LeBron James new team

Weighing LeBron’s most likely landing spots

LeBron James’ contract is up at the end of the season. He’s officially fulfilled his commitment to Cleveland. He delivered a championship to the long-suffering city in the most exciting NBA Finals of the past 10 years.

So that begs the question of where is his next stop?

The most interesting thing about this debate is that many teams are in limbo until James narrows down his list. Some teams are trading away players to guarantee the cap space, while others are loading up to lure him to their city. Still, others are gauging his interest to make the most calculated moves to prepare for either eventuality.

The entire league is waiting with bated breath to see where The King wants to take his talents next. No matter where he goes, the move will shake up the foundation of the NBA for the length of his new contract. He’s been tied to many teams through the rumor mill, but here are the most interesting propositions.

Los Angeles Lakers

Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news yesterday that the lakers are “shifting their focus to the 2019 free agent class.” That could mean a few things.

The most likely explanation is that James wouldn’t want to go to the Lakers without any bona fide stars on the roster. He’s carried teams to the playoffs and finals by himself before, and all signs indicate he’s on the quest for more rings.

LeBron James new team

LeBron James and Lonzo Ball share a postgame hug. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

If he signs there at the seasons’ end, James will be alone with Lonzo Ball and Larry Nance Jr., who are not huge draws. James might want the team to bring in some talent before he commits. Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson are all names that appear to be on Magic Johnson’s shortlist.

It could also mean that Johnson isn’t positive he can reel in James at all, and that he doesn’t want to trade away assets and clear massive cap space to pull in someone who may not be interested.

Leaving the cap open also allows them to go in a different direction. The Lakers could pull two or maybe even three stars after next season, letting James go his own way.

James owns homes in Los Angeles, and it’s well-known that he wants to make a transition to Hollywood after his NBA career is over. Pair that with the Lakers’ storied history and their ability to draw in free agents, and it’s hard to believe the team would not go after him with everything they’ve got.

But consider the possibility that James goes to another team on a max deal, with an opt-out clause after the first year. If things don’t go according to plan in his new city, he could exercise that option. Assuming Johnson can pull in a superstar, then the door is open for James to put on the purple and gold.

It’s messy and complicated, but Magic Johnson has the star power to get this done.

San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio’s championship window is closing. The team is old, and their three best players’ contracts expire after next season.

There is one sure-fire way to get them to re-sign, possibly even for less money. That way includes signing LeBron James.

LeBron James new team

Gregg Popovich and LeBron James congratulate each other after Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images)

A team including LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James, coached by Gregg Popovich, is an instant title contender. Age and bench players be damned, that team could compete with any team in the league. Pau Gasol will be pushing 40 by the time his contract is up, but just ask Manu Ginobili how Coach Popovich can keep up old players’ efficacy.

Keep in mind that James has never had a coach anywhere near as good as Popovich. As he gets older and has to start becoming more of a system player rather than a one-man wrecking crew, coaching goes a long way.

This all hinges on the idea that James can draw in some young talent to one of the least exciting basketball cities in the country. Leonard and Aldridge would also have to re-sign. But their tradition of excellence makes it hard to completely count the Spurs out of contention.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers are a very interesting dark horse candidate to land LeBron James. They have a breadth of young talent and the most cap space in the NBA at over $75 million.

The potential to be very good for a long time could be a huge draw for James. It also would allow him to be a leader and a mentor to the young guys on the team. That would be a complete 180 degree turn from his current situation with the Cavaliers.

The problem here is that none of the players are established enough to prove to him that Philadelphia would put him in a position to win more titles. Ben Simmons is firmly in contention for Rookie of the Year, but he has an injury history, and the sample size is tiny.

The same goes for Joel Embiid. He’s been injured constantly and just played in back-to-back games for the first time on Feb. 2 and 3. Markelle Fultz is also injured and has seemingly forgotten how to shoot the basketball.

Again, the key here is the 76ers’ cap space. The contracts there are extremely manageable, and if the young players can stay healthy, they can be doubly useful, either as trade bait or pieces of the team’s success moving forward. The ability to sign players that James likes to play with has been a huge part of his decisions in the past. However, Philadelphia is still a couple of years away from being true contenders in the East.

New York Knicks

James has been in the Eastern Conference since he entered the NBA. Staying in the East would more than likely set him up for the most success moving forward. He knows every team in the league inside and out, but playing with a similar travel schedule will be more important as he gets older. The Knicks check that box.

LeBron James new team

James shoots over Kristaps Porzingis. (Photo by: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

New York City is the Mecca of basketball. Playing at Madison Square Garden 41 nights out of the year would be beyond compare for someone who as aspirations to become the greatest NBA player of all time. Delivering a championship to New York could very well solidify that position.

Kristaps Porzingis is out for the year, and ACL tears are a notoriously difficult injury. But given his skill set, there is no reason to believe he won’t come back 100 percent. Porzingis would be a huge draw to James if he does indeed come back strong.

Apart from The Unicorn and the city, there is little else to convince anyone that James will be a Knick. The front office is a mess, and the team has little to no direction at the moment. James could fix the latter, but this move is unlikely at best.

Los Angeles Clippers

Another Los Angeles team has LeBron James sized aspirations.

Dumping Blake Griffin’s contract off of the payroll was a major first step towards landing The King. If the Clippers deal DeAndre Jordan as well, the cap space will be wide open for a max deal. Plus, the organization also just announced that they are re-signing Lou Williams. Williams and Patrick Beverley could create a sneaky-good backcourt, although the team would still lack talent.

But still, they are a Los Angeles team. The city alone guarantees people will want to play for the Clippers. If Paul George truly does want to play in Los Angeles, who is to say he has to play for the Lakers? George and James would more than fix the frontcourt issues. Also, delivering a championship to a team that’s never seen the Western Conference Finals could cement the status James is chasing.

However, as with the Lakers, trading away assets on the promise of potential signings might not be the way to go. James wants to win now and often. Jockeying to sign him may have just taken them out of the conversation.

Houston Rockets

Now for the most likely candidate. Houston may very well have the pieces to beat Golden State right now. Add LeBron James to the team and you have a competitive Western Conference again. The problem for the NBA, however, is that the NBA Finals would be little more than a formality.

LeBron James new team

James Harden guards LeBron James. (Photo by David Liam Kyle/Getty Images)

Regardless, playing with James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela would be huge for James. After all, playing with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh alone worked out well for him. The pieces the Rockets have are better than that Miami Heat team.

Some NBA fans, however, think playing with stars tarnished James’ legacy. He has made it clear he is uninterested in those opinions, but it could play a part in deciding not to play on a super team.

Also, to clear the cap space, the bench would more than likely suffer immensely. James won’t be able to average 36.8 minutes a game forever. Harden and Paul could lighten the load, but not significantly.

But James wants rings, as many as he can get. The move to Houston would give him the best chance to win more of them.

 

Featured image by Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

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NBA Western Conference contenders

Ranking biggest threats to the Warriors in the West

It isn’t news that the Western Conference is absolutely stacked.

The Warriors are far and away the best team in the league, let alone the West. But as we saw in the 2016 NBA Finals, even the best team in NBA history can go down swinging. All it takes is four bad games in May or June and all the regular season success is a complete wash.

So let’s rank the biggest threats to Golden State’s dynasty before the All-Star weekend.

Honorable mention: New Orleans Pelicans

Until recently, the Pelicans could have ranked as high as No. 2 on the list of potential problems for the Warriors.

NBA Western Conference contenders

Cousins tore his achilles tendon Friday night against the Rockets. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

But with DeMarcus Cousins out for up to 10 months after his brutal achilles tear against the Rockets Friday night, those hopes are all but dashed. In fact, not many would be surprised if they miss the playoffs entirely.

 

Their strengths against Golden State were squarely rooted in Cousin’s and Anthony Davis’ ability to team up and take over the paint on both sides of the floor. A four-game series against those two could at least wear almost any team down, if not eliminate them. The Pelicans also have the second best shooting percentage in the league. That’s a potent combination.

Davis and open looks won’t be enough to take down the Warriors’ four All-Stars. Couple that with the team’s lack of playoff experience and fourth-worst turnover margin per game, and it’s a long shot at best.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are perhaps the best story in the Western Conference.

They have a gritty head coach who rose up through the ranks despite not playing a minute in the NBA. Jimmy Butler is a top-tier trash-talker and can back it up with his play. Karl-Anthony Towns continues to emerge as a premiere offensive weapon. Taj Gibson is finally stretching the floor, Andrew Wiggins has insane potential and Jamal Crawford is one of the best sixth men in the history of the game.

As exciting as all of that is, it’s probably only good enough to steal a game or two away from Golden State.

Towns being able to stretch the floor will give Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee fits, but the depth of the Warriors bench is nothing short of historic. Minnesota’s bench has potential, but it won’t be able to keep Golden State in check. This squad has potential, and they will definitely make the Western Conference playoffs. But it is most definitely a few years away from dethroning the champs.

3. San Antonio Spurs

Counting out the San Antonio Spurs is like counting out the New England Patriots. Anyone who has watched the NBA since 1999 will tell you that. The NBA’s version of Bill Belichick can outcoach anyone in the league, seemingly at will.

NBA Western Conference contenders

Leonard, Diaw and Popovich gameplan against the Warriors. (Photo by Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)

The Spurs’ problems are obvious. First of all, losing Kawhi Leonard is a massive blow to any title aspirations. He might be the most balanced two-way player in the league. At 100 percent, he is easily one of the NBA’s top five players. There is no set timetable for his return, but it’s entirely possible that he comes back in time for the playoffs.

 

The other things standing in the way are age and pace of play. The Warriors like to speed up the pace offensively and get in transition quickly on defense. That should not at all inspire confidence, considering the Spurs slower, more deliberate style of play. This was entirely too obvious when they were swept by Golden State in the Western Conference Finals last year.

But the playoff experience on the team is hard to ignore. Manu Ginobili is still playing well off of the bench at age 40, and Tony Parker can still contribute at age 35. The younger talent is stepping up, and, as previously stated, Leonard is an absolute game changer if he can make it back in time for the playoffs.

Gregg Popovich isn’t done until he’s done.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

An underachieving Thunder team is still a possible issue for Golden State.

The biggest discrepancy between the two teams is the coaching. At 29-20, a lot of the blame for OKC not living up to its full potential is falling on third-year head coach Billy Donovan. Some of it is for his unwillingness to shake up the starting lineup, but also because of his inability to break Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony of their ball-hogging habits.

NBA Western Conference contenders

Oklahoma City’s big three. (Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman)

We already know Steve Kerr can handle four All-Stars on one team, and has his team’s full support. Another thing he does exceptionally well is convince his players to move the ball. Golden State is first in the league in assists. The Thunder are 25th. That will undoubtedly swing the score in the Warriors’ direction.

 

However, Oklahoma City is first in steals, led by Westbrook and Paul George. Robbing Golden State of possessions is a massive key to beating them. Even though the “OK3” haven’t set the league on fire, it’s still hard to count out these players in any given game.

We all know Westbrook can take over a game at any given moment. George is shooting well and is a serious contender for Defensive Player of the Year. Anthony can still score with the best of them, he just needs to be willing to play off the ball more.

The second half of the season will be the real litmus test for this team. Don’t get excited, but don’t leave them for dead, either. As long as they get a decent seed in the Western Conference, they have an outside chance to pull off an upset.

1. Houston Rockets

This was an obvious choice.

The Rockets are first in both 3-pointers attempted and 3-pointers made. They’re third in free throws attempted and second in free throws made. They boast the NBA’s third-highest assist per game average. They are also second in points per game to, you guessed it, the Warriors.

Simply speaking, they are an incredible offensive group. Houston is the epitome of what the NBA has become in the 2010s. Led by one of the NBA’s best offensive minds, this team is easily the Warriors’ biggest roadblock.

During its first game this season, they beat Golden State by one point. On Jan. 20, the Rockets beat the Warriors by eight points. They were quick to tout their confidence in being able to overtake them in the playoffs. This may have been just a tactic, but one can’t deny it’s certainly possible. They are, after all, the only team that can keep up with the amount of threes Golden State can hit.

Until Friday night, the Rockets were unbeaten when Chris Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela all suit up. Now 19-1 with its best players on the court, Houston knows what it has to do to win, and what they can adjust when they’re being overtaken.

Golden State does have a couple things on Houston, however.

Houston has to play Golden State’s game, which usually ends up being a disaster for anyone who tries it. Although they can probably match the Warriors for most of the game, if the shots stop falling, that spells disaster for the Rockets.

They also can’t rely on defense like the Warriors can. Since Houston plays so quickly, defense is essentially an afterthought. They can outscore most teams, so that’s not usually a problem. Golden State, however, is a completely different animal. Especially considering its bench depth.

It will be difficult. If they do take down Golden State, it will almost definitely have to be in seven games, meaning Houston will have to play the winner-take-all game in Oakland. But it is much more likely for them than the other 15 teams in the Western Conference.

With no more regular season matchups to watch, we’ll all just have to wait and see.

 

Featured image by Nathaniel Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

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Top five NBA coaches heading into the 2017-18 season

Every NBA team is chock-full of talent. Each team needs a good coach to shuffle a lineup and find the players that mesh the right way. Sometimes some of the best teams in basketball don’t work well in a bad coaching system.

Coaches also have to deal with large egos, injuries and the grueling 82-game season filled with scheduling obstacles. It is easy for a coach to let a city, the players or even the fans get the best of them. Here are the top five coaches heading into this NBA season.

Number five: Rick Carlisle

Listen, let’s just forget about this past season and remember the body of work here. Carlisle in his lengthy career as a coach has only had two teams fall under the .500 mark.

He is 28-30 coaching in the playoffs and has an NBA championship thanks to beating the LeBron James led Miami Heat.

Carlisle is 694-520 in regular season games and will become just the 18th coach to hit 700 wins this upcoming season. He also won the Coach of the Year award in the 2001-02 season.

Carlisle has had the pleasure of coaching guys like Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki throughout his tenure and has found a way to get the best out of them.

Number four: Erik Spoelstra

top five NBA coaches

Erik Spoelstra, Photo Courtesy of SI.com.

Spoelstra has risen from a video coordinator to two-time NBA champion and a spot in the top five.

In his first years he obviously benefited from having LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but some of Spoelstra’s most impressive coaching came in the last 41 games of last season. He coached his team from what was a 11-30 season and turning it into 41-41.

Spoelstra has an impressive 70-40 playoff record and has won 61 percent of his regular season games.

Spoelstra will continue to be tested moving forward as his team is no longer the front runner in the Eastern Conference.

Number three: Brad Stevens

Stevens has had a short amount of time coaching in the association and came on board with the Celtics mid-rebuild.

Stevens is 11-17 in the playoffs, but has run into the Cavaliers in two of the last three times he has made it to the playoffs.

The first season he took over as head coach, the Celtics had 25 wins and last season had 53. He also continues to build moving forward with the recent addition of Gordon Hayward.

Stevens has won 51 percent of his games and will continue to improve that mark moving forward.

Number two: Steve Kerr

top five NBA coaches

Steve Kerr, Photo Courtesy of chicagotribune.com.

Winning two out of the last three championships will absolutely win you credit.

Steve Kerr has been fantastic for the Golden State Warriors. He has led the to the best NBA regular season record of all time and has gone 207-39 in three years at the helm. Kerr has proven that lots of talent doesn’t just translate to wins but also to championships.

Kerr has been fantastic, but it has been too small of a sample size to propel him into the top spot. It also doesn’t help that during the playoffs last year Mike Brown stepped in and coached the Warriors extremely well.

This Warriors team has a ton of talent and if Kerr sticks around and can stay healthy, he will quickly approach the top spot on this list.

Number one: Gregg Popovich

Pop has created a way of life in San Antonio. He has created a system that works with nearly all selfless players.

He has created a platform for Kawhi Leonard to grow into a star and successfully passed the torch from Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge almost without skipping a beat.

Pop has 1,150 wins which is more than three of the other four coaches have total games.

He has five NBA championships and some electric in-game interviews. Coach Popovich, if he retired tomorrow, goes down as the best coach in NBA history, but for now he just gets to improve on the most impressive resume we have seen in the game today.

There used to be a day in which people said once Duncan, Ginobili and Parker retire the Spurs will drastically struggle. As Ginobili and Parker begin to pack it up and follow Duncan, the Spurs were the two seed in last year’s NBA Playoffs.

Popovich has created an incredible winning culture and the Spurs don’t seem to be slowing down.

Summary

Good coaches are hard to come by. Many of the best teams have the best coaches to lead the players they have.

Six of the last seven NBA championships have been won by a member of this list. The only one who hasn’t is Brad Stevens.

A good coach creates a culture and can get players to buy into a system. Nearly all of the coaches listed have created a winning foundation and atmosphere during their tenures in the Association. We will see just how good each coach will perform in the 2017-18 NBA regular season and beyond.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of sportsworldnews.com

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Top five NBA Summer League players

The NBA Summer League is a time for players to prepare for the speed of an NBA game. In years past, some of the best statistical summer league stars did not translate their games to the NBA.

Some of the most impressive players of the 2017 NBA Summer League are not who many thought they would be. This summer league is filled with lots of depth and future NBA stars.

Here are the top five players who have turned heads in this year’s NBA Summer League.

Bryn Forbes

top five NBA Summer League players

Bryn Forbes, Photo Courtesy of News Locker.

Somewhat of an expected star in this year’s summer league is Bryn Forbes. Forbes is an undrafted second-year player out of Michigan State.

Forbes is a member of the San Antonio Spurs’ summer league team and has blossomed into a very lethal scorer.

In the summer league, Forbes is averaging 23.7 points per game, while shooting 43.6 percent from the field. Bryn is also grabbing three rebounds and dishing out three assists per game.

He was a known 3-point sniper out of college, and he has added an off-dribble game and has become even more difficult to guard.

Forbes is not a stranger to shining in the summer league, being that he shined almost as bright as a rookie in last year’s preseason.

Forbes could make the step into being a consistent rotation player for the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich.

Donovan Mitchell

top five NBA Summer League players

Donovan Mitchell, Photo Courtesy of Purple and Blues.

Mitchell is the 13th overall pick and has had possibly the best summer league of anyone so far. The extremely athletic guard has impacted the game in many different ways.

In the games this summer, Mitchell is averaging 26.4 points on 39.6 percent shooting. Donovan is averaging 2.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game.

Mitchell has been more offensive-minded after developing his game in his two years at Louisville.

He also has the summer league-high this year with 37 points. In that same game he also had eight steals to show how complete of a player he is.

He has also nearly doubled his point totals in each of his last three years of basketball.

Mitchell is the definition of a player with a high ceiling. He seems to be just scratching the surface of the things that he can do for the Utah Jazz.

Jayson Tatum:

top five NBA Summer League players

Jayson Tatum, Photo Courtesy of Chowder and Champions.

Tatum is the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft. Tatum has lived up to his summer league hype, by both scoring and ball handling for the Boston Celtics.

In the summer, Tatum is averaging 18.2 points on 44.6 percent shooting. Jayson is also grabbing 8.8 rebounds and has 1.5 assists a game.

Tatum has done a little bit of everything for the Celtics. He has made some big shots in the fourth quarter and has also shown he can score off the dribble.

He also has shown that he is a very good rebounding small forward, which is the Celtics’ biggest problem.

Tatum will have to adjust to an off-ball game when the regular season starts, due to Isaiah Thomas, but for right now he is showing that he has a more complete game than people thought.

Dakari Johnson

top five NBA Summer League players

Dakari Johnson, Photo Courtesy of Mash Media.

Johnson is in his third NBA season. Dakari was the 48th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and a former Kentucky Wildcat.

Dakari was a very proven D-league (now G-league) player, turning in an All-Star campaign in 2017.

Johnson is a very physical post player who scores almost all his points around the rim.

No stranger to the summer league, Johnson has 18.5 points on 56.9 percent shooting in four games. He also has 5.5 boards and 1.8 assists per game.

Although Johnson is not rebounding as well this summer as he typically does, he is showing that he can dominate the paint and could help be a rotation big man for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Bam Adebayo:

top five NBA Summer League players

Bam Adebayo, Photo Courtesy of Heat Zone.

Adebayo is the 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Bam is a 20-year-old former Kentucky Wildcat that can really protect the rim.

After not having many plays drawn up for him at Kentucky, Bam is trying to prove himself as an offensive weapon.

This summer he is averaging 16.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists for the Miami Heat.

One of his weaknesses is his free throw shooting and his foul trouble.

Bam is a strong defensive presence and can really provide value standing alongside Hassan Whiteside for the Miami Heat.

Bonus: Okaro White

White is out of Florida State and is complimenting Bam on the Miami Heat summer league team. Okaro is a very good shooter who can stretch the floor.

He is averaging 19 points on 37.7 percent shooting. He averages 8 rebounds and 1.8 assists a game this summer.

As the league shifts to the more athletic big man that can guard pick and rolls and shoot the three, Okaro White’s stock is continuing to rise.

 

As the NBA regular season is approaching, players are searching to make rosters in the summer league. Some of the players who have impressed the most may not translate into stardom when they start playing against the serious talent.

In a league where players are trying to adapt to the speed and skill of the next level, these six players have impressed the most so far in the 2017 NBA Summer League.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of NBA.com

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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

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

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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Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft Profile

Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft Profile

Welcome to day 18 of Draftmas where we will take a look at the Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft profile.

Summary

Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft Profile

(Photo Credit: https://alchetron.com)

The Atlanta Hawks are one of the most consistent franchises in the NBA. Atlanta has made the playoffs for 10 straight seasons. Last season, they finished with a 43-39 record which earned them the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta lost to Washington in the first round 4-2. The Hawks have some really good players, most notably, Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap but they are missing that go-to star who will take the team to the next level.

In those 10 straight playoff appearances, they have never been able to reach the Finals, and have only reached the conference finals once which was in the 2014-2015 season. Head coach Mike Budenholzer is a product of Gregg Popovich which means he has the Hawks playing team basketball predicated on ball movement. This is evident in their 10th overall ranking in assists, averaging 23.6 per game.

This is why the Hawks are still consistently good without that superstar player. If Atlanta wants to become a legitimate contender they need to find that star whether it is via free agency or the draft.

Atlanta’s strengths are on the defensive side of the court. The Hawks ranked 10th in points allowed per game (104), seventh in steals per game (8.3) and fifth in opponents field goal percentage (44.4 percent).

Offensively is where the Hawks struggle the most. They ranked 28th in both turnovers (15.8 per game) and free throw percentage (72.8 percent). Atlanta ranked 18th in field goal percentage (45.1 percent) and 23rd in three-point percentage (34.1 percent).

One of the remaining bright spots for the Hawks was their rebounding, they ranked ninth in the NBA averaging 44.3 rebounds per game.

Picks & Needs

First Round: No. 19

Second Round: No. 31, No. 60

The Hawks need to find some scoring in this draft. It will be highly unlikely that they find a franchise star late in the first round so scoring has to be their number one priority.

Atlanta could also look to draft a big at either center or power forward. Dwight Howard is past his prime and there may be better options at his position. Paul Millsap is also on the back half of his career and there were trade rumors surrounding him last season.

Atlanta needs more depth at their small forward position as well. It may not make sense to draft a small forward since that is the position they drafted last year in Taurean Prince but they need another rotation player at that spot.

The last need for the Hawks to become a better team is by adding depth at the point guard position. Dennis Schroder is an average point guard and adding a second point guard to either compete against or spell him would improve the Hawks.

 

Targets & Thoughts

Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft Profile

(Photo Credit: http://www.courier-journal.com)

Pick #19: Bam Adebayo F/C Kentucky

Many of the top shooting guards will be drafted by the time the Hawks are on the clock. Atlanta will look to take the best available big man remaining and around pick 19 that would be Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo. Adebayo averaged 13 points, 8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in his first season at Kentucky.

Bam Adebayo is very athletic and loves to play an aggressive style of basketball. His goal is to posterize everyone in his path. Bam is also one of the best offensive rebounders in this draft class.

He will need some more development on offense as all of his game is predicated on playing near the rim. To become a solid NBA starter he will need to work on a midrange game as well.

Defensively, Adebayo is a stud. He has shown the ability to be a fierce rim protector along with the versatility to switch screens and defend quick guards as well.

Bam may not be a dominant force in the NBA but as he develops he can become a solid starter capable of replacing either Dwight Howard or Paul Millsap as they leave Atlanta.

Pick #31: Sindarius Thornwell SG South Carolina

Early in the second round, the Hawks could find a gem at the shooting guard position. Sindarius Thornwell was the best player for South Carolina during their Final Four run. Thornwell can score in all sorts of ways. Inside, outside, off screens, in transition and even spot-up shooting.

Sindarius averaged 21.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game and a player efficiency rating of 30.3. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from behind the arc.

Thornwell has some flaws defensively but his offense could help Atlanta right away. He has a chance to be the next second round gem in the NBA.

Pick #60: Kobi Simmons PG Arizona

Kobi Simmons will be a late second-round pick who may struggle to make the roster. As the final pick in the draft, the Hawks will take a chance on a possible backup point guard. He has a lot of potential but only averaged 8.8 points and 2.0 assists while at Arizona. Simmons also only shot 39.7 percent.

Simmons has tons of athleticism but lacks basketball I.Q. If he can tap into the potential scouts have raved about since he was in high school he has a chance to become a solid backup point guard in the NBA.

Conclusion

Atlanta has made the playoffs for 10 straight years but can’t seem to get over the hump. The Hawks need to continue acquiring talent and building depth. The strength of the team is on defense and the Hawks must improve their offense by adding shooters and scorers.

The number one goal is to get a shooter but if one isn’t available at pick 19 they should go after big men for depth. If the Hawks can do these things they can close the gap on the top teams in the East. They may not win a championship next year but you can guarantee they will make the playoffs.

Thanks for checking out the Atlanta Hawks 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 19 of NBA Draftmas to see what the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to do.

Day 17 Draftmas: Indiana Pacers

Day 16 Draftmas: Milwaukee Bucks

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Top 5 NBA Coaches

Top Five NBA Coaches

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

5: Brad Stevens: Boston Celtics

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

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

4: Scott Brooks: Washington Wizards

Top 5 NBA Coaches

(Photo Credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP)

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

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

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

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

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

3: Erik Spoelstra: Miami Heat

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

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

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

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

2: Steve Kerr: Golden State Warriors

Top 5 NBA Coaches

(Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Sport)

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

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

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

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

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

1: Gregg Popovich: San Antonio Spurs

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

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

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

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

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

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Western Conference Playoff Preview

Western Conference Playoff Preview

The second season is finally upon us. It is the time of year that all NBA fans have been salivating for all season.

Can anybody upset the Warriors, or will they cruise to another finals appearance? Who will win the duel between Brodie and the Beard? Buckle up for a fun battle out west. Here is the Western Conference Playoff preview.

1 Golden State Warriors vs. 8 Portland Trailblazers

Western Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: http://theargonautnews.com

The Warriors have been slowly waiting for the playoffs all season. Golden State finished with the best record in the NBA and will be trying to make their third consecutive finals appearance. Kevin Durant is back from his injury just around the same time Steph Curry has found his groove.

Portland has gone an impressive 11-4 over their last 15 games to push themselves into the playoffs as the eighth seed. The Trailblazers have a great backcourt, but the Warriors are just too loaded. There isn’t much Portland will be able to do to stop the Warriors’ high powered offense.

This will be a short series, and Golden State will be on to bigger and better things.

Prediction: Warriors in 4

2 San Antonio Spurs vs. 7 Memphis Grizzlies

Western Conference Playoff Preview

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

It is hard to imagine a Spurs versus Grizzlies playoff series without Tim Duncan. These two franchises have gone at it many times in the past playoffs to provide some thrilling action for the fans.

This series is likely to play out similarly to their two previous postseason meetings in which the Spurs have swept the Grizzlies. Memphis has the same core that hasn’t gotten over the hump and this year they are barely above .500.

San Antonio is still a well-oiled machine led by the best two-way player in the league, Kawhi Leonard. Gregg Popovich will have his team ready, and the Spurs will find themselves in the Western Conference Semi-Finals rather quickly.

Prediction: Spurs in 5 

3 Houston Rockets vs. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder

Western Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: https://www.si.com/nba

This is easily the most exciting matchup of the first round in the Western Conference.

The storylines are never ending in this series. Russell Westbrook versus James Harden. The two players going head to head for the MVP go head to head in the playoffs. Westbrook is trying to lead his team against all odds. Harden will be trying to eliminate his former team. The hype is real for this one.

The Rockers went 3-1 against the Thunder, but three of the four games were decided by three points or less. Houston has the deeper team, but Oklahoma City has the advantage inside. Basketball slows down in the playoffs, giving the Thunder an advantage.

This will be a long and entertaining series. Westbrook is going to be gunning for heads in this year’s playoffs. His remarkable season will continue into the second round.

Prediction: Thunder in 7

4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5 Utah Jazz

Western Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Clippers are under more pressure than any team in the first round of the playoffs. They have not lived up to the hype in recent years and health has been one of the biggest excuses.

This is no excuse this year. The Clippers are healthy and experienced while the Jazz are inexperienced. Los Angeles also has the home-court advantage in this series.

The Clippers dominated the Jazz in the regular season, winning three out of the four matchups by a combined 42 points. Utah doesn’t have the firepower to win this series on paper, but Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward could play well enough to upset the Clippers. Chris Paul, Black Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will not last long in L.A. if they lose this series.

The experience will be the difference in this one, and the Clippers will avoid being bounced in the first round, but just barely.

Prediction: Clippers in 7

You can check out the Eastern Conference Playoff Preview here.

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Who Can Knock Off Golden State

Who Can Knock Off Golden State?

There seems to be a consensus that the Warriors and Cavaliers will be meeting in the NBA Finals. Whether it is actual analysis or just what people want to see, it is hard to find fans who believe it will be anyone else. Why would it be anybody other than those two teams? They have played against one another in back to back finals. Both teams have gotten even better this season. Most fans also want to see the grudge match considering both teams have beaten the other once. On paper, everything looks nice but basketball isn’t played on paper and there are teams who can upset the world and make it to the finals. This first edition will look at who in the west can upset the Warriors in the playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs

Who Can Knock Off Golden State

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

This isn’t really going out on a limb. The Spurs are the most obvious answer to who can beat the Warriors in the playoffs although they seem to be forgotten when it comes to finals talk. The Spurs are an amazing 45-13 and only four and a half games back of the Warriors. Mathematically they could even get the number one seed still. San Antonio also leads the season series 1-0 and there are still two more games to play against the Warriors.

Gregg Popovich will have this team ready come playoff time, and everyone in that locker room believes they can win the title. The Spurs have the second-best defense in the NBA holding teams to just 98.3 points per game. They also hold opponents to 44 percent shooting. It is going to take a good defensive team to beat the Warriors. What the Spurs do defending the three-point line is what gives them the best opportunity to win. San Antonio holds opponents to 34 percent shooting behind the arc. Keeping Klay Thompson and Steph Curry off the arc is the key to beating the Warriors.

The Spurs are extremely experienced in the playoffs. Their players know what it takes to win and have the mentality that they are overlooked and underappreciated. Kawhi Leonard may need to be legendary during their playoff run but they are one of the teams that can upset Golden State.

Houston Rockets

Who Can Knock Off Golden State

(Photo Credit: http://topbet.eu)

The Rockets are an interesting team. They played the Warriors in the playoffs last year as an eighth seed but only won one game in the series. As crazy as this sounds, the formula the Rockets have for beating the Warriors is trying to outscore them. They are probably the only team in the league who is comfortable playing the Warriors shot for shot. They have also split the season series each beating the other once with the Rockets winning the most recent contest.

Mike D’Antoni’s philosophy has been tremendous for Harden and the Rockets, as they are averaging 115.2 points per game this season. James Harden will need to play out of his mind for the Rockets to do pull off the upset, but he is capable of doing so. If the Warriors go cold Houston can shoot them out of the gym. It will take a group effort to beat Golden State but Houston has a team capable, even if it isn’t likely.

Utah Jazz

Who Can Knock Off Golden State

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

The Jazz are one team nobody really talks about. Most talk about the West involves the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets and Clippers. Interesting enough the Jazz sit at fourth in the Western Conference. Utah isn’t a high scoring team, they average about 100 points per game, but they shoot a high percentage. The Jazz rank 10th in field goal percentage shooting 46.4 percent per game.

What makes the Jazz good is that they are the best defensive team in the NBA. They hold teams to an average of 95.6 points per game. They are third best in defensive field goal percentage (43.8 percent) and 13th in defensive three-point percentage (35.7 percent). The Jazz play great defense and can slow the game down. In a series against the Warriors, they would need to play their best defense of the year and hope the Warriors go cold for one or two games. If they do that the Jazz could find themselves upsetting Golden State in a seven game series.

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Top 5 Upcoming NBA Games (Week of 3/21-3/27)

Photo: Mark D. Smith, USA TODAY Sports)

Photo: Mark D. Smith, USA TODAY Sports)

There are three and half weeks remaining in the NBA season and playoff races continue to heat up. Here are the top five games of the upcoming week involving teams in the playoff hunt.

#5- Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs (Wednesday, March 23):  The Heat have been quiet contenders all year and they sit as the fourth seed currently in the east. With just 13 games remaining it is unlikely they get anything higher than the three seed, which would be a great accomplishment. Dwayne Wade will have random nights where he displays his greatness, but due to injuries and aging he lacks doing it consistently. This team doesn’t do anything that stands out but they play as a team and its working for them.

We all know how good the Spurs are as they displayed it yet again Saturday night with the best defensive performance on the Warriors so far this season. This will be a fun out of conference match-up, but is really a measuring stick for the Heat. If they can win, which will be unlikely with the Spurs home win streak, it would give the Heat a lot of confidence in their ability to knock of the Cavaliers in the East. The Spurs are just too good and won’t fall to the Heat in this game.

Prediction: Spurs 102-94

#4- Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder (Tuesday, March 22): The Rockets have to play well in the final stretch of the season or they may miss the playoffs. With only 12 games remaining they are sitting at .500 and tied for seventh in the west with the Mavericks. The Rockets versus Thunder games are always exciting because James Harden gets to play against his former team and close teammates. He loves to prove that they should have never traded them.

The Thunder are slowly becoming an after thought in the West because it’s a two horse race. No team in the West will beat the Spurs or Warriors to get to the Conference Finals. Many believed the Thunder could but they haven’t proven it so until the playoffs roll around they have to sit as the third best team in the West and hear about how its all Spurs and Warriors. With that said they are still a very good team and their struggles come in the fourth quarter. Because of those struggles I believe James Harden gets the best of his former team and wins a big game for the Rockets on the road.

Prediction: Rockets 109-107

#3- Toronto Raptors @ Boston Celtics (Wednesday, March 23):  The Raptors still at second in the East and look poised to hold down that spot. The Celtics have fallen a bit and are currently the fifth seed in the east but can still work their way up to the third seed. Boston is 0-3 against the Raptors this season and if they want to become a threat in the east they need to prove they can beat the top teams in the conference. This is their last chance at the Raptors in the regular season, and get to play at home as well. It is extremely hard to sweep a team unless the match-up is just that bad so I think the Celtics get a much needed win.

Prediction: Celtics 94-91

#2- San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder (Saturday, March 26): This is the chance the Thunder are looking for to show they belong in the same class as the Spurs. They play them again in April but this is the last time they get the Spurs at home. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook need to dominate this game and win it to prove they belong in the discussion when it comes to teams coming out of the western conference.

The Spurs are more vulnerable on the road and it is hard to envision when Popavich might rest his starters but they can still get the first seed so there is a chance Popavich doesn’t. I think the Thunder are going to need this game more and because of that they will get a much needed upset win.

Prediction: Thunder 103-100

#1- Los Angeles Clippers @ Golden State Warriors ( Wednesday, March 23): These two teams hate each other. It may stem from jealousy on the part of the Clippers but these games tend to get much more physical than most. The Clippers have not beaten the Warriors this season. The Clippers are much like the Thunder, in the fact they are really good but when it comes to competing for a title they are an after thought, thanks to the Spurs and Warriors.

The Warriors are chasing history and the greatness of Curry can be forever cemented if they break the Bulls record for wins in a season. They won’t lose to the Clippers at home.

Prediction: Warriors 120-107