NBA West Gets Even Better

The Minnesota Timberwolves certainly improved their team this off season. They are hoping to make the playoffs this year. That still will be a problem, as the west league leaders, also vastly improved. Lets take a look at the teams and how they potentially improved.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves

They traded Zack Levine for Jimmy Butler, a 3 time all-star, picked up role player Taj Gibson, picked up Jamal Crawford, another part to the puzzle, and Jeff Teague to handle the point. They will mesh with current roster of potential all-stars in Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng. They also kept role players Shabazz Muhammad, Tyus Jones, Nemajia Bjelica, and Cole Aldrich.

 

Golden State Warriors

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The defending champs will basically put the same team on the floor. Last years addition of Kevin Durant, put them over the top. With a year under his belt, Kevin should only mesh better with the teams mainstays; Stephon Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, and JaVale McGee. It’s going to be tough to dethrone the Warriors.
Houston Rockets

They added Chris Paul to an already top 5 team. He will be a great addition to the bearded wonder ; James Harden, Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, and Eric Gordon. They came close last year, but needed a go-to-guy in addition to Harden. Hopefully Chris Paul, can be that guy.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

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It was obvious last year that Oklahoma City needed additional thunder besides Russell Westbrook. I think its hard to win when one member of the team accounts for 40% of the offense, regardless of how many triple doubles you have. Especially true in the playoffs.
They signed Carmelo Anthony & Paul George. I have to believe there will be fights for the ball, or they can initiate a rule change to have 2 balls on court, at the same time.
They have cast of talent, that has been under utilized. They include Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, and Patrick Peterson. This is a team that’s going to take time. to find themselves. If all the egos can mesh, and they learn how to share one ball, they could surprise.

LA Clippers

NBA Clippersimages - CopyThey lost Paul, but still have some key pieces in Blake Griffin, & DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, and Danilo Gallinari. If Austin can up his game, and one of their other point guards can play quality minutes, they can match their recent successes.

I don’t see any other teams in the west, that are in the same league, as these teams.

Timberwolves Brass Hire A Butler

 

When I first heard about the Minnesota Timberwolves trading for Jimmy Butler, it put me in a cationic state. The reason I was in shock, was because in 25 years the Timberwolves have never made a trade where they benefitted. That was a real what the fxxk moment for me. They may have actually helped the team.

Even the national press and ESPN were calling it the blockbuster trade of the year. They all felt Minnesota got the diamond in this trade. Many also said they felt this made Minnesota a playoff contender. What great reviews, certainly different from previous trades, where Minnesota got fleeced.

Looking back at a couple of earlier trades:

1995 – Minnesota traded All-Star Christian Laettner to Atlanta for Andrew Lang and Spud Webb. Atlanta was the winner in that deal.

2003 – gave up 4 players for Latrell Sprewell. Again Minnesota stumbled because Sprewell wouldn’t sign a new contract $ 17 Million, saying it wasn’t enough to feed his family. Sprewell never returned to the NBA. Minnesota came out of that deal with nothing.

2007 – Traded Kevin Garnett to Boston for Al Jefferson and 2 1st round pics, which the Timberwolves owed for previous trades. Again Al Jefferson was no Kevin Garnett. Garnett also put a lot of fans in the stands.

2014 – Aquired Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love. At this point, it seems like each team, got what they wanted.

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Jimmy Butler is a super star. He is generally regarded as one of the top 15 players in the NBA. He is also considered one of the most focused, and hardest working players in the NBA. He will lead the Timberwolves with his actions, and mentor team members in the art of winning. He is the part, that has been missing, to get the Wolves to the playoffs. They realistically now have their own Big Three.

Just some quick stats on Jimmy Butler:

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  • 6ft 7 in; 230 lbs.; 27 years old.
  • Played college ball at Marquette.
  • Played 6 seasons for the Chicago Bulls; improving his stats every year.
  • This past year he averaged 23.9 points; 6.2 rebounds; 5 assists.
  • Has played in the last 3 All-Star games.
  • Has been on the NBA All Defensive team 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Member of the gold winning 2016 Olympic team.

NBA Draft: Non Drafted Players Are Persona Non Grata

The NBA draft is today,  June22nd, 2017. I’ve been following all the basketball guru’s, including my favorite Jay Bilas. In commenting on several players in the draft, he didn’t think one of them would get drafted, and discussed his options if he didn’t, which started me thinking about those, who didn’t get drafted.

First off, a new rule for this year, was adopted, that said a college player, could announce for the NBA, by April 23rd, and have until May 24th, to rescind that decision, and stay in school. However, if he hires an agent, he isn’t allowed to change his mind, and his college career is over.

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The draft and the players s really a numbers game. 190 college players opted to enter the NBA draft. 60 players will be drafted. That leaves 130 not drafted, of which about 30 will sign free agent contacts, to sit on the bench, or play in the D-League. 30-50 will end up playing overseas, meaning 50-70 have no basketball options, and they can’t return to college, as the have used up their eligibility, and are not on on a scholarship any longer.

It is really tragic!!! The unwanted player, has been so wrapped up in his ego and do, he forgot to use his brain. He has always been just a piece of meat, that was improperly marinated. His agent told him, he was going to sign for millions. His posse or entourage, kept telling how great he was, because they would benefit, if he signed a big contract. His momma kept telling him how great he was, and she wanted junior to buy  momma a new house.

Now that he won’t be a cash cow, for all the above, he is basically persona non grata.  His former agent won’t accept his phone calls, his friends and hangers on, have abandoned him, and all his momma does, is holler at him, to get off the couch, and get a job. Remember when he claimed , he would be the best point guard in the NBA.

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Westbrook: Prolific Scorer or Prolific Shooter

I watched game # 5 of the NBA playoffs, between Houston and Ok City Thunder. This was a game that the Thunder should have won. They had a 6 point lead at the end of the third quarter, but tanked in the 4th quarter. They outrebounded Houston, especially on the offensive boards, 18-10.  Oladipo was dreadful, hitting just 4 of 17.

Superstar Russell Westbrook was 1 for 10 in the 4th, but ended up with 47, for the game.

Houston didn’t play well for the game, but did out score the Thunder 33-22 in the 4th quarter. Harden shot barely over 30%, they were outrebounded, and were only 6 for 37 from 3 point range. Based on this, they should have lost to any team. Team being the key word. The Thunder are not a team, but a prolific shooter/scorer (you decide) accompanied by an assortment of journeymen lapdogs. Westbrook took the same number of shots, that the rest of the starting lineup took. They can’t win with that strategy.

Back in my day, I played for a coach, that practiced team basketball. He enforced a philosophy, of all players touching the ball, before a shot was taken. This got the players involved in the game. Good team basketball trumps a single star team every time. I’ve played in pickup games where a volume shooter is playing, and you lose interest in playing, and head to the lockers, earlier than planned.

In a post game interview Westbrook insisted that the Thunder were. playing good team basketball, and that he adhered to that concept. He apparently is lacking in cognitive skills.

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NBA MVP Award is Meaningless

The NBA’s MVP Award is meaningless!!! Why, you say!! First of all, the award is determined before the playoffs. We all know that the regular season is just a collection of exhibition games, that lead to the real season, “The Playoffs”. The straw polls suggest it is between Russell “The shooter” Westbrook, James “The beard ” Harden, and Kawhi “Mr. All-around” Leonard.

The teams of Harden and Westbrook didn’t even reach the conference finals. One key criteria supposedly is, how important is the player to the team? Both of these players teams, did better when they were out. In Westbrook’s case, it’s hard to call the Thunder a team; it’s just Westbrook, and a collection of journeymen, sworn to pass the ball to Westbrook.o-NBAFINALS-facebook

I mention this as a prelude to” Have you watched the playoffs and “The Finals”? Games 3 & 4 of the Finals were Classics; high octane, high intensity, and spectacular shot making!!! Any MVP award that doesn’t include Stephon Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, or Kyrie Irving, in the conversation, is not coherent.

I personally think an MVP, needs to be the most important to his team, be on a team, that at least reaches the conference finals. Voted on after The Finals, and puts fans in the seats, and/or draws a large TV audience.

In discussing the above players in relationship to the MVP Award, it’s like comparing the NBA with the D League.

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NBA Finals

Some Takeaways From The NBA Finals:

Golden State is a Super team. They had to beat a Cleveland team with LeBron averaging 33 points a game, and a triple double. Kyrie right behind him @29 points per game. Durant is just unstoppable. He drains his shot, from where ever he is, when  the shot clock is about to buzz. Curry has the best, on the floor intuition, I’ve ever seen. He is always finding the open man, with his no-look passes.

The Warriors are young. The key guys average about 28 years. All except Curry, are under contract, through 2019/2020. Could be a dynasty!!

Nobody can beat them, including Cleveland, without major additions.

Cleveland needs a true point guard ( at least a backup ), and a scoring power forward, that creates his own shot, hits the 10-12 footers, and drives the base. Maybe Carmelo, who at 33 still does it.

LeBron is under contract for next year. What’s beyond? He doesn’t need money!! He is in search of another ring. Who could best offer him, that opportunity? Would he leave Cleveland again? Absolutely!

Curry’s contract is over. Will he stay at Golden State? He obviously will get a max contract, wherever he could potentially go. He has been the 4th highest paid player for the Warriors. He signed his current contract before his breakout MVP year in 2014. Management should have rewarded his play with a new contract / respect. He doesn’t get the respect he deserves, since Durant chose to sign with the Warriors. Remember how Nike didn’t respect him and lost him to Under Armor. Imagine him going to Cleveland! I think he would bottom line, like to be the star.

Assuming both LeBron and Stephan’s driving force, is winning more rings. Let’s  think way outside the box: How about a forward thinking team, with some talent, but needing  a couple of big pieces, like the Timberwolves. They could give both Curry and James max contracts, to go with Wiggins and Towns.