The Build or Die Problem in the NBA

Not sure if you have noticed, but there is rarely change in the NBA finals scene.

Every five or so years NBA fans finally get a new group of teams in the championship scene. We have seen a total of 10 teams win an NBA title since 1990, but we are currently in the middle of one of the rare changes of the guard. We are seeing teams like the Warriors and Cavs pick up where the Celtics,Lakers,Spurs and Heat left off. This change is the perfect time to start the dreaded rebuild.

In 2011 who thought that we would see the Warriors win a NBA title and be a perennial contender? The answer is none of you. That team was stacked with studs like Kwame Brown, Monta Ellis and a young Steph Curry. They also finished 11th in the Western Conference. In five short years they have become NBA champions and a “super team.”

How did this happen? Well besides getting rid of Kwame Brown the Warriors built the right way! All they had to do was make smart decisions with a few picks and they scored in drafting Curry, Thompson, Green and Barnes. This was from 2009-2012 and they obviously missed on a few picks in the time before their title as well. They also traded some picks in 2013, but every rebuild will have some mistakes. The Warriors noticed that they weren’t contenders and began to build in 2009. After years of doing so they finally got that title and landed Durant (who saw the potential) to help continue their roll.

Now we have another stretch of years coming up where the Warriors and Cavs will likely dominate in the playoffs just as well as they do in the regular season. Other NBA teams should be looking at this time to build for when those teams age out.

The Celtics are well on their way to rejoining the elite. They have had some good drafts and pieced together valuable pieces to acquire that superstar once they are ready to strike. The Celtics are just one of the many teams that could end up in the “Elite” group once the NBA’s championship scene changes again.

Let us know on twitter @PWTBLCAST who you think might be part of the next Elite in the NBA!

 

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Three logical landing spots for Kevin Durant

Now that the 2015-2016 season has come to a close, one thing is on everyone’s mind; where is Kevin Durant going to play going forward? Well we’re here to speculate on three landing spots for the “Slim Reaper.”

 

3) Boston Celtics

Now look, Durant and his camp haven’t ruled out any teams so everyone that can make a play at him financially likely will. So after many discussions with teams across the league, we believe there will only be three teams remaining, one being the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics are an extremely promising young team with a Head Coach that has never had a poor word spoken about him, dating all the way back to his time at the University of Butler. The one thing they are lacking is star power. Isaiah Thomas is the closest thing to a star, but he’s only made one all-star team roster. That said, a large portion of their 48-win team will still be intact next season. Only three of their free agents had a real big impact on this past season’s team and both are restricted (Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller) and Boston will likely be able to match any contract offers made. Evan Turner is the third player but I’m fairly certain most people would consider getting Kevin Durant an upgrade over Turner.

The one thing the Celtics have a lot of is draft picks. The acquired the Nets’ next three first-round draft picks a couple of years back, as well as getting one from Dallas from trading Rajon Rondo and also having picks of their own. If Durant’s had specific stipulations about coming to Boston and one was trading their picks to acquire championship-ready talent, I’m nearly 100-percent sure the Celtics would oblige.

Now if they did acquire Durant, it’s likely they begin playing a lot of small ball. They’d still be able to slow the pace down and play big, especially if they resign Sullinger. That said, it would be on Durant if he would move down and play more power-forward.

The Celtics are a superstar away from being serious contenders in LeBron James’ conference. We’d call it the east but he’s owned it for six consecutive seasons so what’s the point? Does Durant think a Celtics team with him heading the roster can beat the Cavaliers and win championships? We think it’s more than plausible to think that he does.

 

2) Golden State Warriors

We understand many of you are wondering…WHAT? But hear us out. What does Durant seemingly want more than anything? A championship. Where have the Warriors made it too the past two seasons? The NBA Finals. The two are a perfect match.

If the Warriors want to make a serious push at Durant, they will be able to financially. The Warriors payroll was north of $93M this past season. If they resign nobody, including restricted free agents Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, they’ll have close to $20M available in spending money. The salary cap is also rising, likely giving the Warriors a few couple of million to play with.

Strategically, the Warriors would have zero problems sliding Durant into the then departed Harrison Barnes’ role. The Warriors already have the league’s best offense and that’s before he ever put on their jersey and Durant would take them to a whole new level. Adding him and subtracting Barnes in the Dubs “death lineup” would be virtually unstoppable. Although we haven’t seen Durant play in an offense quite like this, we’re sure one of the three best players on the planet would drastically lower his isolation percentage for consistently great looks at the rim.

We personally believe the Warriors are the favorites heading into the 2016-’17 season without Durant, but if they acquired him, there would be no way around it. Yes he would still be in the daunted Western Conference, but he’d have so much help surrounding him, he’d be silly to not strongly consider this franchise as a candidate.

 

1) Oklahoma City Thunder

Yeah, yeah, how original. But out of all 30 teams in the NBA, resigning with the Thunder makes the most sense for Kevin Durant. At least for the 2016-’17 season, that is. Beyond that is really anyone’s guess.

The Thunder has virtually everyone from this year’s Western Conference Finals team coming back under contract. If Durant resigns, it’s likely the team won’t make any big time moves because of their limited amount of income left over.

Look, the Thunder might only have one more crack at it. Not only is Durant a free agent this year, Russell Westbrook becomes a free agent after the 2017-’18 season. If Durant signs a one-year deal, they’ll have another chance at getting back to the Western Conference Finals and this time, beating whoever’s in their way. It’ll be the second-year with Head Coach Billy Donovan and the players will begin to trust his methods a lot more.

The Thunder were one measly game away from this years NBA finals before collapsing against the Warriors. If Durant feels like next year will be different, he’ll resign without much hesitation. We should expect Durant to wreak havoc for the Thunder for at least one more season.

What’s Harrison Barnes Worth in Free Agency?

With the 2012-’13 rookie class’ free agency looming, Harrison Barnes has spent four seasons playing second fiddle to the “Splash Brothers.” Barnes potential is sky high and shows flashes of it on some nights. But when the dust clears and Barnes is receiving offers from other teams, will the Warriors match? What’s Barnes truly worth?

Let’s compare Barnes to another small-forward during the last year of his contract. Let’s take Gordon Hayward’s 2013-’14 season and compare Barnes’ 2015-’16 per-36 numbers:

Barnes and Hayward’s per-36

Hayward remained with the Jazz after they matched the Hornets offer sheet of $63M over four years. That’s $15.75M annually. Barnes per 36 numbers are slightly better than Hayward, but the Jazz have always relied on Hayward more than the Warriors have relied on Barnes.

Barnes, statistically, is a better shooter than Hayward. It could have to do with the way each is relied upon in their respective roles, but the stats could be back up the actual facts. But why pay a guy that type of money if he has a usage rate similar to the likes of Spencer Hawes, Alex Len and Corey Brewer?

Barnes per-36 numbers are an indication what he can do going forward. He’s averaging nearly 16 points per-36 and that’s as the fourth, and on some nights the fifth option on the Warriors. He’s extremely solid in many different ways scoring the ball. He can be a catch and shoot player, can post you up, and can take you off of the bounce. He’s superior than Hayward offensively in many ways, just won’t get credit for it until he’s in a role where he can just let it fly.

At his 6’9” frame, Barnes will be a hot commodity this offseason. The game is changing and Barnes will be able to play multiple positions, including power-forward. It’s highly likely the Warriors attempt to keep Barnes, especially if they win another championship. Why lose any pieces to a two-time champion? But even if they do keep him, don’t expect it to be cheap and expect them to have to match another team’s deal, just like Utah had to do with Hayward.

Expectations? He resigns with Golden State for a contract larger than Hayward’s. With the way players are signing deals and getting inflated contracts, expect nothing less with Barnes’.

All Facets Of The Game NBA Questionnaire

You guys sent them in and I’m here to give you my best answer for each one. This round of questions was strictly NBA based questions.

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Question 1: What are your finals predictions?

From: @Zach_Mason33

Well this is a fairly tricky question. With the Western Conference being so wide open, a few teams, mostly Cleveland, surging in the East, my answer could be completely wrong. In the Eastern Conference, it’s hard to pick against the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta has beaten all the top teams in the East. Cleveland, Chicago, Washington all twice, Toronto and Milwaukee once each. They have the best record in the NBA against teams above .500 (19-7) and are also a 14-4 against the daunting Western conference including wins over Golden State, Memphis, Portland, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Houston. At 42-10, 3 all-stars and maybe a 4th coming, Atlanta is for real and the rest of the league is finally giving them the credit they deserve.

Out west, I have a hard time picking against the teams that are 1 and 2 in the standings currently. Golden State and Memphis are so dangerous, it’s almost a coin toss at this point. Gun to my head? I’m not sure Golden State could grind out a series against the Grizzlies, though. They’re 12-2 since the acquisition of Jeff Green from Boston and he adds a whole new scoring dimension to an already improved offense. Z-Bo has looked like he’s 25 again, while Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are scoring at career-high marks. They allow the least amount of points in the league (95.9) and are healthy as ever. Oh yeah, they just happen to beat Atlanta tonight.

Question 2: Best team in the NBA? Griz, Hawks or the Warriors.

From: @ItsTariqAhmad

A total coincidence that all three teams were aforementioned in the last question, but that title belongs to the Atlanta Hawks, even after there loss to Memphis. They now split their season series at 1, so it’s been an even match-up. Everything Atlanta has accomplished so far this year puts them at number one. The success against teams above .500, success against the west, they’re 6th overall in points per game and allow the 4th least points on the flip side of the ball. Coach Bud has been a godsend for this team.

Question 3: Opinion on George Karl coaching the Kings?

From: @FrankELLIS2

George Karl was fired a season after winning 57 games in Denver and hasn’t coached since the ’12-’13 season and he REALLY wants to coach again and that’s very clear. Two openings both occurred at the same time in Sacramento and Orlando. Realistically, Orlando seems to be the more intriguing option for incoming coaches. Sure the Kings have Boogie Cousins, and that right there is a damn intriguing option, but Orlando has built a really nice young core in recent years. With a few reports coming out about Cousins and his camp might be against Karl’s signing, he might want to talk to Orlando about their vacant position before he completely makes up his mind and heads to Boogie town.

Question 4: Top 5 passers in the game?

From: @_RyRo_

This is a very tough question. Mostly because how deep the point guard position has truly become, but also because of how truly amazing some big men can pass in today’s league. Chris Paul is number one for me. 5 out of 6 past seasons CP3 has lead in AST/TO ratio and was second the one year he didn’t lead. He’s had at least 9 assists per game since the 06-07 season. Second is Rajon Rondo. Even though he’s struggled in Dallas, he’s still an elite passer. That has been his cup of tea his whole career and it’s something Rondo will never lose. Third and rising is Steph Curry. Steph needs to be a little less turnover prone, but man nobody can snap off a lefty pass across his body cross the wing quite like the young Wardell. The first non point guard on this list comes in at number four and that would be LeBron James. Today’s modern day scoring Magic Johnson seems to make a dazzling pass every game now-a-days. Fifth, is Ricky Rubio. As much as a burden he can be scoring or the lack of, he can really run an offense and pass the ball exceptionally well.

Thanks to those who participated!

Facets Player of the Night: Steph Curry

STEPH CURRY W THE POT

December 18th, 2014

The league’s MVP almost a third of the way through with the season struck in Oakland Thursday night. A first half which saw three of the betters players in the entire NBA score frequently saw one of them specifically rise to the occasion in the second half. That would be Wardell ‘Stephen’ Curry II.

Steph went 14-24 from the floor, hitting five three-pointers, for 34 points. He fell only one assist and three rebounds short of a triple-double against the red hot Oklahoma City Thunder. He also contributed slightly on the defensive end coming away with four steals.

NFL Week 13 Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots (9-2)

Seven straight wins, five of them by twenty or more, four in a row by twenty or more, The Pats top our rankings and more than likely everyone’s for that matter. The addition of LaGarrette Blount gives them a three-headed rushing attack which has been on fire of late. New England has the second best turnover differential in the NFL and that is a good recipe for success. What recipe you ask? Getting Tom Brady and New England’s NFL leading offense the ball as much as possible.

2. Green Bay Packers (8-3)

Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson and the boys are clicking on all cylinders. They’re second in the league in points per game, 31.5, The one team in front of New England in turnover differential happens to be the Pack. With Detroit in flux and losing two straight, Green Bay have taken control of their division and are poised to run away with it.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-3)

Maybe the most interesting team in the entire power rankings. No team has ever lead the league in turnovers and won a Super Bowl and yet, here we are headed into Week 13 and Philly is sitting atop the NFC East. Philly’s defense and special teams ability to score touchdowns has been the bread and butter of the this team. They have EIGHT touchdowns on defense and special teams and coming into the season we thought Chip Kelly’s offense would be what we’re talking about when we talk about the Eagles. Oh yeah, they’re pretty good too.

4. Denver Broncos (8-3)

The Broncos have had an quite a roller coaster over the past four games. Their offense is still top tier and will be as long as number 18 is at the helm. They’ve also had the second best run defense in football only allowing 75 yards per game. They have a relatively tough remaining schedule, the up and down Broncos better figure it out soon, they’re only one game ahead of Kansas City and San Diego.

5. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)

You would think a 9-2 team who’s 6-0 at home would get more love. Seeing how that same team lost their starting QB and play in what’s known as the toughest division in football, we’re not too sure how this Cards team ends up. Three of there final five games.are division opponents and Drew Stanton has three turnovers in the last two games replacing Palmer. One of the better defenses in all of football has sustained a ton of injuries and although their secondary flys around, I wonder how long they can keep this division lead without a very good quarterback to keep them off the field.

6. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)

DeMarco Murray and the Dallas offense hasn’t slowed a step, like everyone thought they would. They have the best offensive-line in football, which has allowed this offense to blossom. Two of the next three games are against the Eagles so there is a very good chance the division winner could be ultimately be decided three weeks from now.

7. Seattle Seahawks (7-4)

Lose Golden Tate this off-season? Trade away Percy Harvin mid season? No problem, Seattle will just be the top rushing team in the NFL averaging 170 yards per game. Their defense hasn’t lost a step as there sixth in pass defense and third stopping the run. Seattle has an extremely tough five game stretch to end their season. Let’s see how the defending champs prevail.

8. San Francisco 49ers (7-4)

Three wins in a row have the 49ers back in the hunt for the NFC West crown. Frisco has looked great defensively as one of the best rookies in football, Chris Borland, has been playing on an all pro level. The one-two punch of Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde has worked but Kaepernick is going to need to be consistent throwing the ball if they want to do damage in there next five games, four of which, are against opponents with a winning record.

9. Detroit Lions (7-4)

Two losses in a row has dropped the Lions down the rankings quite a bit, but they still make it into our top ten. Their defense had been the best in football until this past weekend when they gave up 34 points to the Patriots; the first time they’ve allowed more than 23 points during a game. Matt Stafford has weapons all over the place so it’s about time he and his offense gets on the right track.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1)

With the emergence of Jeremy Hill and a healthy Giovanni Bernard, the Bengals have the best two-headed attack in the backfield. Cincy is getting healthy at the right time and that could be dangerous for any opposing team. They have as many weapons as any other team in football but health and inconsistent play from the quarterback and defensive positions have been a huge letdown. They control their own destiny as they’re in the division lead and have a meeting with Pittsburgh week 17.

NBA 2014-2015 Predictions

We will give our predictions for both divisions, conferences, playoffs and personal awards.

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Eastern Conference

Atlantic                                                                                    

  1. Toronto Raptors                                                                
  2. New York Knicks                                                                 
  3. Brooklyn Nets                                                                    
  4. Boston Celtics                                                                    
  5. Philadelphia 76ers

Central                                                                                     

  1. Chicago Bulls                                                                     
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers                                                           
  3. Indiana Pacers
  4. Detroit Pistons
  5. Milwaukee Bucks

Southeast

  1. Washington Wizards
  2. Charlotte Hornets
  3. Miami Heat
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. Orlando Magic
Conference Standings
  1. Chicago Bulls
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Charlotte Hornets
  6. Miami Heat
  7. Atlanta Hawks
  8. New York Knicks

Western Conference

Northeast

  1. Portland Trailblazers
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. Denver Nuggets
  4. Utah Jazz
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves

Pacific

  1. Los Angeles Clippers
  2. Golden State Warriors
  3. Phoenix Suns
  4. Sacramento Kings
  5. Los Angeles Lakers

Southwest

  1. San Antonio Spurs
  2. Houston Rockets 
  3. Dallas Mavericks
  4. New Orleans Pelicans
  5. Memphis Grizzlies 
Conference Standings
  1. Los Angeles Clippers
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Golden State Warriors
  4. Portland Trailblazers
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder
  6. Houston Rockets
  7. Phoenix Suns
  8. Dallas Mavericks

We both agreed that the Pelicans have a chance to overtake Dallas in their division and in the conference standings.

Player Awards

  • MVP

@The_Real_Grande1) Steph Curry 2) LeBron James 3) Derrick Rose

@jessedoyle7: 1) LeBron James 2) Derrick Rose 3) Anthony Davis

  • Rookie of the Year

@The_Real_Grande: 1) Jabari Parker 2) Nerlens Noel 3) Andrew Wiggins

@jessedoyle7: 1) Jabari Parker 2) Nerlens Noel 3) Andrew Wiggins

  • 6th Man of the Year

@The_Real_Grande: 1) Isaiah Thomas 2) Jamal Crawford 3) Ryan Anderson

@jessedoyle7: 1) Jamal Crawford 2) Ryan Anderson 3) Doug McDermott

  • Comeback Player of the Year

@The_Real_Grande: 1) Derrick Rose 2) Al Horford 3) Kobe Bryant

@jessedoyle7: 1) Derrick Rose 2) Kobe Bryant 3) Al Horford

  • Defensive Player of the Year

@The_Real_Grande: 1) Anthony Davis 2) Joakim Noah 3) LeBron James

@jessedoyle7: 1) Anthony Davis 2) Joakim Noah 3) DeAndre Jordan

  • Coach of the Year

@The_Real_Grande: 1) Tom Thibodeau 2) Doc Rivers 3) Gregg Popovich

@jessedoyle7: 1) Steve Kerr 2) Tom Thibodeau 3) David Blatt