with the team. He took them from one of the worst teams in the East to the top seed. Stevens should be right up their in the league’s top coaches along with Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr. It might finally be time for Stevens to win NBA Coach of the Year.

Stevens has the Celtics at the top of the East despite only having one All Star this season. The second-seeded Cavs have three and the third-seeded Raptors have two.

Stevens has had a short career in coaching so far with only 10 years between college and the NBA. He is also only 40 years old. He is so young and has had so much success already in the time he has had. Imagine what he can become in the future with the amount of experience Popovich has had. Also imagine what he could do with a few more star players.

They will be adding to their bright future in the offseason as they just won the NBA draft lottery. They will also have the Nets’ draft pick next season. Stevens is going to continue to get young talent to work with veterans like Thomas, Horford and Bradley for the upcoming years. It is going to be interesting to see if Boston will ever take down the Cavs.

Featured Image by NBA.com

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