The Southwest Division has gained a superstar. Chris Paul joins the Rockets and James Harden to make the top of the division even better.
The San Antonio Spurs get a whole offseason to get Kawhi Leonard healthy, as well as having the best coach in the history of the NBA.
The Mavericks received a lottery pick and added Dennis Smith Jr. to a Dirk Nowitzki led team.
The New Orleans Pelicans get more time to have Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins mesh. They also added a pass-first point guard in Rajon Rondo, who hopes to help the two.
Finally, the Memphis Grizzlies look to improve on a solid season last year, but lose a few veterans who have contributed in the last few years.
Here are the win predictions for all five teams in the Southwest Division this upcoming season.
2016-17 record: 33-49
2017-18 prediction: 36-46
The Mavericks have pretty quietly put together a solid starting lineup. Dennis Smith Jr. will solve one of the major problems that the team had.
The starting lineup of Smith, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and Nerlens Noel is a solid starting lineup. Smith is showing that he has big potential and can be a good point guard in the league.
Building with a core of Barnes and Smith could be lethal moving forward, but for the immediate future the Mavericks will be a fringe playoff team.
James Harden, Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.
2016-17 record: 55-27
2017-18 prediction: 56-26
The Houston Rockets gave up a lot, but they have another star to team up with James Harden. The west seems to be all about star power, and the Rockets have added some to their roster.
The west has been very strong and that is why they will hang around the same wins that they had last season.
Having good guard play is one of the many keys in having success in the NBA, and the Rockets have one of the best backcourts in the whole league.
2016-17 record: 43-39
2017-18 prediction: 33-49
The Grizzlies didn’t add a bunch this offseason, but their main offseason move was the loss Zach Randolph.
With Chandler Parsons supremely underperforming comparatively to the contract that he signed, there is reason to believe that they have not gotten better this offseason.
Whether Randolph and Vince Carter leaving is a 10-win difference remains to be seen, but Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are basically the only options on offense now.
New Orleans Pelicans
Photo Courtesy of SB Nation.
2016-17 record: 34-48
2017-18 prediction: 43-39
The Pelicans finally get a whole season of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, which is enough to raise their win total from last season.
The big addition is Rajon Rondo. Rondo adds the ability to facilitate to the two big men and add to their output. They also added former Warrior guard Ian Clark to a very young bench.
Jrue Holiday is a solid guard as well. The Pelicans will rely heavily on their frontcourt and will potentially find their way to the playoffs because of them.
San Antonio Spurs
2016-17 record: 61-21
2017-18 prediction: 52-30
The west is a gauntlet and there’s no way around it.
The Spurs have nearly moved on from Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker and have handed the keys over to LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Dejounte Murray.
The Spurs seem to always be good with Gregg Popovich at the helm, and I don’t see it changing this season. A healthy Kawhi Leonard will be dangerous with solid pieces built around him.
The Spurs will be very good this season and will trade blows with the Houston Rockets at the top of the Southwest Division.
Featured Image Courtesy of philstar.com.
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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 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.
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
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.
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.
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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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
Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry, Photo Courtesy of Fox Sports.
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
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.
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
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
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
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
Klay Thompson with Steph Curry in the background, Photo Courtesy of FoxSports.
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.
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.
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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Understandably, Clipper fans were shocked to have witnessed one of their popular stars dealt to a Western Conference rival. At the same time, front offices are now using the Golden State Warriors as the measuring stick for greatness and the Clippers aren’t measuring up.
The Chris Paul led Clippers were a top-four playoff team year in and year out, but nothing more. In a city where titles are the gold standard, just making the playoffs isn’t good enough.
The Clippers’ big three consisted of Deandre Jordan, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and since the three came together in 2011, the Clippers have won at least 60.5 percent of their regular season games.
Chris Paul in agony after a playoff loss, Photo Courtesy of the LA Times.
The Clippers have made the playoffs in all six of those seasons. They finished third, fourth or fifth in the Western Conference regular season standings each of those years.
Unfortunately, they are 2-3 in first round series as favorites and 3-3 in the first round overall since 2011. During this time the Clippers never even made it to the Western Conference finals.
The big three finished with a total playoff series record of 3-6 in their six years together. Out of 18 possible All-Star appearances, the three went to a combined 10. By all means there was a high bar set for the Los Angeles Clippers with the arrival of Jordan, Paul and Griffin, but the results did not meet fan expectations.
Banged Up Blake
Blake Griffin Injured, Photo Courtesy of Sports Grid.
Blake Griffin has been plagued by injuries.
Since coming into the league in 2009, he has missed a combined 103 regular season games or approximately 18 percent of the games over his years in the league.
To put this into perspective, he has played more than 67 games in just three of those seven seasons.
Griffin’s athleticism has also taken a hit because of all of his injuries. He is averaging two less rebounds and a point less per game then when he first came into the league as a rookie.
Without Griffin on the court, the Clippers were unable to progress as a team.
The NBA has been dominated by two teams for the last three years. Clipper fans have been disappointed by a team that has consistently under-performed. It makes sense to abandon the nucleus and attempt to put a more competitive product on the court.
Everyone in the Western Conference is chasing the Golden State Warriors. If the Clippers break up their big three, they could potentially be in great position to challenge the Warriors in the West in a few years. The time is now to put together a team that doesn’t just make the playoffs, but contends for a title.
Keeping a team together that has not achieved its potential makes little sense for ownership or players, when the goal is to win a championship.
Clippers Guard Austin Rivers, Photo Courtesy of Fox Sports.
With Blake Griffin also on the way out, and Deandre Jordan having already attempted to leave the team last year, the future seems uncertain for the Clippers.
The Golden State Warriors have shown us that they are a juggernaut for the immediate future. With recent mediocrity a constant for the Clippers, why not take a chance on being great in a few years?
Trading the big three for young talent appears to give the Clippers the best chance of turning things around. It may not be a winning formula for the immediate future, but the Clippers could be title contenders very soon.
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On Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets trade sent the NBA offseason mood from buzzing to bewilderment. In an offseason packed with rumors of blockbuster trades and splashing free agency leads, fans of the NBA finally got a trade to chew on.
Chris Paul will team up with James Harden in Houston, and the Clippers adjust to a new identity (Photo: Slam Online).
The haul for Paul is absolutely staggering. Rumors swirled that the Clippers were already going to lose both Paul and Blake Griffin in free agency this summer, so Los Angeles was already going to have to move on without their stars. The fact that the Clippers pull in what will end up being four players for a guy who was already planning to leave the team is stunning.
The Clippers essentially received fruit snacks, a Little Debbie, a bag of chips and an extra drink for a bologna sandwich they weren’t planning on eating at lunch anyway.
The Los Angeles front office basically watched the Rockets front office lob them an alley oop, only for LA to slam it right in the Rockets’ innocent face.
According to The Vertical, Chris Paul was so far out the door of Los Angeles that he’d already made his way into the Rockets’ headquarters. Paul and James Harden had previously talked about wanting to team up, so Houston landing the Wake Forest product this summer was extremely likely.
Although the Clips lose a superstar point guard in the trade, it doesn’t really matter. The fact is that Paul was already going to leave, so the fact that he’s “included” in the trade doesn’t matter.
Los Angeles Clippers Houston Rockets trade
The Clippers receive what will turn out to be some solid pieces and a brand spanking new rookie in next year’s draft. Sam Dekker is a young guy who was overshadowed in a crowded backcourt in Houston. Patrick Beverly can be a solid starter for Los Angeles and move back to point guard. Lou Williams can do what he does best: Be a scoring threat while getting Sixth Man of the Year consideration every single year.
Patrick Beverley: A solid two-way guard
It’s no secret that Patrick Beverley will most likely never break out and become a star in the NBA, but that’s OK. The Arkansas product is as consistent as they come. Beverley is a two-time All-NBA Defensive team selection and can play both point guard and shooting guard with ease.
In five seasons, Beverley has averaged 9.3 points per game. Again, that’s not fantastic, but it’s still solid. Los Angeles has the seventh-most turnovers in the league last season, and Beverley only averaged 1.5 turnovers per game last season. This could be a big step in taking care of the ball for the Clippers.
The bottom line is that you know what you’re getting from Beverley. He won’t be a star in LA, and may not produce many fireworks, but he’s a solid player that will make the NBA his home for a long time. The Clippers can use a leader like Beverley in the locker room and on the court, and that’s what they’ll get.
Sam Dekker: The next Gordon Hayward (maybe)
Sam Dekker’s first full NBA season came last year. In 77 games, Dekker averaged 6.5 points per game and shot 47 percent from the field. Dekker may not seem like a big piece in the trade, but he could end up being a steal.
The 23-year-old wing man was drafted 18th in the 2015 NBA Draft. Dekker was one of the most consistent players in college basketball in his time with Wisconsin, and was the 19th ranked prospect in the nation in his 2012 recruiting class.
Sam Dekker could end up being a steal in the Los Angeles Clippers Houston Rockets trade (Photo: nba.com).
Dekker has received NBA comparisons to Gordon Hayward (cuz of course, lolz) for his versatility to play multiple positions, offensive prowess and ability to play above the rim.
Dekker’s per 36 minutes stats are encouraging. When using the metric, his points per game total jumped to 12.8. He also averaged 7.2 rebounds per 36 minutes.
The Clippers will use Dekker as a versatile bench player. Dekker, who’s known as a small forward, played 87 percent of his minutes as a power forward for Houston last season according to Basketball Reference’s play-by-play stats. This only helps Dekker in that he can play from shooting guard to power forward.
The Clippers already have more depth in the backcourt than the frontcourt with Austin Rivers and the aforementioned Williams and Beverly. If the Clippers can sign J.J. Redick, they’ll have a quality backcourt. Dekker will most likely see more time in the front court which is where Los Angeles needs the most help. Dekker is a diamond in the rough in the NBA, and could break out in LA. If he does, it will make this trade even sweeter for the Clippers.
Lou Williams: Sixth Man of the Year, every year
Lou Williams will take his scoring expertise to Los Angeles (Photo: The Undefeated).
The Clippers need to just let Williams come off the bench and do his thing. Williams has finished in the top ten in Sixth Man of the Year voting six times in his career, including winning the award two seasons ago.
Williams has continued to improve over the course of his NBA career. He reached his career-high in scoring last season, averaging 17.5 points per game in his age-30 season. Williams shot 43 percent from the field as well. Williams has steadily seen his scoring totals rise during his career, and might as well be on pace to win the MVP by his 40th birthday.
A score-first guard, Williams can provide a scoring presence that neither Beverley nor Dekker can provide. Williams averaged 27.5 points per 36 minutes last season, which shows that when he’s on the floor, he scores at will and with tenacity.
Williams adds to what is becoming a loaded backcourt for LA. He can be the score-first player the Clippers need, and could possibly lead the team in scoring next season.
Clippers win Big, Set Up For Future
By the time this trade has panned out, the Clippers ought to credit the Rockets with an assist on keeping LA a competitive team. Yesterday, Los Angeles looked as though it could be reeling, with losing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin a real possibility. Now, Paul is gone, but the Clippers gain a lot from a trade rather than losing him in free agency.
Los Angeles’ backcourt becomes one of the ten-best in the NBA. The depth is incredible, and if the Clippers can resign J.J. Redick, it will be even better. Los Angeles will also get a chance to see Austin Rivers blossom as a starter. Rivers was a big time talent when Chris Paul missed time last season, so it seems the best is yet to come for Rivers.
Los Angeles now must focus on the frontcourt. Whether they resign Blake Griffin or sign another quality big man, shoring up the frontcourt needs to be the highest priority. If that happens, expect the Clippers to compete in the Western Conference next season.
Oh, and the Clippers will be welcoming a top-three pick to its roster after the NBA Draft this time next season.
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It is the final edition of this year’s 2017 NBA Draftmas. This edition will focus on all the teams that do not have picks in tomorrow’s NBA Draft.
The Memphis Grizzlies have made the playoffs in seven straight seasons with their only conference finals appearance coming in 2013. Last season, Memphis finished 43-39 and lost to the Spurs 4-2 in the first round.
(Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Grizzlies are like the Atlanta Hawks of the West because they are a consistent playoff team that will be competitive but won’t win the Finals.
Memphis is known as a physical, slow-paced defensive team ranking third in the NBA in points allowed per game at 100 points per game.
Offensively, the Grizzlies shot a league-worst 43.5 percent from the field but ranked 17th in three-point shooting at 35.4 percent.
Memphis is stuck in the middle of the league, which is the worst spot to be in. They aren’t good enough to win a title but are too good to get decent draft picks.
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles is in a similar situation as Memphis in which they are stuck in the middle and can’t win a title but are too good to get new young talent. The Clippers have made the playoffs for six straight seasons but have never made it to the conference finals.
Last season they finished 51-31 and lost to the Jazz 4-3 in the first round. Los Angeles doesn’t have the money to acquire any big free agents currently and they have no draft picks. To make matters worse, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul can leave in free agency.
The Clippers were a very good offensive team shooting 47.5 percent from the field, second-best in the NBA. Los Angeles also shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Clippers were a solid defensive team only giving up 104.4 points per game which ranked 12th in the NBA.
The state of the Clippers isn’t as positive as it seems and the best days may be behind them.
In the past couple of days, the Cleveland Cavaliers organization has been rocked by news. Former General Manager David Griffin is no longer with the team and LeBron James was not happy about it. Rumors are flying that they will be trying to acquire Paul George or Jimmy Butler.
Everyone knows the Cavs’ story. They have been to three straight NBA Finals, winning the 2016 NBA Championship after coming back from a 3-1 lead.
This season they finished the season 51-31. The entire franchise is built around LeBron and as long as he is there they have a chance to make it to the Finals. Without any picks, in the NBA Draft, they must sign free agents or make trades to improve the team, but they are pretty limited in what they are able to do.
Golden State Warriors
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The defending champions are sitting pretty. Not only did the Warriors just win a championship but they have won two of the last three championships. Their core is still solid with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and of course, Kevin Durant.
Andre Iguodala may leave but the Warriors are confident Patrick McCaw can fill that role. The Warriors are in prime position to continue competing for titles. As long as they keep the peace amongst one another they will be fine. Their roster may need some fine tuning to the bench but there is nothing to worry about for the Warriors.
The Grizzlies biggest need is a small forward or shooting guard who can impact the scoreboard. Scoring is a big issue for the Grizzlies and these two positions, in particular, need an upgrade the most.
Memphis could also look to add a power forward that could take over for Zach Randolph. Randolph is aging and losing the ability to be a dominant player. If Memphis wants to improve they need to address it as soon as possible.
Los Angeles Clippers
If Blake Griffin and Chris Paul leave they will need a complete rebuild. If the Clippers can keep these two players then what they need badly is a small forward. Their current small forward is Wesley Johnson and the entire depth at the position is lacking. Acquiring a capable small forward could send the Clippers to the next level.
The Cavs need a bench capable of not fading in the Finals. Cleveland’s role players played well all year but when it mattered most they came up small. Shooting guard and center could be improved but there isn’t much separating the Cavs from the Warriors.
Golden State Warriors
The defending champs need to make sure they have a rim protector and bench depth. If they continue to keep a bench that can contribute when the stars need rest then they will win the championship again next season.
None of the four teams listed have any picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. All four teams are playoff caliber teams and if they want to make their team better they will either have to trade into this year’s draft, trade for players in the NBA or sign free agents.
The Game Haus, thank you for following us through this year’s edition of NBA Draftmas. From our haus to yours, thank you and enjoy the 2017 NBA Draft.
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Welcome to day 23 of Draftmas brought to you by The Game Haus. Today it is time to bring you the San Antonio Spurs 2017 NBA Draft profile.
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA and with Pop at the helm, the Spurs are a lock to win 50 games or more. The Spurs are a lock to win 50 games is because Pop won more than 50 games in 19 of his 21 seasons. The only two seasons in which he didn’t were his first year as a head coach and the second was in a shortened lockout season where the Spurs still went 37-13.
This season, the Spurs finished 61-21 to earn the second seed in the West. They beat the Grizzlies 4-2 in the first round. San Antonio then beat the Rockets 4-2 to reach the Conference Finals where they ran into the eventual NBA Champion Warriors. San Antonio was swept but only because Kawhi went down with an injury. The Spurs were leading 78-55 in Game 1 when Kawhi went down.
San Antonio was a middle of the pack team scoring the basketball averaging 105.3 points per game, ranking them 14th in the NBA. They shot 46.9 percent from the field and an NBA-best 39.1 percent from behind the arc. Rebounding was another positive part of the team for the Spurs this season as they ranked 11th in the NBA averaging 43.9 per game.
The Spurs were the second best defensive team in the NBA this season giving up only 98.1 points per game. Opponents only shot 44.3 percent against San Antonio.
The Spurs are a well-oiled machine that play fundamental team basketball. Their organization does a great job in acquiring the right players for that system. If the Spurs want to get past the Warriors they will need to acquire more of that talent this offseason.
Picks & Needs
First Round: No. 29
Second Round: No. 59
The Spurs do need to remodel the team slightly and continue to build around Kawhi Leonard. Tim Duncan retired last year, Manu Ginobili will be 40 in July and Tony Parker is a shell of himself as he is 35 years old as well. San Antonio is heading in a new direction and the Spurs need to find the core pieces that will compliment Kawhi Leonard.
The Spurs will be looking to find the next point guard that will help lead the Spurs to more titles. There are rumors that Chris Paul and the Spurs have mutual interest, but that is only a short-term solution. The Spurs should look to find a franchise point guard in the draft.
Another area in which the Spurs need to improve is at the center position. San Antonio is really missing a center who can be a rim protector and rebounder. Pau Gasol is 36 years old and will not be the answer moving forward. LaMarcus Aldridge is really a power forward and hasn’t lived up to the hype.
Going after these two pieces and creating more depth will help the Spurs close the gap between them and the Warriors.
Targets & Thoughts
Pick #29: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Jarrett Allen is a really good rebounding big man. Allen averaged 2.8 blocks per 100 possessions in college which shows that he is very capable of defending the rim. He isn’t the best passer or free throw shooter but can develop those skills with some coaching from Popovich.
Drafting Allen would give the Spurs a big man capable of playing a key role without needing him to score. It is possible Allen becomes the starting center two to three years down the road.
Pick #59: Frank Mason III, PG, Kansas
Frank Mason is a very underrated player in this year’s draft. Mason averaged 13 points and 4 assists in his four years at Kansas. He may become dangerously close to being undrafted but the potential is there. Mason will be a late steal capable of becoming a star. If the Spurs can develop him the right way he can eventually become a franchise point guard. Anything is possible with a coach like Gregg Popovich.
The San Antonio Spurs are one of the best franchises in all of sports. They know how to draft and build a team with the right players who will fit perfectly into their system. San Antonio will make the right moves that put them in contention for a championship this offseason. To do this they need to find an above average point guard and a center that is capable of rebounding and defending. Gregg Popovich will make sure this team is competitive so Spur fans have nothing to worry about, the team is still going to be one of the best.
Thanks for checking out the San Antonio Spurs 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 24 of NBA Draftmas to see what the New Orleans Pelicans are going to do.
The NBA playoffs are leaving basketball fans bored. Aside from the hype surrounding the Warriors’ and Cavaliers’ third-straight finals matchup, there isn’t much going on to talk about. There is one hot topic most are afraid to admit that needs to be brought to light.
There is always an argument that when a team is good, or bad, the reason is the players or the coaches, and of course, it usually is a combination of both.
Doc Rivers won a title due to the future Hall of Famers he was coaching. Aside from those players he had in Boston, for most accounts, he has been average at best as an NBA coach yet people will constantly list him as a top tier coach.
Doc Rivers is the most overrated coach in the NBA.
(Photo Credit: http://www.celticslife.com)
Doc Rivers’ head coaching career started in Orlando. While the head coach of the Magic, Rivers had an overall record of 171-168. That is just a 50.4 winning percentage. In the playoffs with Orlando, he went 5-10, which is far from impressive.
Rivers had some really great players while in Orlando too. Players by the name of Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace, Mike Miller, Grant Hill, Patrick Ewing, Horace Grant and Shawn Kemp. Wallace, Miller and Grant were all eventual champions. A few players on this list are even Hall of Famers.
To be fair, McGrady, Wallace and Miller were relatively young. Ewing, Grant and Kemp were at the very end of their careers. He also had to deal with these players getting injured frequently.
Even so, he finished only three games above .500 in the regular season with Orlando. There was no postseason success and in 2003, he was fired after a 1-10 start. His lack of success in both the regular season and playoffs with Orlando would force him to sit out of coaching until Boston came calling.
(Photo Credit: https://www.vavel.com)
Doc Rivers had the most success as a coach in Boston. Rivers amassed 416 wins with the Celtics. He also lost 305 games making his win percentage in Boston 57.7 percent. That percentage dropped to 55.7 in the playoffs with the Celtics as he went 59-47.
Until the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to pair with Paul Pierce, many called for Rivers to be fired. All three of these core players will be in the Hall of Fame one day and that is the reason Rivers was able to lead the Celtics to two Finals appearances, capturing one championship.
Without this caliber of players, Rivers is just an average coach at best and even then he doesn’t win 60 percent of the games he coaches.
He also left Boston when it was time for a rebuild. Doc Rivers didn’t want to put in the work with young players and develop the team into a winner. He was looking for a team with star players to make his job as easy as possible which is why he waited for what he felt was the perfect opportunity.
Rivers’ ideal spot was with the Los Angeles Clippers after leaving Boston. Now, some may argue he was traded to L.A. and it wasn’t his choice but the trade was just so the Celtics could receive something in return because he truly loved the city and the organization. He had every intention of forcing his way to the Clippers.
Why would Doc Rivers want to go to a franchise that had only nine playoff appearances since 1970 and has never made it to a conference finals? The answer to that is a roster loaded with talent.
Their current core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan was already there. The roster also included the following: Eric Bledsoe, Chauncey Billups (five-time All-Star, Finals MVP, and NBA champion), Jamal Crawford (three-time Sixth Man of the Year), Caron Butler (two-time All-Star), Grant Hill (seven-time All-Star) and Lamar Odom (Sixth Man of the Year and two-time NBA Champion).
They were very deep and experienced before Rivers arrived. Vinny Del Negro led the Clippers to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons prior to Rivers arriving. Del Negro was taking the Clippers just as far as Doc has. He went 128-102 which was a winning percentage of 55.7 percent and can’t even find a job.
While Rivers has been in L.A., he has gone 217-111 in the regular season. He has underachieved in the playoffs going 18-22 with a team many considered one of the most talented in the NBA. The Clippers are the first team to blow series in five straight playoffs under Rivers. He isn’t succeeding because he is overrated and isn’t a top tier coach.
What This Means For the Los Angeles Clippers
Overall in Doc Rivers’ career, he is 804-584. His winning percentage is 57.9 and ranks ninth among active NBA coaches and 41st all-time. Despite having rosters constantly loaded with All-Stars, Hall of Fame caliber players, and in some cases, champions, he can’t win more than 58 percent of his games.
In the playoffs, he gets worse. He is 82-79 all-time, winning just 50.9 percent of the games he coaches. That is ninth among active coaches and 38th all-time.
Everyone wants to know why the Clippers can’t get over the hump. After another disappointing season, questions rose on what they should do with the roster and the core of the team.
The answer is rather simple. Doc Rivers is average at best and that is why the Clippers continue to remain average. The Clippers don’t have to blow up their roster yet, they just need a better coach.
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After 25 days, the NBA Playoffs have gone by without too much surprise. The Cavs and Warriors have dominated and only one of the first round series went to seven games. Six teams remain standing, and here are the awards for the 2017 NBA Playoffs to this point.
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James
“Playoff LeBron” is no joke. The King has shown no mercy to the Pacers or Raptors as he has led the Cavs to a sweep in both series. So far this playoffs, he has compiled a stat line of 34.4 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game, 7.1 assists per game, 2.1 steals per game and 1.5 blocks per game. He has elevated his performance to yet another level.
Perhaps his most impressive statistics come with his efficiency. His field goal percentage currently sits at .557 percent and he is making more than 46 percent of his three point attempts.
MVP of the playoffs so far really could not go to anybody else. LeBron has absolutely dominated his opponents in the first two rounds despite the lackluster play of his supporting cast. He has put to rest criticisms of his regular season performance and undoubtedly changed the opinions of many regarding the Cavs chances against the Warriors.
Not to mention, he’s given us ridiculous highlights such as this one:
Many performers have stepped up during these playoffs, but Lebron is clearly in a class of his own.
Honorable Mentions: Kawhi Leonard, John Wall, James Harden
Sixth Man: Joe Johnson
Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Eric Gordon have all been fantastic presences off the bench for their teams. Iguodala has done a little bit of everything, and Williams and Gordon have added a great scoring presence on the Rockets bench. Sixth man of the playoffs, however, has to go to the guy that is the reason his team won their first series.
Iso Joe was incredible against the Clippers, bringing back memories of his prime. At least two of the Jazz’ wins have to be attributed to Joe Johnson. This game winner in game one pretty much says it all.
Although his time in the playoffs has come to an end, Joe Johnson earned this one.
Honorable Mentions: Eric Gordon, Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams
Rookie: Taurean Prince
No other rookies have really had much of an impact in the playoffs besides Malcolm Brogdon and Taurean Prince. In six games against the Raptors, Brogdon put up 9 points per game while averaging 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest.
In six games against the Wizards, prince put up 11.2 points per game while averaging 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per contest.
Brogdon has has a promising year, and he capped it off with a promising first playoff appearance. He logged more than 30 minutes per game while the Bucks did their best as the underdogs. He also made a stellar 10 of his 21 three point attempts.
Prince did not have as good of a regular season as Brogdon. His minutes doubled during the postseason, and he was able to take advantage of the increase in playing time. It is his defense, however, that lands him the title of best rookie for the playoffs. Prince played great defense against wings and guards, and played with a high intensity throughout the series. During Game 4, he had this impressive block on John Wall:
This playoffs have been lacking in rookie performance. The only other player who had a chance to compete was Jaylen Brown, and his minutes have dropped significantly during the postseason. Brogdon and Prince both had impressive series, but Prince’s impact on his team lands him the top spot.
Honorable Mentions: Malcolm Brogdon
Coach: Mike D’Antoni
Coaching has not seemed to play a huge role in the playoffs so far. The Cavs are dominating the Eastern Conference, and Tyron Lue has let Playoff Lebron do much of the work. The Warriors are dominating the Western Conference, and Steve Kerr has been out with a back injury.
Meanwhile, high profile coaches like Billy Donovan and Doc Rivers struggled mightily in the first round. Even NBA wizard Greg Popovich struggled mightily with adjustments against the Grizzlies.
All Mike D’Antoni has had to do to get this title is continue the Rockets’ regular season success. D’Antoni has shown once again that his offense first scheme can be successful in the playoffs. And so far D’Antoni has gone toe to toe with Greg Popovich in the second round.
Special honorable mention has to be given to David Fizdale of the Grizzlies. As a rookie head coach, Fizdale and the Grizzlies kept up with the Spurs despite being overmatched. And, he gave us this instantly legendary press conference after Game 2:
However, until a truly remarkable coaching performance can upend this spot, it belongs to D’Antoni.
Honorable Mention: David Fizdale
Defensive Player: Draymond Green
This one really isn’t much of a contest. Draymond’s defense was insane against the Trailblazers. He switched effortlessly from centers to guards, and has now anchored a defensive unit to two consecutive sweeps. He has 21 blocks in 8 games so far (for comparison, Rudy Gobert has 11 blocks in 8 games.) End of discussion. Draymond is in a league of his own right now.
Honorable Mentions: Rudy Gobert, Clint Capela, Lebron James
All-NBA Playoffs Teams
All-NBA First Team
John Wall: Wall has been absolutely unstoppable for the Wizards. He’s scoring more than 10 more points than his career playoff high while keeping his assist numbers steady. He’s been an elite playmaker and scorer, and his defense has been very solid.
James Harden: While his numbers are down from the regular season, James Harden has been great in the playoffs. He is averaging 30 points per game, and his team is two games away from the Western Conference finals. Although he hasn’t quite played to his potential, he’s still been one of the best guards.
Lebron James: See above.
Kawhi Leonard: Kawhi Leonard has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Spurs. He’s had to do just about everything to ensure victory so far, and he leads the playoffs in win shares as a result. His efficiency has also been remarkable. Kawhi and Lebron have been far and away the best two players of the playoffs.
Draymond Green: See above.
All-NBA Second Team
Steph Curry: The Warriors have breezed through their first two opponents, and Curry hasn’t had to play out of his mind to ensure success. Nevertheless, he’s put up some impressive stats and is shooting well from the field.
Chris Paul: Chris Paul could not have done more to help the Clippers win their series against the Jazz. After Blake Griffin went down, Paul stepped up. He ended up averaging 25.3 points and 9.9 assists per game. The Clippers may have fallen short, but Chris Paul deserves none of the blame.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: In his first playoff appearance, the Greek Freak continued to show the world that he is legit. 24.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Not bad.
Gordon Hayward: Hayward has put up an efficient 24 points a game while leading the Jazz to the second round. Though his fate was sealed against the Warriors, Hayward put up a great playoff season in a contract year.
Rudy Gobert: The center position is weak, so Gobert makes the second team despite missing games. Gobert played well on both ends of the floor for the Jazz while adding 11 points and 9 rebounds per game.
All-NBA Third Team
Russell Westbrook: Westbrook had a 47 percent usage rate. Sheesh. Nonetheless, he kept the Thunder close most games before getting gassed in the fourth quarter. And a playoff stat line of 37.8 points per game, 11.6 rebounds per game and 10.8 assists per game can’t be ignored.
Mike Conley: Conley did everything he could to keep the Grizzlies close with the Spurs. He averaged 24 points per game while shooting 44% from the three point line. The Spurs were the better team, but Conley came out with something to prove in the series. Needless to say, he proved it.
Jimmy Butler: Butler didn’t have his most efficient series against the Celtics, but he was clearly the best player on the floor during the series. He played well on both sides of the ball, and kept the series much closer than it could’ve been.
Paul Millsap: The Hawks were outed in 6 games against the Wizards, but Millsap had a fantastic series. He put up his playoff career high in points per game with 24.3 while making more than 50% of his field goals. He also added his career high in assists per game.
Clint Capela: Capela has been a solid producer for the Rockets. In a playoff field that lacks in strong big men, he has put up more than 10 points and 8 rebounds per game. He also has 24 blocks in 9 games, and is third in the league in defensive win shares.
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Chris Paul has failed to even make the Western Conference Finals for his sixth straight year in Los Angeles. The Clippers have had trouble in the playoffs during Paul’s time with the team despite having other star players surrounding him. Paul’s time as a star player is coming to an end, which raises the question of what’s next for CP3?
Paul has an opt-out clause in his contract that would allow him to hit the free agent market this summer. Regardless of whether or not he decides to stay in Los Angeles, Paul will almost certainly use the opt-out clause.
If Paul stays with the Clippers, he is eligible to sign a five-year deal worth more than $200 million. Leaving the Clippers would significantly reduce the maximum contract that Paul could sign. However, some other factors must be considered.
A recent report said that Paul is likely to opt-out and resign with the Clippers. However, the status of fellow star Blake Griffin is also up in the air. If Griffin decides to leave in free agency, would it be wise for Paul to return to Los Angeles?
Paul’s window of opportunity for winning a championship is closing fast. Blake Griffin has proven his lack of durability again this season, and he has lacked the same explosiveness after suffering a number of knee injuries. Clippers starting shooting guard J.J. Redick is also a free agent this summer, which could further impact Paul’s decision.
The incentive to move would be motivated by a desire to have a better chance at a championship as his prime begins to come to a close. Paul looked great without Griffin in this year’s playoffs, and could likely be a key piece in a championship contender if the fit was right. The incentive to stay would be the considerably larger contract.
It seems that no matter how well Paul performs in the playoffs, the Clippers are doomed to have an early exit year after year. According to NBA analyst Shane Young, his career playoff stats have been historically great. He ranks third in player efficiency behind LeBron James and Michael Jordan, third in true shooting behind Magic Johnson and Stephen Curry, second in assist percentage behind John Stockton and has had a career playoff slash line of .519/.318/.847.
Clearly, the Clippers playoff woes run far deeper than Paul. Would his chance at a ring be heightened if he were to change teams? Paul could move to San Antonio this summer and team up with Kawhi Leonard to try and take down the Warriors in the West. With better coaching, Paul would likely thrive in the Spurs’ system. He would also be able to be more of a playmaker for the offense with Leonard, which could make him a much more efficient player.
The Clippers would still be a strong team if Griffin and Paul returned and could still continue to compete for a championship. After all, they looked like one of the strongest teams in the league at the beginning of the year.
However, after six years of failing to meet expectations, how high is the Clippers’ ceiling truly? Either way, Paul is a generational talent and will be a game changer no matter where he ends up going.
(Featured Image by Sporting News)
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