NBA

A Corrupt Bargain

Once a team feels that they have no chance of making the playoffs, a difficult decision comes their way. In the NBA the team that finishes with the worst record has the highest chance of claiming the number one lottery pick in the draft and acquiring young talent that can possibly turn the franchise around. This system is corrupt because it gives teams incentive to lose games on purpose if their season is virtually over. Any sensible franchise would and probably should throw a bunch of the last couple games of the season in order to increase their chances in scoring big in the draft. This system essentially divides the NBA during the final weeks of the season into two parts, teams that are desperately trying to make the playoffs or increase their playoff rank, and teams that don’t give a damn.

A possible correction to this flawed system could be to organize the teams that have no chance of making the playoffs into a draw and have them compete for the top spot. The team that earns the top spot in this mock playoff event earns an extra ten percent chance of landing the top pick, the finalist earns an extra five percent chance, and the semi finalists earn an extra 2.5 % chance. These percentages could be subtracted from the bottom finishers in a system in which 25% of each of the bottom eight teams chances of acquiring the top pick are subtracted. This is a sure fire way of making the last few weeks of the regular season competitive and gives the teams competing for the playoffs a less corrupt way of acquiring the seed as they will play other teams competing for the same spot and not teams that are looking to throw games.

Denver’s Dominance

Since the Melo trade took place, not much was expected of the Denver Nuggets. People thought that Denver would surely fall out of the playoff race and lose their established dominance in the West. Dever has shocked all of those critics and even gotten better since the loss of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Since the trade the newfound Nuggets have compiled an impressive record of 9-3 while the Knicks with the supposed “elite player” Melo have just gone 7-7. People have had low expectations for Denver since the trade and Denver has not only proved them wrong, but also set themselves up for a possible first round upset against Dallas assuming that the Nuggets maintain their six seed in the West.

Felton, Chandler, and Gallanari for Anthony and Billups was the fateful trade that shocked the entire NBA. This was seen as a high price for Anthony and Billups as the Knicks were seemingly trading away one of their elite players and almost all of their young talent. Still Felton, Chandler, and Gallanari were not expected to mesh well with Denver and the Knicks were supposed to receive the better end of the deal. This was seemingly perceived to be true as the Knicks got off to a quick start with an unexpected win over Miami. In that time period though, no one was paying attention to Denver as Denver won game after game with their new roster. Denver is still not being recognized as the elite squad they are because they have no leader. Rather, the Nuggets have a roster well-balanced with players that possess equal talent and therefore the team is a nightmare to defend. Double teams are detrimental when every player is capable of lighting the scoreboard up. This is why Denver is in a much better position now. Now Denver has a future and every player is no longer overshadowed by Anthony.

Keep It Up Deron

D-will has been playing phenomenally as of late as a New Jersey Net. Although his scoring numbers have decreased significantly, Deron is racking up over 13 assists per games as a Net and benefitting the team greatly. The Nets have enjoyed success for the first time all season since acquiring Williams and are on a substantial 5 game winning streak assuming that they fare well against Chicago tonight. D-Will is a definite benefactor to the Nets and one of the elite players in the NBA. If Deron’s high level of play continues, the future looks bright for this once hopeless New Jersey Nets team.

Aside from Williams impressive stat line of 21 points and 10 assists a game, Deron also has a great effect on his teammates. Since William’s trade, players like Anthony Morrow, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez have been feeding off Deron’s positive energy and tremendous play making abilitiy. Brook is playing some of his best basketball this season due to Deron’s ability to set him up. Humphries has chemistry with Deron due to the two playing for the same Utah Jazz team in the past. Because of this Williams understands Humphries game and knows when and where to set him up. Morrow is a sharp shooter and is more than able to hit open shots and Williams is able to give Morrow plenty. The Nets as a team are playing much better since the trade and now might even be a dark horse to clinch the 8th seed in the east.

Williams is a great player and elite point guard. His style of play meshes will with New Jersey’s offense that is composed of sharp shooters and big men. Look for Deron to make a huge run next season with New Jersey that results in a playoff appearance.

Race to The 8th Seed in The East

Then you have to consider the dark horses who are not expected to clinch the spot but still lurking 5 games out. By dark horses I mean New Jersey and Detroit. Detroit’s recent struggles and three game losing streak have put them a considerable distance of 5 games out of a playoff spot. New Jersey’s recent success and 4 game winning streak have put them also 5.5 games out of the 8th spot. It is still feasible for these two teams to make a playoff push due to the 18-20 remaining games in the season.

The playoff race in the East is contested mainly by three teams but can be taken by either of our dark horses if New Jersey or Detroit catches fire. It will be interesting to see how this all fares out.

Ahead To The Future

The future of basketball is uncertain as of this point because the current audience is not focused on tomorrow but now. The teams that have the potential to win titles in the future are disregarded and labeled as failures and busts by todays NBA fans. For example, if you take a look at the Nets, Timberwolves, and Clippers, you see teams that are not doing as well now but have the potential to become elite in coming years.

The Nets are loaded with talent that most fans disregard. Center, Brook Lopez, is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He is one of the most versatile centers in the league. Lopez can pull up from 15-20 feet out and drain jump shot after jump shot if the defense leaves him wide open. Brook is also athletic and can rebound and block reasonably well when given the opportunity. What I mean by that is when defensive specialist Kris Humphries is not working his magic down low. Humphries is a rebounding machine and a defensive threat. When playing well, Lopez and Humphries can form a lesser version of the Tim Duncan, David Robinson twin towers. They are led by NBA elite point guard, Deron Williams, who can explode for 15-20 assists any given night and sharpshooters in Morrow and Vujacic who are offensive threats. The Nets are a team that can definitely make some noise in the future.

Minnesota is another team that fan should look out for. Minnesota has crazy talent in Kevin Lowe who also has range extending to the 3 point line. The T’Wolves also have a scorer in Michael Beasley and a defensive stopper to an extent at least in Darko Milicic. Minnesota also has young talent in Wesley Johnson and a decent pointguard in Luke Ridnour. With an couple high draft picks coming up in the future, the T’Wolves are definately a team that can do some damage.

The Clippers are loaded with young offensive talent. They have a superstar in rookie Blake Griffin whose athleticism and size completely negate his lack of versatility and Eric Gordon who is one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA. The Clippers also have great young talent in Bledsoe, Aminu, and Jordan along with a defensive stopper in Chris Kaman. Look for this team to make a huge run next season and even possibly make the playoffs.

The Clippers, Nets, and T’Wolves are three team that aren’t so good right now but have the potential to be great. Don’t disregard these teams until you see them play to their full potentials.

Inside the NBA mind

Have you ever wondered why certain NBA players try so hard to win and excel as players. It almost certainly is not the money because NBA players make enormous sums of money, at least they will until the league “Contracts”. The drive that NBA players have is the result of a few prominent factors. One factor that is perhaps the most significant is recognition, once a player has made a good amount of money and possesses a certain degree of skill they strive for recognition. They want people all around the world to know their name and attempt to do that by putting up commendable numbers and winning a couple of championships in the process. This brings me to the second factor which is “winners mentality” . If a player has made it so far as the NBA, they have “had things their way” on the court for a majority if not all of their lives. An NBA player was probably the star of their high school and college teams and have grown accustomed to winning and excelling on the court. When this trend of success is broken, an NBA player will try their hardest to get it back and win again, hence the term “winner’s mentality”. The third factor is remembrance. Players want to achieve a certain degree before their careers end so that they can be remembered long after they retire.

Worst Team in History?

The Cleveland Cavaliers may be the worst team in NBA history this season. Not only are they on a horrendous 24 game losing steak, they have also dropped 34 of their lat 35 games with the exception of an overtime win against the New York Knicks. Questions are looming on whether the Cavs will lose 70 games this season. By the way things are going, it doesn’t look like Cleveland will win another game this season. Things are not looking too good with injuries to star player Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao. Their best player currently is 34 year old Antawn Jamison who is currently unhappy with playing in Cleveland. At least the Cavs can look to the future to divert their minds from the present with young talent in J.J. Hickson, Manny Harris, and Christian Eyenga.

With a record of 8-43, their aren’t many good things to say about this team. Sure Jamison’s one heck of a player and when healthy Mo Williams can play relatively well but as of right now, the best player on the team is an unhappy 34 year old veteran who is surrounded by inexperienced young players. You can’t expect to win games when the best player on your team wants out. J.J Hickson is decent young talent, but cannot be depended on to become a franchise player. Hickson is a solid player with a decent game but he lacks the tenacity and winning mentality to lead or even start on a good team. He would make a great sixth man or perhaps a solid 4th option offensively but should not under any circumstances be regarded as the second best player on a team. The other young talent isn’t bad either, maybe one day they’ll all be good enough to be able to create an average starting lineup. Williams is good when healthy but now doesn’t have a “Lebron” figure to attract attention offensively. Williams will still get his points but it will be off poor shooting and the occasional layup. Williams and Jamison’s two man offense proved unsuccessful as the three games prior to Williams injury, the Cavs were losing by an an average of 28 points a night. Four out of the five players on Cleveland’s starting lineup would not start for most other teams in the NBA and that in itself is a recipe for disaster.

Cleveland has it’s future to look forward too which is better than nothing. They already have young talent and will definitely pick up more in the next couple drafts. Whether this will result in wins is another story entirely but young talent is better than nothing. They could also probably trade Williams and Jamison for some draft picks and some more young talent if they are looking to go that way.

The Cavs this season are probably the worst team in NBA history talent wise. Watching them play is like watching a train attempt to run off a cars engine as they have no player that can be identified as a star and pull out wins. Although it is unlikely that this will happen, I don’t think they will win another game this season. I don’t see a single team in the NBA that the Cavs even have the slightest advantage against. Any wins that the Cavs will be able to pull out will rely purely on luck which hasn’t been too kind for Cleveland in the past year.

An Incredible Pace

If you are not familiar with the man who I am speaking of, you probably are not an NBA fan. Blake Griffin has developed as a player at an incredible pace and established himself amongst the NBA’s elite all in his rookie season. Griffin has shown that he was born to play basketball professionally and that all the hype and expectations that came along with him were legitimate. This tale is not perfect though, after being drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers and being named Summer League MVP Blake suffered a painful injury while landing on his kneecap after a dunk. Griffin was able to overcome this but at a huge cost. He was forced to sit out his entire rookie season due to his injury and rumors circulated as they were expected to. People said that he would be injury prone for the rest of his career, that the injury would have a significant impact on his game and make him a below average player and a disappointing first round draft pick. These rumors and injury served no purpose but to motivate Griffin to use the year off to properly recover and polish his already outstanding game.

When Griffin was in college, every basketball fan, player, and coach acknowledged his talent and knew that one day he would be a great NBA player. It was also obvious that injuries would be an issue in this remarkable young players career due to his size and physical game. Griffin’s tendency to acquire injuries first made its debut in his freshmen year when he sprained the MCL in his left knee playing for the University of Oklahoma. Two months after he recovered, Griffin tore his cartilage and required a minor surgery that put him on the sidelines for one week. Griffin’s talent came a high cost as his health was jeopardized with painful injuries. Regardless, he still had an outstanding college career and put himself in a position in which every NBA team would willingly add him to their roster. He was the first pick of the 2009 NBA draft and landed himself a slot playing for the Los Angeles Clippers. The drama didn’t end there though. In the last game of the preseason, Griffin landed awkwardly after a dunk and had a stress fracture in his left knee. This would postpone his NBA debut for a projected 7 weeks. After those 7 weeks were over though, it was apparent that Griffin was not recovering properly and would have to have knee surgery that would land him on the bench for his entire rookie season. Questions loomed whether he would be injury prone for the rest of his career and not play to his full potential when healthy like Greg Oden another player who was in a similar situation. Griffin entered his second NBA season full of uncertainty whether he would live up to the expectations placed upon him a year ago.

Not only did Blake live up to the enormous expectations placed upon him, he exceeded them. Griffin is already one of the best power forwards in the NBA and still possesses the ability to score at will as he averages 23 ppg. His size combined with his physical game allows to rebound exceptionally well as he averages a whopping 12.7 a game. Not only is Griffin a great player, he is also an efficient one with an amazing 23.3 PER that is among the league’s best. Blake Griffin is also a phenomenal scorer with an above average offensive rating of 113. Words cannot describe the level that Griffin is playing at so early in his career.

Griffin is already an all star and many more appearances are expected of him. Unless John Wall plays some of the best basketball in history for the remainder of the season, Griffin will win rookie of the year. Although injury prone, the reward of having Griffin outweigh the few cons. Expect great things from this young player.

San Antonio Spurs are the Team to Beat

The San Antonio Spurs are a powerful dynasty with 4 championships, 17 division titles, and 19 playoff appearances in the last 20 seasons. The Spurs currently stand first in the whole league, with 39 wins and 7 losses, an 84.8% win record. A big part of the team’s success can be credited to “The Big Three,” as the trio of Emanuel Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan are often called.

Manu Ginbobili joined the Spurs in 2002, previously playing in the Argentine basketball league. Ginobili’s importance to the team has been proven – whenever he is injured, the Spurs start to lose. In fact, the Spurs were knocked out of the2008 playoffs in the first round, largely because Ginobili was out due to injury. In the 2010-2011 season, Ginobili averages 18.7 points per game, 4.9 assists per game, and 3.9 rebounds per game.

3-time all-star Tony Parker has changed the Spurs’ overall game play. Once Parker became a starter, the team had to immediately increase the tempo and pace at which they played to keep up with their swift and agile point guard. Parker’s statistics have been improving over the past 7 or 8 years now. In fact, Parker’s persistence on improving is what kept the Spurs from acquiring all-star point guard Jason Kidd. This season, Parker averages 6.9 assists per game and 17.5 points per game.

6-foot 11-inch, 260 pound forward Tim Duncan is the captain of the Spurs. He is a 12 time all-star and leads the team in rebounds with an average of 9.5 per game. He dominates defensively while still posting good numbers for points, an average of 13.6 per game this season. Tim Duncan is the main cause for turning the Spurs dynasty around. Before Duncan became a part of the team, the Spurs had no championship rings to show. Since then, the team has won 4 championships, most recently in 2007.

The Spurs rely on The Big Three. If even one member of the trio is injured or not playing up to par, the whole team falls. If Ginobili, Parker, and Duncan manage to stay healthy during the season and perform consistently, the Spurs have a good chance of keeping their position with the best record in the league and could possibly win their 5th championship.

Can the Lakers pull off another 3 peat?

To start, let’s list the Lakers top players:

Kobe Bryant – Team captain and longtime NBA all-star, this shooting guard leads his team in points and assists. He is undoubtedly the key to many of the Lakers’ past success and is the center point of the whole team; the game revolves around him.

Derek Fisher – This point guard just doesn’t slow downwell maybe a little. At the age of 36, Fisher is still a dominant force with the Lakers and continues to contribute to the team’s triumphs. Derek Fisher’s outstanding 5 Championships and has the experience needed to push the Lakers through the playoffs.

Ron Artest – With a reputation for outstanding defense, Artest is a valuable asset. Although a strong defender, this forward no longer comes up with strong offensive results.

Andrew Bynum – BIG MAN. Bynum leads the team in rebounds and always looks for the easy bucket at the end of the paint. Bynum serves as the Lakers’ center.

Pau Gasol – Recent NBA all-star, Gasol heavily aids the team in boards and points. He takes much credit for the Lakers’ championship in 2009, giving Bryant a dominant force to pass to.

Lamar Odom – Arguably the best 6th man in the NBA, Odom is an all around player: he can score, defend, rebound, and do anything else he has to.

The Lakers stand as the second seed in the Western Conference, just behind the San Antonio Spurs. Their record is 32-13. The team does have chemistry, but the players are starting to age. With a stellar lineup and decent bench, the Lakers are still dominant in the NBA. But can they win championship this year and continue to bring honor to the franchise? It’s possible, but not probable.

The Lakers should be able to make the conference finals. However, from there, a tough road will be upon them. Many of the players may tire out by the postseason. Additionally, getting past the other conference finalist is obviously a difficult achievement. Even if the Lakers do make the NBA finals, they stand a very small chance to the possible Eastern Conference finalist, assuming one of the top teams from the East makes it. The Lakers will probably not win this year’s NBA finals, let alone make it that far; but if they do, the dynasty will only further their list of achievements.