NFL super teams: Could it work?

Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors have ruined the NBA for the foreseeable future thanks to their new super team. The Warriors will dominate for years to come and will have the greatest dynasty in sports history when it’s all said and done. That said, the question of whether or not NFL super teams could be formed is an intriguing one to address.

The New England Patriots are the closest thing in the NFL to a super team, as the 2017 edition of the squad is the frontrunner to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and some even think they could go 16-0.

But the fact is that the NFL does not truly have a super team. Sure, the Patriots are most likely the best team on paper going into 2017, but there’s still no guarantee that they’ll even win the conference championship game.

We’ve seen this issue talked about before, so why not join in on the fun and give a hot #take myself?

There’s a couple different aspects to dissect when looking into NFL super teams. First, and most crucial, is the money. Even though the NFL is the most popular sport in the United States, the 53-man roster leaves less money for each player compared to the NBA. When forming a super team, every single star player would have to take a pay cut in order to allow other stars on the team. NFL players have already complained about the the discrepancy between NFL and NBA contracts, so taking even less could be a tough pill to swallow for many players.

The next concept to consider is that NFL teams have very specific schemes. The offense ran in New England was much different from the one that the Dallas Cowboys ran last season, yet each were top-five offenses in the league. Not only would NFL super teams need stars at every position, but it would also need the right personnel to fit the scheme.

Finally, we must ask if there’s even enough time for NFL super teams to form a dynasty. The shelf life of a running back is already limited, and the prime of many players in the NFL can be shorter than that of an NBA player. Even if it all came together for an NFL team, would there be enough time for them to win multiple Super Bowls with the same core?

Money talks

Every year, NFL players holdout and skip training camp in order to get leverage in earning more money. There can’t be an argument made that NFL players are more greedy than NBA players, but it does go to show that the top talents in the NFL will put their team and preparation at risk in order to get a couple more million dollars.

What a hard life NFL stars live.

NFL super teams

Photo: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Le’Veon Bell is at least the No. 2 running back in the NFL, if not the best (David Johnson may have something to say about that). He’s putting his team’s success in jeopardy this offseason by deciding to holdout. The most significant problem for NFL super teams is whether or not players will put their pride aside to take pay cuts, even though they may be the most elite at their position.

Every elite NFL player will do his best to suck all the money out of his organization he can. Heck, even players that aren’t elite, like Kirk Cousins and Joe Flacco, have tried this (and been successful) in the past.

This poses a threat to NFL super teams when trying to get the best of the best in one uniform. But this is only the start of the problem.

NFL super teams’ Schemes make for an even more complex problem

Dak Prescott and Drew Brees are two very different quarterbacks. Prescott resided in a run-heavy offense in Dallas, as the Cowboys ran the ball more than any other team last season (48.7 percent of plays). The Cowboys’ offense was built by its powerful line which counteracted its lack of skill players on the outside. This allowed Ezekiel Elliott to run all over (and away) from defenses in his rookie campaign.

The Saints’ offensive attack was much different from the Cowboys. Drew Brees had great weapons on the outside in former Saint Brandin Cooks, who used his deep-threat abilities to become Brees’ best downfield target. Rookie Michael Thomas managed to put together one of the best rookie seasons a wide receiver has ever produced, and was Brees’ possession target to look to.

Even Willie Snead, Coby Fleener and Josh Hill were utilized in the pass-first offense that allowed Brees to air it out on 63.4 percent of plays, good for fifth-most in the NFL last season.

The point is that NFL super teams need the perfect combination for an offense to work. The offensive coordinator, quarterback, skill players and offensive line must all be in sync and comfortable with the system in order to reach optimal success. And it’s the same way with the defense.

Not only do the star players at each position need to take pay cuts to form a super team, but they also have to fit with the scheme of whichever side of the ball they play on.

The player pool for a super team continues to shrink with these requirements.

Father Time waits for no man, not even NFL super teams

Barring a select few, most NFL stars are only elite for a couple years. Injuries cut their time of stardom even shorter (Jamaal Charles knows about that), which makes it even harder to field a star team.

Sure, the best of the best can sometimes manage to be stars for over half their career, but remember the requirements already talked about. Finding a star who is willing to take a pay cut and fits in the scheme is hard enough, so the pool of players has already dwindled.

NFL super teams

Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tom Brady may play until he’s 50, but top players at other positions have missed time in the past couple seasons. If Le’Veon Bell could stop smoking weed and quit getting injured by the Bengals, he’d have a chance to be on Tom Brady’s list.

Antonio Brown missed three games last season, Julio Jones has played in 16 games in a season once in his six years and A.J. Green has missed ten games in his six-year career while finding his way on the mid-week injury report seemingly every week.

This goes to show that even the most elite players can’t escape the injury bug.

And if the top players earn as much money as they want on a theoretical super team, the bench will be filled with aging veterans who are ring-chasing and don’t have enough talent to suffice the loss of a star.

This continues to prove that forming NFL super teams may be nearly impossible.

NFL super teams: Making one is #hard

The San Francisco 49ers currently have the most cap space in the NFL. A lot will change come March 2018, but one thing that will most likely remain is that the 49ers will suck this season. They won’t be the most attractive franchise to build a super team with.

However, the team with the fifth-most cap space is the Houston Texans. Houston has $24.3 million in free cap space, and made the playoffs last season. The Texans seem to be just a few pieces away from being a Super Bowl contender, so we’ll use them as a possible super team.

There’s been a lot of changes to the NFL landscape from last season, and that trend will continue in each offseason. Let’s try to make the Texans a super team through 2018 free agency.

Finding a quarterback

The Texans’ most glaring need is at the quarterback position. Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins and Matt Stafford are the only notable names that will be free agents come 2018.

Photo: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Cousins can be taken off the list right away, as it seems he’s been fighting to get a huge contract from Washington since he was in diapers.

Drew Brees and Matt Stafford both make sense due to the fact that they’ve had great years, yet Brees has just one ring, and Stafford has no playoff wins. It comes down to who would be the best fit in Bill O’Brien’s offense, assuming he stays on staff next season.

O’Brien’s scheme is based around the power-run game and using two tight end sets. The formations used in O’Brien’s system forces the quarterback to make crucial and complicated pre-snap reads. That said, Brees would be the better fit in Houston. His ability to run multiple formations in New Orleans could quite possibly translate to Houston.

If Brees were to make this move, he’d have to be fine with a pay cut since he’d be ring chasing and forming a super team. Let’s say he cuts his salary in half and earns $12 million with Houston.

Receiving a pass catcher

That only leaves $12 million and change in the bank for Houston. Houston has Lamar Miller, who should be an above average back for now. At wideout, the Texans have an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, but could use some help on the receiving end. The wide receiver market is grim in 2018, but a familiar face for Drew Brees will be on the market in 2018 at tight end.

The Drew Brees-Jimmy Graham love affair in New Orleans was art. Graham will be on the market in 2018, and even though he’s had a history of wanting money, let’s assume he wants a ring and to play with Drew Brees more.

We’ll assume Graham will settle for a mere $8 million a year with Houston, which is only $2 million less than he got in Seattle. I for one hope that in this theoretical world, Jimmy Graham makes it in this tough world with only $8 million a year to come home to.

Room for one more player

With $4 left, the Texans could grab a proven veteran for cheap, or a lesser-tier asset. The Texans need help on the offensive line, specifically at tackle. The best player on the market in 2018 is Donald Penn, but he’s currently holding out of Raiders’ camp, so he has to be off the list. Nate Solder could be an option, but the likelihood that he takes a paycut to leave New England is as likely as Johnny Manziel not drinking tonight.

Allen Barber was the No. 16 guard last season according to Pro Football Focus. Although he’s mostly played left guard in the past two seasons, he’s seen time at tackle with the Eagles early in his career.

Barber wouldn’t be a blockbuster move at all, but he could end up being a nice find for Houston to help what’s been a bad offensive line.

NFL super teams: Could it work?

The idea of NFL super teams is far-fetched and there’s too many hoops to jump through for it to work. There’s too many stipulations not seen in the NBA like a much larger roster, less time to be in the peak of a career and scheme fits.

Although the NBA has made it work before, the Golden State Warriors’ mega-team and soon to be dynasty will only work in the NBA. NFL front offices have far too many hoops to jump through.

For now, let’s just enjoy hating the New England Patriots for being better than all of our teams and speculate other things, like how Bill Belichick can pull a homeless man off the street and turn him into a heroic wide receiver or cornerback in a Super Bowl.

 

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2017-18 season preview: Top five NBA front courts

 

The NBA has shifted to a more perimeter-oriented league, yet strong, versatile front courts can be the engine to a good team. When the playoffs roll around, having a front court that can consistently score is vital.

Here is where the top five NBA front courts of the 2017-18 season will rank.

Number Five: New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis: 28.0 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 2.1 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 27.6.
Demarcus Cousins: 24.4 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 3.9 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 23.3.
Solomon Hill: 7.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 9.1

Two tremendous big men with different playing styles teamed up mid-season and hit the ground running together. Solomon Hill has helped take pressure off both big men with solid wing contribution offensively and defensively.

Davis and Cousins get most of the attention here however. The numbers speak for themselves but Davis and Cousins will need to be the leaders in order for the Pelicans to be playoff bound this upcoming season.

Rondo and Holiday will provide a solid balance to give Davis and Cousins a lot of easy looks around the rim.

Number Four: Minnesota Timberwolves

NBA Frontcourts

Karl Anthony Towns guarded by Gorgui Dieng, Photo Courtesy of USA today.

Karl Anthony-Towns: 25.1 ppg, 12.3 rpg 2.7 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 26.0.
Gorgui Dieng: 10.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.9 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 14.2.
Jimmy Butler: 23.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.5 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 25.2.

The Timberwolves are obviously a team in question. Yes they have put together a great roster heading into the 2017-18 season, but games aren’t played on paper.

Butler is in the prime of his career, Towns is blossoming into one of the best young big men and Dieng is a double-double big man who plays great around the rim defense. If all three play great basketball, they would be higher on this list, but there is a lot of uncertainty with the new look T-wolves.

Dieng and Towns are both young enough that they could scuffle and pass first guard Ricky Rubio is no longer in town. The numbers of the three don’t lie, but Butler has never played a game with them, so we can’t get too ahead of ourselves.

Number Three: San Antonio Spurs

Lamarcus Aldridge: 17.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.9 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 18.7.
Pau Gasol: 12.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.8 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 20.2.
Kawhi Leonard: 25.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.5 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 27.6.

Possibly the best two-way player teamed up with two players who fit in the Spurs’ system and have provided solid output. Leonard has been an MVP-type player at almost all times for the Spurs and helps make Aldridge and Gasol better when he’s on the floor.

Kawhi is obviously the engine on this team and both Gasol and Aldridge provide a complementary role for him. With the back court pretty uncertain, the Spurs are going to lean on the front court for more production than normal.

Aldridge had one of his worst statistical years last year and some of that can be attributed to injuries of his teammates and just flat out Popovich’s system. He will be poised for a bounce back year that could help drive the Spurs deep into the playoffs.

Number Two: Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA Frontcourts

The Cavaliers front court, Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.

Tristan Thompson: 8.1 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.0 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 15.3.
Kevin Love: 19.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.9 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 21.2.
LeBron James: 26.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 8.7 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 27.1.

Seventeen All-Star appearances between this front court and they are still number two. The Cavaliers have gotten great return from these three, however Thompson and Love have struggled at times in the playoffs.

The Cavaliers are only as good as their front court output. Thompson is the x-factor in nearly every playoff series because if he plays the way that he has shown flashes of, the Cavaliers are nearly unstoppable.

LeBron is always going to stuff the stat sheet and Love has continued to prove his value as both a rebounder and streaky knock down shooter. However, more often than not, Tristan Thompson has gone missing when they need him most. If the Cavaliers want to beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals, the front court needs to be the catalyst.

Number One: Golden State Warriors

Zaza Pachulia: 6.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.9 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 16.1.
Draymond Green: 10.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.0 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 16.5.
Kevin Durant: 25.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.8 apg. Player Efficiency Rating: 27.7.

The Kevin Durant experienced worked exactly as well as the Warriors would have hoped. Durant hit the ground running despite an injury mid-season and was the NBA Finals MVP. Durant proved his value as a two-way player in the Finals and came up clutch time after time.

Hate him or like him Draymond Green is a fantastic defender. He can guard all five positions and continues to stuff stat sheets. The Warriors are loaded and are the team to beat in the NBA, and the front court contributes heavily to that.

Realistically the Warriors should start Javale McGee, as he is a jolt of energy who provides much more both offensively and defensively than Pachulia. It ultimately doesn’t matter all that much when you have the best team in basketball.

Summary

Versatile wings are becoming increasingly more valuable in today’s NBA. Some of the best wings help contribute to the best front courts and it just so happens that some of the best wings find themselves on this list.

Each of the top five front courts are over 60.0 in player efficiency and contribute over 40 points and 20 rebounds at the very minimum.

Front court players are vital to postseason success, and we will see just how far the top five NBA front courts can take their teams in the 2017-2018 season.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

NBA's Gridiron Roster

The NBA’s gridiron team

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

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

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

Offense

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

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

NBA's Gridiron Team

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

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

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

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

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

NBA's Gridiron Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defense

NBA's Gridiron Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NBA's Gridiron Team

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

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

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

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

Special Teams

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

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

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

 

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Featured image courtesy of Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

2017 season preview: Top five NBA backcourts

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

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

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

Number Five: Toronto Raptors

top five NBA backcourts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number Four: Portland Trail Blazers

top five NBA backcourts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number Three: Washington Wizards

top five NBA backcourts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number Two: Houston Rockets

top five NBA backcourts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number One: Golden State Warriors

top five NBA backcourts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honorable mentions

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of SI.com.

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Lebron James’ free agency history is making Kyrie Irving run

Most NBA fans know LeBron James’ contract will expire at the end of the 2017-18 season. Not only do fans know it, but Kyrie Irving knows it too.

Reports released this past week that Irving has asked to be traded out of Cleveland. However, Kyrie isn’t trying to leave LeBron, he’s trying to leave LeBron before LeBron leaves him.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Lebron James during “The Decision” when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo Courtesy of Fox.com.

It’s no secret that the Cavaliers in their current state are a less superior match to the Golden State Warriors. Even other teams in the East are making moves that the Cavaliers are not.

Lots of Cavalier blockbuster trades have been discussed, however the only moves made this summer have been the signings of Jose Calderon and Jeff Green.

Kyrie is assuming LeBron will leave at the end of his contract and it seems like a timer is ticking down on LeBron’s departure. He already won a championship for his home state and can’t seem to beat the Warriors with the Cavaliers’ roster.

Why should Kyrie be on board with the Cavalier’s future when Lebron isn’t?

Why it Makes Sense

LeBron’s a smart guy, as he knows that the Cavaliers are a step lower than the Warriors. If this offseason doesn’t produce another valuable piece, he could be gone. LeBron’s the best player in the world, he wants to win and with just minimal moves, this team is almost the same as it was last year.

Kyrie Irving has shown that he is a ball dominant player who likes a pick and roll offense. LeBron also happens to fit that exact same description. Even though the two play different positions, the NBA is position-less at this point and their playing styles clash.

Kyrie is attempting to do what LeBron has done, twice. Kyrie is trying to get to a better environment suited to his play, where he could possibly lead a team. He is also trying to get paid while also winning when his contract is up.

J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson are on the books for large contracts. Those contracts are trade-able but very few teams would entertain those trades.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to have a tough time securing their three stars with money tied up in other places. Even with those three stars getting paid, this current Cavaliers team can’t beat the Warriors in a seven game series. If some money isn’t freed up for another key piece, the Cavs are right back where they ended the 2017 season and that’s looking up at the Warriors.

Kyrie has already been mentioned in trade talks, so now he’s trying to be in control of his own destiny. The Cavaliers are more inclined to move him because he is not in his final year of his contract so there’s a better return. Now that he voiced his approval of departure, the trade could come sooner than people think.

LeBron’s Uncertainty

Ah yes, another summer with discussion on where LeBron could end up.

This Cavaliers team has been different because LeBron has been so active in the front office. LeBron is a regular Jackie Moon with this current Cleveland Cavaliers team. With the Cavs front office all in on keeping LeBron, Kyrie is a distant after thought.

If LeBron isn’t going to give a definitive answer, that’s even more reason for Kyrie to find a different team. Kyrie doesn’t want to be stuck, especially if he’s unhappy.

Let’s be honest, if LeBron is making all the decisions, don’t you think the team is centered to cater to LeBron’s half court skillset? Kyrie doesn’t want to start the beginning of his prime playing with players who don’t fit his fast paced pick and roll style of play.

LeBron is pushing Kyrie to the door and I don’t even think he’s upset about it. He’ll be somewhere else before we know it.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.

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Kyrie Irving

Ego will kill Kyrie Irving

Imagine being the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft to one of the worst teams in the NBA. You immediately become the star of the franchise due to the lack of talent around you. The fans love and praise you for your hard work and have high hopes you will be one of the league’s best someday.

Imagine suffering through disappointing season after disappointing season. Missing the playoffs is the norm. Losing is an everyday occurrence and any win is celebrated like a Finals victory. You give it your all but it is just not enough.

Imagine one offseason your team finally does something about it. The league’s best player decides to come back home in hopes of bringing a title to his city. Following that signing, the team makes a trade for one of the best forwards in the game. Your team is now a big 3 and you guys are going to be going places. Anything short of the Finals would now be a disappointment.

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie is risking never playing in the Finals again so he can be the star of a team. (Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY)

Imagine making the Finals three straight years. You get to the first one only to get injured in the first game and are forced to watch your team lose from the bench.

Then the next year you are back healthy and ready to go. You hit the go-ahead shot in Game 7 over the league’s first unanimous MVP to defeat the greatest regular season team in history.

Then the next year you return, but your opponent is back with the addition of one of the league’s top two players. You flat-out dominate on the offensive end, but they are invincible and take back the title.

Imagine having little enough competition in your conference that a Finals appearance is pretty much guaranteed for a fourth straight season. You are in the prime of your career and have played in more Finals than some of the league’s great point guards before you like Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and John Stockton. What could be better?

Apparently playing in the Finals alongside the league’s best player is no longer enough for Kyrie Irving. From what reports are saying, he would rather throw all that away so he can be the best player on a team that has no shot at going to the Finals at all and maybe not even the playoffs.

Ego kills great teams

Kyrie’s ego has gotten too big. Ego is one of the biggest enemies known to successful teams. Being unwilling to accept your role on the team and getting selfish not only hurts your team, but yourself as well.

Kyrie Irving

The Cavs are almost guaranteed to make the Finals for the fourth straight year, and Irving still does not want to play in Cleveland. (Photo by Kyle Terada, USA TODAY)

Kyrie Irving, are you sure you want to throw away the once-in-a-lifetime situation you are in right now just so you can be the guy to score the most points? Are you satisfied with one title and three appearances? Are you sure that you no longer want your game to be elevated by one of the greatest of all time? I hope you know what you are doing.

Some of the top teams in today’s game have little to no ego issues at all. Look at the San Antonio Spurs. I bet you can’t tell me the last time that team missed the playoffs. Of course part of the reason for that is because the Spurs always have great players. They have had the likes of David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and the list goes on.

When you watch the Spurs play, there really is not any ego involved. They play as a team. As stated before, the Spurs always have multiple great players on their team. However, none of them are concerned about who gets the most spotlight. Those guys play to win and also as a team. They have stuck together for so long because they have learned to play with each other and coexist.

Look at the Golden State Warriors. That is a team that like the Spurs, was mostly built through the draft. They share the ball well. It is a different guy each night that stands out.

After Kevin Durant signed, a lot of analysts and fans thought ego might get in the way of Golden State’s success. Surely Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green wouldn’t be able to play alongside each other and be okay with not being the main focus right? So far ego has not been a problem in Golden State. They are focused on one thing: winning.

The Cavs have been the opposite. There seems to be drama in Cleveland more so than the other top contenders. Irving is just the latest of it all. Owner Dan Gilbert does not seem to have the competitive drive that the rest of the NBA contenders do.

Cleveland won the title in 2016 in an upset over Golden State. Surely you’d think the team would be hungry for more right? If they are, they really aren’t acting like it.

Gilbert let general manager David Griffin go. He failed to make a trade for Paul George or Jimmy Butler and will most likely fail at a trade for Carmelo Anthony. They have done little to make the team better. Jeff Green and Jose Calderon are not going to help the Cavs beat Golden State.

Is Kyrie done in Cleveland?

Now with Irving requesting a trade, could this be the end for Cleveland? Maybe not. Kobe Bryant also requested a trade back when he was playing. Sometimes players get frustrated. Irving’s frustration may just blow over.

But then again, Kobe was in a completely different situation than Irving. He was the top player on his team and ever since Shaquille O’Neal left L.A. after not getting along with Bryant, the team struggled. Kobe had Smush Parker and Kwame Brown helping him out and it was not working. He wanted to go to a winning situation.

Irving already is in one. Not many players would want to leave a team who has made the Finals three straight years to go to a team that won’t.

Only time will tell if the Cavs can get it together and if Kyrie Irving can coexist with LeBron James in Cleveland. If he ends up following through with this trade request, he may never play in the Finals again. He must be pretty confident that he can lead a team. But with the situation and talent that surrounds the NBA, Irving is going to have a very difficult time doing that.

 

Featured image by Jason Miller/Getty Images

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2017 NBA Draft: Best value picks

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

First Round Value:

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Harry Giles, Photo Courtesy of Fast Six Pack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second Round Value:

Semi Ojeleye (#37 pick, Boston Celtics)

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Semi Ojeleye, Photo Courtesy of Penn Live.

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

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

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

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

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

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jaron Blossomgame (#59 pick, San Antonio Spurs)

2017 NBA Draft: best value picks

Jaron Blossomgame. Photo Courtesy of Draft Express.

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

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

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

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

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

Summary:

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

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

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

 

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2017 NBA Draftmas

2017 NBA Draftmas: Teams with no picks

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.

Summaries

Memphis Grizzlies

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.

2017 NBA Draftmas

(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.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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

2017 NBA Draftmas

(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.

Needs

Memphis Grizzlies

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.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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.

Conclusion

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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2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

The Golden State Warriors are the 2017 NBA champions. Now that the Finals are over, the entire basketball community will be focusing on the upcoming NBA Draft on June 22. This is a prime opportunity for teams to either deepen their roster or build playoff caliber teams. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0.

1: Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP)

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are working on a trade so that the 76ers can select Markelle Fultz. Even if the trade doesn’t get finalized Fultz will be the number one overall pick in this draft.

2: Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA

Los Angeles is not going to pass on a player who will make those around him better and has the star power that Lonzo Ball has. These rumors floating around about the Lakers falling out of love with Lonzo is all a smokescreen. The truth of the matter is that the first two picks have been decided and they are just trying to keep people interested and on their toes.

3: Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Jackson, SG/SF, Kansas

This pick is just like the first overall pick. It is likely going to be Boston drafting in the third position and they will take Josh Jackson. This is a sign that the Celtics may put all their faith in Isaiah Thomas as their point guard. Jackson can fit right into the culture they are building in Boston and he will help them get closer to compete for a championship.

4: Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke

The Suns are just unlucky. Phoenix was supposed to have a top three pick but fell to fourth when the lottery took place. Now they are going to miss on Josh Jackson by one pick. Jayson Tatum is flying under the radar but will be a very good NBA player.

Tatum has a polished isolation game and can score from anywhere on the floor. Tatum will be a solid second option to Devin Booker.

5: Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

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

Reports coming out of Sacramento say that the Kings are absolutely in love with De’Aaron Fox and are even willing to trade both the fifth and tenth pick to move up just one spot to get him.

Fox should be around at five and the Kings can draft their franchise point guard. Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox would be a promising backcourt that would help the Kings get closer to the playoffs.

6: Orlando Magic: Johnathan Issac, F, Florida St.

Orlando has been terrible ever since Dwight Howard left. Johnathan Issac has been recently compared to Kevin Durant, but he is not the scorer that Durant is. Issac will bring tons of athleticism to the Magic. He has proven he can play an all-around game but has been very inconsistent. If developed correctly, Issac can become one of the best two-way players in the NBA and an All-Star.

7: Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky

The Timberwolves are already loaded with young talent and in a perfect world, Tom Thibodeau would like to acquire more veterans in the locker room. Minnesota might be looking to make a trade in the future and will take the best available player which will be Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring machine capable of going off at any moment. He is the best scorer to come out of college since Kevin Durant and will easily average 20 points per game in the NBA.

8: New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France

New York has always been a city of immigrants. The Knicks are going to follow that mold it seems, as they already have Kristaps Porzingis and are in love with Frank Ntilikina.

Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.

9: Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

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

Dennis Smith is arguably a top five player in this class. The Mavericks have a chance to find their franchise point guard who can help lead them back into the playoffs. Smith can score, pass and rebound with the best of them while in college. He also has the insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.

10: Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona

The Kings currently have two core pieces in Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein. If they take Fox earlier in the draft then it becomes an even better core. Lauri Markkanen could then take this team to even better heights.

Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to become a power forward like Dirk Nowitzki. He can stretch the floor or go inside. Markkanen would fit alongside Cauley-Stein because he can stretch the floor.

Getting Fox and Markkanen would make the Kings one of the best young teams in the NBA.

11: Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville

Donovan Mitchell was projected to be a late-first round pick around a month ago but has lately been flying up draft boards. Teams who have worked Mitchell out have been really impressed by the 6-foot-3 shooting guard. Mitchell is a shot creator and that is something the Hornets need. Charlotte could create a dangerous backcourt by pairing Mitchell with Kemba Walker.

12: Detroit Pistons: Harry Giles, PF, Duke

Detroit needs a big man alongside Andre Drummond. Picking Harry Giles would be a shock here, but could be a huge steal. Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the No. 1 pick before he began having injury problems.

We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender.

Giles has had a lot of injuries but if he can get healthy he has the skill and potential to be the best player in this draft class.

13: Denver Nuggets: Zach Collins, PF/C, Gonzaga

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

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

Denver is really close to becoming a playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Their young guards just need more experience and will continue to develop.

Collins is a good rebounder and shot blocker. Pairing him up with Nikola Jokic could create one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the NBA. Collins needs to mold his offensive skills, but because Jokic is so skilled offensively, Collins’ defensive skills would create a perfect combination.

14: Miami Heat: T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA

The Heat were amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need.

T.J. Leaf has a high motor and can play both inside and out. Miami would get a player who could be molded into a star by Erik Spoelstra.

15: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: JOHN COLLINS, PF, WAKE FOREST

John Collins could be a valuable piece around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Collins has a good offensive game that would help take pressure off their guards to score. He has a post-up game that most bigs don’t have. His impressive footwork allows him to beat even the best of defenders. If he develops his defense, he could become a top power forward in the NBA.

16: CHICAGO BULLS: JUSTIN PATTON, C, CREIGHTON

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: Chris Machian- The World Harold)

Building around Jimmy Butler seems to be the top priority for the Chicago Bulls. Robin Lopez is serviceable, but he is not a center that will help a team reach a title.

Justin Patton may be one. He is a 7-foot monster that averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman at Creighton.

NBA coaching could turn Patton into a dominant center in an era of outside shooting. There will be few players capable of defending him once he grows into his own. The Bulls would be lucky to get Patton.

17: Milwaukee Bucks: Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky

The Milwaukee Bucks are building something special. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like a future MVP and Khris Middleton is a stud. Drafting Adebayo will give Milwaukee a presence inside to make the Bucks even more dangerous. The talent they already have and can acquire with Adebayo will allow the Bucks to get closer to the Eastern Conference finals.

18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

Luke Kennard fits the new style of the NBA. He is a pure shooter and can be a valuable scorer in the NBA. Kennard isn’t going to be a guy who changes a franchise but as a sidekick to Paul George, he could thrive. George wants the Pacers to add talent so they can compete for a title adding Kennard would help go a long way in the Pacers effort to keep Paul George when he becomes a free agent.

19: Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

Dwight Howard is aging and no longer a top center in the NBA. The Hawks must prepare for the future and that could be in the form of Jarrett Allen. Allen is a beast on the boards and has the potential to become a solid post-up big man.

20: Portland Trailblazers: Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum need help and Justin Jackson would fit perfectly with this team. Jackson would be the piece to help get the Blazers back into the playoffs.

He has great length and can stretch the floor. Jackson played great for most of the tournament. He had a subpar performance in the title game, but can still become a good NBA starter.

Jackson needs to add weight but is a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions. His mid-range jumper is well-polished.

21: Oklahoma City Thunder: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

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

OG Anunoby will improve the Thunder on the defensive end of the floor immediately. In college, Anunoby was able to defend all five positions and that kind of versatility will make him a valuable player.

He also shot 36 percent from three in his career and will help take some pressure off of Russell Westbrook.

22: Brooklyn Nets: Ivan Rabb, C, California

The Nets will not be good for a long time which means they can be patient with the development of Ivan Rabb. He has lots of potential to grow offensively.

Rabb is already a good defender, and even though he only averaged about one block per game in his career, he altered plenty of shots. His inconsistency at Cal is what hurts him, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and that is what the Nets will try and bottle up and turn into a consistent output.

23: Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany

Isaiah Hartenstein is a bit of an unknown but is an old school big man. He plays an extremely physical style and is a great rebounder. Hartenstein is also a great shot blocker and the Raptors really need an inside presence. He has very little experience but the success of Kristaps Porzingis helps Hartenstein.

Isaiah Hartenstein will need a lot of developing on his offensive game but with the Raptors current roster, he can fill the role of rebounder and rim protector without having to rush his offensive development.

24: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN, PF, PURDUE

The Jazz are in almost as good of a position as the Celtics. They finished as the fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks.

Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench. Depth is what the best teams have, and that is what Utah is going to get in picking Swanigan.

25: ORLANDO MAGIC: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia

Terrance Ferguson has been very hyped up as of late. He attacks the basketball and can also be a spot up shooter. Ferguson will need to develop defensively but would be a good fit with the Magic who need some more scoring.

26: Portland Trailblazers: Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU

Semi Ojeleye is an athletic freak. Ojeleye can handle the ball, shoot threes, create his own shot and get to the rim. Semi Ojeleye is going somewhat underrated in this draft because of his lack of perimeter defense. The Blazers have enough picks to take a shot on Ojeleye to continue building the depth needed to compete in the West.

27: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): JORDAN BELL, PF, OREGON

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: http://247sports.com)

Jordan Bell was a second-round pick before the tournament. Bell was a huge reason Oregon reached their first Final Four since 1939. The Nets would get a solid rebounder who brings in a heavy motor and will give you everything he has. The Nets need these high energy type of players to change the culture in Brooklyn.

28: Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Hart, SG, Villanova

Josh Hart is a leader and a winner, and the Lakers could use some of that in their locker room.

Hart improved his scoring each season at Villanova, and that should translate into the NBA. Hart doesn’t have to be a starting shooting guard to make a big impact. Every team needs a bench scorer and Hart can fill that void for the Lakers as they continue to build towards a championship.

29: San Antonio Spurs: Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana

Any player that the Spurs take should celebrate as if they won the championship. The Spurs will develop Thomas Bryant into a solid NBA starter. Bryant is an excellent rebounder and has a knack for getting offensive boards. He has some decent low post moves and with Gregg Popovich coaching him up he can turn decent into dominant.

30: Utah Jazz: Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse

Tyler Lydon has improved vastly from his freshman season to sophomore season. Lydon improved his points, rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. At 6-foot-9, Lydon can stretch the floor and he would be a great fit in Utah as a solid role player.

Second Round

31: Atlanta Hawks: Dillon Brooks, SF, Oregon

32: Phoenix Suns: Dwayne Bacon, SF, Florida St.

33: Orlando Magic: Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma St.

34: Sacramento Kings: Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia

35: Orlando Magic: DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan

36: Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler Dorsey, G, Oregon

37: Boston Celtics: Johnathan Motley, PF, Baylor

38: Chicago Bulls: Devin Robinson, F, Florida

39: Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick White, G, Colorado

40: New Orleans Pelicans: Frank Mason III, PG, Kansas

41: Charlotte Hornets: Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina

42: Utah Jazz: Mathias Lessort, F/C, France

43: Houston Rockets: Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah

44: New York Knicks: Frank Jackson, SG, Duke

45: Houston Rockets: Ike Anigbogu, C UCLA

46: Philadelphia 76ers: Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia

47: Indiana Pacers: LJ Peak, SG Georgetown

48: Milwaukee Bucks: Alec Peters, PF, Valparaiso

49: Denver Nuggets: Jaron Blossomgame, F, Clemson

50: Philadelphia 76ers: Jonah Bolden, PF, Australia

51: Denver Nuggets: Alberto Abalde, SF, Spain

52: Washington Wizards: Cameron Oliver, PF, Nevada

53: Boston Celtics: PJ Dozier, SG, South Carolina

54: Phoenix Suns: Nigel Williams-Goss, PG, Gonzaga

55: Utah Jazz: Sindarius Thornwell, SG, South Carolina

56: Boston Celtics: Aleksandear Vezenkov, F, Bulgaria

57: Brooklyn Nets: Edmund Summer, PG, Xavier

58: New York Knicks: Sterling Brown, SG, SMU

59: San Antonio Spurs: Monte Morris, PG, Iowa St.

60: Atlanta Hawks: Wesley Iwundu, SG, Kansas State

 

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San Antonio Spurs 2017 NBA Draft Profile

San Antonio Spurs 2017 NBA Draft Profile

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.

Summary

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

San Antonio Spurs 2017 NBA Draft Profile

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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.

Conclusion

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.

Draftmas Day 22: Utah Jazz

Draftmas Day 21: Toronto Raptors

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