Miles Bridges Declines Draft

Why Miles Bridges Declining the Draft is a Good Thing

Last week, Miles Bridges said he would return to Michigan State for his sophomore year of college basketball. Spartan fans couldn’t be happier that their star freshman will be coming back.

He told fans at his press conference last week, “I have personal goals here. I want to win a national championship.” ESPN has had a few mock drafts which put him in the top 20 but the NBA will not see Bridges for another year. Here is why Bridges made the right decision to return to college:

1. Another Year with Coach Izzo

Coach Tom Izzo is unarguably a legendary coach, and his awards are mere evidence of his success. Izzo won a national championship in 2000, appeared in the Final Four seven times and has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times. In 2016 he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame with a .712 winning percentage in his career.

Miles Bridges Declines Draft

Tom Izzo speaks with guard Miles Bridges (22) during the first half against the Wichita State Shockers. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This is all to say that the guy knows his stuff. Bridges will continue to learn a lot about Izzo’s motto: “players play, but tough players win.”

Coach Izzo is also well known for scheduling a very tough non-conference schedule in preparation for March, which will only benefit Bridges and the rest of the Spartans.

Along with Coach Izzo, think about Draymond Green. He stayed at Michigan State for four years and is now having one heck of a career in the NBA.

Green has had a lot of success with the Golden State Warriors over the course of five seasons. He won a championship in 2015 and has the perk of a 15.3 million dollar salary for 2017.

Miles Bridges is a lot like Green with a 6’7” stature and strong explosive moves. Bridges looks more like a guard than Green did in his Michigan State days, however there are lots of similarities.

2. The College Experience Will Help Miles Bridges and his Draft Stock

Miles Bridges Declines Draft

Miles Bridges of Michigan State Spartans. Mandatory Credit to spartanavanue.com

This statement rides on a lot of “ifs” because it won’t be true unless Bridges really improves his sophomore season. The experience will help if he can produce better statistics, take his team further in the tournament and have more success. However, if all of these ifs become reality, his draft stock will increase.

Bridges had the potential to make millions but he turned it down for the opportunity to go to school and win a national title. That says a lot about him as a player and a person.

He also averaged 16.9 points per game, which is the highest for a freshman since Magic Johnson who averaged 17 points per game his freshman season.

A lot of people are worried about his draft stock declining if he stays another year. However, the risk of staying another year could put him in the top 5 for overall picks. Another year with Coach Izzo and more growth, could be the key to even greater success in the NBA.

3. NEXT YEar is looking even better

The Spartans will have a lot of returners for the 2017-2018 season. Cassius Winston and Nick Ward will be coming back, along with Joshua Langford and Tum Tum Nair Jr. for his senior season. Eight of the top ten players will be returning for next year. They will have something special if Coach Izzo can keep everyone healthy and working hard.

Just last week Jack Hoiberg, son of Fred Hoiberg (Chicago Bulls head coach), said he would be walking onto Michigan State’s basketball team for the 2017-2018 season. Hoiberg will be joined by Jaren Jackson and Xavier Tillman, two power forwards who have signed with the Spartans. Jackson stands at 6’11, ranked 16th in the nation and will play good minutes for the Spartans next year. Tillman is 6’9 and 250 pounds, a little bit thicker than Jackson but will also add size to the Spartan roster for next year.

Bridges made the right decision to stay, despite the NBA being a very enticing choice. Teammates and fans of Spartan Basketball will get to watch him at the college level for one more year and next year could be big for the Spartans because of his decision.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

NBA Mid-Season Awards

NBA Mid-Season Awards ’17

All-Star Weekend has finished up and more than half the season is gone. Teams are either preparing for the draft or preparing to push towards the playoffs. There have been some amazing performances this season. All-Star break has always been looked at as the mid-season and for those teams who make deep postseason runs, it still is. So catch your breath and lace your sneakers for the second half of the season. Here are Hagan’s Haus NBA mid-season awards.

Coach of the Year: Mike D’antoni- Houston Rockets

NBA Mid-Season Awards

(Photo Credit: Rocky Widner Getty Images)

This is the hardest award to pick out of all. There were a couple of strong candidates for this award including Washington head coach Scott Brooks and Utah head coach Quin Snyder. Both of those coaches are having great seasons but this award must go to Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets.

Last season the Rockets were the eighth seed in the playoffs after making the conference finals the previous year. This season they hold the third seed in a strong Western Conference and already have 40 wins after only amassing 41 last season. That type of improvement in just one season is impressive. The Rockets may not win the NBA Title but they have become a dangerous team in the west under D’Antoni.

 

6th man of the year: Eric Gordon- Houston Rockets

NBA Mid-Season Awards

(Photo Credit: LM Otero, Associated Press)

There is no question that Eric Gordon is the sixth man of the year. His career was in shambles until this season. Gordon could not stay healthy and could not live up to his potential in New Orleans. Now as a sixth man Gordon provides a spark off the Rockets bench. He is shooting 38.9 percent from behind the arc. Gordon also has the fourth most made three-pointers in league with 184. This is also Gordon’s third best year in scoring. If he continues this he will easily win the sixth man of the year.

Comeback Player of the Year: Bradley Beal- Washington Wizards

This was a difficult award to assess but Bradley Beal is a good candidate for the award. Bradley Beal missed 27 games due to injury last season. He only started 35 of the 55 games he appeared in. This season, however, Beal has started all 51 games that he has played in.

NBA Mid-Season Awards

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

Beal is a part of a surging Wizards team that has won nine out of their last 10 and have taken the third spot in the Eastern Conference. They are only two games back of the Celtics for the two seed. Part of that surge is because Beal is having a career year. Beal is averaging a career high in points per game (22.2), assists per game (3.7), free throw percentage (81%) and field goal percentage (47%). Beal has come back strong this season and the Wizards are a threat because of it.

Most Improved: Giannis Antekokounmpo- Milwaukee Bucks

NBA Mid-Season Awards

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

The Greek Freak just played in his first ever All-Star game at the age of 22. Giannis is also averaging a career high in points per game (23.4), blocks per game (2.0), steals per game (1.8), assists per game (5.4), rebounds per game (8.6), free throw percentage (79%) and field goal percentage (52.3%). Not only are those his career highs, he leads his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Giannis is clearly on his way to stardom and has improved vastly since last season. He has improved more than anybody else this season and one day may be an MVP.

 

Rookie of the Year: Joel Embiid- Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Mid Season Awards

(Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Trust the process. No really, trust the process because Joel Embiid has been fantastic in his first year on the court. It has been a long wait for 76er fans to see Embiid in action but it has been worth the wait. He has started 31 games and is averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. His 78 percent free throw shooting is also impressive for a big man.

The 76ers have found a legitimate franchise piece to build around. Their only concern now is his history of injuries. If he can stay healthy the 76ers are in for some great years of basketball. Embiid is no question the rookie of the year and there is no competition. Trust the process.

 

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green- Golden State Warriors

NBA Mid-Season Awards

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

Defensive player of the year was tough to pick. There is no clear cut favoite that stands out above the rest. Permiter defenders don’t typically get this award. Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler are both great defenders but are unlikely to win the award.

Draymond Green is a player who is deserving of this award. Green can defend all five positions on the court. His versitility makes him valuable and one of the best defenders in the NBA. He also ranks 14th with 1.5 blocks per game, and first in steals in the NBA with 2.1 per game. He is the best defender on the league’s best team and that has to account for something. He also recorded the rarest triple double in NBA history. It was the first ever triple double without scoring more than 10 points. Green’s triple double came from 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals. In an era where scoring and offense are valued so highly, Green is one of the best defenders in the league.

Most Valuable Player: Russell Westbrook- Oklahoma City Thunder

How can you not love “Brodie”? He is every fan’s and team builder’s dream. He plays basketball harder than any athlete in the world plays their sport. Westbrook is an old-school competitor and all he really wants to do is win. Only one player in NBA history has averaged a triple-double. Westbrook is looking to become the second player ever to accomplish this in 70 seasons of the NBA.

NBA Mid-Season Awards

(Photo Credit: http://www.chatsports.com)

Many people argue that this era of the NBA is the most talented era of all-time. Players are more skilled than ever before which makes the nightly triple-double watch for Westrbook more spectacular.

Without Westbrook the Thunder would be one of the worst teams in the NBA. “Brodie” has a PER of 29.5 which is a career high and would be the 26th best PER in NBA history. Westbrook is averaging a career high in points per game (31.1), rebounds per game (10.5) and three-point percentage (33.8). He is also adding 10.1 assits per game to round out the triple-double. “Brodie” is carrying the franchise on his back to the playoffs.

Some may argue that James Harden should be the MVP and they wouldn’t be wrong. Harden is having an MVP caliber year but think about this. Westrbook is averaging a triple-double. That alone is absolutely amazing, but his team is also a playoff team. If averaging a triple-double over a season is not worth the MVP award then we need to take away the name “Most Valuable Player” and call it “Media’s Most Popular Player”. Russell Westbrook is the MVP.

 

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Who Should Play in the NBA All-Star Game?

The NBA All-Star starters have been released, but not without its share of controversy. Russell Westbrook will be coming off the bench this year despite his historic start.

In anticipation of the final all-star lineups, here’s who should be playing in the exhibition this year. Keep in mind, that the starting lineup allows for two guards and three frontcourt players.

Starters

Isaiah Thomas: Kyrie Irving has the starting spot this year, but Isaiah Thomas is more deserving. Thomas has been on a roll this year for Boston. He is currently third in the NBA in scoring (outscoring James Harden) while shooting at a .461/.384/.907 clip. Thomas is the star and best player of the third best team in the East. Without a doubt, he deserves this spot.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Greek Freak made the All-Star game as a frontcourt player this year, but the stats say otherwise. According to Basketball Reference, he has played over 60% of his minutes at shooting guard. So, I’m putting him in as a guard. Either way, the Milwaukee Bucks star has undoubtedly earned his spot in the starting lineup this year.

In fact, he has solidified his spot as one of the premier players in the game right now. For one, he is the only player to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. Let that sink in. He is leading his team in every major statistical category. On top of that, he is top-25 in the league in every one of those categories, and top-10 in points, steals, and blocks.

Giannis has been doing a little bit of everything for one of the most exciting teams in the Eastern Conference this year, and he is well deserving of an All-Star starting spot.

Jimmy Butler: The decision to put Jimmy Butler in my lineup was not an easy one. You can easily justify putting Demar Derozan in as a guard, and shifting Giannis to a frontcourt spot. Butler and Derozan have both been having monster seasons for their respective teams. On top of that, they have been having remarkably similar years.

Derozan has a slight edge in points, Butler has a small edge in rebounds, and they are almost exactly even in assists. Butler gets on my starting lineup, however, because of an edge in three point shooting and defense.

Butler has been a much better three point shooter than Derozan this year, which allows his team to spread the floor more when he is on the court. He also has a sizable edge in blocks and steals over Derozan. I wouldn’t say the voters made a horribly wrong choice in nominating Derozan, but Jimmy Butler gets the nod in my starting lineup.

LeBron James: LeBron is the best player in the league. He is top ten in the league in scoring and assists. What is a rather pedestrian year for one of the greatest players of all time still easily allows him a spot in the All-Star starting lineup. Oh, and he’s got a three point shot again.

Joel Embiid: The real All-Star game starting lineup has no true center. In fact, the lineup doesn’t even have a real big man. Yes, the game is changing and centers have become less and less important. But, Joel Embiid has been the best big man in the league this year, and possibly the most important player to his team’s success.

(courtesy of CSN Philly)

The Sixers have been on an absolute tear lately, and they can largely attribute that success to Embiid. They are a completely different team when he is on the floor. He leads the team in points, rebounds, and blocks; and on top of that he is playing with a minutes restriction. It has been a weak year for Eastern Conference big men, and Embiid has been the most impressive. Call me crazy, but he deserves this spot.

Bench

Demar Derozan: The Raptors have been great this year, and Demar Derozan has absolutely been on fire. Critics might say he is a relatively one-dimensional player, but man can this guy score. He’s sixth in the league in scoring, trailing only James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas, Anthony Davis, and Demarcus Cousins. He has been one of the best guards in the league and absolutely deserves a spot on this team.

Kyrie Irving: The East is stacked when it comes to point guards, but Kyrie is a no-brainer for this year’s All-Star game. Isaiah Thomas makes my starting lineup over Irving simply because he has more of a load to carry, but both guards are having great years for their teams.

John Wall: The Wizards have been scorching hot lately, after a dismal start to the season, and John Wall has sparked their success. Wall has cracked the top-15 in scoring, is third in the league in assists, and first in steals. He is one of the best pure point guards in the league, and he’s having a career year. He’s earned this.

Kevin Love: After Embiid, Kevin Love has been the best big man in the East this season. He’s rebounding at a ferocious rate again, and he’s hitting threes at his highest rate in years. After a healthy offseason where he’s been able to rehabilitate, Kevin Love has returned to being one of the premier power forwards in the league.

Hassan Whiteside: Whiteside has been the classic “good stats on a bad team” player this year. His eye-popping stats are less meaningful because of how abysmal the Heat have been. Regardless, it’s hard to keep a player with 17 points per game and 14 rebounds per game out of the All-Star game. The weak big men in the East this year only further his case.

Kristaps Porzingis: Putting aside his injuries, the Latvian stud has seen no signs of a sophomore slump. He’s been the best player on the Knicks when he’s healthy, and has continued his dominance on both ends of the floor. Another beneficiary of the weak frontcourts in the east this year, Porzingis is deserving of one of the East’s spots.

Kyle Lowry: Behind Derozan’s great season, Kyle Lowry has become somewhat under appreciated for the Raptors. He has a slash line of .470/.429/.824 while averaging 22 points and 7 rebounds per game. He may not have the same recognition has Demar Derozan, but he is deserving of a spot in the lineup nonetheless.

Starters

Russell Westbrook: Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double. I’ll Repeat: Averaging a TRIPLE-DOUBLE. As in, Russell Westbrook is doing something that hasn’t been done in 40 years. He is first in the league in scoring. He is second in the league in assists. He is eleventh in rebounds. It is absurd that Westbrook won’t be starting in this year’s All-Star game.

(courtesy of Clutch Points)

James Harden: 28.7 points per game. 11.6 rebounds per game. 8.2 rebounds per game. Harden is having an equally (if not more) impressive season than Westbrook. Harden and Westbrook are having the two best seasons in the NBA this year and should be starting in the All-Star Game for the Western Conference.

Kevin Durant: KD is having an incredibly efficient season (.544/.400/.862) and has already become the go-to guy on the Golden State Warriors. He has shown no real signs of a big adjustment period with is new team and has continued to be one of the best scorers in the NBA.

Kawhi Leonard: Kawhi has somehow quietly had a ridiculously good season. So is life playing for the San Antonio Spurs. Obviously, he is one of the best defenders in the league. The difference this year has been in his continued improvement on the offensive end. He’s scoring more than he ever has and is absurdly close to a 50/40/90 season.

Anthony Davis: If not for the struggles of his team, Anthony Davis would most likely be right up there with Harden and Westbrook in the MVP conversation. Seriously. The Brow is continuing his ascension to the top of the league, and is single-handedly keeping this team relevant. He’s fourth in the league in scoring, and seventh in rebounding. At this point, it’s hard to say he’s not the best big man in the league. Despite the deterioration of his team around him, Anthony Davis has done as much as anyone to earn his spot as a starter this year.

Bench

Steph Curry: Last year, Steph Curry had the best season of anyone in the league. This year, he’s not even having the best season on his own team. His shooting percentage and three point percentage may be way down, but he’s still averaging 24.6 points per game. He’s nowhere near the level of the unanimous MVP we saw last year, but it’s impossible to leave him off this team.

Demarcus Cousins: Behind Anthony Davis, Boogie has been the best big man in the league this year. Not to mention, he’s hitting threes at a 37.5% clip. Like Davis, he’s on an abysmal team and single-handedly keeping them relevant. No doubt, he makes the team.

Damian Lillard: Despite the Trailblazers’ fall from grace, Lillard has still had an All-Star-worthy year. His defense has been atrocious this year, but it’s simply too hard to keep a guy with 26 points and six rebounds per game out of the All-Star game.

Gordon Hayward: Gordon Hayward has been the most important and best player on the fifth-best team in the Western Conference. He has seen an uptick in scoring and in efficiency. Sure, he may not be a bona fide star in the league yet, but his season this year has been no joke.

Mike Conley: Conley has earned his max contract this year for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies aren’t a true contender in the top-heavy West, but Conley has made them competitive and fun to watch with his great season. 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game to go along with solid efficiency numbers warrant a first All-Star game for the Memphis star.

Karl-Anthony Towns: Towns and the Timberwolves haven’t quite lived up to his incredibly lofty expectations for this season. Despite that, he has undoubtedly had a great season so far. 22 points and 12 rebounds per game warrants an All-Star game spot despite his teams immense struggles.

Draymond Green: This last spot was the hardest to fill on the roster, but I decided to reward Draymond and the Golden State Warriors. They have clearly been the best team in the league this year so far, and Green has been a key part of that. He is the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year, and he has continued to do a little bit of everything for the Warriors. He scores when he needs to, he rebounds, he distributes, and he plays defense as well as anyone in the league. Draymond makes the roster based off of his contributions to his team over his stats.

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Run or Stay DMC: Should DeMarcus Cousins remain in Sacramento?

 

For Sacramento Kings fans, their saving grace from years of relative turmoil has been DeMarcus Cousins. The 26 year old All-Star center has had his qualms with the media, and has even had conversations with past greats in an effort to help Cousins either gain or maintain focus. Whatever rift has formed between the old guard of players and Cousins or between he and the media, one question has emerged – is DeMarcus Cousins destined to languish in Sacramento?

Since Cousins was drafted out of the University of Kentucky in 2010 after only one season, there hasn’t been much to cheer about in Sactown. The team has won 34% of it’s games since then. With questionable draft picks – six of the teams’ first round picks are no longer with the team, and offseason moves that have the left the team bereft of any real players that can push the team into contention, fans are restless and rightfully so.

The Kings Organization

via USA Today Sports Images

The front office has made safe moves that ultimately seem shortsighted and hardly ever bear any fruit. The heavily dissected relationships between Cousins and his head coaches are one example of the barren moves. The Kings management hired Mike Malone in 2013, shortly after Vivek Ranadive purchased the team.

There was clear evidence that, at last, Cousins had found someone whom he could let his guard down for. Malone thought the he was the guy that could help Cousins channel his supreme talents and help make his teammates better.

Per Blake Ellington of SB Nation’s SacTown Royalty:

I’m myself. Be true to yourself and I was real. In a weird way, DeMarcus and I are very, very similar – both highly competitive, can be a little emotional at times and as I told him many times, I never wanted to change DeMarcus, I just wanted him to

via USA Today Sports

harness all that competitive fire and use it in a positive way… 

The front office fired Malone 24 games into the 2014-2015 season after having reported “philosophical differences.”

Management then decided to hire George Karl. At the time, the league saw Karl as a respected NBA coach. However, his very public discord with Cousins was very hard to ignore.

In the 2015-2016 offseason, the Sacramento Kings signed Rajon Rondo to a 1 year 9.5 million dollar contract just one season removed from his disastrous stint with the Dallas Mavericks. The move in a vacuum wasn’t detrimental to the season for the team – they only won 33 games that year. The motivation behind it, is what confusing. To trade away an asset in Ray McCallum for a second round pick, that essentially turned into a non-rotational piece, when Darren Collison is still on the team seemed disjointed. Not to mention the matter of trading away Isaiah Thomas so Collison could start a couple of seasons earlier.

DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins

With all that has gone wrong the team, DeMarcus Cousins has still managed to make two All-Star games and is an excellent community activist in the city. And that’s the thing, DeMarcus still maintains that’s he loves the city and the fans and would love to remain in town. The fans adore him and understand exactly what they have is arguably the best center in the game. Among centers that qualify Cousins is second in scoring, fifth in steals and assists and second in 3 point attempts while hitting them at a respectable 38%.

Via USA Today Sports

Only three players have posted 55+ 10+ rebound games since 1985. Cousins has one of them. He is however, the only one of those players to shoot 5-8 from three in the game. I’m also sure that he’s the only one of those players to get ejected and then un-ejected in such a game.

That’s the type of player Cousins is —  supremely talented but equally as visceral. The same intensity that fans attribute to Draymond Green and players alike is what makes them go, it’s what drives them to burn a few extra gallons of fuel that few around the league possess. That extra fuel sometimes gets Boogie into trouble as leads the league in technical fouls with 12.

Once again, is the tumult and disarray of the front office the perfect accompaniment for Cousins’ overt, harried temperament? The front office thinks so as they are reportedly planning to offer Cousins the new “MegaMax” extension worth a reported $200 million per ESPN. From Marc Stein’s column:

The Kings, as you surely know by now, are openly desperate to bring their 10-season playoff drought to a halt. Those who know Sacramento best continue to say that, as long as the West’s No. 8 seed remains within the Kings’ sights, they’ll be increasingly reluctant to part with their All-Star ‎center.

But sources also say that the Kings, at season’s end, want to pitch Cousins on a long-term partnership in the summertime, knowing he’s going to be eligible in July for a Designated Player Extension that ‎could make him one of a handful of $200 million players league wide.

The latest signals suggest it would take a monster offer to get the Kings to tweak those plans.

CSN California reports that the front office  has reason to believe that he would accept the extension.

Via USA Today Sports

There is no way to determine how Demarcus feels about the team this summer, or if he declines the extension, how he’ll feel in 2018. If he decided to leave the team in free agency or inquire the front office about a trade, there’s a good chance he ends up with a contending squad or a team that’s on the verge of contention and possess competent management.

Would that be the best outcome, to have his gifts on a world stage where all is out for the world to see. Or is the quaintness of his current situation just destiny? His flaws and valor accepted alike, hoping that one day the chips will fall and the success will come.

 

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Warriors or Indians: Which 3-1 Collapse is Bigger?

If you’ve perused social media at all in the past five months, I’m sure numerous people have reminded you that the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers. As of last night, the Warriors are no longer alone among teams in 2016 to blow such a lead in their league finals. The Cleveland Indians suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. So now the question arises… which team’s descent from the brink of a championship to runner up was a more historic collapse?

While the Indians’ collapse was certainly heartbreaking for a team and fan-base that hasn’t won a World Series in 68 years, in my book the Warriors’ NBA Finals flop still holds the title for the bigger collapse in a 2016 final. Here’s why:

The Warriors Regular Season

Image result for stephen curry

Image courtesy of Business Insider


Yes, the 2015-16 Warriors have the record for the best regular season ever in NBA history, but that’s all it will ever be now. They were one game away from immortalizing what would have been the most dominant season ever put together by an NBA team. Their greatness in the regular season will be forever overshadowed by their inability to close out Cleveland in the Finals. Not only that, but the Warriors had Steph Curry, the NBA’s first ever unanimous regular season MVP. While the Indians roster certainly was full of talented players, no player on the team received the same recognition for his play the same way Curry did.

Draymond Green Suspension

There were no issues that prevented the Cubs or the Indians from putting their best starting lineup on the field for all seven games of the World Series. The Warriors, however, saw star Draymond Green suspended from Game 5 of the series for hitting LeBron James in the groin. Whether the suspension was warranted or not, Game 5 provided the turning point for the Cavs to start their run at history.  The impact Green could have had on the game will forever be questioned. Would he have made enough of a difference to win Game 5? All we can do now is speculate.

Image result for draymond green suspension

Image courtesy of FOX Sports.

There can only be one First Team

The Cavs’ comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals was the first ever to occur in the NBA Finals. While it doesn’t make it any less painful for the Indians or their fans, they were not the first team to blow a 3-1 lead in the World Series. The 1925 Washington Senators hold the rights to that unfortunate title. The 1968 St. Louis Cardinals were up 3-1 against the Detroit Tigers and were also unable to seal the deal. They did the same thing against the Kansas City Royals in 1985. The Baltimore Orioles shared a similar fate vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979. The point is, while it may not offer too much solace to Cleveland, the Indians were only the most recent team to blow a 3-1 lead in the World Series. At least they share that company with a handful of other teams.

The Warriors, however, are currently the only NBA team to have blown a 3-1 Finals lead. I have no doubt that another team in the future will share a similar fate, but history always remembers two teams: the first to do something, and the most recent to do it. Unfortunately for Golden State, there’s no such thing as a second first.

While the numbers behind the leads appear the same, the Warriors’ 2016 Finals collapse is on a different scale than that of the Indians. Does that mean Cleveland fans should be let off the hook from the 3-1 jokes? That’s up to how vengeful you might be feeling after five months of reading them. And while you can certainly make the case that it’s time Indians fans began reaping what they’ve sown. Is it karma? Who knows, all I know is, I won’t let the Indians blowing a 3-1 lead distract me from the fact that the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.

Logos courtesy of sportslogos.net

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Kevin Durant to the Warriors

Durant’s “Decision”

On America’s 240th birthday, the Bay Area and Dub Nation all around were probably shooting off fireworks at the Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors play the newest and most entertaining brand of basketball. It could really be the most patriotic part of the country if it weren’t for the announcement, via Players’ Tribune, that Kevin Durant was signing with the Warriors, who this past season had just set a regular season record with a 73-9 season. This Warriors team, prior to the Durant signing, had already had a 2-time MVP, Steph Curry, Splash Brother Klay Thompson (who holds the NBA record for most points in a quarter with 37), 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodola, and radically emotional and yet deceptively good Draymond Green. With Durant now on the first actual super team, this takes the result of LeBron’s “Decision” to a whole new level (for the record, in my opinion, Durant handled his departure much better than LeBron did when he left for Miami, as did OKC as an organization compared to how Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert handled LeBron’s departure). A few questions come to mind after this incredible series of free agency events.

How did Golden State pull this off?

The rumors that Golden State could potentially sign Durant in free agency started back in February. Back then, that was just a fantasy, a dream, and a thought so absurd it ought to be illegal. Then the Thunder gave up a commanding 3-1 series lead and lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Ending the playoff run in such a way, a common NBA fan would believe he would remain with the team knowing they were that close to a shot at the title with Cleveland. So how were the Warriors able to convince Durant of the philosophy “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”?

Durant’s free agency began with a meeting from the Thunder, then the Warriors, followed by Spurs, Celtics, and Heat. The Warriors pitch party included Curry, Thompson, Green, Iguodola and head coach Steve Kerr. I assume their pitch went something along the lines of: “You’ve seen how we play; together. Now, you see how we recruit; together. We are all a part of a TEAM here. We hold each other accountable for each other’s failings and praise each other for our triumphs. Here we play with a team mentality. There is a set offense and defense here where hero ball isn’t always called upon like it was in Oklahoma City. We are your ticket to at least that one ring, of which all players end up being judged by. You will be the third and most talented Splash Brother.” As the meetings closed and Durant announced he would make his decision late Sunday to mid Monday, Durant’s options had reportedly dwindled down to 2 teams: the Warriors and the Thunder. However, another bit of information made news on Sunday evening. Jerry West, long time and former Los Angeles Laker player and front office associate, who had been with the Warriors organization for the last couple of years (responsible for the drafting of Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes), made a phone call to Durant Saturday evening. It was rumored that the phone entailed talks of being a part of a team where everyone is treated the same and that no player was above that of the team. Evidently, that phone call is what tilted the weights in the Warriors favor.

So then how can the Warriors pay for all 4 of their stars? Durant is set to sign a two year deal worth around $28 million dollars per year, making him the highest paid player on the team. He is followed by Klay Thompson, who is paid around $17 million, Green at $15 million and the 2-time MVP, Curry, at $12 million. Yes, that’s right. Steph Curry, the best player in the league and reigning MVP is the fourth highest paid player on his team. Curry signed his four year deal in 2013, back when he was having ankle and knee issues that halted his progress in developing into the greatest shooter ever. With Curry a free agent in 2017, that leaves this next season as the perfect window for this team to terrorize the league for at least a year. Durant signed a two year deal with a player option on the second year, so if he wishes to leave for another team, reunite with Russell Westbrook or stay in Oakland, he can opt out and restructure after next season when the salary cap goes up again. As unlikely and unfair as it seems, the Warriors did it. They won Game eight of the Western Conference Finals and might have already won the 2017 NBA Championship.

Why not stay with the Thunder?

The Thunder was the first team to meet with Durant during free agency. Little did they know, that would be the last they would see of him, at least for a year.  KD chose Golden State over OKC. Why? The Thunder added more depth by trading Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and draft rights to Domantas Sabonis, so that would appear to be a better all-around team if Durant had stayed. I believe, however, the real reason Durant left is because he got tired of the lack of organization Russell Westbrook and the team would play with. The Warriors actually run offensive sets and only rely on isolation when the shot clock is fewer than eight or five seconds. The Thunder lost Durant because they could not decide who the top dog on the team anymore. Russell Westbrook’s playing style and attitude was too big to share a spotlight with anybody close to or greater than his caliber. That being said, Westbrook deserves to have his own team to lead. He is easily an early pick for next season’s MVP. The keys to the car have been given to Russell and I can’t wait to see what he does with it.

What does this mean for the rest of the league?

The NBA has its newer and more hated version of 2011’s Miami Heat. Every arena the Warriors play in will be roaring with boos and jeers of all basketball fans outside the Bay Area. Nearly all of the NBA’s fans will be rooting against the Golden State Warriors (OKC fans have already started burning his jersey) and who could blame them? The Warriors had already won through drafting the team’s core, but when they flash that California-money, it looks more like Yankee-money. The challenge will be for the other 29 teams to ruin their run as the greatest team ever assembled. This isn’t the first time 4 future Hall-of-Famers played on the same team: the 1980s Celtics had Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson, the 2013 Miami Heat had LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen, the early 1970s Celtics had Bill Russell, Jo Jo White, John Havlicek, and Dave Cowens, and the early 2000s Lakers had Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton and Karl Malone. This is, however, the first time 4 players, all in their prime, came together to conquer and dominate a league of this level.  Is it too early to start giving nicknames to the new team? The Fearsome Foursome? The Apocalypse Lineup? How about the Video Game? I can’t wait to see what the Internet and media comes up with.

How will the Warriors balance the egos on that team?

LeBron James will be the first to say it isn’t an easy task regardless of who is on your team. There have been other teams in other sports who have looked like the odds on favorite to win their league’s title; nearly every year with Real Madrid or Barcelona in soccer, the 2001 New York Yankees in baseball, and the 2007 New England Patriots for example. No matter how anyone may feel, the team still has to compete, co-exist, and win together. So how will the Warriors fit Kevin Durant into their offense? Kevin Durant heading the Golden State will surely understand on a team with this much offensive talent that his scoring numbers will take a dip. I believe that Curry’s assist totals will rise though seeing as Durant is one of the three best shooters in the world; the other two are now his teammates. Think about it this way: all those shots Harrison Barnes missed in the Finals last season, at least half of them go in if KD is shooting them. Speaking of free agents, Harrison Barnes will be signed by the Dallas Mavericks since KD will be taking up the salary cap space that would keep Barnes and other Warriors on the team; Bogut will be joining Barnes in Dallas, the Warriors made Festus Ezeli an unrestricted free agent, and they still need to make a decision regarding Marreese Speights and others. Nonetheless, those roster spots will be filled and so long as these players put winning above their own individual accolades, this team is unbeatable since they have 3 lethal scoring options, a lineup that is all-NBA level (Iguodola included). This team can prove that once the endorsement contracts have been signed, making money not an issue, it will come down to coexisting on the court and winning as a team and arguably the greatest team ever; 1996 Bulls included.

The Drought Is Over

(photo credit:By: Ryan Phillips)

(photo credit:By: Ryan Phillips)

Cleveland, it is time to Celebrate. The wait is over. 52 years of pain and suffering in the world of sports has come to an end. Cleveland is more than Believeland tonight. It is home to champions.

It all started six years ago LeBron left the Cavaliers organization and the city of Cleveland for the Miami Heat. The city and fans were devastated, heartbroken. His jersey was burned, and he was hated by his hometown. What made matters worse is that he won two championships for the Heat. The city of Cleveland was hurt, and believed those championships should have been theirs. In 2014 LeBron came back and promised he would bring his hometown a championship.

Last year he led the Cavs to the finals but lost to the Warriors in six games. Kevin Love got hurt in the first round and Kyrie Irving got hurt in game one of the finals so many people said the Warriors win was a fluke. Many said they would not have beat the Cavs if they were healthy. The Cavs also fired David Blatt in favor of Tyrone Lue. The pressure was mounting for Cleveland. This year they got a rematch with both teams healthy and this time LeBron delivered on his promise.

This game seven was one of the best games I can remember. The game went back and forth. There were countless ties and lead changes. There were breath taking moments. It was captivating. Epic. Entertaining. Riveting. Legendary. It had everything you could want in the final game of a championship.

The series had games that were blowouts but the series was still as close as it could ever get. After 27 quarters of the finals the total score was Warriors 686 points and Cavaliers 685 points. With two minutes and 50 seconds left in the game the score was 89-89. The game was tight.

At halftime the Warriors led 49-42 and were led by Draymond Green who had a first half to remember. He had 22 points and went 5-5 from the three point line. Steph Curry had a sub par showing for his standard and so did Klay Thompson. In the end Draymond Green’s performance wasn’t enough as the Cavaliers became the first team to come back down 3-1 in NBA Finals history.

LeBron finished with his usual stat line of 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists and got his seventh finals triple double. He was consistent with his play but Kyrie was the game changer.

It all started when Kyrie Irving took over in the third quarter scoring 12 points and bring the Cavs back into the game. After that the game was a nail biter the rest of the way. He also hit the game changing three pointer with 53 seconds left in the game that ultimately sealed the deal and helped deliver the city of Cleveland a championship.

Cleveland your time to celebrate is now. The drought is over.

One For The Ages

(Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

(Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

The stage has been set. Game 7 of the NBA finals. One game to determine the NBA champion. Will it be the Golden State Warriors who won a record 73 games? Will it be back to back titles vs the same team? Will Steph Curry set the Warriors up for a potential three peat and begin to make a case that he will be one of the greatest players ever?

Or will it be the Cavaliers who’s city, Cleveland, is looking for its first major title since 1964 in a major sport. Will LeBron become a hometown hero and win it all for his city. Will the Cavaliers be the first team to ever come back down from a 3-1 deficit in the finals? There are many questions that will be answered Sunday in a historic game seven.

Before we get into the game and what might or might not happen we need to just pause and realize the great moment in sports history. This game seven will go down in history as one of the greatest sports moments of this generation and maybe even in all of American sports history. A team with 73 wins vs. a team trying to end a city’s 52 year championship drought. It may be a long time before we see a game of this magnitude again.

If you were old enough to remember Super Bowl XXXIV (34), when the Rams beat the Titans and on the final play of the game, Kevin Dyson, of the Titans, reached his out stretched arm as far as he possibly could and fell just one yard short of winning the Super Bowl.

We all remember when the Red Sox famously came back from a 3-0 deficit to their archival Yankess in the 2004 American Legaue Championship Series and eventually ending an 86 year championship drought.

Just last year we witnessed American Pharaoh win the first Triple Crown in 37 years in horse racing.

These three examples are all extremely historic moments in American sports. We can think about exactly where we were, or what we were doing when they happened. As they happened we couldn’t believe our eyes. It all seemed impossible and gave us goosebumps. That is what will happen Sunday in game seven. We will witness a historic moment.

This game is intriguing for many reasons. The Cavs are the first team in 50 years to force a game seven in the finals when trailing 3-1. The Cavs and Warriors enter game with with both scoring 610 points. This is the first time in history that two teams enter game seven of the NBA Finals with scoring the exact same amount of points. This is the type of game that you remember and talk about for decades.

LeBron is coming off of back to back 40 point games. Curry is coming off a 28 point performance before eventually fouling out and being ejected. It is easy to tell both players want this badly. It means a lot to each player’s personal legacy but to win this game seven it isn’t what LeBron or Steph do that will determine the out come. It comes down to the roll players.

LeBron and Kyrie will have their handprints all over this game but they need Tristian Thompson to get a double double. They need J.R. Smith to hit three or four threes. If Smith and Thompson have great games the Cavaliers will win their first ever championship.

Just as we know LeBron and Kyrie will get theirs, so will Steph and Klay. The Warriors also know they can count on Draymond Green to make a big impact as well. Andre Iguodala’s back will be of major concern because if he can’t contribute defensively then nobody will slow LeBron down. The x-factor in this game will be Harrison Barnes. Harrison Barnes has had wide open shots in games five and six but has only shot 2-22 from the field, and 1-12 from beyond the arc. In game six he didn’t make a single shot going 0-8 from the field and 0-5 from three. If he is able to score between 12-15 points in game seven the Warriors will repeat as champions.

This game is a tough one to predict and with taking everything into account I just can’t imagine the Warriors losing three straight games, in which two of those games being at home. The Warriors are a historically great team. A game seven win will cement the legacy of this 73 win team as one of, if not the, greatest team of all time. I think Steph scores at least 35 points and the Warriors win their second consecutive championship 104-99.

Space Jam 2: Who are the New Monstars?

Space Jam 2 is now confirmed. Photo courtesy youtube.com.

Space Jam was a movie that defined a generation. Everywhere on college campuses you will see tune squad jerseys from the original film that came out in 1996. I still watch Space Jam frequently because it is such a good movie to this day. Michael Jordan, Bill Murray and Looney Tunes playing against aliens who stole their talents from NBA Players? Nothing beats that.

There have been rumors of a sequel to Space Jam for the past couple of years, with Lebron James taking over for Michael Jordan. Now those rumors have been confirmed and Space Jam 2 is in production. There is no plot yet, but they most certainly can’t top the plot of the original movie. If there are five other players who have their talents stolen by aliens for this sequel, who would they be?

They will probably try to get players who are close to Lebron James, have experience acting, or are similar to players who were chosen to play the roles in the original film. While these may not be the players everyone wants to see in a movie (Steph Curry and Kevin Durant), these are my best guesses as to who could fill in for the sequel

Chris or Cliff Paul would be excellent choices to be in Space Jam 2. Photo courtesy nba.com.

Chris Paul- This is an obvious choice. Paul has done acting work before in his State Farm commercials. He has also been a close friend of Lebron’s and will almost certainly have a great time filming with his friend. Muggsy Bogues was the only guard who had his talents stolen, and Paul would be the best point guard fit for this movie.

Timofey Mozgov has been in great commercials before and could play Shawn Bradley. Photo courtesy cbssports.com.

Timofey Mozgov- In the last movie they had a throw-away player that was just there because of his height. That player was Shawn Bradley. Bradley’s Monstar character actually never scored or recorded any stats in the first Space Jam movie. Mozgov isn’t as tall as Bradley, but he also fits the mold of a big guy who doesn’t score. Being Lebron’s teammate now could help him fill Shawn Bradley’s former role.

If Cousins doesn’t look like a Monstar, who does? Photo courtesy clutchpoints.com.

DeMarcus Cousins- The rest of the Monstars were physically intimidating players. Cousins’ stature fits the list, but his anger issues on the court also make him fit in well with the Monstars. He could be comparable to Patrick Ewing, who was in the first movie and was on the 1990s Knicks who were one of the toughest teams in the league. Cousins may not be close enough to Lebron to score this role, but he is one of the few players in this age of basketball who fits the mold of a Monstars.

Draymond Green- Think Charles Barkely with this Monstar pick. A forward who can do a little bit of everything. Both players are very outgoing and talkative, making them a sight to see in a movie that is made for a general audience. Green losing in basketball to a bunch of kids and being called a fraud, could never top Barkley, but it would have a very similar feeling.

Blake Griffin already has experience filming with the Looney Tunes. Photo courtesy sportingnews.com.

Blake Griffin- Griffin is a physically gifted power forward, who would look perfect slamming dunks in for the Monstars. He has a lot of acting experience from a lot of different commercials. He is comedic and has already live read the script of the original Space Jam.

With these players filling in, hopefully Jordan can now join Larry Bird, who was a former player who appeared in the movie.

No one can fill in for Bill Murray.

Now the real question is, who fills in for Bill Murray? No one. Bill Murray’s knees can’t be that much worse, can they?

 

 

 

’95-’96 Bulls vs ’15-’16 Warriors

Courtesy of CBS Sports

Courtesy of CBS Sports

This Warriors team just beat the regular season of the 95-96 Chicago Bulls last night. So I pose this question: Could this Warriors team beat those Bulls?

My answer is a flat out no! And I don’t say this to be a “hater” but I say it to be a realist. This Warriors team is one of the most unstoppable forces the NBA has seen in a while but, to beat a Jordan led team in a seven game series, the answer is no.

Let’s breakdown the teams.

To start off, Luc Longley would be guarding Andrew Bogut. I see this matchup as a draw.

Dennis Rodman would be guarding Draymond Green and that’s a win for Rodman and the Bulls. Rodman is one of the best defensive forces the NBA has seen. Rodman could definitely shut down Green’s ability to blow by people. And if Green can’t drive and kick that drops the Warriors’ number of three-point shots. With Rodman’s ability to switch, he can guard the pick and roll better than any big man the Warriors have faced this year.

Scottie Pippen would guard Harrison Barnes. Pippen and Bulls win that matchup. Pippen is one of the best small forwards in the history of the NBA.

Even though we would like to see Jordan guard Curry, I think the Bulls would guard the Warriors straight up. Jordan would guard Klay Thompson.

And Ron Harper, a very underrated defender, would be guarding Curry.

Throughout the game we will see a lot of different matchups, we could see Pippen on Thompson, Rodman on Thompson, or even Jordan on Curry.

Courtesy of Sportsmockery.com

Courtesy of Sportsmockery.com

Head Coach versus head coach, the Bulls win every single time. Coach Phil Jackson is lightyears ahead of Steve Kerr. I don’t have to go any further on that.

In the end, I think in a seven game series the Bulls will beat the Warriors in 5-6 games. Even though the Warriors bench is a little bit deeper than the Bulls bench, I think the Bulls win because they have Jordan, Phil Jackson, and their starting five’s impact will be greater than the Warriors’s starting five.

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