NBA injuries

Eight NBA players that absolutely, positively, cannot get injured

After watching Gordon Hayward go down with a gruesome ankle injury, it got us thinking. Who in the NBA can absolutely, positively, not go down with a serious injury?

Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons, the favorite for Rookie of the Year, is an Australian prodigy with an immense amount of talent. After being shut down last year because of a foot injury, Simmons is more motivated than ever. While being the best rookie would be nice, Simmons is focused on being the best player in the NBA.

Physically, Simmons is perfect for the “positionless” trend in the NBA. His size, athleticism and length are unparalleled to many. A gifted passer, Simmons has been called upon by Philadelphia to be their starting point guard. Keep in mind that he is 6-foot-10.

The NBA needs this man to stay healthy. He is one of the most hyped up players in a while, even drawing comparisons to LeBron James, due to his selfless style and high basketball IQ. In five preseason games, Simmons averaged 11.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

Joel Embiid

The GOAT on social media (Twitter.com)

Not only is Twitter better with a healthy Joel Embiid, but the NBA is a joy to watch when this man is on the court. Recently, we saw Embiid get into a Twitter fight with Miami Heat star Hassan Whiteside. The exchange was over a preseason game. I can’t even imagine what this guy is capable of over an entire season, both on and off the court.

In just 25.4 minutes per game last year, Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. His season was sadly cut short due to a left knee injury.

Recently, the 76ers told Embiid that he will be on minutes’ restriction to start the year. Embiid had a few harsh words to say on the decision, but you can’t not love this guy. He is absolutely hysterical and backed up his clown behavior with incredible numbers in his first 31 career games.

The 76ers could easily make a playoff run with Simmons and Embiid healthy. I will be praying to the basketball gods on a nightly basis to keep Embiid on the floor and all over social media. The NBA needs personalities like this, which is why Embiid’s health is so crucial.

Lonzo Ball

Big Baller Brand for life! If Lonzo were to get hurt, that means less LaVar. Is this a world you would want to live in? Actually, don’t answer that. Seriously though, the Lonzo Ball hype train has been full for months and itching to take off.

Because of his father’s comments, Lonzo is walking into the league with a target on his back. He is considered to be extremely calm and laid back, yet players already don’t like him. People are tired of hearing about him and he has yet to play a minute of meaningful basketball. Can he shoot? Will he get bullied? Does he have what it takes to bring the Lakers to the playoffs? LaVar believes so, but we can only wait and see.

If Zo were to get injured, we wouldn’t be able to see what shoe he will predominately be rocking on the court. If you watched any of the Summer League, you would know that the cameras were more focused on Ball’s footwear than the actual game.

Kyrie Irving

Headlining the biggest breakup saga of the summer, Irving is ready to be the man, and the point guard he knows he can be. Without Irving, the East would be a total joke. The only team that poses a threat to LeBron and the Cavs in the East is Kyrie’s Celtics.

Can Kyrie keep the Celtics afloat? (Photo from SI.com)

Say what you want about Washington and Toronto, but if Hayward comes back, the Celtics are the only team that could give the Cavs a run for their money. The NBA needs Uncle Drew on the floor.

Kyrie vs. Lebron in the Eastern Conference finals is a dream waiting to happen. We don’t really know exactly how they feel about each other, but we do know that they are not on talking terms.

The rivalry between Boston and Cleveland was growing, but now it has risen to another level. Irving could also make a serious run at MVP, so we can only pray as his injury history is rather suspect.

Lebron James

An NBA without LeBron James doesn’t seem possible, as he has never missed a significant amount of time, but you just never know.

LeBron, the obvious face of the NBA, is so vital it is not even funny. He now has beef with Kyrie, which gives the Eastern Conference some serious drama. And, of course, James and the Cavs always have their eyes on Golden State.

This season, James is looking to become the youngest player to reach 30,000 points. He will turn 33 in December and needs 1,213 points to eclipse 30,000. The youngest to 30,000 is currently Kobe Bryant, who accomplished this at 34 years and 104 days.

James could also become the first forward to ever achieve 8,000 career assists. The NBA would probably burn down if this man was out, but I really don’t think the basketball gods would let that happen.

Russell Westbrook

Mr. Triple-Double, Russ is a must-see on TV. He is arguably the most exciting player to watch, and now has serious talent around him. They told Russ it wasn’t possible to average a triple-double in today’s NBA, and he responded with a simple “why not?”

It’s not just his style of play that is exciting. Westbrook’s fashion game is out of this world. The man never wears an outfit twice, and has quite a peculiar taste in clothing. His postgame interviews are always a joy to watch, as he has no problem with making a reporter look foolish.

Also, the KD vs. Russ battle just got more interesting with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Could we see these two duke it out in the Western Conference finals?

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Last season, the “Greek Freak” led the Bucks in scoring, assists, rebounding, steals and blocks. Antetokounmpo became the first player to ever finish top 20 in all five major statistical categories. He’s arguably the most lovable guy in the league.

Recently, Kevin Durant spoke extremely high of him, claiming Antetokounmpo could be the “best player to ever play if he really wanted to.” Durant would go on to say that Antetokounmpo is his favorite player to watch.

The best part is that he is only 22 years old. The sky is the limit for this kid. While Milwaukee won’t win the championship, they could be an interesting team. In a lot of insiders’ minds, Antetokounmpo is a dark horse for MVP. He has an incredible backstory and is the most innocent guy in the league.

Kristaps Porzingis

How great would it be if basketball was relevant again in New York? The “Unicorn” has a chance to make this happen. With Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony out of town, Porzingis has the opportunity to become a star in the Big Apple.

NBA injuries

Will the Unicorn make New York relevant? (Photo from ESPN.com)

Much like Antetokounmpo, Porzingis is young at age 22 and extremely likable. On at least two occasions, the Knicks star has slid into the “dm’s” of Instagram models. While the conversations may not have went as Porzingis hoped, you have to respect the game.

It’s a rebuilding year for the Knicks, but expect Porzingis to elevate his game. Last season, he averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and two blocks a game. If Porzingis were to go down, people might forget that New York has professional basketball in their state.

 

 

Featured image by NY Daily News

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The top five usage percentage seasons in NBA history

These players took “putting a team on their back” to the next level. With the NBA season starting tonight, let’s take a look at the all-time single season leaders in terms of usage rate. According to RotoGrinders, usage rate is “defined as an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor.” To put this into perspective, in 2004-05, Jermaine O’Neal’s usage rate was 36.22 percent. This means that 36.22 percent of the time Jermaine was on the floor, plays ended with O’Neal either shooting the ball, turning it over, or getting to the line.

 

5. Allen Iverson 37.78 (2001-02)

The year after winning NBA MVP and reaching the Finals, “The Answer” did all he could to get his Sixers back to the promise land. In just 60 games of play, Iverson led the NBA in scoring (31.4), steals (2.8), and minutes per game (43.7). 2001-02 marked the fourth year in a row in which Iverson led the league in usage rate.

The 76ers other four starters, Matt Harping, Eric Snow, Derrick Coleman, Dikembe Mutombo, all averaged under 16 points per game. Mutombo, who, like Iverson, is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, was 35 years old. Due to this weak starting lineup, Iverson took almost 28 shots per game, which ended up being his career high. He had nine games in which he scored at least 40 points, including a monster 58 points, 6 assists game against the Rockets. Iverson’s 42 shots in the win over Houston is good for 14th all time in terms of most field goal attempts in a single game.

In the first round of the 2001-02 playoffs, Philadelphia was eliminated in five games against Boston. Was Iverson gassed? Although he averaged 30 points per game in the playoffs, Iverson shot a rough 38.1 percent from the field. Following the series loss to Boston, Iverson was criticized by coach Larry Brown for missing practices. We all know how Iverson dealt with this one.

 

4. Michael Jordan 38.29 (1986-87)

Following the season in which Jordan missed 64 games due to a broken foot, MJ would go on to have one of the best scoring seasons the game has ever seen. While averaging 37.1 points per game on 48.2 percent shooting, Jordan joined Wilt Chamberlin as the only two players to score 3,000 points in a season. He would also go on to become the first player in NBA history to record 200 blocks and 100 steals.

Young MJ, circa 1986 (NBA.com)

Jordan, who was just 23 years old, took an absurd 2,279 total shots, which is good for sixth all time. Since 1980, the only other player to eclipse 2,000 shots in a season is Kobe Bryant, who achieved this in 2005-06. MJ played in all 82 games, leading the league in minutes, player efficiency rating, and win shares. Even with this historic season, Jordan came up short in MVP voting. Magic Johnson was named NBA MVP, after averaging 23.9 points and 12.2 assists per game.

Before playing with guys like Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, and Dennis Rodman, Jordan struggled to bring Chicago deep into the playoffs. Even in this record setting 1986-87 season, Jordan and the Bulls only won 40 games, and were swept by Boston in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Just a reminder for those who think Jordan is the undisputed GOAT: At age 22, Lebron James led Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Eric Snow to a 50-win season and a trip to the NBA Finals.

 

3. Russell Westbrook 38.37 (2014-15)

Before the start of the 2014-15, Westbrook’s former superstar teammate, Kevin Durant, was diagnosed with a Jones fracture in his right foot and was out the first 17 games of the season. Durant would end up playing in only 27 games, as he would eventually be shut down for the season due to foot surgery.

This meant “The Brodie” was ready to ball. In the season opener, Westbrook went off for 38 points in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. After being sidelined due to a fracture in his hand, Westbrook erupted. In a win over the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook tallied up 17 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists. He became only the fifth player in NBA history with a stat line of 15-15-15 in a game.

In the 2015 NBA All Star game, Westbrook recorded 41 points, and was named the All-Star MVP. In a three game stretch in February, Westbrook became the first player since Lebron James to record three straight triple-doubles. This was a historic February for Westbrook, as he finished the month with a stat line of 31.2/10.3/9.1.

In 67 starts, Westbrook led the Thunder to 40 wins, while recording 31 double-doubles, and 11 triple doubles. Unfortunately, The Thunder missed out on the playoffs. This was only a preview of what was to come for Russ.

 

2. Kobe Bryant 38.74 (2005-06)

In the 2003-04 season, the Lakers were upset by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals. Phil Jackson did not return, and Shaquille O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat. The following year, the Los Angeles Lakers won only 34 games, and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1993-94 season. Bryant missed out on the NBA All-Defensive Team, and fell to the All-NBA Third Team.

81. (BleacherReport)

The “Black Mamba” had a lot to prove during the 2005-06 season. With Phil Jackson back as coach of the team, Bryant was able to carry the Lake Show back into the playoffs. On December 20th, 2005, in a game against the Dallas Mavericks, Bryant scored 62 points in just three quarters. He became the first player, since the shot clock was added, to outscore a team going into the fourth quarter.

On January 22nd, 2006, Kobe scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. This still stands as the second most points in an NBA game, behind Wilt Chamberlin’s 100-point performance in 1962. Fortunately, Kobe was not done dominating. In the same month Bryant scored 45 or more points in four straight games. He would go on to average 43.4 points per game in the month of January, which is the highest for any player not named Wilt Chamberlin.

Bryant set the Lakers single-season records for most 40-point games (27) and total points in a season (2,832). He led the league in scoring, with 35.4 points per game, and finished 4th in MVP voting. Still, the Lakers were eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.

 

1. Russell Westbrook 41.65 (2016-17)

When KD was hurt, we saw a preview of what was possible for Westbrook. When Durant was officially gone, as he chose to sign with the Warriors, Russ did what he wanted. His 42 triple-doubles is now a league record, and he currently sits at fourth place for most triple doubles in NBA history. Trailing only Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Jason Kidd.

During this illustrious season, Westbrook racked up three 50-point triple doubles, which is most all-time. He finished the year with 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game. Russ joined Oscar Robertson as the only two players to average a triple-double for an entire season.

Even with his unforgettable season, the Thunder were eliminated in the first round by the Houston Rockets. In the five games, Westbrook had a stat line of 37.4/11.6/10.8. He was named the NBA MVP, and now has Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to help propel the Thunder to the next level.

Do you see a trend here? When players’ usage rates are this high, the team is never successful in the postseason. One guy cannot do it all. Of the top 20 usage rate seasons, none of the players went on to win the championship in that same year.

Featured image by TheSource.com

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NBA Northwest Division preview

NBA season preview: Northwest Division

The Northwest Division has a different look to it this season. Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Paul Millsap jump into an extremely competitive division.

This division has the potential to bring three or four teams to the playoffs. A tough division has gotten even tougher in just one offseason.

Here are the win predictions and preview for each team in the Northwest Division.

Denver Nuggets

2016-17 record: 40-42

2017-2018 prediction: 46-36

The Denver Nuggets have absolutely gotten better this summer. Paul Millsap adds to an already boarderline playoff team. Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris are the leaders on this team. The young talent is there to make a run.

Tyler Lydon is another addition from this summer and a good scoring option off the bench.

Despite being in a tough Western Conference, the Nuggets have a good chance to make it to the middle tier in the west.

Minnesota Timberwolves

NBA Northwest Division preview

Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns. (Photo Courtesy of Foxsports.com.)

2016-2017 record: 31-51

2017-2018 prediction: 49-33

Jimmy Butler is coming to town, as well as Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford. The Timberwolves may be the fifth best team in the Western Conference, but they have a lot to put together to get to that point.

A season is long and grueling, so rotations need to be figured out quickly. The Timberwolves have a very different lineup heading into this season, so it will take a little while to get everyone used to playing with each other.

If the Wolves can put it together, they will be much better than people expect. Barring anything crazy, this will be the year the T-Wolves make the playoffs.

Oklahoma City Thunder

2016-2017 record: 47-35

2017-2018 prediction: 50-32

Paul George tops off a great summer for the Thunder. He joins Patrick Patterson to add to a strong starting lineup.

One of the biggest parts of this offseason for the Thunder was getting out of the Victor Oladipo contract. They freed up money moving forward and that is a large asset for adding players moving forward.

George gives this team a win-now look, but not just anyone can play with Russell Westbrook.

The Thunder have gotten better this summer and more importantly match up better. To have another scoring option in the Western Conference means that there’s a possibility for a longer playoff run in Oklahoma City.

Portland Trail Blazers

NBA Northwest Division preview

CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. (Photo Courtesy of NBA.com.)

2016-2017 record: 41-41

2017-2018 prediction: 38-44

As much as the Trail Blazers are intriguing, they still don’t have a dependable big man. Jusuf Nurkic has been good in his limited use on the team, but he isn’t reliable yet.

The Trail Blazers are a fringe playoff team, but the Western Conference is a gauntlet. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum can only carry them so far without a dependable third option.

Caleb Swanigan and Zach Collins are two solid young big men who have a bright future, but for the time being, the Trail Blazers are on the outside looking in.

Utah Jazz

2016-2017 record: 51-31

2017-2018 prediction: 36-46

The Jazz may have lost their best scorer, Gordon Hayward, from last season, but they did add Jonas Jerebko and Ricky Rubio, as well as draft pick Donovan Mitchell.

Jerebko is an underrated player who can stretch the floor and Mitchell looks like the most overlooked player in this draft after this summer. Even though the Jazz lost one of their best players, they still are in the hunt for a playoff birth this season.

Rudy Gobert will shine and Joe Johnson will find a way to add to the scoring that Hayward left behind. The Utah Jazz will be competitive this upcoming season.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of NBA.com.

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biggest moves nba offseason

Most impactful moves from the NBA offseason

NBA free agency is just about in the books. There are still a few unsigned players on the market like Nerlens Noel and Ty Lawson, but for the most part all the biggest names are signed.

Some teams majorly improved their roster and playoff chances. Others sat back and watched it happen.

Today we will look at which teams made the most impactful signings. What I mean by impactful is how much better their additions and losses make them.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota is not messing around this offseason. They have gone out and signed Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague. Their biggest move was trading for Jimmy Butler. These guys will join Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins for a scary roster.

To acquire Butler, they had to give away Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. However, Butler and the other free agent signings have made this roster a playoff team. They could easily finish as a fourth or fifth seed in the competitive Western Conference after finishing 13th this past season.

Minnesota is by far the most improved team in the NBA. Just wait until Towns and Wiggins reach their full potential.

Houston Rockets

impactful moves nba offseason

The Houston Rockets now have the most talented backcourt in the NBA with James Harden and Chris Paul. (Photo by SEAN M. HAFFEY / GETTY IMAGES)

The Rockets went out and grabbed Chris Paul and Luc Mbah a Moute from the Clippers. However, they had to give up key contributors like Patrick Beverly, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams to get them.

The team now has a roster that features James Harden, Eric Gordon, Chris Paul, Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela, Mbah a Moute and Nene. If Paul stays healthy, they won’t miss Beverly and Williams too much.

On paper, it looks like the Rockets have clinched the No. 2 seed in the West. If they can add another player this offseason they will for sure have it. Their backcourt of Harden and Paul is going to be impossible to stop.

Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles did not really make a bunch of big signings, but they were involved in one of the biggest trades this offseason. They have also gone through a lot of changes in their roster and for that reason are included in this list of most impactful offseason moves.

To recap, they added Patrick Beverly, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Danilo Gallinari. They also lost Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, Raymond Felton, Luc Mbah a Moute and Paul Pierce.

The Clippers will more than likely struggle to make the postseason after losing Paul. However, they added a bunch of key role players. The star power is not really there, but I could see them finishing with the seventh or eighth seed despite their losses.

Oklahoma City Thunder

impactful moves nba offseason

Paul George will take a lot of pressure off Russell Westbrook. (Photo from SLAM Online)

Oklahoma City is looking like a threat again.

Their trade for Paul George gives Russell Westbrook a star teammate to work with. Now Westbrook will not have to do all the work himself, and the Thunder now look like a potential fourth or fifth seed in the West.

They lost Victor Oladipo and Taj Gibson this offseason, but the addition of George makes them too good to worry about those losses.

OKC needs to do everything they can to keep Westbrook and George together in the next offseason. For now, lets see how this duo performs.

Denver Nuggets

A lot of people think Denver can make the playoffs now with the addition of Paul Millsap to their young roster.

The team has a lot of young talent with Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay, Nikola Jokic, Wil Barton and Kenneth Faried. They also added promising guard Trey Lyles to the roster. Millsap is a veteran these young guns can learn from and do great things with.

After missing the playoffs by one game last season, the Nuggets are now a playoff team, possibly a fifth or sixth seed in the west.

Boston Celtics

impactful moves nba offseason

Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward are reunited again. (Photo from Butler Athletics)

The Celtics made a lot of great moves this offseason. They added one of Brad Stevens’ former players at Butler with Gordon Hayward and also acquired Marcus Morris. They also added Jayson Tatum in the draft with their third overall pick.

The team did lose Avery Bradley in the trade for Morris though. They also lost Kelly Olynyk, another one of their role players.

However, the additions make Boston look like they can keep the top seed in the Eastern Conference this season. Of course that all depends on what the Cavs do with Kyrie Irving and how much Cleveland actually cares about their performance in the regular season.

 

Featured Image by AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King

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NBA's Gridiron Roster

The NBA’s gridiron team

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

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

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

Offense

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

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

NBA's Gridiron Team

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

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

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

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

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

NBA's Gridiron Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defense

NBA's Gridiron Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NBA's Gridiron Team

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

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

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

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

Special Teams

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

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

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

 

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Featured image courtesy of Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City Thunder 2017 NBA Draft profile

On day 19 of NBA Draftmas, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s draft needs and targets will be analyzed.

SUMMARY

Russell Westbrook (Photo by: thebiglead.com)

The Thunder had a solid season, qualifying for the playoffs as a six seed, which is especially impressive given the fact that Kevin Durant left in free agency. Russell Westbrook took over and had a historical season, becoming the second player ever to average a triple double for a season. While they do have some other solid players on the roster, the focal point of the Thunder moving forward is going to be getting Westbrook some help.

Oklahoma City ranked 11th in the NBA in points per game and ranked 16th in points allowed per game. The biggest strength of the Thunder is rebounding, as they led the league in rebounds per game. The area that needs the most improvement is three point shooting. Oklahoma City ranked dead last in three point shooting percentage and needs to acquire players that can help spread the floor for Westbrook.

Signing Westbrook to a long term deal will be the biggest necessity, since superstars don’t grown on trees. Getting players who can shoot and spread the floor will help make the Thunder into a better contender. They do have some nice pieces in Victor Oladipo, Enes Kanter and Steven Adams, but more is needed to compete in a very tough Western Conference.

Oklahoma City Thunder DRAFT PICKS & NEEDS

Oklahoma City has one pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and will need to make the most of it. 

First Round: No. 21

As stated earlier the biggest need for the Thunder is a three point shooter that can spread the floor. If they can find one that can log minutes immediately it would help the team start winning more games.

Another area of need is a backup point guard. Westbrook is one of the best players in the league, but they don’t have much behind him. Cameron Payne was shipped to Chicago. Norris Cole was a stop-gap signing for the end of the year and likely won’t be a great option for next season. Semaj Christon is frustrating to watch and hasn’t fully developed into a great option to play behind Westbrook.

TARGETS

Pick #21: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

Luke Kennard (Photo by: si.com)

Kennard fills the three point shooting void for the Thunder. He shot a great 43.8% from deep last season at Duke. He also improved his ability to drive and create plays for others. Kennard won’t ever be a star in the NBA, but at pick number 21 could be a great pick and have a solid career.

He will fit into the Thunder well, because he hits open shots. When Westbrook drives to the basket and finds open teammates, Kennard will be one of the few that will be able to hit them more often than not. Just having that extra weapon on offense last year would’ve helped them win a few more games.

The reason that Kennard is likely to slide to the middle of the first round at the earliest is his defense. He will be a defensive liability in the NBA. He had a defensive rating of 104.4 at Duke and he doesn’t have too much more room for improvement in this area of his game. With Kennard on the floor he will give up a lot of points, but he will also score a lot too.

CONCLUSION

The Thunder need to get someone who can help Russell Westbrook get back to the top of the Western Conference. A player coming from this draft pick likely isn’t going to be a star, but they could get a solid player who helps them get back to competing in the West. Oklahoma City will need to get another star before they can really be considered a team capable of winning a championship.

Thanks for checking out the Oklahoma City Thunder 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 20 of NBA Draftmas to see what the Brooklyn Nets are going to do.

Day 18: Atlanta Hawks

Day 17: Indiana Pacers

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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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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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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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