NBA players set to make the leap to Stardom in 2017-2018

NBA Preview:

Many different NBA players are looking to make the next step into stardom or from stardom to super-stardom. The off-season is a time for players to improve without being in the center of the media.

Young players show lots of promise in their first couple years in the league. Some experience injuries, off-court struggles and ultimately a lack of production. However, some rise from all the setbacks and make the transition to the spotlight.

This is a chance to speculate about the players who will make the biggest jumps this off-season.

Star Watch:

Myles Turner:

NBA

Myles Turner, Photo Courtesy of SI.com.

Paul George is out of town so Turner is the guy in Indiana now.

Turner has always had the potential to breakout but he has always been in the shadow of Paul George. Now it’s his chance to get the spotlight and lead a team that is mid rebuild.

Turner shot 35 percent from three and averaged 14.5 points while grabbing 7.3 rebounds per game last year.

Turner is a consistent double-double threat and can stretch the floor in a pick and pop situation. He is also a very good low post player who can take the pressure off the Indiana guards.

This will be one of Turner’s best opportunities to show just how good he is, and with the door open in Indiana, he has a very good chance to be a consistent All-Star in the Eastern Conference for years to come.

Dion Waiters:

Who would have thought that a guy who Lebron basically forced out of Cleveland would thrive in the second half of last season?

Part of the Stardom that Dion Waiters is capable of came out in the back half of the 2016-2017 season for the Miami Heat. Waiters was one of the main reasons in turning the Heats record completely around.

In the last 41 games of the season (the ones Waiters played in) he averaged 21.6 points, 4.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Obviously he was lost for some time due to an ankle injury, but those numbers are All-Star worthy. The Heat have added a few key pieces, but Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside are the two keys to this team.

If Waiters can harness his last 41 games and turn it into a season he will lead the Heat to the playoffs and put up career numbers.

Jusuf Nurkic:

Nurkic is unique because he put up star numbers before injury. In 20 games with the Portland Trail Blazers, Nurkic shot 51 percent, and averaged 15.2 point and 10.4 rebounds.

A double-double over 20 games while sharing the ball with a ball dominant guard has the means for a star. Obviously Nurkic hasn’t had a large sample size on the Trail Blazers, but from his small sample size he screams stat-sheet stuffer.

He might not be an Allstar in a loaded Western Conference, but he can put up big time numbers.

With a complete recovery from a right leg fracture, Jusuf will pick up right where he left off.

The Trailblazers are in need of a jolt to their frontcourt, and with a healthy Nurkic, Portland could be playoff bound, and form their own big three moving forward.

D’Angelo Russell:

There’s a lot less pressure on D’Angelo Russell these days. He’s in a weaker Eastern Conference and is the clear cut star of the Brooklyn Nets.

Russell has proven that he can score and he has improved in his all around statistics in this past season. He is only 21 years-old and he is in a completely different system now.

The lights aren’t shining down on Russell now, he is on a team that finished in the basement of the NBA, and doesn’t appear on the brink of a playoff push in the upcoming season.

It’s weird to say that a player could benefit from being on a less competitive team, but Russell will get a huge confidence and statistic boost being the centerpiece of the Brooklyn Nets.

There’s low expectations surrounding this new look Nets team, and Russell is ready to take the reigns and put together a very solid season that might even land him an Allstar selection.

Why:

The players listed are all players who have shown lots of promise in their NBA careers. Even if it’s for a short span of time, the players have shown they are capable of stardom.

So many players in the league can have a few good games, but to be a star, you have to carry great statistics over the course of an 82 game season. Last year these players all fell into the category of having some good games but for one reason or another couldn’t carry it for the whole season.

With each of their current situations they have been placed in, the future looks bright. These four players will make the jump to stardom in the 2017-2018 NBA season.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of NBCphiladelphia.com

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Heat

Miami Heat 2017 NBA Draft profile

Day 13 of our 2017 NBA Draftmas special focuses on the draft needs and targets of the Miami Heat.

Summary

Miami Heat 2017 Draft

Chris Bosh’s future as a part of the Miami Heat is in jeopardy. (Courtesy of Hot Hot Hoops)

The Heat finished the 2016-17 season with a 41-41 record, just missing the playoffs as the nine seed. Miami ranked 21st in offense and fifth in defense under head coach Erik Spoelstra, who has a .609 winning percentage through nine seasons with the team.

The Heat need to drastically improve their offense, although with the centerpiece of Hassan Whiteside, they have plenty of hope moving forward.

Whiteside has blossomed into a superstar since being waived three times by two NBA teams. The 7-footer averaged 17 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks per game this season.

Along his side stands 6-foot-3 point guard Goran Dragic, who also had his best career season to date, averaging 20 points and six assists per game. Miami has a great duo in Whiteside and Dragic, although we cannot overlook their talented wing players.

Tyler Johnson, Justice Winslow, James Johnson and Josh Richardson all look to be returning next season, while Dion Waiters is in search of a long-term deal under the new collective bargaining agreement. Waiters averaged 16 points per game last season and would be a significant loss.

Rotoworld.com reports that Chris “Bosh’s lawyers and the players’ union had tentatively agreed to a resolution that would clear Bosh’s money off of Miami’s books and allow him to sign elsewhere.” It looks likes the Chris Bosh situation is finally coming to an end, which means the Heat will be able to resign Waiters and address their power forward needs through the draft or with a trade.

Miami Heat 2017 Draft Profile Picks & Needs

Miami has only one pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

First Round: No. 14

The Heat have a glaring need at the power forward position. With a pick in the middle of the first round, they will have a multitude of options to fill the void.

Targets & Thoughts

Miami Heat 2017 Draft

John Collins would be a perfect fit next to star Hassan Whiteside. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Option 1

Pick #14: John Collins, Power Forward/Center, Wake Forest

Collins is a 6-foot-10, 225-pound big man with incredible athleticism and strength. He excels at scoring and rebounding as he averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

The Demon Deacon was ranked 16th in the nation in offensive efficiency, 10th in offensive rebounding percentage and 17th in overall offensive rating.

These statistics show that he is an elite offensive player. He would be a perfect fit next to Whiteside, as he is an effective scorer from both the post as well as from mid-range.

Also, by adding his offensive rebounding next to Whiteside, the Heat would become arguably the most dominant offensive rebounding team in the league. If Miami is lucky enough to land Collins, they will have found a dominant offensive big man who can significantly increase their offensive efficiency.

Miami Heat 2017 Draft

Harry Giles, if healthy, could be the steal of the draft. (Courtesy of SI.com)

Option 2

Pick #14: Harry Giles, Power Forward/Center, Duke

Giles is somewhat of an unknown commodity. He averaged only a tick over 11 minutes per game in his freshman season, as he was recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee that occurred in the fall of 2016. Although this was not his first knee surgery, as he tore his ACL, MLC and meniscus in the same knee back in 2013.

Before the injury concerns, Giles was being compared to players like Kevin Garnett because of his size, athleticism, rebounding and offensive and defensive ability. The 6-foot-10 freshman has elite quickness and explosiveness for his size, even after the multiple knee surgeries.

His offensive game is extremely versatile as he possesses a great presence in the post while also being able to step out and hit a 15-footer with ease.

His size, strength and athleticism will allow him to defend multiple positions, only increasing his overall versatility. If Giles’ injuries are behind him, he will be the steal of the draft.

Other possible options include TJ Leaf (UCLA), Bam Adebayo (Kentucky) or Ivan Rabb (CAL)

Conclusion

With Chris Bosh’s NBA future in jeopardy, the Miami Heat have a serious hole at the power forward position. With a mid-first round pick, the team will have a few different options to select from.

John Collins is an elite offensive player who can make an immediate impact at the next level. Harry Giles’ injury history is very serious, although his size, athleticism and skill set will make him an incredible mid-first round pick.

Either of these options would significantly improve Miami’s roster and most likely propel them into the playoffs.

Thanks for checking out the Miami Heat 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 14 of NBA Draftmas to see what the Portland Trailblazers may do.

 

NBA Draftmas Day 11: Detroit Pistons

NBA Draftmas Day 12: Denver Nuggets

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The Rise of The Miami Heat

The Miami Heat have somehow played their way into the NBA playoff picture. It seemed like the Heat were lottery bound after a dismal 11-30 start. They now sit at 34-36 and are in the thick of the playoff race.

The turnaround started in the backcourt. Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters have been dominant in the second half of the season, which has been a huge factor in the epic turnaround.

Dragic is now averaging 20.3 points and six assists per game, and Waiters is putting up 15.8 points and 4.3 assists. The Heat should continue to contend down the stretch even with Waiters’ injury. Tyler Johnson should be able to fill Waiters’ role nicely until he is able to return from his injury (which he anticipates will be before the end of the season).

Another key to their success has rested in the continual rise of Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside is averaging his career high in points and rebounds (16.7/14.2) and he leads the league in the latter category. Whiteside received a huge deal over the summer that many people were critical of. It seems as if the deal is paying off for the Heat.

Many were harshly critical of how disengaged Whiteside was last season. He was often accused of taking plays or even entire games off and not giving his full effort. That problem seems like it has been fixed, and his teammates claim that he is able to bounce back quickly and stay engaged in the game. He may be averaging less per game than he did during the Heat’s 11-30 start, but he has shot more efficiently from the field and improved from the free throw line. He also has a distinctly improved plus/minus.

Now sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, it is time for the Heat to make their final push for the playoffs. The final push, however, will be one of their toughest of the season. The March 28 matchup against the Detroit Pistons, who are the current eight seed, may prove to be crucial.

On top of that, they finish the season with games against the Celtics, Cavaliers, Raptors (twice), and Wizards (twice). It’s going to be tough for the Heat to make it to the playoffs considering the brutal final push. However, they can’t be counted out. Either way, it’s been an impressive feat that they’re still in the conversation this late.

 

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Haus Specials: NBA Game Winners

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks

With the Knicks up by 14 at the start of the fourth quarter, it looked as if New York would come away with the win. Giannis Antetokounmpo had other plans. He scored 12 points in the final quarter, making three of his six shots. This insane step-back jumper sealed the deal. Greek. Freak.

Philadelphia 76er vs New York Knicks

Trust the Process. The Philadelphia 76ers have awed fans this season with their feisty, rejuvenated play. They’ve been competitive and fun. They played that same way against the Knicks. It was a four-point game in the Knickerbockers’ favor. Carmelo Anthony’s scoreless fourth quarter didn’t help and set the stage for a backbreaking game winner.

Utah Jazz vs OKC Thunder

Division Rivals. Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert. Russell Westbrook triple double. This game had it all. A seesaw affair with 16 lead changes made for an entertaining game. However, it was clunky at some points. Westbrook missed all of his shots in the third quarter. The last frame saw big shot after big shot though. Russ had the biggest one, hitting a mid-range jumper to put the Thunder up for good with 1.7 seconds left.

Miami Heat vs Golden State Warriors

Waiters Island is now open for vacation purposes. Dion Waiters scored over 30 points for a second consecutive game. This one tied his career high with 33 points. He may have hit the biggest shot of his career, holding off the Warriors and ending their seven-game win streak. Happy Birthday Dion.

 

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Don’t Sleep When There is Thunder

All of the talk of the NBA season has been about Kobe’s last year and the Golden State Warriors. Even secondary to these topics, the San Antonio Spurs were the huge topic of conversation due to their chance to go undefeated at home during the regular season. If people still couldn’t find anything to talk about they would shift to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference in these NBA Playoffs. There is one team that everyone has been overlooking, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder boast a talented roster that has been overlooked all season long. Photo courtesy thunderclutchpoints.com.

There has been many different ways the Thunder have been disrespected this year, and not just by what people like to talk about when they think of the NBA. Enes Kanter got snubbed for the Sixth Man of the Year award, which was given to Jamal Crawford. Crawford averaged 14.2 points per game and 2.3 assists per game, while Kanter averaged 12.7 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game, which is a staggering number considering he was coming off of the bench. The Sixth Man of the Year rarely goes to big guys, but this is surely a case where Kanter should have won the award.

Russell Westbrook is a superstar. Photo courtesy youtube.com.

Another way the Thunder has been disrespected came at the hands of one of the most vocal owners, Mark Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks. He said that Kevin Durant was the only superstar player on the Thunder after his Mavericks lost to Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs. This was clearly a knock of Russell Westbrook. Westbrook had a great season this year and probably would have won the MVP if Stephen Curry wasn’t hitting three-pointers from every corner of the gym. Westbrook has averaged 23.5 points per game, 10.4 assists per game and 7.8 rebounds per game, to complete a historically good season. While people haven’t been paying much attention to Durant because of the talk of the other great teams in the league, Westbrook has also been overlooked because of these teams, giving both players a gigantic chip on their shoulders.

Why is everyone sleeping on this team? The Warriors, Cavaliers and Spurs have shown that while they are good they aren’t unbeatable. The Thunder won 55 games this season and should be getting a little more credit for that. The only thing people bring up when talking about the Thunder is there inability to close out games late. This is a huge issue, but they managed to get the three seed in the difficult Western Conference despite these struggles. Durant has shown over his career that he is more than capable of being clutch.

With all of this criticism and disrespect shown towards the Thunder this year, there is a giant chip on their shoulder. Durant and Westbrook are still one of the best combinations in all of basketball and can beat any team when playing in a seven game series. Throw in other quality players such as Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Anthony Morrow, Dion Waiters, Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, Randy Foye, Nazr Mohammed, Cameron Payne and Enes Kanter, and you have a team that creates huge match-up problems. With those players, it really takes some nitpicking to criticize this team.

Anyone who says Kevin Durant doesn’t have heart, doesn’t know basketball. Photo courtesy nba.com.

The Thunder are down 1-0 due to a terrible loss by 32 points at San Antonio in their first game of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Then they got shown more disrespect by the national media. Durant and Westbrook are not players that I would want to make angry. Westbrook plays with enough ferocity that he doesn’t need any more motivation. Durant has been criticized all year, with ESPN’s Cari Champion saying he didn’t have the heart to be a top five player in the league. Anyone who would say that hasn’t followed the NBA or Durant’s story well enough, and that’s putting it in a nice way. Now is the time that he will step up, along with Westbrook, and lead the Thunder to victory. So Spurs, Warriors and Cavaliers, don’t get rattled when the thunder booms.