The Milwaukee Bucks have been in every game since the All-Star break. Sadly, this club has been on the losing side of late, going 2-5, dropping them into the 7th seed of the playoffs. During the five losses, the Bucks have given up on average 107 points per game, while scoring 99 themselves.
For this team to win close games against good teams, they must value a mindset of remaining in the moment. All it takes for this team to lose is one poor stretch where they lose focus. That’s literally the difference between winning or losing the close ones.
This time of the year, teams are perfecting their game, tweaking potential areas of weakness. If unable to correct certain issues, the good teams expose these areas like night and day. Milwaukee knows where it must improve.
The Bucks must be ready to compete at a high level from the start of the first quarter and the start of the second half. Teams have been consistently jumping on them early and playing catch-up is just exhausting when it is a constant theme. Truth is, because every game has been so close, this has been their demise.
The city of Milwaukee is connected to this team, we all appreciate the fight, the talent, but we needs wins. Everyone thought this was the year for this team to step up their game, to evolve into the upper tier of the Eastern Conference. I’m not saying they won’t accomplish their goals, they are so close, it almost drives a fan mad. But, this stretch is monumental if this club has any aspirations of doing damage come playoff time.
Milwaukee must go at the very least 4-2 during this time against Houston, New York, Memphis, Orlando, Atlanta and Cleveland. Obviously, they face a tough test tonight against Houston. But the following four games the opposing teams have a combined record of 62 wins and 175 losses (35% winning percentage). If they surrender a loss to anyone of these bottom feeders, they will pay for it in the future. In fact, had they fared a little better the past 5 games it would have given them a little leeway. Look for the Bucks to usurp their will against these clubs and dominate. Then there will be a test in Cleveland. So, take care of business and grab one of the two that you aren’t supposed to win. Before you know it, you’re back in the position that feels good and safe.
On the contrary, stumbling at this juncture has the potential of costing this team the playoffs. Although there are a few games separating the 8th and 9th seeds (top 8 make it), do you really want to go to Toronto or Boston for the first round? I think not. Forget expectations, and play solid basketball. Live play-by-play and seize the opportunity, it’s right at your fingertips. However, we are talking about a franchise that has been consistently losing for the better part of three decades. Can they rise above?
My gut tells me it’s only a matter of time, embracing the moment, being the absolute best you can be for the entire duration on the court. It’s when you maximize being in the moment and embrace it head on, that you start to have successes in these situations. Lets embrace these moments Bucks, it’s your time to shine!
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo to all 30 teams on Feb. 21 warning against tanking for a better draft pick. It is a problem that has been heavily discussed in recent years and has been the first real test for the fourth-year commissioner.
In the memo, Silver says that if the NBA receives any evidence of teams tanking, “that conduct would be met with the swiftest and harshest response possible from the league office.” He also acknowledges that rebuilding is a “legitimate strategy to construct a successful team,” but wants to separate rebuilds from purposefully not competing.
The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks are two of the worst teams in the league, putting them in the tanking conversation. (Photo by Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
It will be a very subjective process, regardless of how the NBA wants to frame their criteria. The teams at the bottom of the standings simply do not have the talent to compete. Couple that with the fact the best teams in the league continue to get better, it makes sense for them to prepare for the future. It just does not make sense for them to try to compete for something they won’t be able to accomplish.
So, why not just lose now and build up a roster while hoping the juggernauts lose steam? Silver’s memo answers that question with a figurative, “because I told you so.”
The gap between the top teams in each conference and the middle-to-bottom has never felt wider.
The one seed and eight seed in each conference are separated by 12 to 15 games. That’s a big, but not huge, margin. However, with so few games left before the playoffs, it’s a gap no five to eight seed could hope to close, especially considering the talent on the teams at the top.
The Phoenix Suns have the worst record in the Western Conference and could secure the first pick in the draft. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)
Ignoring the actual records, though, it’s the reputation and on-court play of the teams that makes the gap seem cavernous. Does anyone think the Heat stand a chance the Raptors? Or that the Clippers could hold off James Harden and the Rockets?
And those are the teams that are actually in the playoffs. The Kings had no shot at anything resembling a playoff spot this year. The Suns probably never even dreamt of playing in late April. So, in the already brutal Western Conference, why not lean into the inevitable? Those teams could be playing their hardest and make moves at the deadline to get better, but still end up no better than 11th place.
The point here is when we already know what the conference finals will probably look like, there isn’t shame in fading into the background. Teams can give their young talent minutes and swipe up cheap contracts while preparing for their push several years down the road.
The easiest example to point to in the tanking discussion is Mark Cuban’s Mavericks.
The same day Silver’s memo allegedly went out, Mark Cuban was fined $600,000 for admitting his organization was adopting the tanking philosophy. Cuban said on Dr. J’s podcast that he told his staff over a dinner that, “losing is our best option.”
This is no doubt what made Silver say, in no uncertain terms, that losing on purpose will not be tolerated. He made an example of Cuban and then apparently wasted no time in telling all 30 teams about it.
Silver did mention, though, that the league office has no reason to believe the Mavericks are, in fact, losing on purpose. But talking about it was reason enough to come down hard on the billionaire owner.
It’s obvious that the worst teams in the league are getting the short end of the stick if the NBA does find a way to impose harsh punishments on tanking. But who do these new standards benefit?
Dirk Nowitzki has expressed his frustration with the Mavericks’ losing ways. (Photo by Mike Stone/Reuters)
The most obvious answer is the teams that finish in the middle of the pack, namely the 7-11 seeds. They can still compete for a playoff spot, while not damaging their chances of getting a high pick in the draft lottery.
The bottom four to six teams, however, have nothing to worry about as long as they lose “legitimately.” This is where the new rules and standards start to have a gray tint. How will the NBA front office differentiate between an honest rebuild and purposefully putting a bad product on the floor?
This could come by examining minutes. It could come by paying close attention to coaching and strategies near the end of games. It could even involve inspection of the pieces being traded away in the middle of the season.
Silver’s memo was not specific on the strategies of identifying true tanking. They probably need to be heavily discussed in the offseason first.
The NBA brass have valid points when it comes to deterring teams from racing to the bottom. It absolutely hurts the league when anywhere from four to eight teams give less effort than they should.
By laying down against teams that would probably beat them anyway, these teams are willingly letting the disparity between the top and the bottom grow further. It gives the top seeds even more of a head start while they look to lock up a home-court advantage. Also, it hurts the NBA’s bottom line. If your team is bad, then you will likely not tune in to as many games as you would if they were only a game or two out from a playoff spot.
That translates into lost ticket sales, lost ad revenue, lost merchandise dividends, etc. Bad teams normally know they are going to be bad going into the season, but improving competition in any way is good for the NBA.
Tanking is a comment on the current state of affairs in the league. It separates the owners that are geared towards the future success of the franchise from the ones who are happy enough giving their fans at least a couple games of playoff basketball to watch.
Some teams are always going to be head and shoulders above the rest of the league competitively. That’s how it works in every sport. But along with the new push to identify and punish tanking, Silver and the NBA might consider finding more ways to close the gap between the very best and the merely competitive.
Featured image by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
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The NBA Trade Deadline yesterday was absolute madness. Trades were happening left and right. Twitter was blowing up just as much as the Cavs roster. Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Sharania were dueling back and forth to see who could break news first. My colleague Ben Hendricks broke down the Cavaliers trades in another piece so if you want to read up on those go check his article out. Below are all of the minor trades that took place in the hours leading up to the trade deadline at 3pm Eastern Time.
All-Star weekend is right around the corner, and with that comes the different competitions that take place before culminating with the All-Star game on Sunday February 18th. Arguably the most famous and important competition of the weekend is the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
The Slam Dunk contest will be on Saturday February 17th at 7:00pm on TNT. This year, the event is being held in Los Angeles, California at the Staples Center. The Staples Center is home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers of the Western Conference.
The contest features four contestants competing against each other in front of a panel of judges and is two rounds long. In the first round, each contestant gets two attempts to dunk and impress the panel. After each dunker goes both times, the two dunkers with the highest scores will advance. The two remaining dunkers will attempt to out duel each other by getting two more chances to show off their creativity and athleticism. The winner is then decided and a champion declared.
The Dunk Contest was originally introduced in 1984 during All-Star Weekend. Larry Nance defeated the great Julius “Dr. J” Erving in Denver, Colorado in that contest.
The previous three winners of the event will not be competing due to being out for most of the year with injuries. Zach LaVine won in 2015 and 2016, but he just recently returned from an ACL tear. Glenn Robinson III won last year’s event but is out after having ankle surgery in earlier this season.
Let’s meet this year’s dunkers.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Dennis Smith Jr. dribbles down the court (Zimbio)
Dennis Smith Jr. is a rookie point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. He was picked with the 9th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from North Carolina State. On the year, he is averaging 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He is shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three.
He is one of the standout players from one of the best draft classes we have seen in a while. During his pre-draft workout with the Los Angeles Lakers, he tied a record by registering a 48-inch vertical leap. That is extremely impressive, considering the fact that his is only 6-2 . He has already proved he is one of the most athletic guards in the league with several nasty jams, including ones against the Spurs and Warriors. Expect him to break out some good ones in the contest.
Larry Nance Jr.
The second junior we have competing in the event, Larry Nance Jr. is a third year power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was picked 27th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft out of the University of Wyoming. As previously mentioned, his dad Larry Nance won the inaugural dunk contest in 1984, so you can see where he got his hops from.
The 6-9 power forward is averaging a career high 8.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 60 percent from the field. Over the past three years, we has seen his dunks and have wondered why he has not participated/been invited to the event. Now we don’t have to wait any longer as he gets to show off his ferocious ability in this year’s contest. He has sent many players to the NBA graveyard, including David West, Kevin Durant (2x) and Brook Lopez, as seen below.
Victor Oladipo is fifth year shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers. He was originally drafted 2nd overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, where he spent his first 3 years of his career. He then spent last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder before being traded to the Indiana Pacers in the Paul George blockbuster deal this past summer.
The 6-4 guard has proven that Indiana didn’t get fleeced by OKC, putting up a career high 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. He is shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from three, also career highs.
At the 2013 NBA combine, Oladipo wowed observers with a 42-inch vertical. He previously competed in the 2015 Slam Dunk Contest, where he lost to then-Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Zach LaVine. He had arguably the dunk of the year last year, slamming it on the head of center Dwight Howard.
Last but not least, we have Aaron Gordon. Gordon is a 4th year combo forward for the Orlando Magic. He was selected 4th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft out of the University of Arizona. This year, Gordon is averaging a career high 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He is shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from three.
He is an absolutely electric athlete who can wow you with every dunk he attempts. He competed in the event and lost the past two years, so we will see if he comes up with something new to excite the crowd and impress the judges this time around. Below are his highlights from his epic duel with Zach LaVine in 2016.
Luca’s prediction: Dennis Smith Jr.
Dennis Smith Jr. has enough juice to get this done. I believe he has some great dunks up his sleeve and will impress the casual fans who do not yet know how special of a talent he is. He is a smaller guard with a ton of hops and he can play that to his advantage and get the win.
Featured photo by Dan Savage/NBA.com
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Well every team has played from 10-12 games so far this season so it’s time to make some reflections on the start to the season.
Whether it’s championship caliber teams struggling, star players off to rough starts or rookies under performing here’s a look at the start of the 2017-2018 NBA season.
I’m going to go out on limb and say no one had the Magic and Pistons in the top 3 in the east through 10+ games. The Pistons have benefited from Tobias Harris’ spectacular play on both ends.
Other teams have shocked the Eastern Conference with their struggles. Luckily for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the season doesn’t end today or they would be out of the playoffs. Not having a second scoring option to go with Lebron has hurt them.
The Milwaukee Bucks have struggled despite MVP level play from Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the addition of Eric Bledsoe, the team should turn it around moving forward.
The Celtics have rattled off 10 straight wins even without their second best player. Brad Stevens has put together great game plans and has transformed a roster full of youth into the best defensive team in the NBA.
Players Worth Noting:
Kyle Lowry, (Raptors Republic).
Ben Simmons has practically led the way for the Philadelphia 76ers. Once a front runner for the rookie of the year, Simmons has lived up to his anticipated hype. In his last 10 games, Simmons is nearly averaging a triple double. He has 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game as well as a 19.8 player efficiency rating. Simmons is leading a 76ers team through the point-forward position.
Kristaps Porzingis has been incredible for the New York Knicks. In his last 10, Porzingis is averaging 29.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. He is also at an astounding 29.2 for player efficiency rating which is one of the tops in the entire NBA.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the tops in the NBA in player efficiency as well. He sits at 32.7 and is averaging 32 points per game. Giannis is one of the only reasons that the Bucks have been competitive through 10 games.
Kyle Lowry is one of the players who has struggled out of the gates for the Raptors. Lowry is shooting 32 percent from three and 39 percent from the field. He is averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists as the secondary option for the Raptors. All of those per game stats are well below his career averages.
There isn’t too many surprises in the Western Conference. Some of the bigger ones have been the Thunder, Grizzlies and Clippers.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have struggled to win games. They are getting over 60 points per game from Westbrook, Anthony and George. They are 4-6 and have gotten great play from their big three.
One of the shocking things is how well the Memphis Grizzlies have played. They managed to knock off the Warriors and Rockets already and those two teams are the best in the Western Conference so far. They come out at 7-4 and have gotten help from a rested and ready Chandler Parsons who has just under a 17 player efficiency rating.
Even though the Clippers are 5-5, they have had glimpses of great play. They won their first four and have hit a skid as of late. Obviously their strength of schedule hasn’t been too heavy, but the Clippers are a fringe playoff team and they are only going to get better as the season moves forward.
Players Worth Noting:
Clint Capela has provided a low post threat and has been the second option for the Houston Rockets. Capela is averaging 12.7 points and 10.6 rebounds as well as 2 blocks and 2 assists. He is manning the middle for the Rockets and has helped them to a 8-3 record.
Lamarcus Aldridge has benefited from Kawhi Leonard being out. He is averaging 22.6 point and 8.3 rebounds and has helped a team without one of their stars jump out to a 7-4 record.
A final statistic that is interesting for the league as a whole so far is that Shabazz Muhammad is averaging 10.3 minutes in the seven games the Timberwolves have won this year. He is also averaging 22.3 minutes in the four losses they have this season.
Featured Image from Slamonline.com.
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The Southeast Division has been interesting this offseason. With the Wizards emerging as the team to beat moving forward, it leaves the other four teams trying to contend.
The Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets passed Dwight Howard to each other this offseason and the Miami Heat are now healthy moving forward and have added some key pieces. The Southeast Division has gotten stronger as a whole this offseason.
Here are the win predictions for each team in the Southeast Division.
2016-2017 record: 43-39
2017-2018 prediction: 22-60
The Hawks have elected to go younger this offseason losing Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Hawks will lose some of their top scorers but give way to the young talent of Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Price and newly drafted John Collins.
It will be a tough season in Atlanta. Ultimately they are relying on four young guys to carry most of the offensive load.
It’s hard to throw role players from last year right into the fire this year but the Atlanta Hawks have no choice. They will be giving their younger guys experience on the fly and they will be learning throughout the season.
The Atlanta Hawks will struggle this season, but they can only go up from here.
Dwight Howard, Photo Courtesy of sneakernews.com.
2016-2017 record: 36-46
2017-2018 prediction: 44-38
On the other side of the Dwight Howard deal, the Hornets get better in it.
To put Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum and Dwight Howard help lead the way is a supreme step forward. The Hornets needed a big man to help Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky, with Howard they found him.
The Hornets got Howard for a very good price and seemed to have only built up this offseason and are absolutely in a good spot to make the playoffs.
Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist was the leading rebounder on this team last year, now Dwight Howard will solve that problem. The Hornets solved their biggest problem and look to be a tough team moving forward.
2016-2017 record: 41-41
2017-2018 prediction: 46-36
The Miami Heat would have been a completely different team had they not started the season 11-30. Dion Waiters emerged as a strong scoring threat to go along with Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside.
If not for a slow start, the Heat were a playoff team. This year Spoelstra gets back virtually the same team with the addition of Kelly Olynyk who can stretch the floor.
The Miami Heat will pick up a few more wins this season and be a strong team come playoff time.
The Orlando Magic celebrating, Photo Courtesy of slamonline.com.
2016-2017 record: 29-53
2017-2018 prediction: 32-50
The Magic are also bringing back a lot of the same guys from last year.
Serge Ibaka and Terrance Ross joined a Magic team midway through last year and join a solid young group.
Evan Fournier led the way scoring and can only get better as an offensive weapon. If Aaron Gordon can extend his offensive game and create another option, this team could be sound offensively.
Jonathon Simmons is a good replacement for Jeff Green and the Magic are starting to move forward with their young players.
The Magic will be very competitive but will lose some close games due to their youth. The Magic have a good core and will be good moving forward.
2016-2017 record: 49-33
2017-2018 prediction: 47-25
Don’t get me wrong, the Wizards are the third best team in the East for sure, and even though they don’t lose too much, other teams have gotten much better.
The Wizards are a very similar team comparatively to last season. Wall turned into a superstar caliber guard and a very good two-way player.
Bradley Beal continued to score at a high level and Otto Porter emerged as a nice option as well. Kelly Oubre will need to improve his game off the bench as he is one of the only bench scorers they have.
The Washington Wizards are talent wise the same as they were last year. They will grow as a team and compete against a tough Western Conference but drop a few mire games than they did last season. The Wizards are still the third best team in the East.
Featured Image Courtesy of SI.com.
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Everyone is sick of seeing teams throw random D-League (now renamed G-League) players into the lineup towards the end of the season to help them tank. The same teams are the bad year in and year out. Teams like the Kings, Sixers and Magic continuously miss the playoffs in hopes of building through constant top five picks. Fixing the NBA’s tanking problem needs to be a priority.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban openly admitted to tanking last season.
“Once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything we could to lose games,” Cuban said in an interview with Dan Patrick.
He is one of the few who will admit it, but teams start their season off with this mindset which is where trust the process came from.
Adam Silver has talked about finding a solution to this major problem, but how do you fix NBA tanking? Last year, an article called Tank About It had an outside the box idea to fix tanking, but it wasn’t the most popular of ideas.
Since that wasn’t too popular of an idea here is another one: In life, we are rewarded when we do something well, not when we are the worst of the worst. Getting an “F” in a course doesn’t set oneself up for future success.
There should be an incentive for teams who try to succeed rather than just calling it quits by throwing in players that shouldn’t even be in the NBA. The way to fix the tanking problem in the NBA is by inverting the lottery and giving the teams who attempt to get a championship or make the playoffs an opportunity to take their team to the next level.
How It Works
(Photo Credit: http://ballislife.com)
The inverted lottery would work opposite of the current lottery system. The teams who are one or two great players away from contending for a playoff spot would have the best chance to win the lottery.
The Miami Heat finished the season 30-11 but missed the playoffs. They could have thrown in the towel when they started 11-30, but they didn’t. Their reward for continuing to fight was an end of the lottery pick. Miami only had a 0.5 percent chance of getting the first overall pick.
Phoenix made it totally obvious that they had given up on the season and had a 19.9 percent chance of winning the number one overall pick.
What this entire process says is that once you know you can’t compete, it is not only OK, but rewarding to throw away your season. The NBA will give you a top pick and that way you have a better chance at finding a franchise player and no longer stinking.
The problem with is that Philadelphia hasn’t made the playoffs in five years and some of the streaks are worse. Here are more teams who have long playoff droughts: New York (five seasons), Orlando (five seasons), Phoenix (seven seasons), Sacramento (11 seasons) and Minnesota (13 seasons).
How about rewarding a team who fought as hard as they could, like the Heat did, and inverting the lottery odds. An inversion of odds for the number one overall pick would have looked like this (without trades shown).
Miami Heat 25%
Denver Nuggets 19.9%
Detroit Pistons 15.6%
Charlotte Hornets 11.9%
New Orleans Pelicans 8.8%
Dallas Mavericks 5.3%
Sacramento Kings 5.3%
New York Knicks 2.8 %
Minnesota Timberwolves 1.7%
Orlando Magic 1.1%
Philadelphia 76ers 0.8%
Los Angeles Lakers 0.7%
Phoenix Suns 0.6%
Brooklyn Nets 0.5%
Change of Landscape
(Photo Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports)
Fans of bad teams are going to hate this idea but it would make the league more competitive. The worst position to be in the NBA is in the middle of the pack. Franchises stuck in the middle have no chance at competing for a championship. They also can’t get a player that can take them to the next level at the end of the lottery in the same way a top five pick can.
Teams would no longer throw in the towel, but instead fight even harder because the only way to get the top players from college is by fighting for a playoff spot.
The Heat had a great finish to the season and imagine them adding Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. Denver and Detroit both have good young guards and a franchise big man and still missed the playoffs. Adding Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson to the wing could really make them a threat.
This would make the NBA more competitive, and thus, more exciting. There would be no reason to tank and teams would be forced to do everything they could to be a competitive team. This is an idea that most will probably hate, but would you hate it more than seeing teams tank?
There may never be a perfect answer on how to fix the tanking problem, but the inverted lottery creates incentive.
We all work better when there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
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“From Our Haus to Yours”
Featured Image courtesy of http://www.fastbreakbets.com/betting-tips/how-nba-bettors-can-make-money-on-tanking-teams/
The Golden State Warriors are the 2017 NBA champions. Now that the Finals are over, the entire basketball community will be focusing on the upcoming NBA Draft on June 22. This is a prime opportunity for teams to either deepen their roster or build playoff caliber teams. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0.
1: Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
(Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP)
The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are working on a trade so that the 76ers can select Markelle Fultz. Even if the trade doesn’t get finalized Fultz will be the number one overall pick in this draft.
2: Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Los Angeles is not going to pass on a player who will make those around him better and has the star power that Lonzo Ball has. These rumors floating around about the Lakers falling out of love with Lonzo is all a smokescreen. The truth of the matter is that the first two picks have been decided and they are just trying to keep people interested and on their toes.
3: Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Jackson, SG/SF, Kansas
This pick is just like the first overall pick. It is likely going to be Boston drafting in the third position and they will take Josh Jackson. This is a sign that the Celtics may put all their faith in Isaiah Thomas as their point guard. Jackson can fit right into the culture they are building in Boston and he will help them get closer to compete for a championship.
4: Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
The Suns are just unlucky. Phoenix was supposed to have a top three pick but fell to fourth when the lottery took place. Now they are going to miss on Josh Jackson by one pick. Jayson Tatum is flying under the radar but will be a very good NBA player.
Tatum has a polished isolation game and can score from anywhere on the floor. Tatum will be a solid second option to Devin Booker.
5: Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)
Reports coming out of Sacramento say that the Kings are absolutely in love with De’Aaron Fox and are even willing to trade both the fifth and tenth pick to move up just one spot to get him.
Fox should be around at five and the Kings can draft their franchise point guard. Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox would be a promising backcourt that would help the Kings get closer to the playoffs.
6: Orlando Magic: Johnathan Issac, F, Florida St.
Orlando has been terrible ever since Dwight Howard left. Johnathan Issac has been recently compared to Kevin Durant, but he is not the scorer that Durant is. Issac will bring tons of athleticism to the Magic. He has proven he can play an all-around game but has been very inconsistent. If developed correctly, Issac can become one of the best two-way players in the NBA and an All-Star.
7: Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
The Timberwolves are already loaded with young talent and in a perfect world, Tom Thibodeau would like to acquire more veterans in the locker room. Minnesota might be looking to make a trade in the future and will take the best available player which will be Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring machine capable of going off at any moment. He is the best scorer to come out of college since Kevin Durant and will easily average 20 points per game in the NBA.
8: New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
New York has always been a city of immigrants. The Knicks are going to follow that mold it seems, as they already have Kristaps Porzingis and are in love with Frank Ntilikina.
Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.
9: Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State
Dennis Smith is arguably a top five player in this class. The Mavericks have a chance to find their franchise point guard who can help lead them back into the playoffs. Smith can score, pass and rebound with the best of them while in college. He also has the insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.
10: Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
The Kings currently have two core pieces in Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein. If they take Fox earlier in the draft then it becomes an even better core. Lauri Markkanen could then take this team to even better heights.
Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to become a power forward like Dirk Nowitzki. He can stretch the floor or go inside. Markkanen would fit alongside Cauley-Stein because he can stretch the floor.
Getting Fox and Markkanen would make the Kings one of the best young teams in the NBA.
11: Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville
Donovan Mitchell was projected to be a late-first round pick around a month ago but has lately been flying up draft boards. Teams who have worked Mitchell out have been really impressed by the 6-foot-3 shooting guard. Mitchell is a shot creator and that is something the Hornets need. Charlotte could create a dangerous backcourt by pairing Mitchell with Kemba Walker.
12: Detroit Pistons: Harry Giles, PF, Duke
Detroit needs a big man alongside Andre Drummond. Picking Harry Giles would be a shock here, but could be a huge steal. Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the No. 1 pick before he began having injury problems.
We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender.
Giles has had a lot of injuries but if he can get healthy he has the skill and potential to be the best player in this draft class.
13: Denver Nuggets: Zach Collins, PF/C, Gonzaga
(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)
Denver is really close to becoming a playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Their young guards just need more experience and will continue to develop.
Collins is a good rebounder and shot blocker. Pairing him up with Nikola Jokic could create one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the NBA. Collins needs to mold his offensive skills, but because Jokic is so skilled offensively, Collins’ defensive skills would create a perfect combination.
14: Miami Heat: T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA
The Heat were amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need.
T.J. Leaf has a high motor and can play both inside and out. Miami would get a player who could be molded into a star by Erik Spoelstra.
15: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: JOHN COLLINS, PF, WAKE FOREST
John Collins could be a valuable piece around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Collins has a good offensive game that would help take pressure off their guards to score. He has a post-up game that most bigs don’t have. His impressive footwork allows him to beat even the best of defenders. If he develops his defense, he could become a top power forward in the NBA.
16: CHICAGO BULLS: JUSTIN PATTON, C, CREIGHTON
(Photo Credit: Chris Machian- The World Harold)
Building around Jimmy Butler seems to be the top priority for the Chicago Bulls. Robin Lopez is serviceable, but he is not a center that will help a team reach a title.
Justin Patton may be one. He is a 7-foot monster that averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman at Creighton.
NBA coaching could turn Patton into a dominant center in an era of outside shooting. There will be few players capable of defending him once he grows into his own. The Bulls would be lucky to get Patton.
17: Milwaukee Bucks: Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
The Milwaukee Bucks are building something special. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like a future MVP and Khris Middleton is a stud. Drafting Adebayo will give Milwaukee a presence inside to make the Bucks even more dangerous. The talent they already have and can acquire with Adebayo will allow the Bucks to get closer to the Eastern Conference finals.
18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
Luke Kennard fits the new style of the NBA. He is a pure shooter and can be a valuable scorer in the NBA. Kennard isn’t going to be a guy who changes a franchise but as a sidekick to Paul George, he could thrive. George wants the Pacers to add talent so they can compete for a title adding Kennard would help go a long way in the Pacers effort to keep Paul George when he becomes a free agent.
19: Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Dwight Howard is aging and no longer a top center in the NBA. The Hawks must prepare for the future and that could be in the form of Jarrett Allen. Allen is a beast on the boards and has the potential to become a solid post-up big man.
20: Portland Trailblazers: Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum need help and Justin Jackson would fit perfectly with this team. Jackson would be the piece to help get the Blazers back into the playoffs.
He has great length and can stretch the floor. Jackson played great for most of the tournament. He had a subpar performance in the title game, but can still become a good NBA starter.
Jackson needs to add weight but is a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions. His mid-range jumper is well-polished.
21: Oklahoma City Thunder: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
OG Anunoby will improve the Thunder on the defensive end of the floor immediately. In college, Anunoby was able to defend all five positions and that kind of versatility will make him a valuable player.
He also shot 36 percent from three in his career and will help take some pressure off of Russell Westbrook.
22: Brooklyn Nets: Ivan Rabb, C, California
The Nets will not be good for a long time which means they can be patient with the development of Ivan Rabb. He has lots of potential to grow offensively.
Rabb is already a good defender, and even though he only averaged about one block per game in his career, he altered plenty of shots. His inconsistency at Cal is what hurts him, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and that is what the Nets will try and bottle up and turn into a consistent output.
23: Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany
Isaiah Hartenstein is a bit of an unknown but is an old school big man. He plays an extremely physical style and is a great rebounder. Hartenstein is also a great shot blocker and the Raptors really need an inside presence. He has very little experience but the success of Kristaps Porzingis helps Hartenstein.
Isaiah Hartenstein will need a lot of developing on his offensive game but with the Raptors current roster, he can fill the role of rebounder and rim protector without having to rush his offensive development.
24: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN, PF, PURDUE
The Jazz are in almost as good of a position as the Celtics. They finished as the fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks.
Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench. Depth is what the best teams have, and that is what Utah is going to get in picking Swanigan.
25: ORLANDO MAGIC: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
Terrance Ferguson has been very hyped up as of late. He attacks the basketball and can also be a spot up shooter. Ferguson will need to develop defensively but would be a good fit with the Magic who need some more scoring.
26: Portland Trailblazers: Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU
Semi Ojeleye is an athletic freak. Ojeleye can handle the ball, shoot threes, create his own shot and get to the rim. Semi Ojeleye is going somewhat underrated in this draft because of his lack of perimeter defense. The Blazers have enough picks to take a shot on Ojeleye to continue building the depth needed to compete in the West.
27: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): JORDAN BELL, PF, OREGON
(Photo Credit: http://247sports.com)
Jordan Bell was a second-round pick before the tournament. Bell was a huge reason Oregon reached their first Final Four since 1939. The Nets would get a solid rebounder who brings in a heavy motor and will give you everything he has. The Nets need these high energy type of players to change the culture in Brooklyn.
28: Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Hart, SG, Villanova
Josh Hart is a leader and a winner, and the Lakers could use some of that in their locker room.
Hart improved his scoring each season at Villanova, and that should translate into the NBA. Hart doesn’t have to be a starting shooting guard to make a big impact. Every team needs a bench scorer and Hart can fill that void for the Lakers as they continue to build towards a championship.
29: San Antonio Spurs: Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana
Any player that the Spurs take should celebrate as if they won the championship. The Spurs will develop Thomas Bryant into a solid NBA starter. Bryant is an excellent rebounder and has a knack for getting offensive boards. He has some decent low post moves and with Gregg Popovich coaching him up he can turn decent into dominant.
30: Utah Jazz: Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse
Tyler Lydon has improved vastly from his freshman season to sophomore season. Lydon improved his points, rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. At 6-foot-9, Lydon can stretch the floor and he would be a great fit in Utah as a solid role player.
31: Atlanta Hawks: Dillon Brooks, SF, Oregon
32: Phoenix Suns: Dwayne Bacon, SF, Florida St.
33: Orlando Magic: Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma St.
34: Sacramento Kings: Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia
35: Orlando Magic: DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan
36: Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler Dorsey, G, Oregon
37: Boston Celtics: Johnathan Motley, PF, Baylor
38: Chicago Bulls: Devin Robinson, F, Florida
39: Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick White, G, Colorado
40: New Orleans Pelicans: Frank Mason III, PG, Kansas
41: Charlotte Hornets: Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina
42: Utah Jazz: Mathias Lessort, F/C, France
43: Houston Rockets: Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah
44: New York Knicks: Frank Jackson, SG, Duke
45: Houston Rockets: Ike Anigbogu, C UCLA
46: Philadelphia 76ers: Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia
47: Indiana Pacers: LJ Peak, SG Georgetown
48: Milwaukee Bucks: Alec Peters, PF, Valparaiso
49: Denver Nuggets: Jaron Blossomgame, F, Clemson
50: Philadelphia 76ers: Jonah Bolden, PF, Australia
51: Denver Nuggets: Alberto Abalde, SF, Spain
52: Washington Wizards: Cameron Oliver, PF, Nevada
Day six of our 2017 NBA Draftmas special is here and it is time to look at the struggling Orlando Magic.
Aaron Gordon and the struggling Orlando Magic need to add a corner stone piece in the 2017 NBA draft. (Photo by KicksOnFire.com)
Expectations were fairly high for the Magic heading into the 2016-17 season, as they had acquired Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo at the beginning of the year. Under their new head coach Frank Vogel, the team finished with a 29-53 record, with an offense and defense both ranking outside of the top 20.
The Magic have yet to reach the playoffs since trading their star center Dwight Howard to the Lakers in August of 2012. In this trade, Orlando acquired six different players and a first-round draft pick, although the only player remaining on the roster from this deal is their starting center, Nikola Vucevic.
They moved on from Ibaka at the trade deadline this season, acquiring wing scorer Terrance Ross and a first-round pick from the Toronto Raptors. This move opened up playing time for the former fourth overall pick Aaron Gordon, who averaged 16 points, six rebounds and almost two assists per game after the All-Star break.
The Magic are a very poor team with an underwhelming roster. Their major pieces along with Gordon, Ross and Vucivic are guards Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton.
Fournier is a good wing scorer who can shoot the mid-range and three at an above average clip, while Payton is a ball dominant point guard who excels at facilitating and crashing the glass. With this core, the Magic clearly lack an All-Star presence, although with a top ten pick in the upcoming draft, they may be able to add a perfect piece to their puzzle.
Picks & Needs
The Magic have two first and second-round picks, allowing them to add a multitude of talent to their budding young roster.
First Round: No. 6, No. 25 (From TOR)
Second Round: No. 33 (From LAL), No. 35
Orlando’s needs include a go-to scorer, a big man presence, and some versatility. With the abundance of picks they have, the Magic have a great chance to address the majority of their needs this offseason.
Targets & Thoughts
Jayson Tatum represented team USA’s U17 team in the 2014 FIBA World Championship. (Photo by TheDevilsDen.com)
Pick #6: Jayson Tatum, F, Duke
Tatum is one of the premier talents in the draft and has a real chance of falling to the sixth spot. Tatum lead the Blue Devils to a 28-9 record, while averaging 17 points and seven rebounds in his freshman season. The 6-foot-8 wing has incredible length that will allow him shoot over defenders, rebound and defend multiple positions at a high level.
His offensive skill set is primed for the NBA, as he can ball handle, pass and score from anywhere on the floor. One of the most important assets Tatum possess is his leadership ability. Along with senior Amile Jefferson, Tatum was the vocal leader for the Blue Devils in 2016-17. This will be integral for a Magic team that seems to lack a true leadership presence.
Tatum could stand to add some weight in order to bang bodies down low, although that is sure to come as he is only 19-years-old. He may have the highest potential of any player in the draft, and if he falls to Orlando at six, the franchise will have found their superstar.
Pick #25: Franklin Jackson, G, Duke
Franklin Jackson, to the surprise of many, decided to enter the 2017 draft despite being ranked as the 45th best prospect. He has yet to sign an agent, so he will be eligible to withdraw from the draft and return to Duke any time prior to the June 12th deadline. The freshman averaged 11 points, two and half rebounds and two assists per game.
Jackson is a 6-foot-3 combo guard who has shown a great ability to ball handle, drive the lane and shoot the jumper. He shot 54 percent from the field and 39 percent from three which shows he can be an efficient scorer. The majority of people look at Jackson as a point guard, although he is truly a scoring guard at heart.
I can see Jackson playing an integral role for the Magic, acting as a ball handler who can score from anywhere on the court. He, along with wings like Ross and Fournier could make the Magic a very successful and efficient scoring team.
Johnathan Motley is no stranger to creating posters. (Photo by CollegeBasketballTalk.com)
Pick #33: Johnathan Motley, F, Baylor
Motley is a versatile big man who can score inside and out. He averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game in his junior season, while leading Baylor to a 27-8 record and a Regional Semi-Final appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Motley, standing 6-foot-9 and weighing 240 pounds, will add a needed size and strength that the Magic have lacked since trading Serge Ibaka. His size and athleticism will allow him to be a great defender and rebounder at the next level as well.
Motley can be a starter of the future, as he will be able to guard the three through five positions as he continues to develop. His offensive and defensive ability make him a prime target for the Magic.
Pick #35: Jonathan Jeanne, C, France
The 7-foot-2 center has flown under the radar as he is an international prospect playing overseas. Jeanne projects to be a solid rim protector and rebounder, although another season or two overseas would do wonders for the 20-year-old.
Jeanne would get bullied down low in the NBA at his current size, as he is barely 200 pounds, although a few years of development could turn him into an impact big of the future. His size and raw athleticism will eventually give him a huge advantage over the average center in the NBA.
With four draft picks, and only 15 roster spots, the Magic would be smart to use a pick on a player that they can stash away. Jeanne would be a viable replacement for Bismack Biyombo after a year or two of development overseas.
The Magic need to add as much talent as possible. By drafting Tatum, they will add a versatile wing who is a lethal scorer, above average defender and rebounder. With Franklin Jackson, the team can add a score first oriented guard, who can bring a different dynamic from current point guard Elfrid Payton. Jonathon Motley can add more size and versatility to a team in need of dynamic players. Finally, Jonathan Jeanne would make for a perfect draft-and-stash pick, as with four draft picks, the Magic may not have enough roster spots to add all four rookies to their roster in 2017.
Thanks for checking out the Orlando Magic 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day seven of NBA Draftmas to see what the Minnesota Timberwolves may do.
The NBA playoffs are leaving basketball fans bored. Aside from the hype surrounding the Warriors’ and Cavaliers’ third-straight finals matchup, there isn’t much going on to talk about. There is one hot topic most are afraid to admit that needs to be brought to light.
There is always an argument that when a team is good, or bad, the reason is the players or the coaches, and of course, it usually is a combination of both.
Doc Rivers won a title due to the future Hall of Famers he was coaching. Aside from those players he had in Boston, for most accounts, he has been average at best as an NBA coach yet people will constantly list him as a top tier coach.
Doc Rivers is the most overrated coach in the NBA.
(Photo Credit: http://www.celticslife.com)
Doc Rivers’ head coaching career started in Orlando. While the head coach of the Magic, Rivers had an overall record of 171-168. That is just a 50.4 winning percentage. In the playoffs with Orlando, he went 5-10, which is far from impressive.
Rivers had some really great players while in Orlando too. Players by the name of Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace, Mike Miller, Grant Hill, Patrick Ewing, Horace Grant and Shawn Kemp. Wallace, Miller and Grant were all eventual champions. A few players on this list are even Hall of Famers.
To be fair, McGrady, Wallace and Miller were relatively young. Ewing, Grant and Kemp were at the very end of their careers. He also had to deal with these players getting injured frequently.
Even so, he finished only three games above .500 in the regular season with Orlando. There was no postseason success and in 2003, he was fired after a 1-10 start. His lack of success in both the regular season and playoffs with Orlando would force him to sit out of coaching until Boston came calling.
(Photo Credit: https://www.vavel.com)
Doc Rivers had the most success as a coach in Boston. Rivers amassed 416 wins with the Celtics. He also lost 305 games making his win percentage in Boston 57.7 percent. That percentage dropped to 55.7 in the playoffs with the Celtics as he went 59-47.
Until the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to pair with Paul Pierce, many called for Rivers to be fired. All three of these core players will be in the Hall of Fame one day and that is the reason Rivers was able to lead the Celtics to two Finals appearances, capturing one championship.
Without this caliber of players, Rivers is just an average coach at best and even then he doesn’t win 60 percent of the games he coaches.
He also left Boston when it was time for a rebuild. Doc Rivers didn’t want to put in the work with young players and develop the team into a winner. He was looking for a team with star players to make his job as easy as possible which is why he waited for what he felt was the perfect opportunity.
Rivers’ ideal spot was with the Los Angeles Clippers after leaving Boston. Now, some may argue he was traded to L.A. and it wasn’t his choice but the trade was just so the Celtics could receive something in return because he truly loved the city and the organization. He had every intention of forcing his way to the Clippers.
Why would Doc Rivers want to go to a franchise that had only nine playoff appearances since 1970 and has never made it to a conference finals? The answer to that is a roster loaded with talent.
Their current core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan was already there. The roster also included the following: Eric Bledsoe, Chauncey Billups (five-time All-Star, Finals MVP, and NBA champion), Jamal Crawford (three-time Sixth Man of the Year), Caron Butler (two-time All-Star), Grant Hill (seven-time All-Star) and Lamar Odom (Sixth Man of the Year and two-time NBA Champion).
They were very deep and experienced before Rivers arrived. Vinny Del Negro led the Clippers to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons prior to Rivers arriving. Del Negro was taking the Clippers just as far as Doc has. He went 128-102 which was a winning percentage of 55.7 percent and can’t even find a job.
While Rivers has been in L.A., he has gone 217-111 in the regular season. He has underachieved in the playoffs going 18-22 with a team many considered one of the most talented in the NBA. The Clippers are the first team to blow series in five straight playoffs under Rivers. He isn’t succeeding because he is overrated and isn’t a top tier coach.
What This Means For the Los Angeles Clippers
Overall in Doc Rivers’ career, he is 804-584. His winning percentage is 57.9 and ranks ninth among active NBA coaches and 41st all-time. Despite having rosters constantly loaded with All-Stars, Hall of Fame caliber players, and in some cases, champions, he can’t win more than 58 percent of his games.
In the playoffs, he gets worse. He is 82-79 all-time, winning just 50.9 percent of the games he coaches. That is ninth among active coaches and 38th all-time.
Everyone wants to know why the Clippers can’t get over the hump. After another disappointing season, questions rose on what they should do with the roster and the core of the team.
The answer is rather simple. Doc Rivers is average at best and that is why the Clippers continue to remain average. The Clippers don’t have to blow up their roster yet, they just need a better coach.
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