Game 7

Playoff teams most likely to win a Game 7

“The two best words in sports,” is the cliche often used to describe a Game 7.

A winner-take-all game is always exciting. Whether it is in the first round of the playoffs, or for the championship. Whether a person considers themselves a casual or rabid sports fan, it always feels like must-watch TV. A moment that will allow you to say “I was there when…”

With the NBA playoffs heating up, and the games getting more and more important as teams climb the ladder towards the NBA Finals, it is time to take a look at the teams most likely to win those games.

Here are the teams with the rosters most suited to win a Game 7, if a series should come down to it.

Golden State Warriors

Saying the Warriors can win one game is a little like saying that the sky is blue. But for sake of the argument, let’s look at their credentials.

As the dynasty has taken shape, the Warriors have only had to play two seven game series. Back to back, no less. Both series were infamous in their own ways.

The first was in the Western Conference Finals against the Thunder, before Kevin Durant switched sides. The second was the NBA Finals, as the best regular season team of all time fell to LeBron and the Cavaliers in Game 7.

The difference here is the aforementioned Kevin Durant acquisition. The Cavaliers proved to be too much for the Warriors in Oakland in 2016, but Golden State “only” had two prolific scorers back then, not three.

Game 7

Draymond Green drives to the hoop against Manu Ginobili during Tuesday’s Game 5 win. (Photo by Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Stephen Curry is slated for a return in the second round, assuming the Warriors finish off San Antonio. With him, Durant, Thompson, Green and their fantastic bench, it is going to take a fantastic team to take them to seven games, let alone win the series.

It seems as if the Warriors and the Rockets are on a collision course for Western Conference dominance. If that happens, then a potential Game 7 would take place in Houston, as the Rockets had the best record in the NBA. Against any other team, a Game 7 would be in Oakland.

Golden State, though, had the same record at home and on the road during the regular season, at 29-12. Obviously, the Warriors would like to play in front of their own fans, but a road game does not necessarily put the team at a disadvantage.

The Warriors can beat any given team, and have. With a fully healthy squad and the multitudes of playoff experience, betting against them in a winner-take-all game might be a fool’s errand.

Houston Rockets

Speaking of the Rockets, it is hard to deny that their offensive capabilities can overtake any team on any given night.

There is one obvious and pressing question facing Houston, however. Can they shrug off the idea that they are chokers, or that they lay down when the playoffs roll around?

Game 7

Paul and Harden celebrate during a game against the Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

This is clearly a different Rockets team than we have seen in the past. The efficiency and shooting is off the charts, and they play legitimate defense. Chris Paul and James Harden have ditched their ball-hogging ways in favor of pacing and rhythm. Their three point shooting is historic, but does not hamstring their mid-range or low-post games.

The problem, though, is that if a team is going to commit to the jump shot, then they have to fall to stand a chance. Any and every team can go cold on a given night, and it will be especially memorable and demoralizing if that happens in a Game 7.

Houston’s home record is three games better than their road record (34-7 versus 31-10). That is good news, considering they will probably have home court advantage, regardless of their opponent.

The key to winning a Game 7 for Houston is to bury the opposing team early. As the Timberwolves have been well aware during their series with the Rockets, no lead is a comfortable one. When almost every player on the floor can score in bunches, problems arise for opposing defenses.

Riding their shooting abilities and continuing to play their brand of fast-paced basketball on both ends on the floor is their bread and butter. If the Rockets find themselves in a Game 7 situation, their opposing team will be preaching that every other statistic and record is irrelevant, and that anything can happen in a one game series.

That should not be Houston’s approach. The Rockets would need to go into that game remembering that they are the number one overall seed for a reason.

Toronto Raptors

Toronto is also on a quest to shake off some preconceived notions about their playoff performances. For the first time in franchise playoff history, the Raptors won a Game 1. So far, so good, but this team still has some proving of itself to do.

Not unlike the Rockets, the Raptors also seem to be different this year than in years past. In 2016, they lost in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. In 2017, they were swept in the second round. Both series losses were to the Cavaliers, as they made their way to the NBA Finals.

Since 1996, the Raptors have played just two seven game series. The most recent was in 2016, as they beat the Pacers in Game 7 to earn their first-ever trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Game 7

DeRozan hangs on the rim after a dunk. (Photo by Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

This is a much, different team, though. DeRozan and Lowry are a dangerous backcourt duo when they are both on, and the role players have never been this good. Between those two and Valanciunas, Ibaka, and one of the most productive benches in the NBA, it seems as if Toronto can take on any team in the league at their best.

Coach Dwane Casey has balanced star power with fundamentals as well as any coach in the league, including Steve Kerr. Toronto rode that game plan to the East’s best record, and a chance to disprove doubters once and for all.

Toronto is much better at home than on the road. Considering they are the East’s number one seed, that should work out just fine. Unless they face a Game 7 matchup if they are able to reach the NBA Finals. At 25-16, their road record is a full nine games worse than their home record. Considering the Raptors’ rabid fanbase, that is not very surprising.

Much has been made of Lowry’s postseason struggles, and DeRozan’s feast or famine performances. But the fantastic bench and great defense can mask those issues in a single game. Sometimes, bench performance can be the difference in those games. Although, stars playing to their fullest potential is always the goal.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Here, it would probably be sufficient to write the words “LeBron James” and be done with it. But, while he is the heart and soul of the team, he is not the only player on the floor.

Cleveland’s struggles this year have largely been the focal point of the entire season. At the end of the day, though, this team can win close games.

Game 7

James embraces Love after their Game 7 NBA Finals win. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

J.R. Smith is a spotty shooter. Kevin Love essentially disappears if the team does not feed him the ball enough. Nance, Jr., Hood, and Green are all good complimentary pieces, but tend to shrivel under the spotlight. At any point, though, everyone just mentioned could play second fiddle to LeBron’s heroics. If they are all on, then teams are going to have a hard time figuring out what to do with the Cavaliers.

Lest we forget, the LeBron-led Cavs dethroned the Warriors in that historic Game 7. James also won a Game 7 against the Spurs in 2013. He is, without much argument, the best player in the world, and he can take over games at will.

Nothing would will James to a victory like a championship-or-bust one game series.

Tyronn Lue and the Cavs have beaten the best regular season team in NBA history in a Game 7. And while this iteration is much different, and not without its glaring issues, if the Cavaliers find themselves in this position again, it is hard to bet against The King.

Featured image by Ravell Call/Deseret News

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The project bigs in the NBA

With the current eligibility rules to enter the NBA being one year after completely high school, many players aren’t fully ready for rigors of the league. Many organizations choose to focus on the development of young players and give them very little opportunities of seeing an NBA court. With the improving G-League and increasing development staff, teams have the ability to work with talented youngsters and allow them to grow into the NBA.

It’s becoming increasingly common for teams to take project players in the draft. These players usually don’t have lots of basketball skills but have tons of potential because of their athleticism and size. While some players can’t ever acclimate to the NBA level, nurturing young stars can allow them to have great careers as well. Some of the current players who were once considered projects are: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Thon Maker, Serge Ibaka, Paul George, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside.

Here is a list of the current project bigs who you could see dominate the next couple of years:

Harry Giles, Sacramento Kings

Harry Giles has been recovering from a torn ACL last season at Duke where he was slightly disappointing averaging 3.9 points a game and only 10 minutes of action. While he is a raw prospect for the Kings, everyone from the players to owners they all can agree on one thing: Giles is a beast.

Many people forget that Giles was the No. 1 player in the nation out of high school only 2 years ago. This was the same year as Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum and his Kings’ teammate, De’Aaron Fox. He stands at 6’11 with a 7’0 wingspan and has the ability to shoot, pass and moves very fast for someone his size. The Kings smartly traded down from their No. 10 pick to get pick’s No. 15 and No. 20. They were able to take Justin Jackson and Giles with their acquired picks. While the Kings have had some struggles in the past with their draft, the trio of picks this summer looks to guide the franchise in a new direction.

Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Lakers

Zubac, who was the last pick in this year’s draft has failed to see the court on numerous occasions. He’s routinely playing in G-league games to get experience. However, The Croatian standing at 7’1 finally got some time at the NBA level and had a breakout game. In 20 minutes, Zubac had 19 points on 8 of 8 shooting. Yes you read that correctly, he did not miss a shot. Zubac also added in 11 rebounds for the purple and gold.

Don’t be surprised to see Zubac get an increase in usage following the all-star break. Hopefully Luke Walton will get Lonzo and Zubac on the court together more, as they formed a dynamic duo in the Summer League.

 

Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors

Jakob Poeltl has rode the bench a lot so far in his career, but has made the most of his minutes. (Photo by defpen)

 

Poeltl is also a foreign-born big man, however Poeltl played 2 years at Utah before declaring for the draft. Poeltl was dominant in college, winning Pac-12 Player of the Year his sophomore campaign.

However, because of the talent on the Raptors there was no chance of Poeltl playing his rookie season. He has finally started to log more minutes coming off the deepest bench in the league. He’s seventh in the league in field goal percentage(65%) and averages 2.4 blocks a game per 36 minutes. Poeltl is still young and a raw big, but is likely a good enough player to start on bad teams.

 

Jonathon Isaac, Orlando Magic

 

The Magic have tried to get Isaac on the court when he’s healthy. However, he is a young raw prospect and he’s been hurt quite a lot this season. Isaac was the sixth pick in the draft this season and he was terrific at Florida State. However, he’s struggled a bit when he’s seen the NBA court. John Hammond(their GM) saw visions of the Greek Freak (who Hammond drafted) on the court. Nonetheless, Isaac has struggled to stay on the court.

Isaac’s defense and versatility are what got him drafted so early. Similar to Anthony Davis, Isaac had a late growth spurt that allows him to be as quick as smaller player. It’s fair to say the rookie is growing into his body. If he can stay on the court and develop a better offensive game, he could be a real problem on the court for his opponents.

Feature image by: NBA.com

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NBA biggest storylines

Biggest storylines heading into the All-Star Break

The All-Star game serves as a reminder to observe the current NBA season as whole and the headlines that have circulated the NBA world. Here are the biggest storylines in the NBA to follow heading into the second half of the season.

Where do all the free agents sign this offseason?

Similar to last offseason, you can expect another exciting offseason with lots of high-profile free agents over the summer. The Lakers freed up cap room for two max contracts and are going to look to add to their young core.

The unrestricted free agents for this upcoming offseason include Kevin Durant, LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Isaiah Thomas, Aaron Gordon, Clint Capela, Jabari Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley, Zach LaVine and Tyreke Evans.

There’s no doubt that some players on this list are going to stick with their current teams, but a fair share of these players could bolt towards new horizons and change the shape of the NBA. This summer may be a turning point for franchises in the association.

Isaiah Thomas on the Lakers?

NBA biggest storylines

How will Isaiah react to coming off the bench after last year’s All-Star performance? (Photo by Lakers Nation) 

Once again, Isaiah Thomas was traded, this time in a blockbuster deal to the Lakers. The now brief fiasco that surrounded himself and the Cavs is now over. The 5-foot-9 offensive star is a two-time All-Star and finished fifth in MVP voting last season.

However, he’s going to be coming off the bench for the purple and gold. Lots of attention follows the Lakers. Lonzo Ball and Thomas don’t play great defense.

It should be interesting to see how the Lakers backcourt plays out the rest of this season.

Can the Cavaliers win the East?

The East has gotten increasingly tougher, and the Cavaliers are not the same team they once were with Kyrie Irving. While LeBron James is still having a great year, it remains to be seen if all their newly acquired players can change the locker room attitude and subpar basketball that has plagued Cleveland.

The new-look Cavs looked great in their first game, blowing out the Celtics on the road. But one game doesn’t define a season. The Raptors, Celtics and Wizards are all going to challenge the Cavs this postseason, and the Cavs aren’t going to have home-court advantage.

Who will be the first pick in the draft?

NBA biggest storylines

Where will Trae Young fall in the draft? (Photo by USA Today)

In what looks to be another stacked draft class, including Trae Young, Marvin Bagley, Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton, who will go first off the board?

While my favorite player in the pack is Doncic, it could be any of the names mentioned that get their names called first.

Is James Harden the MVP?

James Harden is averaging 31.4 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds per game while carrying the Rockets to the second seed in the Western Conference.

If Harden manages to stay healthy and continue on his torrid pace, it’s unlikely anyone can compete with him for the MVP trophy.

Can the Rockets beat the Warriors?

The Rockets have helped close the gap between the Warriors and the rest of the Western Conference. They’ve been nearly unbeatable when Chris Paul and James Harden are suited up and have the No. 2 offense in the league. The defense ranks in the middle of the pack at 15th. The Rockets have won the season series against the Warriors 2-1, and could end up with the first seed and home-court throughout playoffs.

If both teams manage to stay healthy, it’s likely these two will meet in the Western Conference finals. This Rockets team is going to be the first team to test the Warriors since Kevin Durant joined them.

Can the Warriors defend their title?

NBA biggest storylines

Will anybody beat the defending champions? (Photo from Billboard)

The Warriors have the best record in the NBA and an embarrassment of riches on their roster. Their bench play has not been up to par compared to years past. Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala have had down years for the Warriors. Patrick McCaw, Javale McGee and Nick Young have been underwhelming all season as well. Jordan Bell has also hit the rookie wall. Without David West holding down the second unit, this team struggles without its starters in.

It’s likely the Warriors haven’t stayed focused after reaching the NBA Finals for three years in a row. The dog days of the regular season can cause great teams to lose their intensity. The Warriors consistently don’t show up for games, they show up for quarters. Nonetheless, due to the amount of talent on this roster, that has been enough to win.

The Warriors will likely find their intensity come playoff time. However, for now they look like they’re going through the motions.

What is next for LeBron James?

LeBron James is a free agent once again, and no one knows where he is going to go. James displayed how frustrated he was with the roster before the deadline.

How do the trades change his approach for free agency? The teams that seemingly are rumored to be plausible for him to move to are the Rockets, Lakers and 76ers. There is a very strong chance James leaves Cleveland, again.

 

Featured image by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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The players who didn’t get traded

Every NBA trade deadline, even crazy ones like this year, have teams that couldn’t get a deal done. This means the player and situation are forced to coexist until the end of the year excluding buyouts. Basketball is a business and sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make. However, in these cases the teams should’ve focused on making a trade happen for these players.

 

Tyreke Evans

 

The Grizzlies played a dangerous game, they sat Tyreke Evans for the past week and made it known they wanted a 1st round pick in return. No team bit on their bluff, and Evans will remain in Memphis for the remainder of the year. Evans will likely prevent Memphis from getting better odds in the lottery.

Evans is on a relatively cheap expiring contract without bird rights and Memphis believes that they can retain him with their MLE(Mid-Level Exception) despite other teams likely offering him much more. There is a very high chance that Evans leaves this summer, and the Grizz will end up empty-handed.

Memphis had multiple offers on the table including multiple second round picks, but no team was willing to fork over a 1st. Multiple Eastern Conferences teams had tried to prey Evans away including the Celtics, Sixers as well as Denver in the West.

 

Deandre Jordan

The Clippers Big 3 of Chris Paul, Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin is now a thing of a past with Paul on the Rockets and Griffin on the Pistons. (Photo by ClipperBlog)

 

The Clippers are making a massive mistake in not trading Deandre Jordan. Here is a list of reasons why he won’t re-sign:

  1. He was a free agent in 2015 and agreed to a deal with the Dallas Mavericks potentially breaking up the “Lob City” formed. However, the Clippers core at the time locked Jordan in his house before he was able to sign the deal with the Mavericks and convinced him to sign with the Clippers. He has shown resistance to staying with the Clippers before.
  2. The Clippers begged and pleaded Blake Griffin to sign with them over this summer. They then proceeded to trade him to Detroit less than a year later. The Clippers show they have no loyalty to their stars, and Jordan won’t want the same to happen to him.
  3. The Clippers are not a competitive playoff team. Deandre wants to play for a team that is heading for a rebuild.

The Clippers should realize that Jordan is at best 50/50 on staying with them and that they could easily get good young players and a draft pick instead of ending up with nothing if he leaves this summer.

 

Lou Williams

 

The Clippers get to be on this list twice because it looks like they don’t know how to rebuild, or win in the playoffs. Lou Williams was one of the positive stories for the Clippers as he became the best 6th man in the league. He’s 3rd in the league in Isolation points per possession behind James Harden and Chris Paul and is averaging 23 points a game along with 5 assists.

For weeks, they were fielding offers for Sweet Lou and should’ve made a deal with a competitor for a pick and young player. Instead, the Clippers decided to sign him long-term with a 3 year deal. The Clippers are not close to competing in the Western Conference, and it’s delusional to think they could.

 

Final Thoughts

General managers have difficult decisions, there is likely multiple deals that almost happened every trade deadline and making any decision takes a lot of consideration for the future of the team. However, it feels like these players and teams would’ve been a lot better off if they made the deals happen instead of staying pat at the deadline.

 

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NBA 2k League Combine

Top 5 takeaways from the NBA 2k League Combine – Week 1

The dream for over 70,000 NBA 2k League prospects became one step closer to reality on Friday February 2nd, at 8 pm EST. Well, not exactly. After a 30 minute technical delay, prospects were able to access the combine and start playing. As the first weekend has concluded, here are the top 5 takeaways from the first weekend of the NBA 2k League Combine.

1. team communication

Overall, communication between players varied from stream to stream. Why? Because on some teams, every player had a headset to talk through switches, situations and encourage others. By every team member having a mic, it allows for adjustments to be made between and during possessions. This presents a huge, and completely fair, advantage for teams with five players who can talk to each other.

Conversely, players who are on teams without this ability have a tough time winning, and grading out well. It’s not impossible to play well without complete communication between all the players, but the automated grading tracker can only monitor so much.

Essentially, you need some way to communicate with your teammates if you want to perform as best you can. As a whole, players were communicating well. Yes, there are instances in which it was not up to par; however, it’s fair to project that it will improve throughout the NBA 2k League Combine.

2. Stats Aren’t Everything

Just approach this one from a logical perspective. Teams don’t operate at a high level if everyone is getting 20 plus points a game. Of course you want to show your proficiency as a scorer, but that can’t, and won’t, be the deciding factor in hearing your name called at the draft.

Stats do matter, but it’s not the conventional ones. You have to go beyond the numbers on the screen and contextualize them in terms of “what does it tell me about this player?”. For example, let’s examine defensive rebounding. If a player is averaging double digit rebounds, that’s great; however, it’s important to see the distribution.

If player “X” is averaging 12 rebounds per game, and nine of them are defensive, it means a few things. First, it shows that player “X” is playing smart defense. Player “X” is most likely playing some type of hedge defense when the ball is away, and as a result, is in a good position to crash when the shot goes up, as opposed to being glued to their opponent who isn’t a scoring threat at the time.

It also means that player “X” is limiting the opposition’s chances to score. At its core, that’s the definition of a defensive rebound. Think about it this way: if player “X” is getting nine defensive rebounds a game, and on average there are 54 possessions in a game, then player “X” is lowering the amount of points the opposition can score by about 17 percent. If that player can also score low double digit points per game, that’s valuable, and that tells scouts you can impact the game in many ways.

3. Less is More

You’ve probably heard that phrase before, but how does it apply to the NBA 2k League Combine? Well, it means that you don’t always have to be moving or doing something. Players are constantly complaining about floor spacing and too many people cutting. So, if you aren’t near the play on offense, stay where you are. You aren’t doing anything for your rating or team by dragging your man into the action for no reason. And for the love of God, please stop cutting into the paint when people are driving or running a pick and roll.

The same philosophy applies on defense. If your man isn’t presenting himself as a scoring threat, or is fine staying in one place, don’t move. So many times players are moving for no reason, or are playing too tight to their man. Also, please stop spamming block and steal. It happens every game. Someone puts themselves out of position for a rebound or help defense because they are too active with unnecessary movements.

4. Never Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up

The words of Jim Valvano have never rang truer. If you lag or time out, that’s one thing. But if you quit on your teammates because you’re frustrated with them or you’re losing, then you are essentially undraftable. Think about it, there are over 70,000 prospects competing for 102 spots. These GM’s and scouts are looking for ways to eliminate you, not draft you. If you quit and hang your teammates out to dry, consider yourself done.

5. You’re Always Being Watched

This is a continuation of number four, but it can be applied to everyone in every situation. You are constantly being watched. Your words are being recorded. Within two minutes of a tweet about a popular player quitting mid game and ranting on his teammates, I was messaged by a franchise director about the incident to confirm which player it was.

Moreover, you have to monitor what you say. Even if you don’t quit, you can’t be arguing with your teammates and freeze them out. Please stop trying to justify your inability to adjust by saying, “bro the spacing is terrible”, “bro I can’t do this man”, or “I can’t play with these guys”. And at this point, swearing and slurs should not be occurring in these games. Don’t be foolish enough to think the NBA 2k League Combine is only about wins and stats.

It’s embarrassing to think that people who cared so much about this combine a week ago are the first people who are throwing their hands up and complaining. Do everything in your power to keep your composure, and show that nothing will keep you from accomplishing your dreams of making the league.

 

Featured Image courtesy of NBA2kLeague.com

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Ranking all NBA GMs

With the most focus on transactions, GMs are in charge of bringing in talent for the coaches and owners, and are likely the biggest decision-makers within the entire organization. The GM’s build the team and having a keen eye for talent in the draft, making smart trades and signing free agents is all the focus for building a talented roster all while maneuvering with the salary and luxury cap.

Here is how the 30 GMs rank in the NBA:

  1. Sacramento Kings-Vlade Divac

    Divac, who formerly played for the Kings, has been one of the reasons they’ve had no success in recent memory. (Photo by NY Daily News)

The Kings have had turmoil in all aspects of their front office, and are one of the worst sports franchises in any of the big 3 leagues(MLB, NBA, NFL) and haven’t made the playoffs in 11 seasons. They’ve had one all-star player(Demarcus Cousins) in the past 15 seasons and they traded Cousins last season despite a “better offer on the table two days ago” according to Vlade Divac.

29. New York Knicks- Scott Perry

The Knicks are also one of the worst front offices in sports, however a majority of the blame falls on the owner James Dolan. The Knicks who should be a top-tier organization with it’s huge market and easy attraction for players, are a disaster of a franchise. The only smart move they’ve made was drafting Kristaps Porzingis and not trading him.

28. Orlando Magic- John Hammond

The Magic have struggled to remain relevant in the NBA world and haven’t made the playoffs since 2012. They’ve missed on a majority of draft picks with the only exceptions being Aaron Gordon and Victor Oladipo, who wasn’t that good until this year.

27. Chicago Bulls-Gar Forman

The Bulls gave up Jimmy Butler this past summer and gave up Nikola Mirotic before the deadline. They’re going to rebuild and have young players and draft picks to do that, but with the current state of their roster, they can’t be any higher than this.

26. Phoenix Suns-Ryan McDonough

The Suns, are in the middle of a rebuild that seems to continue to stall. With their only good player being Devin Booker, it’s unlikely to see them succeed anytime soon. The handling of the Eric Bledsoe “I don’t want to be here” tweet/fiasco made the front office and team look like a bad organization.

Doc Rivers draft picks in recent memory illustrate how the Clippers have no young talent. (Chart by Wikipedia)

25. Los Angeles Clippers-Michael Winger

Doc Rivers may be the most overrated coach in the NBA and he’s also a terrible GM. Rivers has since been relieved of duties and now Winger has taken over operations. After they traded away Chris Paul, Steve Ballmer decided to make Michael Winger the GM and have Rivers focus on coaching. They pleaded with Blake Griffin to stay over summer and signed him to a long-term deal, only to send him to Detroit a few months later. They’re heading for a rebuild and will hopefully deal Deandre Jordan and Lou Williams(The one bright spot on this roster) to a playoff team.

24. Atlanta Hawks-Travis Schlenk

Former Warriors assistant GM, Schlenk is stuck with a roster in turnover and in the beginning of a rebuild. The team is in good position to get a solid player in the stocked draft over the summer.

 23.Charlotte Hornets-Rich Cho

Without Kemba Walker, this team would be one of the worst teams in the league, and while rumors of Walker being dealt have calmed down, Cho has failed to bring in more talent, Walker can’t do it all by himself.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies-Chris Wallace

While this seasons struggles haven’t been Wallace’s fault, the blame is going to fall on someone and this season, it was Dave Fizdale. However, The Grizz are fading away from relevance in the competitive Western Conference and are likely going into a rebuild.

  1. Brooklyn Nets-Sean Marks

The Nets have been a lot better than what was expected, and Marks was handed a talentless roster and a team without the rights to their own draft picks. However, acquiring D’angelo Russell was a great move for the franchise that has only won 1 playoff series since 2007.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers-Koby Altman

While people like to say that LeBron is the GM of the Cav’s, Altman has been the one running the operations. However, Altman has been very disappointing for his lack of ability to bring in talent. He was unable to acquire Jimmy Butler, Paul George or Chris Paul in a trade this summer. If Altman can’t bring in talent to help the roster, it’s likely LeBron leaves this summer. 

  1. Philadelphia76ers-Bryan Colangelo

    Colangelo has helped built a great young roster that will compete in the East for the extended future. (Photo by Philly.com)

The process is proven to be successful, with the young talent the Sixers have collected after years of tanking, they have demonstrated the amount of talent they have. If Colangelo can get solid available veteran like Tyreke Evans or Lou Williams before the deadline, the team may cause problems for some in the postseason.

  1. Washington Wizards-Ernie Grunfeld

The Wizards have been near the top of the East for quite a while, yet they’ve never been good enough to beat Lebron. With John Wall and Bradley Beal they’ve proven to be a top tier team in the East, but they still are one more player away from being a Finals contender. They could be one big trade away from the Finals.

  1. Dallas Mavericks-Donnie Nelson

Donnie Nelson has been a top tier GM for over ten years, however with the state of the Mavericks roster, it’s hard to include him within the top ten. Nelson has been able to keep Dirk around and made a great decision to draft Dennis Smith Jr. however, the team needs more talent if it wants to compete and it doesn’t look like this team will compete anytime soon.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers-Rob Pelinka

Former super-agent, Pelinka is rebuilding the Lakers and made great draft picks. Their young core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball are going to be great as they mature. If Pelinka and Magic Johnson can convince Lebron or another star free-agent to join the purple and gold, the Lakers could become very interesting.

  1. Indiana Pacers-Chad Buchanan

The Pacers have quietly put together a very nice year and are currently slotted in the 6th seed in the East. After Paul George demanded a trade, Buchanan didn’t rush into a deal and made a smart trade, where they may have gotten the better end of the deal with Victor Oladipo’s breakout season. The Pacers are a young and talented team that people forget about because they play in a smaller market.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers-Neil Olshey

Olshey has tried to boost the Blazers to the next level and into the top tier of the west, however the Blazers are still one more star away from being a true contender. The core of the team is exciting, and adding Deandre Jordan to the team could be exactly what the team needs. Olshey is also a local favorite, appearing in the hit TV show Portlandia, which coincides with his ambitions to be an actor.

  1. Utah Jazz-Dennis Lindsey

Lindsey couldn’t convince Gordon Hayward to stay with the Jazz, but drafting Donovan Mitchell has given new life to the organization. If Linsey can get another great player in the draft, they could add to a promising core with Mitchell and Golbert. Lindsey has shown he has a great eye for young overlooked talent.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans-Dell Demps

The pelicans have fleeced other teams in deals in the past year. They acquired Demarcus Cousins last year for role players and a first round pick and received Nikola Mirotic for a 1st round pick and bench reserves. Demps has shown the Pelicans are serious about competing in the West, but they need their stars to stay healthy.

  1. Detroit Pistons-Jeff Bower

The Pistons have made noise by trading away Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley for Blake Griffin. Getting an all-star level talent is impressive and the Pistons are going to fight for one of the last spots in the Eastern conference playoffs. The Pistons roster on paper, looks like a team that should contend in the playoffs for the years to come.

  1. Heat-Andy Elisburg

Elisburg with the help of the legendary Pat Riley, have made the Heat formidable with Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters. They’re currently looking strong to make the playoffs with key signee Kelly Olynyk and rookie Bam Adebayo.

  1. Nuggets- Arturas Karnisovas

The Nuggets are holding onto the 8th seed in the West with their young talented roster. Karnisovas has one of the deepest teams at his disposal even with Paul Millsap injured. While the Nuggets lack one true star, no player averages over 20 points per game, they’ve developed into a great young team build around Nikola Jokic.

  1. Timberwolves-Scott Layden

Layden has built a great roster with Wiggins, Butler and Anthony-Towns. However, this roster lacks depth which is very important. Their big 3 are all within the top 15 in the NBA for Minutes per game and they will be exhausted in the postseason. If they can make a trade for another role player or two, they could win a series or two in the West.

  1. Toronto Raptors-Bobby Webster

Webster has built a very solid competitor, and drafting O.G. Anunoby was one of the steals in the draft. If Webster can pull off a move, there’s a chance the Raptors are the team to beat the Cavaliers. However, LeBron has had their number in the playoffs every year and until the Raptors beat the Cavs in a playoff series, they won’t be considered a Finals contender.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks-Jon Horst

Building around Giannis and the young core of the roster has been Horst’s goal this season and acquiring underrated guard Eric Bledsoe and is potentially going to bring in Deandre Jordan. The Bucks have made solid draft picks in the past few years and are set up well to

Presti was able to convince Russell Westbrook to sign an extension and bring in talent around him. (Tusla World)

compete in the East for the upcoming years.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder-Sam Presti

Presti deserves to be within the top 5 of GMs because of his ability to bring in talent. After Durant’s departure, he was able to get Westbrook to commit and become the face of the franchise. He traded for Paul George, and then Carmelo Anthony to make a very good big three for OKC. Presti also improved the bench that will help them go deep in the playoffs.

  1. Houston Rockets-Daryl Morey

Morey has taken the analytical approach of only shooting 3-pointers and layups. This explains why the roster is filled with lots of talented shooters built around the likely MVP James Harden and Chris Paul. Morey’s efficient approach has boosted the Rockets to be able to compete with the Warriors.

  1. Golden State Warriors-Bob Myers

Another former agent, Myers has transformed a young talented team into the best team in the generation. While convincing Kevin Durant to sign with the Warriors is incredible, finding valuable role players in the second round and manueving the salary cap has been Myers expertise. Myers is responsible for the stacked bench and the championship talent that is on the roster.

  1. San Antonio Spurs-R.C. Bufford

The extended success of the Spurs is only matched by the Patriots in all of sports. The Spurs have won 5 championships since 1999 and have made the playoffs every year since then. They hold the highest regular season win percentage and have young talent in Kawhi Leonard and Co to continue the Spurs winning tradition.

  1. Boston Celtics-Danny Ainge

Ainge is a master of trading, he stockpiled draft picks years ago for aged Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. With these picks, he has grabbed Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum who all have played well in the Celtics system. Ainge also shipped off Thomas for Kyrie Irving and are the strongest competitor in the East. He also recently convinced Greg Monroe to come off the bench for the Celts instead of going to start in New Orleans. Ainge deserves GM of the year.

Featured image by Celtics Hub.

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Greg Monroe Boston Celtics

What the Greg Monroe pickup means for Boston

The Boston Celtics and veteran center Greg Monroe agreed to a one-year contract on Feb. 2. This deal, while expected since the Suns waived him on Feb. 1, is potentially an Eastern Conference-shaking move.

On the surface, this trade fills a hole on the offensive end of the court and does not hamstring the Celtics whatsoever defensively. Dig a little bit deeper, however, and one has to question getting bigger is what will push Boston over the edge to win the East, or give them what they need to beat Golden State.

Here is a breakdown of how Monroe will be able to contribute to the East’s best team going forward.

Rebounds

Greg Monroe Boston Celtics

Greg Monroe attempts to swat away Wesley Johnson’s shot as a member of the Pistons. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Monroe has been a pretty prolific rebounder since he entered the league during the 2010-11 season.

 

During his seven-year NBA career, Monroe has averaged 8.7 rebounds per game. His rebounds for the current season are down to 7.4, but considering he has only played 25 games, mostly with one of the worst teams in the league this season, that isn’t too surprising.

The Celtics are already in the top 10 in rebounds per game this season. If Monroe continues to contribute 7-8 per game, which all career consistency numbers indicate he will, it could easily propel Boston to top three in the league.

Minutes

The real question concerning Monroe’s role with the Celtics will be the number of minutes per game he ends up getting.

Boston is already a long team. With Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes, playing time might be stretched a little thinner than the true center is used to.

In his career, Monroe has averaged a little less than 30 minutes per game. Considering both the young and established big-man talent on the Celtics’ roster, a bench role would make sense for him, being that the team has been successful up to this point.

During his 25 games this season, Monroe has averaged 21.8 minutes per game. That number should stay about where it is, if not dip a little, depending on his production on an already stacked team.

Offensive production

Greg Monroe Boston Celtics

Greg Monroe was waived by the Suns on Feb. 1, 2018. (Photo by Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press)

Surprisingly, Boston is 23rd in terms of points per game midway through the season. This obviously has not hurt them too much, considering they have the best record in the Eastern Conference. This has to do with the team’s commitment to defense.

 

But defense alone will not be enough to win in the playoffs. That’s where Monroe steps in.

In the 2017-18 campaign, Monroe has 10.4 points per game. Again, that is down from his 13.9 career points per game, but being on a more complete team will help that number rise quickly. His minutes and role on the Celtics are still in question, but expect that number to get better as he plays more.

His 2.2 offensive rebounds per game this season will also create more opportunities for points. If all goes according to plan, the Celtics should finish at least in the top 20 in terms of points per game after the pickup. When a team plays defense like Boston does, that will go a long way.

Defensive production

For a 6-foot-11 center, Monroe’s defense is not quite as solid as one might expect. His career 1.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game leaves a bit to be desired on that end of the court.

However, he has never played on a team like the Celtics, or under a coach as talented as Brad Stevens. If he buys into Stevens’ system and gets solid playing time, those numbers should climb.

The Celtics are fifth in defensive rebounds per game. Adding a rebounder like Monroe is only going to help rob opposing teams of possessions when he is on the court. That alone should be enough to justify the pickup, despite his defensive struggles.

Summary

Greg Monroe Boston Celtics

Greg Monroe goes up for a block during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks.
(Photo by Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports)

Being that Monroe’s contract is a one-year, $5 million deal, this is very much an experiment for Boston. A low-risk, high-reward experiment, but an experiment nonetheless.

 

If Boston can figure out how to use him off of the bench, this move only puts them in a better position to further its grasp on the East. A bench role could take some getting used to for the big man, but if he buys into the system, he can be a huge piece moving forward for an already talented team.

After the Suns waived Monroe, it was really a no-brainer for the Celtics to pick him up. And being able to play for a contender should only further his motivation, provided he finds his niche in the system. If he finds his stride and accepts his role, it could also go a long way in being able to re-sign him for relatively cheap after the season ends.

With his first game in green coming Sunday, NBA fans should know pretty soon after what kind of impact he can make on the Eastern Conference.

 

Featured image by Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

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New Orleans Pelicans threat in the West

Are the Pelicans a real threat in the West?

With a decent record at 28-23, the New Orleans Pelicans have been able to hold onto a spot in the ultra-talented Western Conference playoff picture. However, the DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis experiment is on hold with Cousins out for the year with an Achilles injury.

Because of this injury, the Pelicans have become very active at the trade deadline and have acquired Nikola Mirotic in a four-player trade with Chicago. Let’s break down all of their recent actions surrounding NOLA and their move to bolster their lineup for a potential postseason run.

Losing DeMarcus Cousins

New Orleans Pelicans threat in the West

The Pelicans big 3 of Holiday, Davis and Cousins have combined to averaged over 70 points a game this season. (Photo by NBA.com)

Cousins’ injury is devastating, cutting his career-year short. Cousins was voted an All-Star starter and was a underrated MVP candidate averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.

Unfortunately, It’s worth noting that many players who’ve suffered Achilles injuries haven’t been the same player after their injury. The list of players includes Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, Patrick Ewing, Dominique Wilkins and Wesley Matthews. While current Achilles operations are likely better than the procedure Baylor had in 1970, players continue to struggle after this injury. There is a very real chance Cousins won’t be the same player he was before his injury.

To make matters worse, Cousins is a free agent. While the 1-2 Combo with Davis has been great, there is a chance Cousins will want to go to a bigger market like Los Angeles or Boston.

Cousins’ injury does hold a huge red flag, and teams should really be careful if they want to sign him to the long-term max deal he will command this summer.

Trading for Nikola Mirotic

The Pelicans needed another strong player before Cousins went down, but now they desperately needed someone to help carry the load with Anthony Davis. It’s likely Mirotic will play the 4 and Davis can be moved to center. With Mirotic’s strong perimeter play, he could form a great combo with him on the outside and Davis on the inside. If they can keep Cousins after this year, Mirotic can play behind the two of them as a great sixth man or at small forward in small spans. However, playing him at the 3 exclusively seems unlikely.

In addition, this trade shows Davis, the face of the franchise, that they want to compete and win now. The sense of urgency of the franchise demonstrates that they are building around Davis, and the trade rumors will die down at least until this summer.

Trading away their first-round pick and Omer Asik

New Orleans Pelicans threat in the West

Asik has been very disappointing in New Orleans and extremely overpaid. (Photo by hoopsrumors.com)

While getting rid of their first-round pick is tough to swallow, especially in the talent-stocked draft class this season, the Pelicans are forgoing building for the future and are going to try to compete now. With that being said, their pick wasn’t going to be within the top 10 picks, so it’s questionable how valuable the pick is. 

Davis is still only 24 years old and hasn’t hit his prime yet. Mirotic is 26 years old, Jrue Holiday is only 27 years old and Cousins (if he re-signs and can return fully healed) is only 27 years old. The Pelicans do not need to build for their future, because their future is now.

As well as getting Mirotic, they were able to unload Omer Asik’s terrible contract onto the Bulls, which has been a major clog for their payroll. Asik may be the most overpaid player in the league, with three years left of a five-year, $57 million deal. He has averaged 1.3 points per game in the 8.6 minutes he plays.

To be blunt, Asik, is terrible and getting rid of his contract while receiving an efficient player like Mirotic is like trading garbage for gold. They threw in backup guards Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen, who are both way past their prime and weren’t really helping the team reach the playoffs.

Final Thoughts

The Pelicans’ front office has been very active at the deadline, and while missing out on Greg Monroe hurts for a team that could now use another center, they can seek solace knowing that Mirotic, Holiday and Davis should be enough talent to keep them in the playoffs this year.

If they can hold all the pieces together, they could be a real force as their core develops better chemistry and heads into their prime. They aren’t a real threat in the West this year, but they could be in the coming years.

 

Feature image from ClutchPoints.com

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Cleveland Cavaliers time to panic

Is it time for the Cavs to hit the panic button?

The Cavaliers have won the Eastern Conference Finals the past three seasons, and for the past three years, were the clear-cut favorite to represent the conference in the NBA Finals. They’ve had remarkable success in the postseason. Even when they were the second seed in the East, everyone knew who the team to beat was.

When LeBron James played with the Miami Heat, they were always first or second in the conference, and again, were the team to beat. However, the James-led Cavs this year are not in the top two spots in the conference. In fact, this is the lowest win percentage by one of James’ teams since 2007. Along with a poorer record than usual, there is well-documented tension within the locker room, swirling trade rumors and coach Tyronn Lue appears to be on the hot seat.

Will the Cavaliers reach the finals this year? What will happen when James hits free agency this offseason? Here are some of the reasons why Cleveland might soon be in panic mode.

Defense

Cleveland Cavaliers time to panic

James was animated on the sidelines during a blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors (Photo from YouTube).

The Cavaliers rank dead last in points per possession, and this was a team expected to play better defense with the addition of Jae Crowder and subtraction of Kyrie Irving.

On the flip side, Boston has the best defense per possession, and they hold the lowest opponent field goal percentage (43.3 percent) in the league. The impact of a great coach is noticed in its defense. Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich and Brad Stevens all have their teams in the top five in opponent field goal percentage. Likewise, the Cavaliers rank 28th in the league with teams shooting 47.5 percent against them.

Jason Kidd was just fired because the Bucks, a team that has lots of capable defenders, are in the bottom tier of opponent field goal percentage. The Cavaliers have more than enough talent to play at a high level on defense, but it’s the coach’s job to build team defense, and Tyronn Lue has not done that.

If the saying, “defense wins championships” is true, the Cavaliers will have no business making it to the finals, let alone winning the finals.

Isaiah Thomas

While Isaiah Thomas is still slowly getting back into NBA shape, there is no question he lacks chemistry with the team and has digressed from last year. The 5-foot-9 point guard averaged just under 29 points per game last season, and shot 46.3 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from deep while finishing fifth in MVP voting.

This year, he’s averaging a mere 15.4 points per game on 39 percent shooting from the floor and 27.6 percent from 3-point range. His numbers and efficiency on offense are extremely down this year. Thomas has always been a below-average defender, partially due to his lack of height. Without him producing on offense, he’ll be unplayable in the playoffs.

If he doesn’t find his groove and get back to the player he was last year, then Cleveland will be in big trouble in the playoffs. The Cavs are 5-5 with Thomas on the court.

Besides the on-court issues, there are reports that Thomas criticized Kevin Love for not playing in a game because of an illness during a team meeting that included lots of finger pointing, and not a lot of solutions. Thomas has been involved with what seems to be subtle jabs back and forth.

It’s worth noting that last year, reporters couldn’t get any information from players on the Cavs, but this year, there has been a player who shares with the media the updates in the locker room. It’s a safe bet that one of the new additions is the one leaking information to the media, and Thomas is likely the player doing so.

Trade rumors

After playing other playoff contenders, it’s very apparent that Cleveland needs to make a trade to improve its roster before the playoffs. Essentially every player that could be moved in the NBA is on its radar, because the sense of urgency to make a deal is very high.

There’s been lots of rumors about George Hill and DeAndre Jordan among others being traded, and the Cavaliers desperately need to add talent, yet aren’t willing to part with any players who have value, or the first-round pick from Brooklyn.

Reports have leaked that players on the roster don’t think they can beat Golden State. Without the addition of a quality point guard or center to bolster its lineup, this team could be in for a disappointing postseason.

LeBron James

LeBron James is still playing at a very high level and is likely going to finish within the top three for the MVP voting. However, due to the headache he’s consistently causing his team, is his on-court talent worth the baggage he brings off the court?

Cleveland Cavaliers time to panic

Will James leave the Cavs this summer? (Photo by NBC Sports)

James is finally starting to look older on the court, and the years of heavy minutes and playing intense basketball until June is beginning to have an effect on him.

While he’s led the Cavaliers to lots of success in his career, there’s no doubt his relationship with owner Dan Gilbert could be better. Furthermore, the Cavaliers let go of former general manager David Griffin, who James was close friends with, which brings to question how solid of a bond James and the Cavs hold.

With James’ pending free agency, there is a growing belief that he is likely to bolt from the Cavaliers once again and surround himself with better talent as he ages. There’s a good chance this successful relationship between James and the Cavaliers will end soon.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, the Cavaliers have the best player in the league and more playoff experience than any other team in the conference. However, there are other talented teams in the conference, and Boston could be the first team to really challenge Cleveland, especially if Gordon Hayward comes back this season.

It’s unlikely the Cavs can beat the Warriors with the poor chemistry and roster they currently have, and the Eastern Conference has increasingly gotten tougher. It may be time for the Cavs to hit the panic button.

 

Featured image from Sporting News

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NBA All-Star draft recap

Breaking down the first NBA All-Star draft

With this season’s changes to a the previously dull All-Star games, the highest vote getter on the East (LeBron James) and the highest vote getter on the West (Stephen Curry) were the captains for both sides, and they drafted players to their teams.

While both LeBron and Steph both claimed that they wanted the draft to be televised in their recent interview, the NBA Players Association, which Chris Paul is the president and LeBron is vice president of, made the league use discretion and didn’t want the order of picks made available to the public. Here is the breakdown of both teams.

Team Stephen

Starters: Stephen Curry, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.

Reserves: Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Karl Anthony-Towns and Al Horford.

Team LeBron

Starters: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins

Reserves: Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Victor Oladipo, Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge

Stephen’s starting backcourt vs. LeBron’s backcourt

Both backcourts have an unreal amount of talent and all belong to one of the three best teams of the league. While both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are having incredible years, Team Stephen has a slight advantage over Team LeBron. However, Curry and Harden will have to pour in 3-pointers to hang with the much taller starting lineup Team LeBron possesses.

Stephen’s starting frontcourt vs. LeBron’s starting frontcourt

LeBron was lucky enough to grab both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins from the New Orleans Pelicans to provide a daunting frontcourt to face. However, with Cousins now injured, he will need to be replaced.

Davis is a key player to watch after last year’s 52-point outburst in the All-Star game, which won him All-Star MVP honors.

Steph grabbed the Greek Freak, Embiid and Derozan to counter LeBron’s arsenal, but the frontcourt of James and Davis still gives LeBron an advantage over Team Steph.

Stephen’s reserve backcourt vs. LeBron’s reserve backcourt

NBA All-Star draft recap

Lillard, who spoke out about being snubbed the past few years, is playing in this year’s All-Star Game. (Photo by Today’s Fastbreak)

LeBron grabbed Russell Westbrook, by far the best player amongst reserves and a tireless scorer, especially in the All-Star Game. Westbrook, who won the All-Star game MVP award in 2016 and 2015, will keep his usual in-game intensity despite no effect on the standings.

Curry drafted controversial All-Star Damian Lillard and he is a favorite dark horse candidate to win MVP of the game.

Nonetheless, Team LeBron has the advantage amongst reserve guards on paper.

Stephen’s reserve frontcourt vs. LeBron’s reserve frontcourt

This year features lots of talented young bigs and talented older veterans who are representing both sides. Fan favorite Kristaps Porzingis was selected by LeBron and could be a player who dominates in the All-Star game given the usual level of defense played.

Curry’s bench includes teammate Draymond Green and Karl Anthony-Towns, who may play vital roles if the game gets serious in the end. Both sides are fairly equal, and could be a deciding factor in the game.

Notable teammates

NBA All-Star draft recap

Former teammates James and Irving will be interesting to watch on the same team since Irving requested a trade last summer. (Photo by Yahoo Sports)

The general consensus amongst fans, players and media is that Kevin Durant was the first pick after Curry made it public that if LeBron didn’t select him first, he would pick him. Curry’s comments also suggest that his second pick was likely Antetokounmpo.

LeBron drafted Kyrie Irving, even though the former teammates aren’t hostile towards one another, having James and Irving in the same locker room will be a main storyline of the weekend.

LeBron also drafted former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, despite their well-documented and animosity-filled breakup. While Durant and Westbrook were teammates in last year’s All-Star game, which featured an alley-oop pass from Durant to Westbrook that seemed to ease the tension, they still went at it in a game this season in Oklahoma City. Victor Oladipo, another former member of the Thunder, is also on Team LeBron.

Both LeBron and Steph valued drafting their teammates, as LeBron grabbed Kevin Love, and Steph grabbed Klay Thompson and Green. Love, who grew up with Thompson, tweeted about how fun it would be to play with him, but it won’t happen this year.

Both captains also drafted dynamic duo’s as Steph grabbed both Karl Anthony-Towns and Jimmy Butler from the Timberwolves and Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan from the Toronto Raptors. LeBron drafted both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins for his starting lineup, and has the Wizards backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal on his bench.

LeBron has the past four All-Star Game MVPs on his team.

Prediction

Team LeBron gets an early lead with lots of flashy dunks, while Team Stephen keeps things interesting with lots of 3-pointers. In the end, Team LeBron wins 180-168. LeBron will take this game very seriously and win MVP.

 

Feature image by NBA.com

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