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

NBA Preview:

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

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

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

Star Watch:

Myles Turner:

NBA

Myles Turner, Photo Courtesy of SI.com.

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

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

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

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

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

Dion Waiters:

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

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

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

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

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

Jusuf Nurkic:

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

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

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

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

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

D’Angelo Russell:

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

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

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

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

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

Why:

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

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

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

 

Featured Image Courtesy of NBCphiladelphia.com

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Gordon Hayward free agency: Where he will land

Gordon Hayward began his recruiting tour as of July 1. The three stops he will be making are: Miami, Boston and of course the team who drafted him, Utah.  It is currently a toss-up on where Hayward will land.

Hayward is now the biggest free agent name out there so teams are gunning for him. Here’s what each teams’ advantages and disadvantages are for Gordon’s decision.

Gordon Hayward free agency

Utah Jazz

Hayward’s former team provides less of a threat than you would think.

Gordon Hayward free agency

Photo Courtesy of Torn By Sports.

Hayward is drawn to Utah because it is the place where his wife is and his kids have grown up. He has been in Utah all of his seven years in the league.

However, Hayward openly said that if George Hill was signed by the Jazz, he would strongly consider coming back.

Ricky Rubio was then traded for in the following days leaving Hill on the outs. Hayward then proceeded to opt out of his contract with the Jazz in response.

Ultimately for Hayward it might be time to leave behind Utah and the loaded Western Conference.

Miami Heat

Gordon Hayward free agency

The Miami Heat are the team that could possibly use Hayward the most. The Heat had the lowest point total of any position at Small Forward last year.

They have an established point guard in Goran Dragic and low post threat in Hassan Whiteside. They are just lacking the consistent shooter on the outside that could be provided with the signing of Hayward.

A draw for Hayward to the Heat is that there aren’t any state income taxes, meaning Hayward’s contract would technically be worth more because he doesn’t lose as much money to taxes.

He also would be coached by NBA champion, Erik Spoelstra, which is the only coach of the three that has won an NBA title.

The Heat seemed to be a sleeper to land Hayward originally, but I think they are more appealing than originally thought.

Boston Celtics

Gordon Hayward free agency

Photo Courtesy of Logo Eps.

The Celtics are the most visually appealing to Hayward. If he wants to contend for a championship, the Celtics are the team to sign with.

They are the reigning one seed in the Eastern Conference and just added Jayson Tatum, the number three draft pick.

Hayward would be playing alongside All-Star Isaiah Thomas as well as other key players.

He also has a strong connection to head coach Brad Stevens. Stevens coached Hayward at Butler University for two years and had extreme success going 59-11 together, and finishing runner-up in the 2009 National Championship.

One of the only negatives is Jae Crowder is still around. Splitting time with a solid player in Crowder may be hard to overcome for Hayward.

Where Hayward Will Land

Realistically, if Hayward really likes it in Utah then he might not go anywhere. If he is interested in contending and winning for a legendary city, then Boston is his place.

When it’s all said and done, the Celtics have the best team on paper and seem to be a great fit for him. In a league that’s all about getting paid, and winning rings, Hayward will likely take a little less money to be with a team that’s ready to contend right away.

Hayward will have to move past the fact that he doesn’t like Tom Brady, because when it’s all said and done he might just be sharing the spotlight with him.

 

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Fixing the NBA's Tanking Problem

Fixing the NBA’s tanking problem

Everyone is sick of seeing teams throw random D-League (now renamed G-League) players into the lineup towards the end of the season to help them tank. The same teams are the bad year in and year out. Teams like the Kings, Sixers and Magic continuously miss the playoffs in hopes of building through constant top five picks. Fixing the NBA’s tanking problem needs to be a priority.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban openly admitted to tanking last season.

“Once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything we could to lose games,” Cuban said in an interview with Dan Patrick.

He is one of the few who will admit it, but teams start their season off with this mindset which is where trust the process came from.

Adam Silver has talked about finding a solution to this major problem, but how do you fix NBA tanking? Last year, an article called Tank About It had an outside the box idea to fix tanking, but it wasn’t the most popular of ideas.

Since that wasn’t too popular of an idea here is another one: In life, we are rewarded when we do something well, not when we are the worst of the worst. Getting an “F” in a course doesn’t set oneself up for future success.

There should be an incentive for teams who try to succeed rather than just calling it quits by throwing in players that shouldn’t even be in the NBA. The way to fix the tanking problem in the NBA is by inverting the lottery and giving the teams who attempt to get a championship or make the playoffs an opportunity to take their team to the next level.

How It Works

Fixing NBA's Tanking Problem

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

The inverted lottery would work opposite of the current lottery system. The teams who are one or two great players away from contending for a playoff spot would have the best chance to win the lottery.

The Miami Heat finished the season 30-11 but missed the playoffs. They could have thrown in the towel when they started 11-30, but they didn’t. Their reward for continuing to fight was an end of the lottery pick. Miami only had a 0.5 percent chance of getting the first overall pick.

Phoenix made it totally obvious that they had given up on the season and had a 19.9 percent chance of winning the number one overall pick.

What this entire process says is that once you know you can’t compete, it is not only OK, but rewarding to throw away your season. The NBA will give you a top pick and that way you have a better chance at finding a franchise player and no longer stinking.

The problem with is that Philadelphia hasn’t made the playoffs in five years and some of the streaks are worse. Here are more teams who have long playoff droughts: New York (five seasons), Orlando (five seasons), Phoenix (seven seasons), Sacramento (11 seasons) and Minnesota (13 seasons).

How about rewarding a team who fought as hard as they could, like the Heat did, and inverting the lottery odds. An inversion of odds for the number one overall pick would have looked like this (without trades shown).

Miami Heat 25%

Denver Nuggets 19.9%

Detroit Pistons 15.6%

Charlotte Hornets 11.9%

New Orleans Pelicans 8.8%

Dallas Mavericks 5.3%

Sacramento Kings 5.3%

New York Knicks 2.8 %

Minnesota Timberwolves 1.7%

Orlando Magic 1.1%

Philadelphia 76ers 0.8%

Los Angeles Lakers 0.7%

Phoenix Suns 0.6%

Brooklyn Nets 0.5%

Change of Landscape

Fixing NBA's Tanking Problem

(Photo Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports)

Fans of bad teams are going to hate this idea but it would make the league more competitive. The worst position to be in the NBA is in the middle of the pack. Franchises stuck in the middle have no chance at competing for a championship. They also can’t get a player that can take them to the next level at the end of the lottery in the same way a top five pick can.

Teams would no longer throw in the towel, but instead fight even harder because the only way to get the top players from college is by fighting for a playoff spot.

The Heat had a great finish to the season and imagine them adding Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. Denver and Detroit both have good young guards and a franchise big man and still missed the playoffs. Adding Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson to the wing could really make them a threat.

This would make the NBA more competitive, and thus, more exciting. There would be no reason to tank and teams would be forced to do everything they could to be a competitive team. This is an idea that most will probably hate, but would you hate it more than seeing teams tank?

There may never be a perfect answer on how to fix the tanking problem, but the inverted lottery creates incentive.

We all work better when there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

 

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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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dev1ce: The LeBron James of Counter-Strike

Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz is one of the all-time best players to play the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Ever since his emergence out of the ashes of the failed Counter-Strike: Source, he has been pure fire. The Danish superstar’s career draws quite a few parallels to LeBron James’ career in the NBA.

Consistency

via http://theurbantwist.com

Dev1ce is the CS:GO poster child for consistency. The last time he has had below a 1.00 HLTV rating for an event was at Fragbite Masters Season 5 Finals; an event that took place in 2015. He has only dropped below a 1.00 rating for an event four times since joining Team SoloMid, and none of those four times came in his tenure with Astralis. One of the most consistent players in the world draws parallels to LeBron James’ consistency in the NBA. LeBron has been selected to the All-NBA team 13 times in his 15 season career and did not play significantly worse when he was not selected. Lebron James throughout his career has a monstrous 28.0 point-per-game average.

They just keep coming, both of these guys don’t even seem to be slowing down in the recent times, despite their age in their respective games. Dev1ce is 21, which in CS:GO years, is old to still be a superstar, especially considering his dominance has stretched four years now. LeBron is 32, yet doesn’t look a day over 25. Both of these guys seem to just be getting started.

Raw Talent

via http://wiki.teamliquid.net

LeBron James and dev1ce are both insanely talented in what they do, and are oozing with raw skill. In the primes of their careers, these two could do anything that could be wanted of them in their respective game. Dev1ce did literally anything you wanted from him with a rifle in his hand, from opening rounds, to closing them. He could play with the AWP pretty well; he was a great pistol player too. Truly a fantastically rounded player, and a perfect superstar candidate. James could do anything with the ball in his hands from taking jumpers, to driving, to even passing. This guy wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty with the rebounding either. Perhaps an underrated part of James’ game was his impeccable defense. Not only was his on-ball defense sound, but he had a knack for creating turnovers.

LeBron doesn’t still have the outside jumper as a major part of his arsenal, but is still incredible at driving to the basket. A very similar feat, deVVe has lost the entry-fragging explosive side to him, but excels at playing a consistent, AWP style of play. They both create great space for their teammates, with enemy teams game-planning around making things tough for these two superstars.

The ‘Choking’ issue

via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IalExPzWrkU

Both of these players have been criticized for not having that killer instinct. While LeBron has gotten less heat for it, he still struggles in the most high-pressure situations it seems. Both of them show flashes of brilliance in these situations, making you think they are over it. Then they make a mistake, or disappear for a bit. Both players have looked much better in these situations as of late but still aren’t up to their usual standard of domination in these scenarios. While they draw attention from the opponent just by showing up, they lack the ability to make their foe crack. They lack the killer instinct.

 

Featured image via https://www.hltv.org

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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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Chicago Bulls 2017 NBA Draft

Chicago Bulls 2017 NBA Draft Profile

The Game Haus brings you day 15 of NBA draftmas to focus on the Chicago Bulls 2017 NBA Draft profile.

Summary

Chicago Bulls 2017 NBA Draft Profile

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

Fans in Chicago have been protesting John Paxson and Gar Forman for years due to the moves they have made within the front office. There is a common conception that as long as these two men are leading the Bulls, there will be no chance at winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Chicago had one of the most up and down seasons in the NBA. The signings of Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo during the offseason had created high expectations.

The Bulls never got on a roll and played .500 basketball all season long. There was a trade around late February that sent fan-favorite Taj Gibson, role player Doug McDermott and 2018 second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In return, the Bulls received Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow. This trade left the fanbase, and the rest of the NBA, confused on the direction of the Bulls.

Head coach Fred Hoiberg spent most of the season trying to find a lineup he liked. This left Rajon Rondo in limbo as his role changed from starter to bench player to not seeing the court and back to the starter in April.

Even with all the drama in the Windy City, the Bulls finished the season 41-41 to earn the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

In the playoffs, the Bulls put the Celtics on the ropes winning both road games to take a 2-0 series lead. Rajon Rondo had been magnificent in the first two games averaging 11.5 points, 10 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game. The Bulls looked efficient and effective as Rondo led the team.

During Game 2, Rondo broke his thumb and it was clear in Game 3 that the Bulls could not win without him. Boston went on to win four straight to take the series and eliminate the Bulls from the playoffs.

Chicago needs to improve its offense by adding some shooting. The Bulls ranked 23rd in scoring (102.9 points per game), 25th in field-goal percentage (44.4 percent) and 24th in three-point percentage (34 percent).

Defensively, the Bulls ranked sixth in points allowed per game giving up just 102.4 points per game. Chicago was in the middle of the pack in field-goal percentage ranking 14th shooting 45.6 percent.

Chicago can become a really dangerous team if they add some more efficient shooters.

Picks & Needs

First Round: No. 16

Second Round: No. 38

Chicago has been searching for a starting small forward ever since Luol Deng left. The Bulls can try and find that player in this draft. Jimmy Butler can play small forward but is really a shooting guard. Denzel Valentine may be able to take on this role as he develops but it is not a certainty he becomes a starter.

The Bulls also need a backup point guard. Rajon Rondo’s injury highlighted that in the playoffs.

What the Bulls need more than anything is outside shooting. As mentioned earlier, Chicago struggled shooting the ball both from the field and from behind the arc. If they can find an efficient scorer at pick 16 then the Bulls need to jump on him quickly.

Robin Lopez is also a decent center but the Bulls could improve there as well. Depending on how the draft plays out, the Bulls may look to take a young center with a lot of promise.

One thing is for certain, Chicago will have many options available to them at pick 16 and depending on what they do, it will show the fans the direction the Bulls are truly heading.

Targets & Thoughts

Chicago Bulls 2017 NBA Draft Profile

(Photo Credit:Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports)

Pick #16: Justin Patton C Creighton

Most of the players the Bulls truly want will likely be gone by the time they are on the clock. This will give Chicago a chance to make a minor splash. Justin Patton doesn’t fit their need of improved outside shooting but it does give them a young center capable of becoming a star.

Patton has the potential to be a dominant NBA center. He is listed at seven foot and 230 pounds. In his one season at Creighton, Patton averaged 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 67.6 percent. He also added 1.9 blocks per game while only averaging 25 minutes per game.

Patton had a player efficiency rating of 25.3 and win shares of 4.3. He could come in and be a solid bench player as a rookie before he eventually becomes a starter. Patton is just 20 years old and still needs time to develop but the potential is there.

Pick # 38: Dwayne Bacon SF Florida State

Dwayne Bacon is all over the place in mock drafts. Most have him going late-first or early-second round and if he falls to the Bulls, they won’t hesitate to take him. There won’t be a good enough shooter remaining to help the Bulls biggest need.

Bacon has good size and length to impact both ends of the floor. At Florida State, in his sophomore season, Bacon displayed aggression on offense and was most comfortable in transition. He could give the Bulls much needed athletism and explosion.

Conclusion

Chicago is in the worst spot to be in the NBA, which is being mediocre. The front office needs to commit to either trying to win a title or rebuilding the team. They seem content with simply making the playoffs. Gar Forman and John Paxson have publicly stated they will be building around Jimmy Butler.

The Bulls play solid defense and need to improve offensively if they want to become contenders. Drafting Justin Patton would give the Bulls a good, young center with the potential to become a star. Selecting Dwayne Bacon would give the Bulls much-needed athletism.

Thanks for checking out the Chicago Bulls 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 15 of NBA Draftmas to see what the Milwaukee Bucks are going to do.

Day 14 Draftmas: Portland Trailblazers

Day 13 Draftmas: Miami Heat

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Heat

Miami Heat 2017 NBA Draft profile

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

Summary

Miami Heat 2017 Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miami Heat 2017 Draft Profile Picks & Needs

Miami has only one pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

First Round: No. 14

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

Targets & Thoughts

Miami Heat 2017 Draft

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

Option 1

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

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

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

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

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

Miami Heat 2017 Draft

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

Option 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

 

NBA Draftmas Day 11: Detroit Pistons

NBA Draftmas Day 12: Denver Nuggets

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The Top 10 NBA Finals

The basketball world has been sitting around dying for the NBA Finals to start. We are only one day away from one of the most anticipated Finals in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are set to go head-to-head for the third year in a row. Many believe this is going to finish as one of the best NBA Finals of all time. With just one day remaining before the start of this year’s NBA Finals now is the perfect time to countdown the 10 best NBA Finals.

10: 1978 FINALS: WASHINGTON BULLETS VS. SEATTLE SUPERSONICS

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo by NBA Photo Library/NBAE via Getty Images)

The 1978 NBA Finals displayed a great matchup of teams not expected to make it to the Finals. Seattle was the four seed from the Western Conference that went 47-35 while Washington was a three seed that went just 44-38.

It was a back-and-forth series as each team traded wins every game until Game 7. Game 7 took place in Seattle and when Washington won the game it marked the first time in the series that either team won back-to-back games. Wes Unseld scored 15 points and also added six assists and nine rebounds and was later named Finals MVP.

The 1978 NBA Finals are the only Finals in NBA history in which both teams had under 50 wins in an 82-game season. It was also the first and only championship for the Washington franchise that is now named the Wizards.

9: 2005 FINALS: SAN ANTONIO SPURS VS. DETROIT PISTONS

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: http://www.nba.com/finals2005/video.html0

In 2005, the Pistons were trying to do what the Lakers accomplished in 1988 and that was to win back-to-back titles. The Spurs were going for their second title in three years. It was a battle of the previous two champions. The Spurs went up 2-0 behind two big scoring games from Manu Ginobili. The next two games were won by the Pistons to tie the series up at 2-2.

Once the series was tied up, the Spurs and Pistons traded wins to force a Game 7 in San Antonio. The Spurs held Detroit to just 41 percent from the field and 14 percent from behind the arc. San Antonio won the battle of champions in Game 7, 81-74. Tim Duncan won Finals MVP averaging 20.6 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

8: 1970 FINALS: NEW YORK KNICKS VS. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Top 10 NBA Finals

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

In 1970, the Knicks were very different from today’s Knicks team, as they were actually good enough to make it to the Finals. Not only did they make it to the Finals, but they beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a tough seven-game series. This series was as back-and-forth of a Finals as possible as neither team strung together two wins in a row and Games 3 and 4 both went into overtime.

This series is widely remembered for the return of an injured Willis Reed. Reed reportedly tore a thigh muscle in Game 5 and did not play in Game 6. Reed did not have a major impact in the game but his teammate, Walt Frazier, had one of the greatest games in NBA Finals history.

The Lakers lost the series despite Jerry West averaging 31.3 points and 7.7 assists per game. West’s numbers were impressive but what Wilt Chamberlain did was even more impressive. Wilt averaged 23.3 points per game and an astonishing 24.1 rebounds per game. Neither performances were enough to win though.

Frazier shot 12-17, (70.6 pecent) scoring 36 points and he also added 19 assists to go along with seven rebounds. He put the Knicks on his back to win Game 7, and the series.

Even with Frazier’s epic performance in Game 7, Willis Reed was actually named the Finals MVP. Reed averaged 23 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and had 37 points in Game 1 and 38 points in Game 3. It was the first of two championships for the New York Knicks franchise.

7: 1988 FINALS: LOS ANGELES LAKERS VS. DETROIT PISTONS

Top 10 NBA Finals

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

The Lakers won the 1987 NBA Finals and at the victory parade head coach, Pat Riley promised a repeat. Los Angeles won 62 games and got back to the Finals to meet the Bad Boy Pistons.

Heading into Game 6 in Los Angeles, the Pistons had a 3-2 series lead. Pistons star point guard, Isiah Thomas, twisted his ankle in the third quarter but that didn’t stop him from dropping 43 points in the game. The Lakers held on to a 103-102 victory behind 28 points from James Worthy. Magic Johnson also had a double-double with 22 points and 19 assists.

Game 7 was in the famous Laker Forum. Entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers led 83-73. Detroit pushed hard in the fourth quarter outscoring the Lakers 32-25 but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers won 108-105. After a big Game 6, Thomas had just 10 points. James Worthy had a triple-double putting up 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists and was named the Finals MVP. It was the Lakers fifth title in nine years and last of the Magic and Showtime era.

6: 1962 FINALS: BOSTON CELTICS VS. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: http://www.totalprosports.com/2013/06/03/the-13-greatest-game-7s-in-the-history-of-the-nba-playoffs/)

Hop into your time machine for this one. The 1962 NBA Finals was one of the best in NBA history. Boston was going for its fourth championship in a row. Los Angeles had dreams of ruining the Boston dynasty that was forming. Fast forward to Game 7, one of the best games that most NBA fans have never seen.

The game went into overtime tied at 100. Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Bill Russell each played more than 50 minutes. The only reason the game went into overtime was because Lakers guard Frank Selvy missed a baseline jumper as time expired.

The Celtics were able to outscore the Lakers 10-7 in overtime to win their fourth NBA title in a row. They would continue to win the next four as well finishing with eight NBA championships in a row.

In the 1962 Finals, many records were set. Elgin Baylor set and still holds, the record for most points in a Finals game with 61 in Game 5. Bill Russell had a record 40 rebounds in Game 7 and finished with an NBA-record 189 for the entire series. The 1962 NBA Finals will always be one of the best in the Lakers versus Celtics rivalry.

5: 2006 FINALS: MIAMI HEAT VS. DALLAS MAVERICKS

The 2006 Finals is the first one on the countdown that didn’t go seven games. This series has to be on the countdown because Dwayne Wade had arguably the greatest finals performance of all time. The Heat team was loaded with Hall of Fame talent around Dwayne Wade. Players such as Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal and Hall of Fame head coach Pat Riley surrounded Wade. Despite all the talent around him it was Dwayne Wade who stole the spotlight.

Top 10 NBA Finals

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

Dallas went up 2-0 in the series and it looked like they were on their way to winning the championship. Dwayne Wade preceded to score 42 points, 36 points, 43 points and 36 points in games three through six. An average of 39.3 points per game in those four games. He finished the series as the Finals MVP averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game.

His domination is still remembered to this day as legendary and because of his performance, the 2006 Finals was one of the top five NBA Finals of all time.

4: 2010 FINALS: LOS ANGELES LAKERS VS. BOSTON CELTICS

It was a rivalry renewed. In 2008 these two long-time rivals met and Boston came away victorious. The following year Los Angeles got redemption by beating the Magic. It was now time for a chance at revenge.

Top 10 NBA Finals

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

Kobe Bryant had a wonderful resume but to truly be a Laker legend you had to beat the Celtics in the Finals. He was on a mission to not lose to the Celtics for the second time.

Kobe was the leading scorer in all games except Game 2. Game 7 was a low-scoring nail-biter. Entering the fourth quarter the Celtics led by the low score of 57-53. Kobe and the Lakers were in danger of losing to the Celtics in the Finals for the second time.

The Lakers outscored to the Celtics 30-22 in the fourth quarter to win 83-79. Kobe finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds and was awarded his second consecutive Finals MVP.

The Lakers avenged a 2008 loss to the Celtics in a historic seven-game series. Kobe won his fifth and final ring to cement his legacy as a Laker legend and an overall all-time great.

3: 2016 FINALS: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS VS. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

The repeat to the 2015 NBA Finals was one of the most historic and entertaining the NBA had ever seen. The Warriors had defeated the Cavaliers 4-2 the previous season to capture their first title in 40 years. Cleveland was still looking for its first major championship for the city in 52 years.

The chances of ending that drought looked very grim. Golden State took a 2-0 series lead with the largest margin of victory ever through the first two games to Cleveland. After four games the Warriors had a 3-1 lead and no team had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in Finals history.

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: NBA.com)

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving went bonkers in Game 5 dropping 41 points each to force a Game 6. In Game 6, LeBron had another 41 points and 11 assists to force a decisive Game 7 at Golden State.

Game 7 was close from start to finish. LeBron had an epic block on Andre Iguodala and Kyrie Irving hit a three to seal the game and the city of Cleveland’s first championship in over 50 years. Cleveland will remember this one forever as LeBron brought the trophy home. He was named Finals MVP averaging 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game.

2: 1998 FINALS: CHICAGO BULLS VS. UTAH JAZZ

This series is only one of two that wasn’t a seven-game series. It was also a rematch of the previous year’s Finals in which the Bulls won 4-2. The Jazz were looking for their first-ever title and revenge on Michael Jordan and the rest of the Chicago Bulls.

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Credit: http://www.complex.com/sports/2014/06/the-greatest-nba-finals-of-all-time/)

Jordan was going for a 6-0 record in the Finals and his second three-peat. M.J. came into Game 6 averaging 31.2 points per game and his team had a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 was in Utah, which is a tough place to play. He was going to need a legendary performance to close out the Jazz on their home court.

Jordan did not disappoint. He scored 45 of the team’s 87 points, which was 51 percent of the team’s scoring. The Bulls needed all 45 of those points too because, with just 27 seconds left in the game, the Jazz were up 86-85.

Michael Jordan stole the ball and dribbled down towards the basket. M.J. hit his famous mid-range jumper giving the Bulls the 87-86 lead. It was the game-winning shot for his sixth championship and cemented him as the greatest basketball player of all time.

 

1: 1984 FINALS: BOSTON CELTICS VS. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

The 1984 NBA Finals could be considered the Finals that saved basketball. Ratings had been dropping until Larry Bird and Magic Johnson took center stage. The rivalry that started to form was captivating the entire country.

Top 10 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: Youtube)

Bird vs. Magic was deeper than just a head-to-head matchup. It was white vs. black, east vs. west, and some say it was rich vs. poor, even though Bird wasn’t the richest kid growing up.

Magic had beaten Bird in the 1979 NCAA Championship game and Larry Bird could never shake that loss out of his head. He used it as motivation and it made him obsess about being better than Magic.

He got his chance to face Magic in the 1984 NBA Finals. The Lakers franchise was still struggling to beat the Celtics in the Finals and they would have to wait another year to accomplish that feat.

The 1984 Finals went seven games. In Game 7, Larry Bird had 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead to an 111-102 victory. Bird was named Finals MVP averaging 27 points and 14 rebounds in the series.

Because of the social impacts of the series and the falling ratings of the NBA, this ranks as the greatest Finals matchup in NBA history. It created a true rivalry between Bird and Magic that saved the game of basketball.

 

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2017 NBA Finals

2017 NBA Finals Preview

The 2017 NBA Finals are set and the wait is finally over. The world gets to see the Golden State Warriors matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third-straight year in the Finals.

It is the grudge match of all grudge matches. Everyone has been waiting for this series since the season tipped off on Oct. 25, 2016. Some have been waiting for this since Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors in July.

This third fight between the Warriors and Cavs will be bigger than the “Thrilla in Manila”.

How They Got Here

2017 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: REX Shutterstock)

The Golden State Warriors went 67-15 this season following a record-breaking 73-win season in 2016. Golden State also broke the record for most wins over a three-year span.

This Warriors team is actually better than last year’s team thanks to the signing of Kevin Durant. The Warriors took it easy in the regular season because their goal all year was to meet the Cavs in the Finals.

Golden State made quick work of their playoff opponents. They swept all three opponents in a tough Western Conference. What the Warriors have done this postseason has been impressive and they sent a message. Winning the Finals is an obsession to them and nothing else is considered acceptable.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have not had it as easy as the Warriors. Cleveland went 51-31 and finished as the second seed in the East. The Cavs really struggled in the second half of the season. After Jan. 1st the Cavs went 26-24. They looked bad defensively and some started to question whether or not they were capable of another Finals run.

All those questions were put to bed quickly once the playoffs started. The Cavs easily swept the Pacers and Raptors before meeting the top-seeded Celtics in the conference finals. Cleveland then wiped Boston off their home-court in embarrassing fashion. Boston stole game three but all that did was delay the inevitable. Cleveland went on to finish the next two games easily to reach the finals for the third straight year.

Round One: Cleveland Hurt

2017 NBA Finals

(Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The first year these two teams met in the Finals was in 2015. Kevin Love had been hurt in the first round and would miss the remainder of the playoffs.

Game 1 of the Finals dealt another injury to a Cleveland star. Kyrie Irving went down with a fractured kneecap in the first game of the series during overtime. Golden State would win that game and win the series 4-2 to capture its first title in 40 years.

Many called the Warriors title tainted claiming that they would not have won the championship had the Cavaliers been healthy. They were champions without respect and it was their mission to prove they were worthy of the crown.

LeBron had failed to bring a title to Cleveland and many were wondering if it was the right move to leave Miami. The criticism was high despite him averaging 35.8 points per game, 8.8 assists per game and 13.3 rebounds per game while shooting just 38.9 percent from the field. Just as the Warriors were determined to prove they were worthy of the crown, LeBron was determined to bring a title home.

Round Two: Suspension Sparks A Comeback

2017 NBA Finals

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

Cleveland and Golden State would meet again in the 2016 Finals for a rematch. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were both healthy for this matchup and many thought the Cavaliers would prove they were truly the better team. Coming into the Finals the Cavaliers had only lost two games in the East.

The Warriors had a much tougher road in the West. They had to comeback from being down 3-1 in the Western Conference finals. Throughout the playoffs, Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala were dealing with nagging injuries. They played through those injuries but were not at full strength and expanded tons of energy just to get to the Finals.

In the beginning of the series, none of that seemed to matter. Golden State took a 2-0 series lead and had the largest combined margin of victory in NBA Finals history. Cleveland would win Game 3 and Golden State won Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. In that game, Draymond Green was assessed a flagrant foul, setting his playoff total to four, resulting in a suspension for Game 5. No team had ever come back from down 3-1 in the NBA Finals.

Cleveland was able to win Games 5 and Game 6 to force an epic Game 7.

After six games the teams were tied in games won and total score. It was as close as a series as it could ever be and the final game of the year would truly decide a champion.

In Game 7, LeBron James blocked a late layup attempt by Andre Iguodala that set up a game-winning 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving. The Cavs won Game 7 93-89 and ended a 52-year championship drought in the city of Cleveland.

The Warriors had lost in the Finals and believed that had Iggy been healthier he would have dunked the ball. Golden State fans also believed that Curry wasn’t healthy and that if Draymond had not been suspended they would have won Game 6 and the series.

Round Three: Bragging Rights

2017 NBA Finals

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

Fast forward to now and here we are set for round three. The Warriors added superstar Kevin Durant to help them get back to the Finals for a third-straight season. The Cavaliers added minor pieces but have made it back to defend their title.

Golden State ended a 40 year drought and Cleveland ended a 52-year drought.

As mentioned earlier the Warriors enter the Finals 12-0 and the Cavaliers enter the Finals 12-1. Both teams sprinted to the Finals as fast as possible, and as rested as possible.

In round three, there are no excuses. Both teams are healthy and both teams will be rested. It is time to put up or shut up. It is time to make a mark on history.

Who’s era is it really? Without trying to predict too far ahead, it is unlikely these teams meet for a fourth straight Finals appearance.

Cleveland comes into the Finals averaging 116.8 points per game while Golden State comes in averaging 118.3 points per game. Both teams are great offensively but the team who plays the best defense will win this series.

There are so many fun matchups the world gets to see in this series as well. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson versus Kyrie Irving. Draymond Green versus Tristan Thompson, LeBron James or Kevin Love.

The most intriguing though is when Kevin Durant and LeBron James match up against one another. Two of the best players in the world will fight it out to be called the champion.

This series will go down in history. At the end of the day, the Warriors are going to win because they have just too much firepower. They lost last season by four points in Game 7. Adding Kevin Durant to the mix will just be too much. All eyes are on the Finals to see who really is the best between these two franchises.

The new greatest rivalry in sports will write the newest chapter this summer, changing legacies forever.

Prediction: Golden State Warriors 4-2

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