National Basketball Association

BREAKING NEWS: LeBron James to Sign with LA Lakers

The cat is out of the bag on the first day of the NBA Free Agency Moratorium: The King will be taking his talents to Los Angeles. Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents LeBron, released a statement on Twitter earlier today, “LeBron James, four time NBA MVP, three time NBA finals MVP, fourteen time NBA All Star, and two time Olympic gold medalist has agreed to a four year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.”

This free agency was much less of a circus than the first time LeBron left Cleveland in the summer of 2010 with “The Decision”. This time there was no hour TV special with Jim Gray that sent the entire city of Cleveland into a whirlwind. This was something that LeBron obviously knew he wanted to do and there was no point in putting anyone (fans or teams) through the drama of a week long recruiting trip. Cleveland will also be much more understanding this time since LeBron delivered on his promise of bringing a championship to “The Land” with the memorable comeback from a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors in 2015.

The question now is, who will be playing with LeBron? Paul George has already agreed to stay in OKC with Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. There is no way LeBron made a decision to go to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011, if there were not wheels in motion to bring in All Star caliber talent like he did when he went back to Cleveland in 2014.

Could this push the Lakers to be more aggressive in trading for Kawhi Leonard by offering the Spurs something they can’t refuse? Will LeBron’s signing in LA attract any other free agents to the Lakers? Will Lonzo Ball, last year’s 2nd overall pick, be ready to play this season after tearing his meniscus?

As it stands now, the 2018 Lakers roster consists of Lonzo Ball, Thomas Bryant, Tyler Ennis, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, and a washed up Luol Deng making $18 million. That is hardly a group that LeBron looks forward to playing with at age 33. Look for the Lakers to be making some big trades and signing before the start of the season.

This is uncharted territory for The King. LeBron has never played in the Western Conference since he came into the NBA in 2003. The Eastern Conference has had, by all accounts, a much easier path to the Finals for the last 15 years, so it will be interesting to see LeBron enter a monster playoff field that should include: the reigning champion Golden State Warriors with the Hampton 5, the Houston Rockets with Chris Paul and the reigning MVP James Harden, and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Big 3 of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Should be fun.



UPDATE: The Lakers are set to sign Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson & Rajon Rondo. The have renounced the rights to Julius Randle and may waive Luol Deng as well to spread the $36 million owed to him over the next 5 seasons to open up more salary cap space.

BREAKING NEWS: Mavs trade up for Luka Doncic

After Luka Doncic, the 19 year old Slovenian soon-to-be star, made it past the Sacramento Kings with the 2nd pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks traded picks with the Atlanta Hawks. This allowed the Mavs to pickup who many believe is the 2nd best talent in this year’s draft. The Mavs will also have to give up next year’s first round pick (protected) to the Hawks, in addition to Trae Young who was selected with Dallas’ original 5th pick.

Luka Doncic is a 6’7″ wing player who was the youngest Euroleague MVP & Euroleague  Final Four MVP ever at 19 years old.

This is a breaking story. More information will follow.

Cleveland Cavaliers Turn Roster Upside Down at Trade Deadline

The Cavs have almost half a new team after Thursday’s shenanigans.

First, they traded away Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a protected 1st round pick to the LA Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. Clarkson is a young, quality starter who can pass and score with ease, but has some struggles on the defensive end. He is signed for the next two years at a not so cap friendly $13 million a year. Nance, on the other hand, is a show-stopping dunker, who can awe crowds with his posterizing slams.  Just ask Brook Lopez or Kevin Durant. If you haven’t seen him, wait until you see him in the dunk contest next weekend.

They weren’t done yet, no, not even close. Rodney Hood is coming to Cleveland from Utah, and George Hill is coming from Sacramento. Rodney Hood has a $3.5 million qualifying offer next season, and George Hill is under a partially guaranteed contract for the next two season. The Kings will get Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert and a 2020 second round pick from Miami, while the Jazz will get Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose.

Finally, they traded Dwyane Wade back to the Miami Heat for a heavily protected second round pick.

To sum up….

The Cavs lost: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose,
Dwyane Wade, and protected 1st round pick

The Cavs got: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr., Rodney Hood, and George Hill.

Every single player the Cavaliers got in this trade is signed through at least next year (or has qualifying offers). Not bad new Cavs GM, Koby Altman. Not bad at all.

The only question left to answer is, can the Cavaliers get everyone in sync in time for another playoff push? Who knows, but it will definitely be fun to watch it all unfold.

Mavs Get Doug McDermott for Devin Harris in 3 Way Deal

On the day of the NBA trade deadline the Mavericks look to get younger and bigger by trading away Devin Harris and a future second round pick to get shooting swingman Doug McDermott from the New York Knicks. Devin Harris and the second round pick will go to Denver, while the Knicks will receive PG Emmanuel Mudiay from the Nuggets.

Devin Harris was having a solid year as a backup point guard, but the Mavericks are young and deep at the PG position with Dennis Smith Jr., Yogi Ferrell, JJ Barea, and Seth Curry (season ending surgery). Harris was also a cheap expiring deal, that some may have thought could garner more than a 4th year role player.

Doug McDermott’s 39% 3 point shooting this year will help the Mavericks from long range, who are 15th in the league at 36%. McDermott has a $4.5 million qualifying offer next season. The Mavs must be looking to either pick that option up, or sign him to an long-term extension as part of the rebuild in Dallas.


NBA Free Agency 2017: Team Additions & Losses

These are what all 30 NBA teams gained or lost during the Draft & Free Agency. I tried to include only free agents that project to be relevant in the coming NBA season (rookies are italicized).

  • Atlanta Hawks
    • Additions: John Collins, Tyler Dorsey, Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli
    • Losses: Dwight Howard, Tim Hardaway Jr., Paul Millsap, Jose Calderon, Thabo Sefalosha
  • Boston Celtics
    • Additions: Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Aron Baynes, Marcus Morris, Shane Larkin
    • Losses: Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, Tyler Zeller
  • Brooklyn Nets
    • Additions: Timofey Mosgov, D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Tyler Zeller, Jarrett Allen, Aleksandar Vezenkov
    • Losses: Brook Lopez, Justin Hamilton
  • Charlotte Hornets
    • Additions: Dwight Howard, Michael Carter-Williams, Malik Monk
    • Losses: Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli
  • Chicago Bulls
    • Additions: Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, Justin Holiday
    • Losses: Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
    • Additions: Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, Jeff Green, Jose Calderon, Cedi Osman
    • Losses: Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson
  • Dallas Mavericks
    • Additions: Dennis Smith Jr., Josh McRoberts, Jeff Withey
    • Losses:
  • Denver Nuggets
    • Additions: Paul Millsap, Richard Jefferson Tyler Lydon, Vlatko Cancar, Monte Morris
    • Losses: Danilo Gallinari, Roy Hibbert, Mike Miller
  • Detroit Pistons
    • Additions: Avery Bradley, Langston Galloway, Luke Kennard
    • Losses: Marcus Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Golden State Warriors
    • Additions: Nick Young, Omri Casspi, Jordan Bell, Chris Boucher
    • Losses: Ian Clark
  • Houston Rockets
    • Additions: Chris Paul, PJ Tucker, Troy Williams, Zhou Qi, Isaiah Hartenstein, Cameron Oliver
    • Losses: Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker
  • Indiana Pacers
    • Additions: Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Edmond Sumner
    • Losses: Paul George, CJ Miles, Monta Ellis, Jeff Teague
  • Los Angeles Clippers
    • Additions: Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Sam Dekker, Willie Reed, Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans, Sindarius Thornwell, Isaiah Hicks
    • Losses: Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton, JJ Reddick
  • Los Angeles Lakers
    • Additions: Lonzo Ball, Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant, PJ Dozier
    • Losses: D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov, Nick Young
  • Memphis Grizzlies
    • Additions: Ben McLemore, Tyreke Evans, Ivan Rabb, Dillon Brooks, Kobi Simmons
    • Losses: Vince Carter, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen
  • Miami Heat
    • Additions: Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo, London Perrantes
    • Losses: Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Willie Reed
  • Milwaukee Bucks
    • Additions: DJ Wilson, Sterling Brown, Bronson Koenig
    • Losses: Michael Beasley
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
    • Additions: Jimmy Butler, Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague, Justin Patton, VJ Beachem, Charles Cooke
    • Losses: Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Omri Casspi, Shabazz Muhammad
  • New Orleans Pelicans
    • Additions: Rajon Rondo, Ian Clark, Tony Allen, Frank Jackson, Dwayne Bacon, Peter Jok
    • Losses:
  • New York Knicks
    • Additions: Tim Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, Michael Beasley, Frank Ntilikina, Damyean Dotson, Ognjen Jaramaz, Nigel Hayes
    • Losses: Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
    • Additions: Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, Patrick Patterson, Terrance Ferguson
    • Losses: Victor Oladipo, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis, Taj Gibson
  • Orlando Magic
    • Additions: Jonathon Simmons, Arron Affalo, Shelvin Mack, Jonathan Isaac, Wesley Iwundu, Derrick Walton Jr.
    • Losses: Jeff Green
  • Philadelphia 76ers
    • Additions: Markelle Fultz, JJ Reddick, Amir Johnson, Anzejs Pasecniks, Jonah Bolden, Mathias Lessort, James Blackmon Jr., Melo Trimble, Isaiah Briscoe
    • Losses: Gerald Henderson
  • Phoenix Suns
    • Additions: Josh Jackson, Davon Reed, Alec Peters
    • Losses: Leandro Barbosa
  • Portland Trail Blazers
    • Additions: Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan
    • Losses:
  • Sacramento Kings
    • Additions: De’Aaron Fox, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, Frank Mason III
    • Losses: Ben McLemore, Tyreke Evans, Rudy Gay, Arron Affalo, Darren Collison, Langston Galloway
  • San Antonio Spurs
    • Additions: Rudy Gay, Derrick White, Jaron Blossomgame
    • Losses: Jonathon Simmons
  • Toronto Raptors
    • Additions: Justin Hamilton, CJ Miles, OG Anunoby, Kennedy Meeks
    • Losses: DeMarre Carroll, Patrick Patterson, Cory Joseph, PJ Tucker
  • Utah Jazz
    • Additions: Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefalosha, Jonas Jerebko, Donovan Mitchell, Tony Bradley, Nigel Williams-Goss
    • Losses: Gordon Hayward, George Hill, Shelvin Mack, Jeff Withey
  • Washington Wizards
    • Additions: Marcus Keene, Devin Robinson
    • Losses: Bojan Bogdanovic

NBA Draft Picks First Thoughts After Being Drafted

When getting interviewed after being selected, it is customary to be humble and politically correct on camera (unless you’re Lavar Ball). This is what the first 15 picks in the NBA Draft really wanted to say to Allison Williams in the green room.

  1. Markelle Fultz: “I’m the only consensus #1 pick who no one has ever seen play”
  2. Lonzo Ball: “This is exactly what I wanted…right Dad?”
  3. Jayson Tatum: “I’m finally done with controlling coaches. Wait, who is the Celtics coach?”
  4. Josh Jackson: “Shit, maybe I should’ve found time in my busy schedule to work out for the Celtics”
  5. De’Aaron Fox: ” Great, I’m in the only city in California that’s not by the beach”
  6. Jonathan Isaac: “I must be the MVP of the draft, because I’m going to Disney World”
  7. Lauri Markkanen: “Seriously, in Sweden Lauri is a man’s name”
  8. Frank Ntilikina: “Tony said that teammates share wives and girlfriends. Is that really true, because La La is hot!”
  9. Dennis Smith, Jr.: “My vertical isn’t the only thing that’s 48 inches”
  10. Zach Collins: “I wonder if they will let me start in the NBA”
  11. Malik Monk: “At least I don’t have to pay Coach Cal 10% since I didn’t get picked in the top 10”
  12. Luke Kennard: “I must be the first white shooting guard to go in the lottery that can’t even shoot”
  13. Donovan Mitchell: “In the NBA do we have to get our own hookers, or do the coaches still pay?”
  14. Edrice ‘Bam’ Adebayo: “My mom didn’t think I’d get made fun of enough for Edrice, so she stole my nickname from a cartoon baby”
  15. Justin Jackson: “Actually, its Justin, not Josh. Hey, you can still ask me questions!”

Quick Hits on Dallas Mavericks 1st Round Pick

The Dallas Mavericks had their first top 10 pick in the Mark Cuban era. With the 9th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft they selected Dennis Smith, Jr., a freshman point guard from NC State.

The Numbers:

6’2″ (6’3″ wingspan), 195 pounds, 48″ Vertical, 19 years old

18.1 PPG, 6.2 AST, 4.6 REB, 1.9 STL, 0.4 BLK, 3.4 TOV, 46% FG, 36% 3PT, 72% FT


Score first point guard, but also has the ability to find open teammates in drive and kick situations. His quickness and explosiveness is second in the draft, only to 5th pick De’Aaron Fox. He has a crossover that allows him to get an open jumper and get to the rim to score. His strength and frame will make sure he is not pushed around in the NBA and will allow him to finish in the paint. His athleticism and quick hands gives him the ability to be a pesky on ball defender.


Inconsistent shooter, will resort to taking bad shots when frustrated. 36% from behind the line is not a good sign, especially when the NBA moves the line 3 feet further than college. Also, 71% from the charity stripe for a point guard simply will not cut it in the NBA. Smith tends to pick up his dribble quickly when defensive pressure comes, and that forces him into turnovers. He tore his ACL in 2015 and missed his senior season of high school, but he seems to be completely healed and had no issues in college.

Rookie Season Expectations:

Smith will benefit greatly from having talented teammates and a good coach in Rick Carlisle, considering he had neither at NC State. He needs to learn how to use his athleticism to play defense and how to see the entire court as a point guard, so that he can hit open teammates instead of taking forced shots. Smith may struggle early fitting into a more complex offense, but should find his stride with the team by January. No doubt that Carlisle will have him shooting plenty of shots in practice to bring up that ugly free throw percentage. Don’t be surprised to see him in the dunk contest to show off that 48″ vertical.

Last Word:

Dennis Smith, Jr. was the biggest sleeper in the draft for many analysts, with some going so far as to say he could possibly be the best player in the draft when it is all said and done. However, while he does have a high ceiling, he does also have somewhat of a low floor. If Smith does not improve his shooting, defense and decision making, it will be very difficult for him to stay on the floor in the NBA. However, if he does improve those aspects of his game….watch out NBA.

2017 NBA Finals Snap Judgment

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals 129-120, for their second championship in three years. This series featured an amazing amount of star power, including three of the best players in the NBA. Several aspects of the NBA are affected by this outcome, and it may change how the future of the NBA will look.

Warriors: From the outside, this team looks as if they could stay together for a long time to run the West. However, there are only three contributing players that have guaranteed contracts next year: Draymond, Klay, and McCaw. Durant has a contract for next year, but there is a player option in which he could decline it. Curry is an unrestricted free agent and has the freedom to sign with anyone. While it would be surprising to see Curry or Durant go anywhere, expect to see several different role players on the 2017-2018 Warriors. Also, Steve Kerr’s health will be a big deciding factor whether or not he is the head coach next year.

Cavaliers: The Cavs, on the other handhave guaranteed contracts with 7 of 9 contributing players. They are locked into their core, much to do with Lebron’s influence on the front office. Barring a trade, which is very likely, the Cavs roster will look eerily similar, just one year older. Ty Lue seemed to be outmatched in the coaching battle in the Finals this year, so don’t be surprised if Lebron has a new coach for the 2017-2018 season.

Lebron: Lebron is now 3-5 in the Finals. He saved face by not getting swept, but all G.O.A.T. discussions have been stopped in their tracks. While this Finals outcome may not have hurt his legacy, it definitely did not help it. Lebron seemed nonchalant throughout a good portion of the Finals, almost as if he had given in that the Cavs were not going to win. He had great series stats (averaging a triple double), but actually watching him was frustrating at times. From not stopping the ball on Warriors’ fast breaks to taking covered 3s with plenty of time left on the shot clock so as to not exert energy for that play, Lebron seemed content with losing this series. He seemed almost giddy to welcome Durant back to the Finals before game one, and to wish Kerr well before game two. He really didn’t seem locked in, and that is an ominous look for Cavs fans when Lebron can exercise his own player option after next season.

Durant: Durant was the Finals MVP, and no one in their right mind would question that. He played an unbelievable series, on both sides of the ball. Did he join a 73 win team to get a ring? Yes, but he was also the best player on that team. Would it have been more impressive to win a championship in OKC? Yes, but KD did not back his way into this championship, he went out and took it. 16-1 in the playoffs is nothing to laugh at. KD  could exercise his player option, take less money, and allow the Warriors more cap flexibility to sign Steph and role players. He could also, however unlikely this may sound, exercise his player option to leave the Warriors. For now, KD will enjoy his championship and leave those decisions to July.

Steph: Steph still does not have a Finals MVP, but it is obvious he is as important a piece to these championship teams as anyone else, if not more. Steph is an unrestricted free agent, but him leaving the Warriors for another team would be one of the most surprising decisions in NBA history. He was drafted by the Warriors in 2009, and became the franchise player shortly thereafter. Steph is still the best shooter that has ever lived, but next on his list has to be a Finals MVP trophy.

NBA: The stacked class for this year’s Draft and the abundance of players available in free agency will change the look of the league, but Adam Silver better hope for more competition. While seeing the Warriors and Cavs duke it out for three straight Finals has been entertaining, fans may check out if the playoffs are foregone conclusions with no parity. The Cavs may not have been the number one seed, but going 12-1 in the East is nothing short of a snoozefest. Missing Kawhi for the West Finals hurt the competitiveness of the Spurs, but the Warriors were undefeated through the first 15 games of the playoffs.

The Golden State Social Justice Warriors

Less than one year from acquiring Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors have transitioned from a team that was almost impossible not to love, to a team that is almost impossible not to hate. Not because they are now becoming the ‘villains’ that superteam of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh became in Miami, but more so because they have become a group of whiny bit…babies.

Steph was the baby face of the league that every kid idolized, and now he would be more easily compared to an annoying little sibling that just learned how to tattle to mom and dad. Draymond was becoming one of the most unique and versatile players in the NBA, and now he grabs and kicks more male genitalia than a porn star during a weekend long filming. Steve Kerr was the genius coach who never had issues with any of his players, and now he is the ridiculous parent that believes their children can do no wrong. After listening to these three for more than a minute, one would start to believe that the entire universe is out to get the Warriors.

This annoyance has been building up since the tail end of the 2015-2016 season when Golden State was going for the record for most wins in a regular season. At that time, some of it was understandable from all of the daily pressure and the constant and inane questions from anyone and everyone. Where it really started to get out of control was when it seemed as if the Warriors thought that they could do no wrong, they were always right, and they should be treated special since they are the NBA’s hottest and most expensive ticket.

Neat the end of February after the All Star game, several Warriors start publicly complaining and borderline protesting for Shaq to stop making fun of JaVale McGee on his ‘Shaqtin a Fool’ bit. Kerr suggested that Shaq is picking on JaVale and making fun of him too much and it is negatively affecting JaVale. Seriously, watch this video and see if that sounds like a NBA coach talking about a NBA player, or, more like a parent in the principal’s office of an elementary school. JaVale McGee is a 29 year old man, if he wants Shaq to stop making fun of him for bonehead plays, he needs to stop playing as he is a six year old with ADHD in a church basketball league.

Less than two weeks later, the Warriors were in New York City for a game against the Knicks in which the home team was trying a new in game experience. The Knicks were going to have no in-game music or videos for the first half. Draymond called the experiment, “Pathetic”, “Ridiculous”, and “Disrespectful”. He also complained that it “changed the flow of the game”. I’m sorry Draymond, I forgot that the home team was supposed to make sure everything was hunky-dory for the visiting team. In no way should the home team ever use anything that could possibly create a, dare I say, home-court advantage. I think it was just last week that I went to go play basketball at the gym, but there was no pump up music as I brought the ball up the court or a kiss cam during long breaks. I was so appalled that I turned around and went right back home. Who do they think that I am, some degenerate that can just play a basketball without the sound of Mario collecting gold coins every time I hit a three? That honestly has to be one of the stupidest complaints I have ever heard from an athlete.

To round out the months of incessant crying, the Golden State Warriors are calling out the entire Oklahoma City Thunder organization for the way they handled Kevin Durant’s return to OKC on February 11, 2017. The Warriors were upset that their star player was “emotionally drained” after the game. They say the Thunder should have done more to ease tension before and during the game so that Durant would not have entered such a hostile environment. Really? The franchise player that an organization drafted leaves for the team that beat them in the playoffs and the Thunder are supposed to tell the fans to play nice? That’s insane! No organization or owner should act the way Dan Gilbert did when LeBron ‘took his talents to South Beach’, but they definitely do not owe former players warm welcomes when competing against them. Especially a player that did not even win a championship. The Thunder may have a warmer welcome for Durant a few years down the line, but the year after a franchise player leaves, do not expect the organization to be happy to see him coming through the doors with enemy colors on.

Kevin Durant may be the worst of all of them, constantly complaining about former players criticizing the current generation. Especially, when these players are being asked for their opinions by reporters, or are analysts themselves. This may come as a shock to KD, but even though millennials are used to getting participation trophies and being told they are the greatest thing that has ever happened to the world, that is not the job of an NBA analyst. While praise should be given out by anyone dissecting the game of basketball, so to should critique. Watching almost any sports program, it is obvious there is more positive than negative doled out from analysts, everyone wants to only focus on the negative. Maybe Kevin just wants to fit in as the new guy in town, and decides that since he has the largest media voice, he will defend everyone, no matter what, instead of looking at the situation and going back to his teammate with some constructive criticism.

All in all, the Warriors need to understand that they are just like any other team in the NBA. They are great players, great people, and extremely entertaining to watch play basketball, but hopefully the whining can decrease to a more manageable level. Pick your battles. “Disrespectful” may be an overstatement for, no music being played during the first half of a basketball. There is no special treatment, especially on the road, that the Warriors will receive for being a good. Perhaps Joe Lacob needs to invest in ‘safe spaces’ for the Warriors, so they do not get their feelings hurt on road trips.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Southeast Division (Part 6 of 6)

Atlanta Hawks

Image result for atlanta hawks dwight howard

Starting Five: C: Dwight Howard PF: Paul Millsap SF: Kent Bazemore SG: Kyle Korver PG: Dennis Schroder

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 4 seed; Out; Out

The Hawks lost Al Horford and Jeff Teague, and replaced them by moving Schroder from the bench to the starting lineup and signing a hometown hero, Dwight Howard. Both of these seem like downgrades to me, which will make their playoff hopes even more difficult in an improving Eastern Conference. Dwight Howard is one of the greatest physical specimens that the NBA has ever seen, but between the ears he isn’t much more than a college player on the court. Because of that immaturity, Howard requires a coach that can get him to make the best choices for the good of the team, all the while making Howard think it was his own idea. Stan Van Gundy has to be at the top of that list, since he actually accomplished that in Orlando, but I’m not sure how many other coaches could. Budenholzer will have a shot at it, and will definitely be an upgrade over any of the previous nine head coaches he has played for in his career (except Van Gundy).

Schroder is not a huge downgrade from Teague, and they have a seasoned veteran backup point guard in Jarrett Jack. Jack has been known to come up big in late game situations, just ask the Golden State Warriors, who have been on both sides of his antics. Atlanta’s biggest issue this year will be their lack of shooting. Kyle Korver’s three point shooting of 39.8% last year was almost ten percent lower than the year before. While I assume the Hawks see that stat trending back to his norm this year, they do not have anyone else on the roster that shoots over 35% from long range. What would surprise me more, the Hawks making the playoffs or Dwight Howard actually being an enjoyable teammate? Definitely the former, and that says a lot since Dwight Howard seems to be one of the toughest guys to get along with in an NBA locker room.

Charlotte Hornets

Image result for charlotte hornets kemba 2017

Starting Five: C: Cody Zeller PF: Marvin Williams SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SG: Nicolas Batum PG: Kemba Walker

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 5 seed; Out; Out

The Hornets were tied for the third best record in the East and they’re a young team, of course they are going to get better this year. Not so fast, losing your second and third leading scorers in Al Jefferson and Jeremy Lin, and not replacing them with anyone of significance, will not be very helpful. No, Marco Belinelli is not a player of any significance. The biggest issue this year for the Hornets will be their lack of depth. They have one of the worst second lineups in the league.

MKG will be back this year after two shoulder injuries, and will be a great counterpart to Nicolas Batum on the wing. Those four long arms will make passing through this defense very difficult. The dire playoff hopes for the Hornets are due to the front office, and there really are not any trade chips they can use to improve apart from future draft picks. I want to see Charlotte back in the postseason, especially after the exhilarating series with the Heat last year, but I see the more experienced Bulls and youthful Bucks edging them out.

Miami Heat

Image result for miami heat team 2017

Starting Five: C: Hassan Whiteside PF: Josh McRoberts SF: Justise Winslow SG: Josh Richardson PG: Goran Dragic

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 7 seed (if Bosh is healthy); Out; Out

The 2016-17 Miami Heat will be difficult to watch, think back to the 2007-08 Heat team when Wade was injured and they won 15 games. Okay, it may not be that bad, but it will be closer to that than the 48 wins they had last year. As if losing Dwyane Wade wasn’t enough, now it looks as if Chris Bosh’s career may be over. Bosh keeps saying he is not done yet, but that seems to be more wishful thinking than an actual medical opinion. Bosh is a great competitor and truly a pro’s pro, but no Heat fan (or hater) wants to see the unimaginable happen to him.

Hassan Whiteside will now get to see how it feels to get paid as a superstar, without any of the talent. Get ready for the boos and chants whenever he does not play up to that near $100 million contract. Justise Winslow will also get to find out how hard it is to play on the wing in the NBA when there is not a future Hall of Famer on the other side. There aren’t many teams I enjoy seeing suffer more than the Miami Heat, so I may DVR a few games here and there this season just to watch one of the
worst teams in the NBA lose.

Orlando Magic

Image result for orlando magic 2017

Starting Five: C: Nikola Vucevic PF: Serge Ibaka SF: Aaron Gordon SG: Evan Fournier PG: Elfrid Payton

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 8 seed; Out; Out

The Magic have a multitude of raw talent and athleticism, and if I had to start a football team with an NBA team, they would probably be my choice. Orlando will be a scary place to play this season because opposing players will feel like Monday morning NFL players the day after the game. With a frontcourt that consists of Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, Serge Ibaka, and Aaron Gordon, slighter guards may choose to pull up for a mid-range jumper more often than not.

The trade to send Oladipo to the Thunder in exchange for Serge Ibaka seemed to benefit both teams, but it was somewhat confusing when the Magic signed Bismack Biyombo two weeks later. They are essentially the same player, except Ibaka has a better jumper and Bismack is more aggressive on the offensive boards. Orlando has a good spread of talent among every position, with each position possessing complementary skills to the other, but they are very inexperienced. This may be a team that can make it to the second round of the playoffs, but not for at least two years.

Washington Wizards

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Starting Five: C: Marcin Gortat PF: Markieff Morris SF: Otto Porter Jr. SG: Bradley Beal PG: John Wall

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; Out; 5 seed

The Wizards are as dysfunctional as they are talented. It is never a good sign when your two stars can’t stand each other, on or off the court. John Wall hates to see to his counterpart in the backcourt making $10 million more per year, while missing an average of 20 games per season. That’s right, hometown DC may have lost the Durant sweepstakes, but they did find someone to give a max contract to. Beal now has 125 million reasons to stay healthy and play a full 82 for the Wizards through 2021. With Wall’s speed and Beal’s sharp shooting, they can definitely be one of the best backcourts in the NBA, but that has yet to be seen. Hopefully Scott Brooks can get them to play nice on the court, like he did with Durant and Westbrook in OKC.

The frontcourt is not void of drama either with Markieff Morris upset that his twin brother isn’t able to fill the top bunk at home. Hopefully, the Morris twins got plenty of family time in over the summer so the will be able to finish the season without an episode of separation anxiety. Ian Mahinmi was a good pickup in the offseason. While he will never be a starting center in the NBA, he is a very capable backup. The key to the Wizards making the playoffs will really depend on health. Even if they stay healthy, don’t plan on seeing them in the second round, mostly because of lack of maturity and cohesiveness.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Central Division (Part 5 of 6)

Chicago Bulls

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Starting Five: C: Robin Lopez PF: Taj Gibson SF: Jimmy Butler SG: Dwyane Wade PG: Rajon Rondo

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; out; 8 seed

Its not quite clear yet if Wade is going to Chicago to retire at home or to try to keep winning, because if he wanted to win, Chicago isn’t exactly the best option. Wade gets to play in front of family and friends while making a lot more than the Heat were willing to pay him. Since the Chicago winters are about 60 degrees colder than in Miami, he might be joining Lebron on that midseason sabbatical.

Team chemistry is going to be a huge obstacle for the 2017 Bulls. Who knows how Fred Hoiberg plans to deal with Rondo and Butler going back and forth in practice, the locker room, and games. Street gangs in Chicago will be watching games together in suites at the United Center before this group of players begins to even resemble a cohesive team. This may be the push the front
office will need to put Jimmy Butler on the trade block, where they will definitely get offers from either Minnesota or Boston.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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Starting Five: C: Tristan Thompson PF: Kevin Love SF: Lebron James SG: Iman Shumpert PG: Kyrie Irving

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 3 seed; 1 seed

The only question if the Cavs are going to be the number 1 seed in the East, is how much does Lebron want it. After six straight finals, the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, and finally bringing home the hardware for his hometown, he may have a sense of accomplishment that battles with his competitive drive. It’s easy to come back and try to succeed after failed attempts, but after Lebron has reached his goal, it is going to be much harder to have the same determination. After the free agency move the Warriors made, to go get KD to try to beat him, Lebron may want to prove that it doesn’t matter who is put against him, Lebron will persevere.

The most interesting storyline to watch, is what will the Cavs do with Kevin Love? Kyrie is showing that he is definitely going to be a star in this league, so that really leaves three possibilities for Love. Is he going to continue to be a corner distraction, or will they find another way to integrate him into the offense? The best option would probably be a trade if they can find a trade partner. Will the Lakers go after Love in an attempt to lure Westbrook in 2018? The Cavs could use some young talent, considering Kyrie will probably be the youngest one on their 12 man roster.

Detroit Pistons

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Starting Five: C: Andre Drummond PF: Tobias Harris SF: Marcus Morris SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope PG: Reggie Jackson

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 4 seed; Out; Out

Having your best player be an exclusively low post player was the first ingredient in the recipe to be holding the Larry O’Brien trophy in June…15 years ago. Times have changed and Andre Drummond being the franchise player for Detroit pretty much guarantees the Pistons won’t be a force in the East anytime soon. Stan Van does have a very similar to the Magic team he took to the Finals with Dwight Howard in 2009, they play a 4 out 1 in type of offense. The difference between these two teams is that the East is a lot stronger today than it was in 2009, and these Pistons are more likely to miss the playoffs than make the Finals.

Unfortunately, the biggest worry for the Pistons is that Reggie Jackson thinks he’s the best player on the team, when he’s probably number three. Having your sixth man think he’s the best player on the team is usually a positive, because it will bring you extra points off the bench for 20 minutes per game. However, when your starting point guard thinks that, it turns into the pickup game at LA Fitness where the 35-year-old Uncle Rico tries to relive the glory days, and the only time anyone ever touches the ball is off a rebound. Detroit was one of only four teams with less than 20 assists per game last year. That has a lot to do with each player trying to get his, due to the fear of not getting the ball again if he passes.

Indiana Pacers

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Starting Five: C: Al Jefferson PF: Thaddeus Young SF: Paul George SG: Monta Ellis PG: Jeff Teague

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 8 seed; 3 seed

In 2011, “The Decision” made everyone absolutely sure that the ‘superteam’ the Miami Heat created with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh were shoe ins to win the NBA title. The Dallas Mavericks came in and ruined the party with Dirk being the only All-Star on the team. There are a lot of similarities between the 2011 Mavs and the 2017 Pacers.

Both teams picked up a center from Charlotte (Tyson Chandler & Al Jefferson) that came straight out of high school and had an injury issue coming to the team. Both teams have high scoring shooting guards (Jason Terry & Monta Ellis) that can take over a game at any time and have the stones to take the last shot. Both teams have a defensive-minded guard (DeShawn Stevenson & Rodney Stuckey) that has a dangerous enough 3 ball to keep opposing defenses from doubling off of them. Both teams have superstars (Dirk & Paul George) that analysts wonder if they will ever have a chance at a championship (PG13 was because of injury).

Does this mean I am picking the Pacers to sweep the Cavs in the second round (as the Mavs did to the title defending Lakers in 2011) and go on to beat the Warriors in the Finals? Not exactly, because Nate McMillan is nowhere near the level of coach that Rick Carlisle is. However, I won’t be shocked if the Pacers go to the Eastern Conference Finals, NBA Finals or even win it all. With 100:1 odds to win the NBA Finals, they may just be best value pick out there. The Pacers had the best offseason in the East by adding Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, and Jeff Teague to a team that has the 3rd best two-way player in the league in Paul George (only Lebron & Kawhi can compete with him). Myles Turner is also going to be one year better, and with his rookie season under his belt he will be a great big coming off the bench in his second season. Watch out for the 2017 Pacers.

Milwaukee Bucks

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Starting Five: C: Greg Monroe PF: Jabari Parker SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo SG: Tony Snell PG: Matthew Dellavedova

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 4 seed; Out; 7 seed

The Bucks have a great future to look towards with their two young rising stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. Giannis is one of those once in a generation type talent, a 6’11” freak of an athlete that can play any position on the floor. His game is complimented perfectly by Parker, who is one step above Tim Duncan in excitement and athleticism. Parker is a very fundamental player, who has a sweet J and can post up on the block. Both need to improve their shooting from three (25%), and need to be at 80% from the charity stripe.

I also like what the Bucks did in the offseason, strengthening their bench at almost every position with Miles Plumlee, Mirza Teltovic, Steve Novak, Jason Terry. The Delly contract might be borderline insane (4 years, $38 million), but it might also be the new era of the NBA where Mike Conley has the largest contract in the league. Players were overpaid left and right this offseason, and Delly, Mr. All Heart & Hustle himself, jumped at the chance to make nearly $10 million a year. Dave Chappelle never knew how famous the POTUS was until Monica Lewinsky became a household name for doing….a thing. Well, I don’t think I ever truly knew how good Lebron was, until an Aussie that used to pass him the ball and dive at opponents ankles is making $10 million dollars a year. This contract screams JJ Barea on the T’Wolves from 2011-2014, but I’ll keep my mouth shut and watch.

This should be a decent season for the Bucks, I see about a 10-game-jump in wins, somewhere in the 42-45 range and a playoff
berth. Hopefully, they can find a trade partner to dump at least one of their big men, since they are very deep there, and could definitely use some help in the backcourt. In the playoffs, I see probably what happened to them two years ago to Chicago. Pushing a superior team more than they thought they would, butultimately falling short. The Bucks, similar to their neighbors in Minnesota, have a couple more years until they actually make some noise in the playoffs, but they will be an exciting team to watch.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Atlantic Division (Part 4 of 6)

Boston Celtics

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Starting Five: C: Al Horford PF: Amir Johnson SF: Jae Crowder SG: Avery Bradley PG: Isaiah Thomas

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 2 seed; 7 seed; 4 seed

It’s really hard to make a deep run in the playoffs without a top 20 player, and the Celtics don’t have a top 20 player. They need to make a trade to become a contender. If you’ve heard or read Bill Simmons in the past five years, you probably understand that it is a grammatical crime to create a sentence with Danny Ainge without also including the fact that he has been collecting assets. Well newsflash Bostonians, assets don’t win championships. It is time for Ainge to cash in those assets for a franchise player. Isaiah Thomas is a good player, maybe even very good, but he is a number 3 on a championship team. Maybe a number 2 if it is a very solid team, but there is no way you can hold the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the year with Isaiah Thomas as your franchise player.

Jimmy Butler may be the most likely option for a trade. Russ may have been in talks as well had he not signed the extension with OKC. The positive about getting Russ, is that you can’t overtrade for a superduperstar. No one is going to say, ‘you gave up too much for Russ’, but they may say that about Butler. Boston has the Nets first round draft pick for the next two years, and those are nothing to sneeze at. 2017 and 2018 are supposed to be high talent drafts, and the judging by the outlook in Brooklyn, those should be top 10 picks, if not top 5. They probably only have to give up one of those picks to get Butler, but they will also have to give up one or two players (Thomas, Bradley, Brown). As the Celtics are assembled right now they are probably a second round exit, but Butler could make them contenders for the Finals. The upside for Butler, is that he could be plugged into a system more easily than someone like Russ. Boston needs to take advantage of the weaker East before things change (which may be sooner than later) and cash in these ‘assets’ for a chance at a championship.

Brooklyn Nets

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Starting Five: C: Brook Lopez PF: Trevor Booker SF: Bojan Bogdanovic SG: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson PG: Jeremy Lin

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out

When you look at the Brooklyn Nets roster, only one word comes to mind…Who?.  It sounds more like a casting call for ‘The
Bachelorette’ than an NBA roster. Let’s play a game; I’m going to list 5 players on the Nets and 5 guys from this season of ‘The Bachelorette’. Let’s see how many you can get right.

1. Alex Woytkiw 2. Caris LaVert 3. Grant Kemp 4. Justin Hamilton 5. Joe Harris 6. Jordan Rodgers 7. Evan Bass 8. Greivis Vasquez 9. Chad Johnson 10. Trevor Booker.

If you got a 10 out of 10 it means one of two things. Either you watch ‘The Bachelorette’ or YOU WATCH ‘The Bachelorette’. Even the biggest of Nets fans wouldn’t know all of those players, and the last one, Trevor Booker, is a starter! For the record: 2,4,5,8,10 are Brooklyn Nets.

I can’t believe this team won 21 games last year, and I don’t see them winning that many in 2017. The biggest issue for the Nets is that they don’t even have any hope for the future. A string of ill advised trades made sure they won’t have any good draft picks until at least 2019. At least players that sign with the Nets have a nice place to live, because all the losing is sure to get them down. The only thing the Nets can hope for is a stint of Linsanity or maybe the NBA will adopt a golf like scoring system where lowest score wins. Move over Philadelphia, Brooklyn is coming in to plant their flag as the worst team in the league.

New York Knicks

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Starting Five: C: Joakim Noah PF: Kristaps Porzingis SF: Carmelo Anthony SG: Courtney Lee PG: Derrick Rose

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; Out; 6 seed

The Knicks would be contenders for the Finals in the East, but I can’t imagine a season with this roster without a significant injury or two. Seeing Noah and Rose on a team other than the Bulls will be strange, but this may be just the change of scenery both of them needed. Derrick Rose was not happy when he came back after missing the majority of 3 seasons because of
injury to find out he had to battle with Jimmy Butler for control of ‘his’ team. Now, of course, Carmelo is in New York, but Rose would rather player on Melo’s team than give up his team to Butler. For Joakim, there was not a player that hated the coaching change of Thibs for Hoiberg more than him. He saw his defensive minded team of which he was the glue, turn into a team that tried to live and die by the three ball when there were only two good long distance shooters, at best. While Jeff Hornacek was a shooter as a player and still loves the long ball, Noah is going to love his business first approach.

Melo will be in heaven with the best team, and most talent, he has ever played with. Every other time he has had a big name teammate, it was either way past their prime or they were injured for the majority of the time played with Melo. Probably his best teammate has been JR Smith, and not to take anything away from JR, but it is hard to be successful when that is your
right hand man. Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the Knickerbockers, but not quite yet. He had a great rookie season, but he needs to make sure to learn from all of the veterans around him. Hopefully, he can see that he will still be a number three option, which will allow him to work on his defense and passing game. This will help him tremendously in his career if he can take advantage of not being needed as a scorer. Most young scorers don’t get this opportunity, and are forced to ignore other aspects of their game to focus solely on scoring because of their team’s great need.

The key to the Knicks success will be resting during the regular season. Just like 2016, the 3-6 seeds in the East will most likely be interchangeable, so the Knicks need to worry less about getting a high seed and more about making it to May with a healthy roster.

Philadelphia 76ers

Starting Five: C: Nerlens Noel PF: Jahlil Okafor SF: Robert Convington SG: Gerald Henderson PG:Jerryd Bayless

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out

It’s four years, and counting, that the 76ers will not be playing their first round draft pick for at least part of the season. First Nerlens Noel, then Joel Embiid, then Jahlil Okafor, and now Ben Simmons. The bad luck is incredible. It looks like Ben Simmons is going to play it safe, and wil most likely miss the entire season. Now that Simmons is out, still look for Noel to be dealt. Why trade a big guy when they just lost a big guy to injury? Well, Simmons was also a ball handler, and if you don’t have anyone to bring the ball down the court, it makes the game a lot tougher. Also, Noel is in the last year of his rookie deal, and the 76ers will probably not want to sign him to a big deal when most of their depth is in the front court.

Joel Embiid is getting talk to be in the running for rookie of the year. Somewhat strange to win this two full seasons after being drafted, but 2016-2017 will be the first time he can actually suit up for an NBA game. The more playing time Embiid gets, the better shot he will have, so Noel leaving or staying will definitely sway votes. Noel has already proven to be a solid center in this league, but Embiid has a bigger upside, the question is whether or not he can stay on the court. The 76ers have shown over the past five years that they are risk takers, so this is another reason you can look for Noel tobe gone by the trade deadline.

The 76ers also have somewhat of a decision to make at point guard, with solid backup, Jerryd Bayless, and Sergio Rodriguez,
who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2010. While Sergio may be the better PG, it may take him some time to adjust to the NBA game from playing in Europe for five years. Look for Bayless to start while that happens. With such a young team, having experience at point will payoff this year. Philly has a good shot at doubling, maybe even tripling, their wins from last year, while also becoming more of an NBA team and less of a circus sideshow. When you win 10 games, that isn’t such a huge feat, but it will be great for the 76ers for remember what winning feels like at least 25% of the time.

Toronto Raptors

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Starting Five: C: Jonas Valanciunas PF: Patrick Patterson SF: DeMarre Carroll SG: DeMar DeRozanPG: Kyle Lowry

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 5 seed; 2 seed

Jonas definitely showed his worth to the Raptors last year, when he went down in the second round. Toronto barely squeaked by a Heat team that decided it would be better to play without any big men, than start Amare Stoudemire again. Jonas will have to keep up the dominance from the playoffs, when he was the best player on the team and carried the Raptors when Lowry & DeRozan couldn’t make a shot, for the Raptors to make another deep playoff run. He will also have to up his minutes played to over 30 mpg since Bismack Biyombo went to Orlando, and the Raptors replaced him with rookie Jakob Poltl and the less-than-impressive Jared Sullinger.

Since the Raptors have lost more than they gained in the offseason, they will need to develop that young talent during the regular season, to make sure there is a reliable bench for the postseason. The East seems to be coming back to at least competitive with the West, so 2017 will be much tougher on Toronto than when they made their first conference finals in franchise history. DeRozan not being in a contract year and the East improvements will also contribute to the Toronto decrease in Wins, but they can still claim the number two seed in the East.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Pacific Division (Part 3 of 6)

Golden State Warriors

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Starting Five: C: Zaza Pachulia PF: Draymond Green SF: Kevin Durant SG: Klay Thompson PG: Steph Curry

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 3 seed; 1 seed

KD going to the Warriors is not the best chance for him to grow as a basketball player, it’s the best chance for him to get a ring. When you see a Jared’s commercial and a guy has a ring, you always see women behind him saying ‘he went to Jared’s’. Next year, when you see KD with a ring, you are going to hear current and former players saying ‘he went to the Warriors’. While this was a good move for KD personally (a single guy moving from a small town to a big, exciting city), he can no longer be seen as one of the elite superstars in this league after going to a team that has been to the Finals two straight years. It takes a special kind of person to want to be THE guy, and apparently KD does not want that. It takes nothing away from how talented he is as a player, but for someone to even be in contention for best player in the world, they need that. After his signing, its quite apparent that rings are more important to KD than being the best player. Even though it kills me as a fan of the game, because I want to see each player want more than anything to be the best and to be the fiercest competitor alive, there are some extremely talented players that do not have that desire.

As for the team, this is going to be the most beautiful offense the world has ever seen…when they find their rhythm. Just like any team, it will take time (probably 20-40 games) for them to be who we think they will be right out of the gate. Don’t be surprised if the Warriors start out 12-8 in their first 20 games. That is exactly why the Warriors over/under of 68.5 wins after the KD signing was crazy. Its not as if the Warriors are the only team that got better this offseason. Six or seven playoff contenders in the West got better as well. Also, it seems that the injury bug has avoided the Warriors in the regular season for the past two years, and it may not this year. While the Warriors did add a super-duper-star, they also lost key players from last year, in Bogut, Barnes, Barbosa, Ezeli, and Speights. That’s 37 ppg and 22 rpg, not exactly something that gets replaced easily. And the last, and most obvious, reason…there is only one ball! Steph and Klay are going to have to give up a lot of shots and pass a lot more to account for KD. This team is like a fine wine, it will get better with age. So don’t make any prejudgments about them before the All Star break, because you may be eating your words in May and June.

Los Angeles Clippers

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Starting Five: C: DeAndre Jordan PF: Blake Griffin SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute SG: J.J. Reddick PG: Chris Paul

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 2 seed; 5 seed; 3 seed

I can’t tell if Austin Rivers needs to thank the new salary cap or his daddy for his $11 million contract, because he sure as hell isn’t worth that. The Clippers are the only playoff team in the West that did not add at least a good player to their roster. Their biggest signings were Wesley Johnson and Marreese Speights, and Wesley Johnson may sneak into the starting lineup. I know they feel that the CP3 and Blake injuries in the playoffs are the only reason they lost to the Blazers, but honestly that was probably as far as they were getting if they didn’t get injured. It would be very difficult to find a legitimate reason why anyone thinks they would’ve gone on to beat the Warriors in a series. They can keep telling themselves that they have the 1st team All NBA center, and that is only their 3rd best player, but honestly, who is DeAndre really competing against? Chris Paul has about two more years of superstar in him before he is going to struggle mightily in the playoffs, or he is going to have to find another superstar to play with to compete for a title.

Truthfully, I hate watching this team play. They are the biggest group of whiners in the league, which I’m sure they picked up from Doc. And I’m not talking only about complaining about EVERY SINGLE foul called on them, but also complaining that others have the success they wish they could’ve had. It’s not just the whining; the offense they run is one step up from streetball. Alley oop here, isolation there, then jack up a shot when there’s three seconds left on the shot clock. They rely way too much on talent, which they have a ton of, but that will not cut it in the playoffs. NBA teams are too good and too smart to
allow streetball beat them in a seven game series.

Los Angeles Lakers

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Starting Five: C: Timofey Mozgov PF: Julius Randle SF: Luol Deng SG: Jordan Clarkson PG: D’Angelo Russell

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out

As much as I dislike the Lakers, I have to agree that the NBA is much better when they are at least relevant. They are drafting well by the look of things, but that is easy when you have the second pick two years in a row. For the Lakers to have any shot of making noise in the coming years, they are going to have to get a big name, whether that be through trade or free agency. In ‘96
when they got Kobe as a rookie, they also signed Shaq, the biggest free agent on the market. They may get lucky and find that Russ wants to come back home to LA in a couple of years, but they better not put all their chips in that basket. As much as everyone loves going home, I find it pretty difficult to see the ultra-competitor, Russell Westbrook, coming and joining a team that has won 65 games in the past three seasons combined.

Looking at the roster they have now, don’t expect that 65 mark to jump to high. I can’t imagine this team winning 30 games. The biggest upside is their coach, Luke Walton, but this is going to be night and day different than the situation he just came from in Oakland. Coming from a highly professional organization built around winners with a winning mindset and attitude and going to an organization that looks like a chicken with its head cut off. That rings even more true when you see their longest tenured veteran doing things like this:

Luke, I hope you still think this is your dream job when the Lakers are 10-30 and Swaggy P and D’Angelo Russell are more concerned with who will be picking up the tab at Avalon Hollywood than the gameplan for the second half. Brandon Ingram may grow into a great player in this league, but for now he’s almost a foot taller than me and the same number pops up when we get on the scale. He’s going to get thrown around more than two kids in the back of a station wagon when their dad is driving around on back roads because he’s ‘not lost’.

Phoenix Suns

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Starting Five: C: Tyson Chandler PF: Dragan Bender/Marquese Chriss SF: P.J. Tucker SG: Eric Bledsoe PG: Brandon Knight

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out

Dragan Bender is the brightest spot on the Suns, and that is completely by default. Phoenix seems more like the landing spot for Kentucky Wildcat mediocrity than a threat to even sniff the playoffs. Even the head coach, Earl Watson, is in over his head. From an NBA journeyman, to NBADL head coach, to assistant coach turned interim head coach in the same year, and now
is the actual head coach of the Phoenix Suns. I guess it is going to be trial by error this year in Phoenix, because Watson sure doesn’t have any experience to rely on. I would have a problem with an NBA franchise offering a position that there are only 30 of in the world to someone with 2 years coaching experience (at any level), but, honestly, Pop, Riley & Phil couldn’t get this group to the playoffs. So, the Suns might as well save money with what looks to be the lowest salary for a head coach in the NBA at $2.5 million. Yeah, players aren’t the only ones who had salary increases, apparently the coaches are seeing a bump too.

The biggest upside of the salary cap increasing for the Suns is that now the fact that they had two overpaid point guards is erased. With the new contracts coming out this year, $12 million is how much bench players are getting. Maybe the Suns front office was just ahead of their time, or at least that’s what they’re telling owner Robert Sarver in hopes that they can keep their jobs. The only hope that the Suns have of making the playoffs in the next five years is that Dragan Bender becomes more Dirk and less Darko. Or maybe they are backing up their pick with the acquisition of Marquese Chriss, who plays the same position and has been highly praised by the organization as having unlimited potential.

Sacramento Kings

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Starting Five: C: DeMarcus Cousins PF: Willie Cauley-Stein SF: Rudy Gay SG: Arron Affalo PG: Darren Collison

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 7 seed; Out; Out

DeMarcus Cousins has been in the league long enough to be a mature leader on his team. Being a part of the US Olympic team put him around his peers who are motivated winners, something he has not been around since he has been in the league. inning is a mindset, and being on that team and winning a gold medal should give Boogie that mindset for the first time as an adult. He will also be coming back to the most stable and capable team the Kings have had since Cousins was drafted. Hopefully he can get along with coach Dave Joerger better than he has with his coaches in the past. I’m still confused why Joerger
would leave Memphis for Sacramento when Boogie has been known as a coach killer and headcase his entire career, but that’s not for me to worry about.

I would have better hopes for the Kings, but they don’t have any depth. Ben McLemore has been in the league for three years and has done absolutely nothing besides disappoint a fan base that thought they would at least get some highlight dunks. He played less minutes per game in his third season than either of the first two, and with Affalo getting signed to start at the 2, Ben
will struggle to see 20 mpg this season. One thing the Kings do have going for them is the nominee for best name in the NBA with Bogdan Bogdanovic. I’m still trying to figure out if he was the youngest of 13 kids and his parents just got lazy, or if they were dyslexic James Bond fans. The name’s Bogdan, Bogdan…Ovic. Give this team one more year and they may be in the playoffs, but with a new coach let’s pump the brakes.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Northwest Division (Part 2 of 6)

Denver Nuggets

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Starting Five: C: Jusuf Nurkic PF: Kenneth Faried SF: Danilo Gallinari SG: Gary Harris PG: Emmanuel Mudiay

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 8 seed; Out; Out

Mudiay is a sight to see on the court with incredible athleticism, size, and passing at the point guard position. He better be working on his jumper this summer though, because 36/32/67 is not going to cut it in the NBA. If he keeps that up he is going to be the next Ricky Rubio,  a player that is thought to be good because there is always a highlight, when in reality its just another empty, worthless play.

Denver’s number 1 draft pick, Jamal Murray, is everything that Mudiay isn’t as a shooter. They both play the point, but Murray may work his way to more of a combo guard before the season is over. This is an VERY young team that would be hard pressed to get 30 wins if they didn’t have the thin mile high air on their side.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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Starting Five: C: Gorgui Dieng PF: Karl Anthony Townes SF: Andrew Wiggins SG: Zach LaVine PG: Ricky Rubio

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 6 seed; Out; Out

With the drafting of Chris Dunn at number 5, this may be the last year for Ricky Rubio starting for the T’Wolves. Dunn may be the best point guard that the T’Wolves have ever drafted, including when they took three PGs in the first 18 picks of the 2009 draft, two of which were taken before Steph Curry. Dunn has handles, he can take it to the hole and finish, and if he can learn from Rubio how to read a defense and get the ball to the young rising stars on the team, the T’Wolves will be a force to be reckoned with in the West (in the future).

As for this year, I would be a little surprised to see the season end for Minnesota without a losing record. KAT has all the skills to be one of the best big men in the league and Wiggins has star potential written all over him, but losing KG as the veteren in the locker room will hurt them since he was the big brother that could teach the young guns how to deal with issues faced with the long season. If they do make the playoffs, they will be an easy out for whoever plays them, but this team is all about gaining experience right now and playoff experience would be a huge step for them. From Wiggins’ spin moves, to Lavine’s acrobatics, to Rubio’s no-looks, Dunn’s crossovers, and KAT’s overall fluid game, make sure to press record on your DVR so you can watch it over and over and over.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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Starting Five: C: Steven Adams PF: Ersan Ilyasova SF: Kyle Singler SG: Victor Oladipo PG: Russell Westbrook

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 5 seed; Out; 6 seed

This team has so many question marks, its hard to even come up with a starting 5. Will Ilyasova start, or will they keep him on the bench and start Kanter? Will Donovan start Singler at the 3 to get some more length and shooting, or does he want Roberson out their to lockdown opponents’ wing positions with Oladipo? One thing that is for sure, is that Steven Adams has turned into a great big man that does all of the dirty work. It is going to be an interesting season for the Thunder, but I think they can still make some noise in the West. Can they win the title? Probably not, but they can give some headaches to teams in the playoffs.

Westbrook catches hell from some for missing the playoffs when Durant was out for most of the year in 2015. But I feel that is unfair, because Westbrook also missed 15 games that year. They won 45 games and missed the playoffs because of a tiebreaker. But Westbrook wasn’t just playing without Durant, he was also playing without $20 million worth of NBA talent. When you get rid of a superstar, you can replace that $20 million of cap space with a $10 million dollar player and two $5 million dollar layers. Russ didn’t have that, he had nothing. Also, just changing the team dynamic with no practice is crazy. A team has to relearn how to play with each other without a main piece of the puzzle. That would be like trying to take a leg away from a table and making it stand right away. One could find a way, but it would take time, and perhaps some trial and error. The Thunder and Westbrook didn’t have that time, they were thrown to the wolves to figure it out on the fly.

This year, Russ will be ready. He is in a contract year, and is ready to prove to the world that he didn’t play on KDs team, it was their team, and maybe even Russ’. He’s sick of hearing about how everyone else can do this or do that, but they don’t realize that Russ can do this AND that. Yeah, he’s not the best shooter (even if he doesn’t realize it), but when you need a bucket he will
find a way. He’s the closest thing to the Big O we may ever see, and this year his numbers will prove that. That’s right, I am expecting a triple double from Westbrook. Ok, well at least close to one. He is going to be a maniac on the court. He’s going to be the player that forgot to sign up for AAU and has to play in a church league. It’s Russ’ world this year, and he is going to be the most exciting player to watch in the NBA, hands down.

OKC made the smartest choice (and perhaps got good fortune as well) when they got Russ to sign that extension. It’s great for the Thunder because they keep a superstar on their roster. It’s great for Russ because he can become a free agent after his 10th year in the league when he can get 35% of the total salary cap instead of 30%. That will be about $6 million a year. Many thought that he would bolt for LA and become a Laker, but nobody in their right mind would go to that debacle of a team in the prime of their HOF caliber career. The Lakers have a big task, and several trades ahead of them to become Westbrook ready. Maybe being in LA in the offseason is enough for Russ, it’s not as if NBA players have a ton of time during the season anyway. Also, Westbrook does seem to have a loyalty about him that you do not see in all NBA players.

Portland Trailblazers

Image result for portland trail blazers team 2017

Starting Five: C: Mason Plumlee PF: Al-Farouq Aminu SF: Evan Turner SG: C.J. McCollum PG: Damian Lillard

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; 8 seed; 4 seed

The Blazers in the playoffs looked like they were on the edge of taking the next step, and all they were missing was experience. The one thing I wish they would’ve done in the offseason is add one or two good veterans, but they did add Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli. That wasn’t necessarily a bad move, because it will give them depth, but maybe they will be able to get Steve Blake back for a one year vet minimum deal to add some age to the team.

One of Portland’s biggest advantages is their bench. They go two deep at every position. Festus Ezeli, Ed Davis, Maurice Harkless, Allen Crabbe, and Shabazz Napier is their second five. Not bad, not bad at all. There might even be a trade in there somewhere to get a good player on a bad team that wants to rebuild. Maybe getting Serge Ibaka from Orlando or Paul Millsap from Atlanta. Lillard is a star, and it is time for him to lead this team to a 50 win season.

Utah Jazz

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Starting Five: C: Rudy Gobert PF: Derrick Favors SF: Gordon Hayward SG: Rodney Hood PG: George Hill

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 6 seed; Out; 8 seed

Utah is set at point guard: George Hill the defensive stopper and Dante Exum the freak athlete, not to mention they still have Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto, and the second round draft pick Marcus Paige. They are going to dump one or two of these in a trade
or put them down in the D league. They’ve also got two big 6’8″ wings in Hayward & Hood that can both score and defend. Another year in and they will be that much better.

Utah is young and inexperienced, and did exactly what young and inexperienced teams need to do in the offseason, they got veteran experience. Signing George Hill, Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson will help this team tremendously. George Hill is a solid starting point guard in the league, and while Joe Johnson is on the downside of his career, he can still score in bunches when you need him to an he’s not afraid to take the shot at the end of the game. Boris Diaw has been winning with the Spurs deep into the playoffs for the past five seasons. What he will be able to bring to the youthful Jazz is priceless. These are the main
reasons Utah will sneak into the postseason in 2017.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Southwest Division (Part 1 of 6)

I feel as if I’m in the Seinfeld Bizzaro World. KD is a Warrior, DWade is a Bull, and we will see the first NBA season of the millennium without Kobe, KG, or Duncan. The increased salary cap, crazy free agent signings, and trades in the summer of 2016 gave a whole new look to the NBA. It’s almost as if Adam Silver created a franchise on NBA2K and selected random draft. It was the most exciting NBA offseason ever, with almost no team unchanged, and sets up what looks to be one of the most exciting NBA seasons ever. Let’s go through a team by team breakdown of what the NBA will look like next year, and
perhaps make some predictions as well.

Dallas Mavericks

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Starting Five: C: Andrew Bogut PF: Dirk Nowitzki SF: Harrison Barnes SG: Wesley Matthews PG: Deron Williams

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed;  8 seed; 5 seed

The Mavs were the ‘winner by default’ of the KD signing in Golden State. If KD doesn’t sign there, Barnes stays on and the Warriors have no reason to trade Bogut, and the Mavs would be left in shambles. So, as much as I hated the KD signing for the league, as a MFFL, I feel I owe KD a drink. Grabbing Barnes and Bogut, as well as resigning Dirk & Deron Williams gives the Mavs one of the best starting 5’s in the West. With Rick Carlisle still being a top 5 coach in the league, the Mavs will continue to be a team that gets the most from its players. Thankfully, this year Carlisle will have more talent to work with.

The two areas that the Mavs have weaknesses are depth & durability. Bogut & Williams have a history of various injuries and missing a big chunk of games in multiple seasons, while Matthews is still not 100% where he was before his Achilles tear. Depth will be a big factor for the Mavs with 4 of the 5 starters being in their 30s this season. Young guns Dwight Powell and Justin Anderson need to keep improving, while the Mavs will still need to rely on veterans Devin Harris & JJ Barea (although I am more impressed with JJ dating two Miss Universe contestants than anything he has done on the court since 2011). Also, look for rookie AJ Hammons to get more playing time than you might think this year. The big ‘if’ for the Mavs could be Steph’s little brother, Seth Curry. When I say he hasn’t done much in the league in his first three seasons, I mean it. He has played about half a season worth of games, with almost all of that being last season. The one positive from his play last season was that he shot 45% from 3 on 111 attempts. The best help an aging Dirk can ask for is competent shooters around him that will space the floor and allow him to launch his signature fade away jumper. All in all, let’s all pray really, really, really hard for a healthy Mavs starting rotation this year, because without that, it will be another 1st round exit for Dirk and Dallas.

Houston Rockets

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Starting Five: C: Clint Capela PF: Ryan Anderson SF: Trevor Ariza SG: Eric Gordon PG: James Harden

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 5 seed;  Out;  Out

It looks as if moving James Harden from the shooting guard to the point guard was to make room for Eric Gordon in the starting lineup. This will make the Houston starting defense even more deplorable by moving Patrick Beverly to the bench. However, that is not surprising when the head coach is Mike D’Antoni, the man who created the ‘7 seconds or less’ offense in Phoenix. It may be smart to keep Beverly in the starting lineup and keep Gordon as first man off the bench, possibly striving for 6th Man of the Year award. Gordon will give the Rockets a great scoring threat off the bench, to play alongside Terrance Jones, Nene & Corey Brewer. Not a bad bench crew, but depth is not the Rockets concern in 2017…

James Harden needs to find out what he is going to be in the league. Is he going to be a superstar that can bring his team a title or at least be in competition for one, which he has the talent to do, or is Harden more worried about ‘The flick of his wrist’ after every made basket? Harden may be the next Carmelo Anthony, always tearing up box scores, but also getting to admire the NBA playoffs from a tropical location as he makes his exit in late April/early May. James Harden is a great individual talent, but that does not always translate to team success. Let’s see if Mike D’Antoni can revive his career in Houston. But honestly, this seems more like the Lakers stint than what D’Antoni did in Phoenix.

Memphis Grizzlies

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Starting Five: C: Marc Gasol PF: Zach Randolph SF: Chandler Parsons SG: Tony Allen PG: Mike Conley

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; 8 seed; 7 seed

The self-proclaimed ‘Ultimate player GM’ who will get your team the big stars you’ve been longing for because he’s ‘bros’ with everyone, just got recruited to another team. Apparently, Mike Conley convinced Chandler Parsons to come to Memphis, and honestly, I don’t see how this helps them very much. They now own the best pump-fake in the NBA (for max money, mind you).

The Grizz also are proud owners of the highest played player in the NBA! No, they didn’t steal Lebron from the Cavs. Mike Conley, the 2013 NBA All-Defense Second Team & 2014 NBA Sportsmanship winner (yes, those are his highest NBA accolades) is the HIGHEST PAID PLAYER IN THE NBA at 5 years $153 million!!! KD, Lebron, Kawhi, Russ & Steph better get to work if they want to catch this ZERO TIME ALL STAR! The contracts given out this summer are just laughable.

Probably the weakest point for the Grizz will be the coaching. They hired lifetime assistant coach, David Fizdale, to lead this team. You know what, that isn’t completely fair, he did coach Team Shaq to a loss against Team Chuck in the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge. I’d be more impressed if he were under the tutelage of a great coach, but it has been Eric Musselman, Mike Woodson, and Erik Spoelstra. Good luck Memphis, you’re gonna need it this year!

New Orleans Pelicans

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Starting Five: C: Omer Asik PF: Anthony Davis SF: Dante Cunningham SG: Tyreke Evans/Buddy Hield PG: Jrue Holiday

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 7 seed; Out; Out

Anthony Davis must have felt like he was in hell on this Pelicans team last season. The team just isn’t good, period. There is some talent, but it doesn’t mesh. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday do not understand that the ball needs to run through Davis, and it makes the offense unwatchable. Davis has to be frustrated, but he isn’t the type of player to make it known publicly. The Pelicans better do something to change the culture on this team, or The Big Easy is going to be exactly that when opposing teams come to play.

With the addition of 6th overall pick, Buddy Hield, the Pelicans need to look for some kind of trade to dump Evans to get a defensive, all about the team type of player. The Miami Heat may have a few trade option to try to replace some of Dwyane Wade’s (and possibly Chris Bosh’s) offense. This team will be fun to watch to see if Buddy Hield can develop into Robin to Anthony Davis’ Batman. The Pels could be a team that scares people in the future, but that is several players and several years away from happening. Until then, enjoy the crawfish, oysters, and gumbo Buddy.

San Antonio Spurs

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Starting Five: C: Pau Gasol PF: LaMarcus Aldridge SF: Kawhi Leonard SG: Danny Green PG: Tony Parker

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 5 seed; 2 seed

San Antonio just lost probably the greatest power forward the NBA has ever seen. As a Mavericks & Dirk fan, that may have been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to admit. But the numbers don’t lie. 5 rings, 3 Finals MVPs, 2 MVPs, 1 All Star MVP, 15 All Stars, 15 All NBAs, 15 All Defense NBAs. Kareem is the only other player to have 26k points, 15k rebounds and 3k blocks. Only player with 1,000 wins on one team. 2nd most playoff games played and wins (1st if you don’t count role players like Derek Fisher). He has played in more playoff games than 18 franchises, and won more playoff games than 22 franchises.

Ok, enough butt kissing. Onto the gripes. I’m pissed that the Spurs got Duncan in the first place. Having an all-time great in David Robinson go down for a year, so you bottom out, win the lottery and get another all-time great? BS. And now Duncan is retiring and the Spurs are still not going to even miss the playoffs? More BS. And can someone explain to me why Duncan is considered a PF and not a C? Just because Robinson was a center, now Duncan is considered a power forward. So instead of being just another great center, he is considered the greatest power forward ever (a much weaker all-time position). The most BS. I need a shot of whisky.

Now onto this year’s Spurs. After winning 67 games, there is not a lot you need to do, just retool a little bit. That’s exactly what they did in getting Pau Gasol. It is a good move for them, giving them a low post scorer and a capable defender. David West stopped ring chasing with the Spurs to go chase one with the Warriors, so they picked up David Lee to backup the front court. The Spurs will do what the Spurs always do, and will be looking to win another 55-60 games with Pop at the helm.

The Rangers are similar to the 2006 & 2011 Mavericks, and that’s a very good thing.

[ecko_quote source=”Maya Angelou”]People won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.[/ecko_quote]

Maya Angelou was right, and often times sports are the same way. We may not remember every play or sometimes even the final score, but we always seem to remember where we were during the big games (because of the strong feelings we have at those moments). A championship game can pump you up so much that you riot into the streets as if you were invincible, but it can also bring you down so low that you have to call into work the next day. Below are my personal accounts of the feelings I’ve had with both the Mavs and the Rangers, followed by some odd similarities that may give DFW sports fans a reason to feel optimistic about November baseball.  

June 20, 2006 – Mavs lose the Championship: After Game 6, Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat accept the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the American Airlines Center. My body-painted jersey begins to fade as I watch in disgust from the lower level. That championship was ours for the taking, and we let it slip through our fingers. The shock slowly sets in as I begin to realize the Mavs will have to start over at square one next year.

June 12, 2011 – Mavs’ Redemption: Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks payback the favor to Miami, as the Mavs are crowned NBA Champs after Game 6 in the American Airlines Arena. I watch the game at a friends’ ‘Man Cave’, where Phil (the other half of the SOS podcast) and I both brought multiple bottles of champagne as if we would be celebrating with the team afterwards. Complete hysteria ensues; the party begins; 2006 is forgotten.

October 27, 2011 – Rangers lose the championship: I am the only Rangers fan in the bar, on the north side of Chicago. Several beers and shots in, I may or may not have been talking trash to the sea of St. Louis Cardinals fans, in both the 9th and 10th innings. I feel like a toddler in timeout, as I sit in my corner booth, after David Freese hits a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning. Many of the aforementioned Cardinals fans walk by with some choice words for my premature celebrations. The next day, I sneak away to the doctor’s lounge during my on-call OB night shift, to watch yet another DFW major sports championship slip away as the Cardinals pulled off an easy 6-2 win in game 7.

November, 2016 – Rangers’ Redemption?: Currently, the Texas Rangers sit atop of the American League with their eyes set on November Baseball. But will they get there? The similarities between these franchises seems to point towards the Rangers righting the wrongs of five years ago, just as the Dallas Mavericks did in 2011. Let’s take a look…

same crew


For starters (pun intended), both the 2016 Rangers and 2011 Mavs are returning about 15-20% of their roster from five years before. This shows that both teams did have strong cores in their previous championship run, but trying to make a run with the same team five years later will not work. Jon Daniels and Donnie Nelson both made the necessary moves to keep their teams in contention. Dirk and Jason ‘The Jet’ Terry returned for the Mavs, while the Rangers held onto Beltre, Mitch Moreland, Colby Lewis, Elvis Andrus, and Derek Holland. Jon Daniels could’ve gone the way of the Marlins after both the 1997 and 2003 World Series wins and completely blown up the roster for a rebuild. Instead, he chose to keep a good core while letting go of a few expensive luxuries, so that he could retool the Rangers into a team that could make another run in October.

In both the 2010-11 NBA season and the 2016 MLB season, there was a team in the other conference/league that was getting all of the headlines. The 2010-11 Miami Heat “Big-three” of Wade, Bosh, and Lebron made a hater out of everyone, and had them tuning in just hoping they would lose every night. While the MLB doesn’t have a team with quite that star power, they do have the Chicago Cubs who started out the season an incredible 24-6 pacing them to win 130 (which would’ve blown their own record of 116 wins out of the water). Now its mid-August, and the Cubs have cooled, but they still lead the majors in wins and are on pace for over 100 wins.



Both teams also lost what was thought to be an integral piece to a championship run mid-season, and would never see that player in their team’s uniform again. The Mavs lost starting wing, Caron Butler, to a season-ending knee injury and he signed with the Clippers the following year. This forced the Mavs to bring defensive-minded Deshawn Stevenson into the starting lineup, who added a toughness to a team usually thought of as ‘soft’. Stevenson was usually ignored on the offensive side of the floor, but could always nail a three when his man sagged off a little too much. JJ Barea is probably the player who gained the most from Butler’s injury, since he grabbed a boatload of quality minutes in the playoffs that earned him a 4 year/$19 million contract from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Rangers, on the other hand, just recently lost starting 1st baseman/DH, Prince Fielder, to a career-ending neck injury. While Prince was not having a very good year for himself, he was still a dangerous bat that opposing pitchers would fear in tight ballgames. The recent loss of Shin Soo Choo could be added to this injury issue, as well, although he may be available very late in the postseason.



Personnel trades are always a big part of championship runs, and 2011 and 2016 were no different. The Mavs pretty much stole candy from the baby when they swapped Erick Dampier for the Bobcats’ Tyson Chandler. Chandler turned out to be the most important player on the Mavericks, not named Dirk. His presence, both on the defensive end of the floor and in the locker room, changed the Mavs into a driven, determined force to be reckoned with. Put Dampier back on the team, and ‘Mother’s Day Massacre’ might have a completely different meaning for Mavs fans.

Jon Daniels proved to everyone that the Rangers have their eyes set on the World Series in 2016, when they picked up both Carlos Beltran and Jonathon Lucroy at the trade deadline. Many fans were upset when they didn’t pickup a starting pitcher, but Daniels was just not willing to give away the farm (system) for a single pitcher, but the trades he did make we’re still pretty bold. Beltran is a great bat to add to the lineup, the only issue will be if he will have to play in the field for three games in the World Series. Lucroy is a huge addition to the Rangers for this year and next, filling in the one weak position they had in the field. Not to jump the gun or anything, but in Lucroy’s first fifteen games with the Rangers, he has seven home runs and fourteen RBIs. Not bad my friend, not bad at all.



Finally, both teams also finished their prior year by losing to a rival in the playoffs. The Mavs, as a two-seed, lost in the 1st round to the much hated San Antonio Spurs in 2010. This rivalry during the Duncan/Dirk era will live on forever in fans hearts, and this series was no different. Losing again with such a high seed and a 1-0 lead made Dirk fans start to question if he would ever win a championship in the NBA. The articles circulated, which no doubt got back to Dirk to fuel the fire for the following year. And what a year 2011 was!

The 2015 ALDS between the Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays may not have started as a rivalry, but, if Bautista’s bat flip and Odor’s punch heard round the world haven’t proven it to you yet – it is one now. The Rangers took games one AND two on the road, and it looked as if no one could deny the Rangers another chance at the pennant. We all know how this story ends though, with the Blue Jays roaring back to take both games in Texas, then flying home to crush Rangers fans’ hearts as Elvis Andrus committed two crucial errors to seal their fate. It may not have been all that bad though, considering it didn’t look like anyone could have beat the Royals in 2015.

Early November 2016:
 So where will I be at this time? Where will you be? Maybe I’ll scrounge up some tickets and see the magic unfold live before my eyes. And you can never rule out the camaraderie found in a sports bar, with hundreds of other strangers with one common goal: a win for the home team. They say championships live forever, but really, it’s the memories that do.

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