76ers Vs. Heat – Why Miami is now the Series Favorite

After the 76ers pulled out a win in game 1 of their first round the world was ready to crown them as the eastern conference favorites. Ben Simmons and the rest of the crew were electric in that game. Philadelphia shot over 64% from three and forced 16 Miami turnovers. The Sixers routed the Heat 130-103 and were confirming a lot of what people thought may be true. The 76ers are for real.

But are they really? Yes, there may not be another team with so much young talent as the 76ers. The future for this team is bright. The only other teams that much up with their future, in my opinion, would be the Celtics and maybe the Nuggets. This team has 2 stars in Simmons and Embiid surrounded by a host of great role players that complement them well.

Both of these players should have a long career of solid playoff runs and even NBA championship appearances. However, I am not convinced that this year is going to be one of those times. Here are my reasons why.

The 76ers are overrated

Philadelphia has done everything to deserve the 3 seed in the eastern conference, but they are not the 3rd best team in this conference. At the end of the season the 76ers went on an impressive 16 game winning streak without Joel Embiid. No matter who they are playing in those games I do note this as a positive thing.

What I don’t do though is over value this 16 game stretch. In those games the Sixers beat the following teams: Knicks (2x), Nets (2x), Hornets (2x), Magic, Timberwolves (without Butler), Hawks (2x), Pistons, Mavericks, Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Bucks, and Nuggets. The only notable wins here are the Wolves without Butler, Bucks, Cavs, and Nuggets. Is this really that impressive when 11 of your 16 game winning streak comes against teams that are trying to lose games?

Again, I really don’t want to downplay the team’s success this season. They have had an impressive year and I can’t wait to see them dominate in the future. I do, however, want to slam on the breaks.  Their next 5 games in this series won’t be against a team trying to lose. They’ll see maximum effort each game.

They also seem more and more likely to miss Embiid for the entire series. The 76ers are a much worse team without Embiid. During their “win streak” to end the season they went 8-0 without Joel. Outside of these games they were 3-7 without Embiid. They struggled against teams like Chicago and Sacramento over this 10 game stretch.

Home Court Advantage is Even For Now

After the 76ers lost the second game of the series they also lost a tight grip onto home court. Now a team that has been 22-19 on the road this season is in a position where they must steal at least one game on the road. For a young playoff team playing against a more experienced team and coach, this won’t be easy. The experience of facing road teams crowd in the playoffs is going to be brand new for many of these guys, especially their best players.

Coaching Adjustments Favor Miami

The playoffs are all about making adjustments. Whoever can adjust better is going to have the best chance. After Philly shot a ridiculous 64% from three in the first game the Heat adjusted. Spoelstra had his Heat players right up on the Sixers and not backing off. They weren’t going to give up a three unless it were hotly contested. This worked well as the 76ers were only able to shoot 19% from three point land in the second game.

Brett Brown is not a proven head coach in the playoffs yet. It would be silly to assume he is going to be able to match whatever Spoelstra comes up with. Brown has done a fabulous job this season, but there is no reason to believe he has what it takes to match one of the league’s best minds when it comes strictly to making game to game adjustments in the playoffs.

A Dog Fight Favors Miami

Miami wants a scrappy fight. They want to win with defense and close games. They don’t have a star player to lean on to takeover. Any player can lead them in scoring on a given night, whether it’s one of the Johnson’s, D-Wade, Whiteside, or Dragic.

On the other hand Philadelphia leans heavily on Ben Simmons to score and create offense. If this isn’t working and Philadelphia has to scrap for points then they are in deep trouble.

Rookies aren’t Proven

It doesn’t bode well for a playoff run when your team’s best player is a rookie. We’ve seen this happen with rookies like Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O’neal, Michael Jordan, and Carmelo Anthony. All of these players led their respective teams to the playoffs but were defeated in the first round.

Most recently in 2004 The Denver Nuggets leaned heavily on Carmelo Anthony to carry their offense. He wasn’t the same type of passer Simmons is, but he was a dynamic scorer. The load was too much for Melo and the Nuggets lost in 5 games.

It is rare to see a rookie carry their team past the first or second round. Guys like Kareem and LeBron didn’t even make the playoffs. Tim Duncan was able to get to the second round in 1998 but he had a hell of a team around him with veterans like David Robinson and unbelievable coaching. He wasn’t carrying the load like Simmons is.

If Embiid were available for the entire series my mind may have been changed about their chances. Two dynamic rookies are much better than one. Not a single one of these reasons alone are enough to call for the Heat to push past the Sixers, but when you look at all of them collectively you can begin to see how Philadelphia could be sent home early by the Heat.

NBA PLAYOFFS – REACTION TO NBA PLAYOFF ACTION – PART ONE – SATURDAY GAME 1’S

The first weekend of round one was a blast. Don’t worry if you missed a game or two or all of them. I’ve got you covered with the biggest takeaways from all 8 games from this weekend. What teams did right and what teams will need to change going forward if they want to move on. Scroll on down through all 8 games or just find your favorite team to get caught up.

Spurs vs. Warriors

Well, it is confirmed that this series will more than likely be a snooze fest. San Antonio can’t score and Golden State is gearing up on the defensive end.

Takeways

  • Golden State locked in on Defense.
    • Draymond Green showed up in this game and not only him but Durant did as well. The rest of the guys typically don’t have the choice to disengage, but when both of these guys are locked in then it has a serious positive affect on everyone else. Any team would have difficulties scoring on the GSW defense that came to play in this first round game
  • LeMarcus Aldridge struggled scoring and shot a low percentage from the field.
    • Aldridge couldn’t really take advantage in the post in this game. He scored 14 points on 41% shooting which were mainly inside shots. He struggled scoring last playoffs against Golden State and if he does the same this series will be over quick.

Conclusion

The Spurs have been terrible on the road all season long. I don’t expect that to change. Kawhi is clearly not coming back. Those are both large nails smashed into the Spurs coffin. I don’t put anything past Popovich, but I can’t fathom the Spurs taking more than 2 games in this series. I’m expecting another blowout tonight and then some harder fought wins to finish a sweep for the Warriors.

Wizards vs Raptors

DeRozan and Lowry didn’t disappear and John Wall and company didn’t get into a hissy fight on the other end.

Takeways

  • DeRozan and Lowry were awesome
    • After the first half of this game I was a little worried about these two. On one hand they were sharing the ball and staying true to playing the same way they had all season which had brought them a lot of success. When things got tough they kept on trusting their teammates and it was paying off. On the other hand they had only 7 points on 8 shots combined. I was afraid until the moment the second half started. Lowry and DeRozan put up 8 of their first 10 points to begin the half. From here out they led the way on both ends of the floor.
  • Toronto’s support players were not afraid of the spotlight
    • Toronto’s support players were amazing as well. Even without Vanvleet they had a number of guys step up. Anunoby had 8 huge points in the first quarter. Poeltl came off the bench and provided a defense of presence and recorded 2 blocks. Delon Wright provided 18 points on 75% shooting from three point land. CJ Miles was able to knock down some deep threes and wound up 4/7 from three with 12 points.

Conclusion

Washington is going to need Wall to play up to his potential. He played well in the first half with 13 points and 10 assists but his shooting fell off in the second and wasn’t moving the ball as well. Toronto will be locked in and more confident from here on out. Don’t expect Washington to go down easily, though.

Heat vs 76ers

Are you still doubting Philadelphia? Who am I kidding. We’re all on that bandwagon.

Takeaways

  • Ben Simmons is really good
    • I haven’t got to see a whole lot of Ben Simmons this year. I am really impressed. His ability to get into traffic and score or find the open man is supernatural.
  • Sixers fans owe Bryan Colangelo a thank you for Illyasova & Belinelli
    • Both of these players have been a huge asset to the 76ers. Their ability to knock down threes and IQ have really complemented what this team is trying to do with Simmons. Since signing both of these guys Philly is 21-3.

Conclusion

Spoelstra is going to have to pull something out of his for this series. I wouldn’t count Miami out. The inexperience of the Sixers and the experience of the Heat makes me cautious to give this series to Philly too quickly.

Pelicans vs Blazers

Anthony Davis will be the best player in this series and the Pelicans may need some huge games from him before it’s all over.

Takeaways

  • Jrue Holiday led the way in containing the Blazers guards
    • New Orleans won this game by not letting Lillard or Mccollum take over. Jrue Holiday had a fantastic game guarding Lillard and came up with some huge plays late. If Holiday continues this defensive effort the Pelicans may walk away from this series sooner than they expect. Dame only shot 26% from the field while CJ was 39%.
  • Anthony Davis was the best player on the court
    • AD asserted himself on both ends of the floor. Everyone knows what his potential is. It is just up to him to bring it night in and night out. Tonight he brought it.

Conclusion

This series could turn out to be the most exciting one of the entire playoffs. Both teams are giving it their all on the defensive end. I wouldn’t expect Lillard and Mccollum to be denied like they were in this game the rest of the series. I certainly expect a struggle but they should hit a stride in one of these next couple games and look to turn the momentum in their favor.

MVP CONVERSATIONS – RANKING THIS YEAR’S TOP 5 MVP PLAYERS

April 11 ended the 2017-18 NBA regular season and while you may be thinking that the MVP is already wrapped up we have some points that will make you think twice. Before we get into who is the most deserving we really need to have a discussion about the definition of MVP. If you’ve been an NBA fan for a week you should already know that no person has the same definition of MVP as another. We are all jaded by our personal subjectivity and each person values certain stats over others.

For this post I’m going to be upfront and let you know that I am not thinking about this things with perfect objectivity. This is what makes the MVP great. It can literally be anyone any season. The biggest beef NBA critics have with our sport is that you can easily predict who will be bringing home the championship trophy before the first tip ball. The NBA undoubtedly lacks more parity than most sports.

This is why allowing our own opinions and feelings about the definition of MVP is a really good thing. We need some aspect of this sport to be unpredictable. Every year there are players that have a season for the ages that catches us off guard and it is more than okay to reward them for doing so.

Even with my own subjective lens in focus I will still have a second lens to look through. It is important not to just go completely off of what we “feel” or “think”. We can make up arguments for why Brian Scalabrine should have won the MVP back in 2010 but in the end we all that not even one statistical category would compare with the most average of NBA players that season.

The objective lens I will view this discussion through is fairly detailed. I have included a complete explanation at the end of this article if you would like to read further into the statistics I am looking at for each individual player and how I am grading them on those stats. For now, let’s start with our 5th most deserving NBA MVP.

 

5 – Damian Lillard – MVP Score – 22

The Positive

Damian Lillard has gone from an all star snub and rarely being recognized to being in the MVP conversation. I’m not sure how so many people have not recognized how great of an individual player Lillard is. The run that the Blazers went on after the all star break was in large part to Lillard’s phenomenal play. Over one 10 game span this season he averaged over 35 points a night. He is first in the league in points per game this year and the Blazers depend on that scoring every night.

The Negative

Many small guards are going to have similar weaknesses. The common weakness Lillard shares with other guards is on the defensive side of the ball. He isn’t a horrible defender but certainly wouldn’t be in the conversation for best 2 way players. Damian’s defensive RPM is in the negatives and he doesn’t force a whole lot of steals. Without the Blazers grabbing the 3 seed it would have been even more difficult to squeeze him into the top 5 this year.

Conclusion

When all was said and done the 5th spot really seemed perfect for Lillard. Putting someone 5 still gives him plenty of recognition, but also with a little feeling of snubbiness for being ranked last on the list. In the end I didn’t feel right putting ahead of the other guys on this list. The Blazers have had a fantastic season in large part to Lillard’s offense. But, they still finished the season with just 49 wins and the 7th best record in the NBA. With a few more wins I may have felt more confident to move him up to 4 on this list.

4 – Kevin Durant – MVP Score – 22.5

The Positive

The thing that makes Kevin Durant so valuable is his ability to score, defend, and distribute. I was really surprised to find Durant in the top 25 players in assists this season. Especially, with so many injuries to the team this season you think he would fall into the trap of leaning on his own scoring ability more and not involving others. Clearly, Kevin Durant is a force on the offensive end. He is averaging over 26 points a game on a team that maybe only needs him to average 10 with how many other offensive weapons they have.

The Negative

KD would easily get into the top 3 conversation if he wouldn’t have missed so many games. With the record that Golden State has this year and how dominant they can be this is really the only glaring mark against Durant. He’s played in a total of 68 games this season and while that isn’t too terrible it really should be considered when determining how valuable a player is for the course of a single 82 game season.

Conclusion

Durant is obviously a valuable player. He has missed a lot of games this season and Golden State hasn’t been as dominant as they have in the past. If Curry had played as many games as Durant then he would have most likely replaced him here. When it’s all said and done you’ll be very hard pressed to find a player who has had both a better statistical season and led their team to a top 5 NBA record.

 

3 – Anthony Davis – MVP Score – 41

The Positive

Some of this season’s most dominant games have come from Anthony Davis. In one game this year Davis had 53 points, 18 rebounds, and shot 55% from the field. He is the league’s best big man. He’s averaged over 28 points a night and when Cousins went down with an injury this year it didn’t seem to phase him. Losing a player like Cousins would make most teams throw in the towel. Instead the Pelicans, led by Davis, persevered through and wound up with the 6 seed in the west. Often in MVP discussions you’ll be proposed to answer a hypothetical scenario for what a given team’s record would be without their star player. I think that it would be safe to assume that The Pelicans record wouldn’t be close to what it is without Davis. After the loss of Cousins the Pelicans managed to go 21-13 to end the season. With Cousins the Pel’s were 24-24. Once Cousins went down Davis was able to take a now worse team and make them better than they had been with their 2nd best player healthy. This is a huge positive.

The Negative

With most of these guys it is difficult to find negatives. With these last three players it is almost impossible. The one thing we can point to with Davis is the record. Even though he was able to win so many games without Cousins and earn the Pelicans a spot in the playoffs, it is still troubling to see the 24-24 record with Cousins healthy. Maybe it’s that Davis isn’t capable of playing alongside another superstar. If that’s the case then winning championships may avoid him for the rest of his career. Outside of winning the other troubling thing with Davis is his consistency. In a game in January against the Hawks he was only capable of putting up 8 points and grabbing 7 rebounds across almost 40 minutes of action. Obviously, this game resulted in a loss for a team that relies so much on his success. Davis can have some dominant games where he is the best player on the floor and still at times he can have nights where he looks like he just isn’t ready to be the league’s best player.

Conclusion

AD has probably been the best 2 way player this season. He plays the offensive and defensive side as well as anyone. He is going to be in these conversations for years to come as long as he can stay healthy. If he had one more games and proven a little more consistency he could have locked up maybe the 2 or even 1 spot. When it comes to being the league’s MVP you really need to have every area of your game down and then be dominant on the offensive floor. For now we will wait for Davis to make a more compelling case next year.

 

2 – LeBron James – MVP Score – 36.5

The Positive

The case for the last 2 guys are both quite strong. You couldn’t go wrong choosing either of the final guys as your 2017-18 MVP. A few people are saying this is Lebron’s best season yet. He is in the top 3 in the league in scoring, assists, and RPM wins. He does just as much offensively for his team as anyone else in the league. When you look at ESPN’s best single game performances for 2017-18, LeBron is listed more than any other player. You can find his name 11 times. This means that just over 10% of the NBA’s top 100 games played this season are held by LeBron. I believe that the most valuable single season should be made up of a large amount of valuable single games. All of this is being done without Kyrie and at age 33. LeBron may be the most feared offensive player during the regular season.

The Negative

I do believe that LeBron has a stronger offensive case for winning the MVP than any other player. You can’t find much negative in his offensive game. With that being said, you can see how important the other aspects of the game are. Offense is not the only important factor or thing we should look at. Obviously, his offense has not been enough to win more games than the Raptors, Celtics, and 76ers in the east. If you would have told me that the 76ers would have won more games than the Cavaliers at the beginning of the year then I would have assumed LeBron had joined them. When you have a player as polarizing as LeBron then he is going to affect every aspect of the game no matter what. If he is going hard on both ends of the floor then everyone else will follow suit. If he doesn’t seem to care on a given night, then that is going to affect how everyone else plays that night. He reminds me of how a mother can put a sense of either a dark cloud or a bright ray of sunshine over a household. The only team in the NBA with a worse defensive rating than the Cavaliers is the Phoenix Suns.

Conclusion

While team defense shouldn’t be the deciding factor for most MVP conversations I do believe it plays a huge role in this scenario. As we stated above, James is such a polarizing player that whatever he does affects his team. A team like the Cavaliers are so dependent on LeBron that he almost decides what kind of they will have. When it comes to the defensive floor in the regular season LeBron rarely gears up to play. He is at many times careless and lacks effort. When you get that from your most skilled and probably most talented defensive player that is going to cause you problems. When a player isn’t maximizing what their team could be in the regular season that causes them to lose value. LeBron could easily lift his team up toward the 1 or 2 seed every year with an increased effort on the defensive end.  Only getting the 4 seed coupled with his lack of effort really makes it difficult to give him such a prestigious and important award that other players have worked harder for.

 

1 – James Harden – MVP Score – 42

The Positive

Just like LeBron, Harden is in the top of the league in plenty of offensive categories. He is in the top 10 in assists, steals, overall RPM, and 3 pointers made. Not to mention that he leads the league in the following categories: points per minute, overall win share, offensive win share, points per game, offensive RPM, and RPM wins. The dude has led the Rockets to overtake the Warriors for best record in the league. This really is an impressive feat that needs to be at the least recognized if not rewarded. Without Harden the Rockets would probably have a really difficult time squeezing into the tight western conference playoffs. Not only this but he does crack the top 10 in a defensive category. That’s right, Harden is averaging almost 2 steals a night. The Rockets do not lean heavily on Harden to play defense but the fact that he is attributing in some noticeable way on that end is a huge positive.

The Negative

The negatives with Harden are going to be similar to Lebron’s. Although, with Harden his team is one of the best defensive teams in the league. He is notoriously bad on the defensive end, but this really has improved quite a bit over the last couple season. Like said above he is forcing steals and he isn’t easy to back down. The most negative thing we can find on him is his negative defensive RPM. Outside of this the worst we can say about him is that he has a stigma as one of the worst defensive players in the NBA. One thing we do wish was higher was his 3 point shooting percentage. He takes more threes than anyone else in the NBA and hits them at a 36% clip. This isn’t horrendous but isn’t to the level of some of the league’s best. Gerald Green has shot better from 3 this year, although that is in much less time. James actually doesn’t even crack the top 10 for best 3 point shooting percentage. Granted, he is most likely shooting plenty of step back threes but this is still a little troubling for someone so offensively praised.

Conclusion

The final 2 spots between Harden and LeBron really were not easy to determine. Overall Harden bests LeBron in a number of categories. The offensive categories are really close and LeBron probably has the edge on him here. On the defensive side of the ball it is basically impossible to argue for LeBron since he doesn’t give an effort. Harden is producing steals and his team’s defensive rating is ranked 6th. The last category that Harden has a huge advantage in is that his team has been the best during the regular season. The Cavaliers didn’t have an answer for them when they played back in February. The regular season MVP should be capable of leading his team to beat the best teams. James Harden does this all while producing the gaudy statistics everyone is looking for. In the end your MVP needs to not just be dominant in one facet of the game. He needs to be dominant in all areas. The closest player we have to that this season is James Harden.

 

MVP Scoring Explained

 

 

MVP CALCULATOR EXPLAINED

Category 1 Single Game Performances + 1 Point per Mention -0.5 Points per loss
Category 2 Points Per Game Top 3 = 3 Points Top 4-7 = 2 Points Top 8-10 = 1 Point
1 point for top 10 in league
Category 3 RPM – Offense Top 3 = 3 Points Top 4-7 = 2 Points Top 8-10 = 1 Point (If a negative RPM is present then player will earn -3 Points)
1 point for top 10 in league
Category 4 RPM – Defense Top 3 = 3 Points Top 4-7 = 2 Points Top 8-10 = 1 Point (If a negative RPM is present then player will earn -3 Points)
1 point for top 10 in league
Category 5 RPM Overall Top 3 = 3 Points Top 4-7 = 2 Points Top 8-10 = 1 Point (If a negative RPM is present then player will earn -5 Points)
1 point for top 10 in league
Category 6 RPM Wins Top 5 = 2 Points Top 6-10 = 1 Point
(If a negative RPM is present then player will earn -5 Points)
Category 7 Team Record Top 3 = 5 Points Top 4-8 = 3 Points Top 9-12 = 2 Points Top 13-16 = 0 Point 17 + = -3 Points
Category 8 Steals Per Game Top 3 = 3 Points Top 4-7 = 2 Points Top 8-10 = 1 Point
No Points for top 10 in league
Category 9 Blocks Per Game Top 3 = 3 Points Top 4-7 = 2 Points Top 8-10 = 1 Point
No Points for top 10 in league
Category 10 Games Played Top 100 – 3 Points Top 161 – 2 Points Top 240 – 1 Point 240 + = -1 Point
1 point for full season
Category 11 True Shooting % Top 3 = 3 Points Top 4-7 = 2 Points Top 8-10 = 1 Point
1 point for top 10 in league
Category 12 Assists Per Game Top 3 = 3 Points Top 4-7 = 2 Points Top 8-10 = 1 Point
1 point for top 10 in league
Category 13 Rebounds Per Game Top 3 = 3 Points Top 4-7 = 2 Points Top 8-10 = 1 Point
1 point for top 10 in league
Category 14 Defensive Win Shares Top 5 = 2 Points Top 6-10 = 1 Point
Category 15 Offensive Win Shares Top 5 = 2 Points Top 6-10 = 1 Point
Category 16 Win Shares Top 5 = 2 Points Top 6-10 = 1 Point
Category 17 Points Per Minute Top 5 = 2 Points Top 6-10 = 1 Point

 

Definitions
Category 1 – This statistic is found on ESPN and lists the 100 best single game performances for a given NBA season. I have included this stat because I believe that a great single season is made up of great single games. A player will earn a point for every time they record a game that earns a spot in the top 100 single game performances for that season. The player will lose -0.5 points if they record a loss in that same game.
Category 2 – This stat takes into account points scored per game for the course of the season.
Categories 3-6 – These categories take into account a players Real Plus Minus statistics. A player may record great box score statistics, but does this actually mean they are contributing to the team’s success thus creating great value? These statistics help us get a better idea of what is happening on the defensive and offensive end when a player stops off the court and is no longer contributing. We can more objectively value a given player’s “contribution” to their team’s success when looking at RPM.
Cateogry 7 – Assessing a certain player’s team record will help give us a better look at how much his statistics are creating wins for his team. The ultimate goal of a great player is to help his team win. Box Score stats do not always produce W’s and a selfish player can hurt his team’s success. This stat helps us weed out the stat sheet stuffers and find the players who are adding real value every game of the season.
Category 8-9 – Too often defensive statistics are overlooked and undervalued to offensive ones. Given, they are less precise, we must include them in this calculation anyway.
Category 10 – To have a great individual season one must play in the games. Players who play more games are therefore rewarded for doing so. A player who is capable of playing 30 games compared to one who can only manage 20 should be considered more valuable
Category 11 – A player can average 30 points a night but if it takes them 50 shots to get there and they only make 30% of those shots then they are doing their team much more harm than good. This stat helps us see who is making the most of the shots they take.
Category 12 – Assists are a great way to help us see who is creating points for their team outside of their own shot and also who is setting up other teammates for success.
Category 13 – Rebounding is another undervalued stat that provides tremendous value on both ends of the floor.
Category 14-16 – This stat is just another avenue to help us determine a player’s contribution to W’s. You can read more in depth on what it is here – https://www.basketball-reference.com/about/ws.html
Category 17 – I believe points per minute is more helpful in assessing how well a player is scoring when they are on the court. One player my play 25 minutes and score 30 points while another plays 35 and scores 30. Points per game will tell you the second player is the better scorer when in reality the first player who only played 25 minutes could have easily produced more points if he had the opportunity for more minutes.
Top* – When using the word top we are only taking into account the listed contestants for a given season. We are not including players that are not a listed contestant. For Example – Michael Jordan may be 10th overall in the league in points per game. But he is 1st overall amongst the contestants provided. This would earn him a top 1 position in the category for points per game thus earning him 3 points.
Top Exception – For Category 10 Top will refer to the entire league instead of the contestants only.

2017-18 NBA END OF SEASON AWARDS

Ahead of my MVP post I wanted to compile a complete list of each award for the NBA season. After this is published I will post my full and complete thoughts on the MVP award. Also not included are the all defensive and rookie teams. This post includes no commentary for any award.

Coach of the Year

  1. Dwane Casey
  2. Brad Stevens
  3. Mike D’antoni
  4. Quin Snyder
  5. Greg Popovich

Defensive Player of the Year

  1. Rudy Gobert
  2. Joel Embiid
  3. Anthony Davis
  4. Dejounte Murray
  5. Jimmy Butler

Rookie of the Year

  1. Ben Simmons
  2. Donovan Mitchell
  3. Jayson Tatum
  4. Luari Markkanen
  5. Kyle Kuzma

6th Man of the Year

  1. Lou Williams
  2. Eric Gordon
  3. Jordan Clarkson

Most Improved Player

  1. Victor Oladipo
  2. Aaron Gordon
  3. Spencer Dinwiddie

All NBA 1st Team

  • G James Harden
  • G Damian Lillard
  • F LeBron James
  • F Kevin Durant
  • C Anthony Davis

All NBA 2nd Team

  • G Stephen Curry
  • G Victor Oladipo
  • F Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • F Lamarcus Aldridge
  • C Joel Embiid

All NBA 3rd Team

  • G Russell Westbrook
  • G Kyle Lowry
  • F Paul George
  • F Karl Anthony-Towns
  • C Nikola Jokic

 

NBA SEASON RECAP CTD. – RANKING THIS YEAR’S BEST NBA ROOKIES

Recapping this NBA season would be a disaster without diving into some of this year’s most exciting rookies such as Donovan Mitchell, Lauri Markkanen, and Lonzo Ball. Thankfully, this year we were rewarded with such awesome talent after having somewhat of a let down last season. When looking at these rookies we have to take into account their offensive and defensive statistics, how they’re helping their team win, and the all important eye test. This article is not trying to assess what these players will be in the future.

10 – De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings

Image result for DEAARON FOX
10 – De’Aaron Fox

Coming in at number 10 is the King’s own De’Aaron Fox. Fox has received a lot more playing time this season when the Cavaliers acquired George Hill via trade. This opened up doors for Fox to stop in and assume the point guard duties. He’s averaged close to 10 points a game most of this season. He’s been fine on the defensive end of the floor but still needs to work on his jump shot and will hopefully develop more strength as well.

9 – Dennis Smith Jr. – Dallas Mavericks

Image result for dennis smith jr
9 – Dennis Smith Jr.

If this were a ranking based on pure athleticism then Dennis would most likely grab the top spot. Dennis acts like he wants to dunk on everyone he plays against. He’s not scared of anyone. Just watch this dunk attempt and you’ll see what I mean. He plays with a similar mentality to Russell Westbrook. The Mavericks have a good investment in their future as long as they can hold on to him.

8 – Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers

Image result for lonzo ball
8 – Lonzo Ball

It wasn’t easy placing Lonzo over Smith. They both can do a lot, but I felt as if Lonzo has been much more vital to the success the Lakers have had this season than Smith has. Lonzo isn’t a phenomenal scorer but he does contribute with great passing skills and is a solid defender. Early on Lonzo’s shooting was a huge problem, but as the season progressed he improved his shot. This is expected for a young rookie especially one who has been thrown into a large spotlight.

7 – Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns

Image result for josh jackson
7 – Josh Jackson

Josh Jackson was similar to Lonzo Ball in the area of a slow start. It seems that the end of this season has been good for him. He has gotten more playing time, with help from a few injuries in Phoenix. His shooting percentage from three really bothers me and is one reason he isn’t higher on this list. He has been able to put up  decent numbers while Booker and Warren have been sidelined, but that may be a facade since we don’t see many W’s to back it up.

6 – Bogdan Bogdanovic – Sacramento Kings

Image result for bogdan bogdanovic
6 – Bogdan Bogdanovic

The second King to make this list is the 25 year old Bogdan Bogdanovic. The kid has shot the ball well this year. Just under 40% from three. He has a good understanding of the game and has been their go to guy at many points this season. Bogdan could be a very useful player for a team that needs to add some shooting.

5 – Kyle Kuzma – Los Angeles Lakers

Image result for kyle kuzma dunk
5 – Kyle Kuzma

Kuzma’s second half of the season wasn’t talked about as much as his first half. Before the all star break it seemed he was in plenty of ROY conversations. No one was expecting him to be the Laker in these discussions before the season kicked off. After the all star break Kuzma averaged 17.4 points. He is an offensive talent, but certainly needs a lot of work on the defensive side.

4 – Lauri Markkanen – Chicago Bulls

Related image
4 – Lauri Markkanen

This 7 foot forward has logged almost 30 minutes a night for the Bulls. The kid has been a great find and I’m sure Chicago is glad they have a youngster to build around. Lauri is praised for his hard work ethic. You can see it every time he steps on the court. There aren’t many pieces around him yet and it is hard to fault him for many of their losses. The Bulls could be a couple years and a couple moves away from having a very good team.

3 – Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics

Image result for Jayson Tatum steal
3 – Jayson Tatum

Jayson is a thrilling player to watch. Maybe it’s because he’s on the Boston Celtics and Brad Stevens knows how to use guys. Or, maybe Jayson is simply an extremely skilled player. Either way Tatum has executed well this season. For much of the year he led the league in three point shooting. He’s now heading into the playoffs as one of if not their primary scoring option.

2 – Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz

Image result for donovan mitchell dunk contest
2 – Donovan Mitchell

Well, this is what we’ve been waiting for. No matter who ends up at number 2 I’m going to be wrong. Donovan Mitchell is an unbelievable talent. It blows my mind to look back and see that this dude fell so late in the draft. Seeing this come together is a true testament to the work he’s put in and also to the Jazz for developing and giving him the opportunity to succeed. After leading the Jazz in scoring this season he is already in lists of greats such as Larry Bird and Lebron James. Not many rookies often lead teams in scoring but when they do they turn out to be a special kind of player. I think it would be a safe bet to say Donovan is going to be a special player.

1 – Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers

Image result for Ben Simmons pass
1 – Ben Simmons

It is excruciatingly difficult to keep a guy out of the #1 spot when the only argument you are able to find against him is “he isn’t a rookie.” Although, I do agree with Donovan Mitchell’s latest fashion statement. The “he isn’t a rookie” argument is really hard to defend when the NBA recognizes him as a rookie. If Ben wasn’t recognized as a rookie and people were lobbying for him to be rookie of the year then we would have a problem and I would have to leave him off this list. Fortunately, this isn’t the case and I can bask in how incredible of a player this dude is. He really is something to watch. If you haven’t seen this guy play you need to make sure you’re watching the playoffs. He can pass, score, defend, and rebound. Ben averages over 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Not only this but he is able to guard some of the best players in the league. Ben grabs just under 2 steals a night. He has helped take the Sixers to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. His IQ is off the charts for any player, rookie or not. Ben just like Donovan Mitchell is a special player. Ben has done slightly more to earn himself the #1 spot on this list.

Honorable Mentions

(In no specific order) John Collins, Milos Teodosic, Frank Ntilikina, Josh Hart, OG Anunoby, Bam Adebayo, Jordan Bell, Cedi Osman.

NBA NIGHTLY PREVIEW – GAMES TO WATCH FOR WEDNESDAY NIGHT – 4/11/18

It would only be appropriate to cap off this season with a giant exclamation point, and that is exactly what’s happening tonight with so many important games lined up. There are all kinds of reasons to tune in tonight, from meaningful games for teams like Denver to meaningful games for individual players like Russell Westbrook. Scroll through below and I’m sure you’ll find a game worth watching.

Utah Jazz @ Portland Trail Blazers

10:30 PM (east) – ESPN

Maybe the most underrated game of the night is this one. All eyes will be on Denver and Minnesota, and rightfully so. But this game will have plenty of meaning as well. The winner determines the 3 seed in the West as well as who will face Houston in the 2nd round. This isn’t win or go home but it may be the next best thing. Both of these teams will be fighting for that 3 seed which will hopefully lead to a scrappy and desperate final game of the season.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Oklahoma City Thunder

8:00 PM (east) – FS Oklahoma

I don’t always advise people to watch Grizzlies games, but when I do you can be assured that something crazy may happen. Russell Westbrook needs just 16 more rebounds to average a triple double for the second consecutive season in a row. You can be confident you’ll see Russ stealing rebounds and maybe even requesting a few of his own players to take some “ill” advised shots. Outside of this the only reason to watch this game would be if you’re a pretty dedicated Thunder fan. If the Thunder somehow manage to lose this game they will be stuck with the 8 seed.

Denver Nuggets @ Minnesota Timberwolves

8:00 PM (east) – FS & ATL

The last season a team had a play-in scenario was in 1997. The Nuggets and Wolves will have one tonight. This is basically the first playoff game of the year. The tension will be high. The feel at the Target Center in Minnesota will be exciting and new. This is win or go home. Minnesota hasn’t been to a playoff in 14 years, and I can assure you that Denver doesn’t care. In fact they would love to make it 15 years.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Philadelphia 76ers

8:00 PM (east) – ESPN

The fourth game that needs to be on your radar tonight is this one. Milwaukee has all kinds of incentive to win and lose this game. A 76ers win would put the Bucks in position to lose their draft pick as they would be tied with a few teams for the 17th best record in the NBA. Currently, their pick will convey to the Suns if it falls in the top 10 or 17-30 range. If the Bucks do win this game it will put them in position to potentially play the Cavaliers in the first round (as long as the Cavs can handle the Knicks). Losing this game will give the Bucks the 7 seed and they will in turn play the beat up Boston Celtics in the 1st round. Watching this game to see what the Bucks decision making process will look like could be worth it alone. The 76ers have all the incentive to win as it would wrap up the 3 seed.

San Antonio Spurs @ New Orleans Pelicans

8:00 PM (east) – FSSW & FSN

Both teams should have incentive to win tonight. A win for either team would position them with the 5th seed in the west. A loss could potentially put either squad in the 8th seed and facing the Houston Rockets. Although, a loss for the Jazz would mean that the one of these teams will be running into a buzz saw in the first round. A loss for the Blazers would be more favorable as they seem to have cooled off towards the last couple weeks. This should be another hotly contested game as both teams will be fighting for the best position they can get.

Toronto Raptors @ Miami Heat

8:00 PM (east) – TSN & SUN

The final game to keep a tab on would be the Raptors and Heat. A Heat loss here could mean this same match-up would occur in the first round of the playoffs. There are also other scenarios that keep the Heat at the 7 seed. The Raptors are safe at the 1 seed but if they would prefer to play the Heat in round 1 over the Wizards or Bucks then a win tonight would give them the best opportunity for that to happen.