2017 offseason frenzy

Every year the offseason provides us with excitment, some years mild, some years it feels like the basketball gods have blessed us, this year can’t even be described by the latter. This offseason has possibly changed the balance in the NBA in a way we haven’t seen before.

Minessota TimberWolves

This is the team that I think improved the most, in previous articles I have talked about Towns and what the Wolves needed to do to take that next step, and they overachieved comparing to the vision I had for them. The trade for Jimmy Butler is perhaps one of the greatest trades I have ever witnessed, a superstar in his prime, a great offensive and defensive player, and most importantly a good leader on the court, for three players, who despite having a lot of potential, could end up not reaching it, plus the Timberwolves also got the 16th pick in this year’s draft, Justin Patton. This move alone would have sufficed but they still added Jeff Teague, a great playmaker who can shoot and defend, and Taj Gibson, a solid veteran. Now, much like the warriors, they have four good shooters on the floor in the starting lineup (Sure they’re not Curry and Thompson but still), two superstars (one of them being a 21 year old who could be the face of the NBA in the years to come), two stars (Wiggins can still improve and become a superstar), and an Experienced veteran in the starting lineup, plus a decent enough bench unit.
Maybe not this year but give them some time together and this team can be really scary.

Oklahoma City Thunder

They still need a few pieces but going from a team with one superstar who carried a mediocre supporting cast to the 6th seed in a tough western conference, to a team with two superstars and basically the same supporting cast is a nice improvement, the thing is Paul George and Westbrook fit together in a way KD and Westbrook never did and never could. While KD and Westbrook are both ball dominant players, hence not fitting well together(especially because Westbrook is just too much of ball hog to play alongside another ball dominant player, not criticizing it’s just his style of play), Paul George is a superstar who strives playing offball.
While their firepower isn’t equal to that of some other teams, the way both their superstars might fit together may elevate their play more than expected, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Boston Celtics

Although there were other reasons, I post poned writing about the offseason because of how long it really was, and after the Kyrie Irving trade was complete I took a look at the boston celtics roster and realized how much it really changed. It’s hard to predict how well they will do this season, on paper they are better, but Thomas displayed a skill Irving hasn’t really had the oppurtunity to display while being on the same team as Lebron James, leadership. We all know that Irving has the ‘mamba mentality’, there is no doubt he shows up when his team needs him most, but Boston’s long term success depends on wether Irving can lead them as the alpha dog or not.

Best destinations for Blake Griffin this offseason

With yet another early exit in the playoffs, there have been rumors of the clippers core disbanding. So fans have been wondering where Griffin will land. In this post I will talk about some of the teams where I think Griffin could make a big impact.

Oaklahoma city thunder

This season we saw Westbrook carrying the thunder to the playoffs, with an historic season. While the whole team was pretty tough on defense, Westbrook had to carry the offense almost by himself. Despite not having a lot of cap space to sign someone like Griffin, they have some pieces that they should consider moving in order to sign Griffin. Kanter is a very well liked player in OKC, mostly due to his outgoing personality, he is a good scorer and rebounder, but he is a big liability on the defensive end. Not only is Griffin better on the offensive end, he is much better than Kanter on the defensive end. If OKC free cap space by trading Kanter, and a few more players, they could sign Griffin, with his improved jumper Griffin would help them stretch the floor, take some of the offensive load from Westbrook, and add another tough denfender, making them strong contenders in the West once again.

Portland Trailblazers

I know that their salary cap is not looking pretty, but it would be a great fit for Griffin, it’s their weakest position, he’s literally the missing piece, with a great backcourt, a solid center in Nurkic, Harkless being a solid 3 and D guy at smallforward, and a decent bench, all they need is a good powerforward, so signing Griffin is almost like overachieving. If the Blazers trade Crabbe, Turner and Leonard or Vonleh, they could make room for Griffin and become strong contenders in the West.

Washington Wizards

This is another team with a full payroll, but with a few players that don’t really deserve what they are earning, best example is Mahinmi with a 15 million $ salary, if they move him and a Morris, they could probably sign Griffin, which would give them that final piece, with Wall and Beal, Porter steadly growing, and a proven superstar in Griffin, they become a real threat to Lebron’s reign in the East.

Why Lebron James and Michael Jordan comparison is not so far fetched

Now that they have played roughly the same ammount of seasons many have stacked up Lebron’s career achievements against Jordan’s. Their stats aren’t too different, Jordan is ahead in points, but lebron is ahead in assists and rebounds. They are both lockdown defenders, so what separates them?

The only big difference is the number of championships. In 6 NBA finals appearences Jordan won all 6, needless to say he had Phil Jackson as a coach and always a great supporting cast for all 6. Lebron went to the finals 7 times and won 3. You could say this makes a big difference, but we have to really look at the details, of the 4 finals Lebron lost, you can’t really blame it on him. His first trip to the finals, and first loss, his supporting cast was not the best, the second best player on the team was Mo Williams, it’s something to behold that he took them that far. His second loss in the finals came at the hands of Dirk Nowitzki, even though he had a really good supporting cast, it was their first year together, Lebron was learning to balance his aggressiveness with Wade and Bosh.

Now his third is the one I think he just didn’t step up, against the spurs, sure Wade wasn’t at his best, but the rest of the team was good and healthy, with Wade off he should have stepped up.

In his fourth there wasn’t much he could do, and he stepped up big time, with Irving and Love out, playing against a team that won 67 games in the regular season, he was just delaying the inevitable.

I think what really puts him up there with Jordan is the 2016 finals. Last year Lebron gave it his all to bring his team from 3-1 down, leading both teams in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

Maybe he’s not quite in Jordan’s level yet, but he’s the closest there has ever been to it, and he is not showing signs of slowing down any time soon.

Why I think Kevin Durant was the missing piece in Golden State

For the past 3 years Golden State has dominated in the regular season, for the first 2 largely due to Stephen Curry’s stellar play and great coaching. They reached the finals both those years won one and lost one, with Curry and Thompson faltering in both finals, great effort from Iggy in 2015 and Draymond in 2016.

Despite this they are both, Thompson and Curry, great players, and scorers, so what does Durant, one of the greatest scorers in the league right now, add to the mix. Well for one he adds more consistent scoring than Thompson, a good example of this is game 1 against the spurs two days ago, before Durant, if Thompson struggled, Curry would have a hard time carrying the load, and even with Kawhi out, they probably would have lost.

But this is not all Durant adds, his a good all around defender, doesn’t excel inside or on the perimeter, but he is good at both, which is perfect for the warriors, since they like to start out with a true center, playing Durant at SF, and as the game progresses switch to the smallball lineup, switching Durant to PF.

Durant is a great player, he would add something anywhere he went, he could be the face of any franchise, but in my opinion he was the missing piece in Golden State.

GSW vs Cavs?

For two straight years we have seen these two teams face each other in the finals, and as fate would have it, we are probably going to have a rematch.

After Kevin Durant moved to the Bay area almost everyone agreed that we might have a rematch in the 2017 finals. But as the regular season came to an end, some tought that the celtics might be able to take down the cavaliers.

Then came the playoffs, and with lebron raising his game to his usual playoff level, the cavaliers have dominated their first two playoff series, and are waiting paciently for their opponent. Be it the celtics or the wizards not many believe that either can take them out.

Pre Kevin Durant or post Kevin Durant, the spurs are going to be hard to beat, but the warriors are flying high and have matchup advantages at pretty much every position. If they play at the same level as the previous two rounds it’s going to be hard for the spurs to survive. 

Even though they tied the regular season series 1-1, the warriors blewout the cavs by 35 points, and the cavs won by 1 with a game winner, which would have most thinking that the warriors have the upperhand. But with Lebron raising his game, and the cavaliers firing on all cylinders, if the warriors and the cavs face eachother in the finals, we will be in for a good one.

The return of the center

Over the years we have seen the NBA evolve to the “smallball era”, and slowly the true center was becoming less important,having more of a “set the screen and defend” role, even losing the spot in the all star voting, becoming a part of the frontcourt voting. But in the past 3 years Anthony Davis(PF/C) and Demarcus Cousins started to bring the center back to life, with a few tweaks.

The new brand of center has become more skilled overall, shooting 3s, passing the ball, running the fastbreak.
Now it almost feels like the center has taken over, with the likes of, Karl Anthony-Towns, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid. Even veteran centers have developed those abilities to adapt, like Marc Gasol and Cousins.

But this new generation still has a long way to go. If we take a look at the WCSF and the ECSF, none of those teams have this new brand of center,the closest to it is Al Horford, but I believe that overtime, with good management and good coaching, they can take the NBA by storm.

Why I feel like Karl Anthony-Towns is under appreciated and how the timberwolves could improve

Drafted 1st overall in 2015, Karl Anthony-Towns despiste being the 1st pick was underrated, in the beggining of the 2015-2016 season not many people expected him to be the rookie of the year.

Has his sophmore season began Towns didn’t improve his stats much, but as the season progressed he showed signs that he can dominate the nba in the future, his achievements were praised but shadowed by Westbrook’s season and overlooked because of his team’s record. But if you really think about it his stats are more than impressive. In the 2013-2014 season Kevin Love averaged 26 points per game in a team were the next best scorer averaged 19 points per game, while this season Towns averaged 25 ppg and the next best scorer averaged 24 ppg and the third averaged 18 ppg. You could argue that because of this Towns should be winning, but there are more factors at play.

If you overlook their flaws and only look at their strengths a lot people might say the rest of the minessota roster is pretty decent, but if you actually analyze you will realise that 31 wins is actually good. Andrew Wiggins, good scorer, athletic but average defender, and below average at pretty much everything else at his position. Zach Lavine, decent scorer, below average defender. These two are his best teammates, Rubio is a good passer, but his shotting ability hurts them a lot, the acquisition of a decent point guard, a guy like, Jeff Teague, George Hill, Dennis Schoeder, could turn around the team.

Why?

While their defense is a problem, it’s something a coach like Tom Thibodeua can solve over time, with one of those guys, or even a better one, running the point, floor spacing would improve and Towns might actually score even more. Even without a big defensive improvement their offense, much like the rockets, would hide their defensive short comings. 

If they get a decent point guard, if Wiggins gets stronger, if Lavine improves on the defensive end, they could be contenders for years to come.