Category Archives: Basketball

LeBron vs MJ: One Point Nobody is Making

The argument that everybody seems to hate, but still can’t stop talking about…Is LeBron James better than Michael Jordan? The truth is, there’s no way to determine who has had a better career until LeBron closes up shop for good. LeBron still has three to four solid years left, and maybe five to six total. A lot can happen in that time. Randy Johnson won four straight Cy Youngs from ages 35-38, Barry Bonds won four MVPs from 36-39, and Kobe Bryant scored 60 points at 37. Sometimes, players get better with age (in Barry’s case it was just a lot of steroids, but I think that hurts my point more than it helps, so we can ignore that).

People argue that just because LeBron takes 12U town recreation teams to the Finals every year that he needs to be crowned the best. Others say that although MJ didn’t make it to the Promised Land every year, he was 6-0 when he did make it, and should be deemed the GOAT. Who knows where Jordan would have been without Pippen? But, LeBron has lost five times in the Finals. Great debate. Both sides have some legs to stand on. Lots of potential and ammo for a light-hearted, casual sports conversation at your local BBQ to get unnecessarily out of hand as both sides get way too passionate and end up fighting each other in the grass while their wives and kids watch. LeBron could be better than MJ, or vice versa, but neither beat a pointless sports argument that diminishes the respect your loved ones have for you. That’s what Memorial Day is all about.

With all that said and done, there’s one one argument that I never hear, and I just can’t figure out why. The argument is the whole Michael Jordan playing baseball thing. Do people just like, not remember that? If you want to compare careers, how can you forget the whole “stopped playing in his prime” aspect? It seems wildly important, for both sides involved.

LeBron left the Cavs to play for the Heat and fans almost imploded from hatred. Imagine if he left the entire NBA to go pursue that football career he’s been teasing us with for ten years? I think Skip Bayless would actually be speechless for the first time in his life. Regardless, you’d have to agree that the decision alone would need to have an impact on his legacy.

Michael Jordan ACTUALLY did that. He QUIT BASKETBALL. Here’s proof:

I don’t want this to sound entirely negative to MJ, because there are pros and cons to the whole situation:

FOR MICHAEL JORDAN

For all things considered, MJ had a decent 1994 season:

.202 BA, 3 HR, 51 RBI, 17 2B, 1 3B, 30 SB, 23% strikeout rate.

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He pretty much came raw into a sport that has been recognized as one of the more difficult to master and put up average to slightly below average numbers. He wasn’t a slouch by any means, and was rather effective on the basepaths with 30 stolen bases.

After trying to follow his passion, which is something I give him credit for, he returned back to the NBA and dominated once more. As a two-year, two-sport athlete in high school, I can safely back MJ up by saying that it’s not easy to perfect your game when you want to focus on so many specific parts in both sports. The fact that he was able to leave and come back without losing a stride is impressive.

Also, Space Jam was an amazing movie and if he never quit basketball, we might have never gotten that gem. LeBron can’t top that.

AGAINST MICHAEL JORDAN

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I know I said he wasn’t a terrible minor leaguer, but let’s not take that too far. He wasn’t good. You saw him in Space Jam. He was a liability at the plate day-in and day-out, and it’s sad he left his famed career to be below-average. It just sort of ruins your perception of him as an athlete. At least with LeBron, we can leave it up to the imagination what he would be like in the NFL (probably unreal).

He also left his team, and then came back with the expectation that everything would be the same. If your girlfriend dumped you for somebody she liked more, then she dated that person for a year, then that other dude basically told them her she sucked, and your ex-girlfriend came crawling back to you immediately after, you’re telling me you’d be pumped? You’d tell her to kick rocks 10/10. MJ is a user, and was spoiled by his era. LeBron has had to deal with a lot more hate than this…

 

Bottom line, the “Michael Jordan quitting basketball” is an argument that needs to be considered in future MJ vs LeBron discussions, and I cannot fathom how people don’t bring it up more.

#Cavsin7

Circle of Madness

Note (Saturday 3/17): I actually wrote this post on Thursday (3/15) night.  Since then, my bracket, with a championship game of UVA over Wichita State, has been destroyed.  Therefore, some of what you will read below did quite ring true this year.  Enjoy my post nonetheless!

I am one of those annoying people who watches 99% of my college basketball in March yet is super-duper interested in basketball for that month.  Does that make me a fraud?  Yes.  Do I care?  No.  I love the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and I know that many of you out there are frauds like me.  In light of this, allow me to share with you my “Circle of Madness”.  This explains my following of college basketball over a full year.  I shall start this circle with “One Shining Moment”.

April: While watching “One Shining Moment”, I think to myself, “I love college basketball!  Next year, I am going to watch a lot of college basketball all year long.”

July: On a random summer day, I think to myself, “I really love the NCAA Tournament.  I can’t wait until next year’s college-basketball season.”

Midnight Madness in October: As I revel in the only time of year with MLB, NFL, and NHL games; I am floored to hear that college-basketball teams have begun practicing.  “Seriously, who cares about college basketball at a time like this???”, I think.

Opening Night of College Basketball in November: A week or two after the World Series has ended, I think to myself, “OK, now I can put all my sports focus on football and the Devils.”  When I hear that the college-basketball season has begun, I think, “I’m not ready for this yet!  Can we push this off a few weeks?”

Next Week or Two: I begin to obsess over making fantasy-playoff runs in my fantasy leagues, how to win my Survivor pool, how the Giants are going to make the playoffs, and which Devils games I will attend.  At no point do I spend even a second thinking about college basketball.

Thanksgiving Eve: At a bar or restaurant, I catch a glimpse of either the Preseason NIT or Maui Invitational on TV.  I think to myself, “Oh yeah, it’s time for me to start watching college basketball this season.  Starting now, I am watching every single Gonzaga game!”

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Next 2-3 Weeks: I do not spend even a second thinking about college basketball.  My mind is simply filled with thoughts of “Fantasy, Giants, Christmas music, Devils, Survivor, Christmas music, Fantasy, Survivor, Mariah Carey needs to cover up her chest at Rockefeller Center, Devils, Survivor, Christmas music.”

Random Date in Mid-December: During a CBS football game, I see a preview of a college-basketball game, complete with the great CBS college-basketball music.  I start to get excited thinking about March Madness.  I think to myself, “I really need to start watching college basketball TODAY.  I can’t just jump onboard a week before the NCAA Tournament”…you know, even though that is what I have done for each of the past 11 seasons.

Next 2-3 Weeks: I do not spend even a second thinking about college basketball.

Random Night in January: I turn on a Rutgers game because Rutgers is either tied or losing by just a few points to a good team.  I am very excited for 2 to 3 minutes before switching to “The Mick” on DVR.  Sidebar: “The Mick” is absolutely hilarious, and I recommend it to all of you.  The only funnier show right now is “Last Man on Earth”, which (double sidebar) is coming back on Sunday!  Anyway, after turning off the Rutgers game, I think to myself, “I really need to start watching college basketball.  If I wait until March to start watching, I will know nothing about these players or teams, and I won’t enjoy the Tournament as much as I usually do!”…even though, for every year since 2007, I have waited until March and have managed to love the crap out of the NCAA Tournament.

Worst Sunday of the Year (aka The Sunday Between the AFC/NFC Championships and the Super Bowl): I wake up in the morning (but not feelin’ like P-Diddy) and think to myself, “How do I fill my NFL void?  I know, I am going to watch college basketball today!”  What do I actually do?  Go running, listen to Elton John music, clear out my DVR, go to the gym, and spend a few hours lying on my couch doing absolutely nothing.

Super Bowl Sunday: As I go to bed after the game, I think to myself, “The Super Bowl is over!  You know what that means – March Madness is right around the corner.  Time for me to start watching college basketball!”

Next 2-3 weeks: I watch one Bucknell (where my brother went to college) basketball game on TV.  By that, I mean that I put 10 minutes of the game on my TV while I am eating dinner, listening to a podcast, and reading a map…all at the same time.  That game aside, I watch no basketball whatsoever.

Two Weeks Before Selection Sunday: I realize that college-basketball conference tournaments are soon to begin.  “Now I will start watching college basketball so that I know what I am talking about when I do my brackets.”

One Week Before Selection Sunday: I go to espn.com’s “Championship Week” page and look at all of the conference-tournament brackets.  I also begin making daily visits to Joe Lunardi’s “Bracketology”.  At this point, I have watched zero basketball over the previous week.

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During the Last Week Before Selection Sunday: Hallelujah, I finally start watching some college basketball!  I do not watch for long periods of time, but I do check out at least one college-basketball game each day.  Additionally, I check the college-basketball scores daily to see who is advancing in their college-basketball tournaments.  This is a huge step for a guy who had not deliberately sought out general college-basketball scores at any previous point in the season.

During the Weekend of Selection Sunday: I read many articles about who should be in the Big Dance/who should not/who should be seeded where/etc.

During the Selection Show: I watch/listen in a state of pure euphoria.  “I love this time of year!!!!  March Madness, Thin Mints, and spring weather!  Plus, this year, I feel like I know the teams in the Tournament so much better than I have in any previous seasons.  I am going to dominate my pools this year.”, I think.

Between Selection Sunday and Thursday’s Start of the First Round: I fill out my brackets and read/listen to countless analysts speak about the tournament.  By Thursday, I have heard that every single team in the Dance is somehow a sleeper, a favorite, an underdog, prime to pull off an upset, unlikely to  pull off and upset, underseeded, and overseeded…and has both a very easy path and a very difficult path to the Final Four.  I find myself in many conversations with other people who have also watched roughly 0 hours of college basketball this season.  In these conversations, we lament the fact that Oklahoma has no business being in the Tournament while Oklahoma State stays home.  In years’ past, we have scolded the selection committee for leaving Drexel or St. Mary’s out of the tournament.  We agree that the Selection Committee shows no respect for mid-majors and that Drexel and St. Mary’s are clearly better than two of the at-large teams who have been selected for the Tournament.  We are qualified to make these statements because we watched St. Mary’s upset Villanova in 2010, and we saw Drexel pull off that upset in 1996.

This all makes perfect sense coming from a guy (me) who usually picks Michigan State to outperform its seed (except this year because of karmic reasons) because it did that in 2009 and 2010 and picks Cincinnati to perform worse than its seed just like it always did under Bob Huggins in the 1990s.  Like I said, I know my college basketball.  It was not luck that caused me to pick Loyola-Chicago to go to this year’s Sweet 16.  No, no, no.  It was hours of Loyola game film that someone else watched….and then this watcher wrote an article that said Loyola is really good.  Then, I read that article. Like I said, I know my stuff.

Thursday to Sunday of First Weekend of NCAA Tournament: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!!  48 games of college basketball!  I love it, and I hate having to miss even a single game.  I hated missing Bryce Drew’s buzzer beater for Valparaiso against Ole Miss in 1998.  (I was in school in 10th grade at the time.)  I hated missing Loyola-Chicago’s buzzer beater today!  After all, a loyal college-basketball watcher like myself should not have to miss any NCAA Tournament games!

Quick tangent: There are four people who annoy me greatly this weekend:

  • The person who starts out 4-for-4 on Thursday and brags to everyone about it. Congrats, you successfully picked a 3 over a 14, a 6 over an 11, a 2 over a 15, and a 1 over a 16.  Seriously, if you have a standard bracket-scoring system (32 max points per round), the first round can only eliminate you.  Those with 2012 Duke, 2014 Duke, or 2016 Michigan State national-championship brackets know what I mean.  If you went 4-for-4 so far, nobody cares.

 

  • The studio talking head (one of the 7845 employed by CBS/TBS/TNT/TruTV/Nickelodeon/Bravo) who responds to a “12 over 5” upset by saying, “Everyone in America is tearing up their brackets right now.” Um, yeah.  I suppose if you are in a “You win this pool only if you pick a perfect bracket” pool, you are tearing up your bracket.  Otherwise, you can probably withstand that one upset even if you did not pick it.

 

  • The play-by-play announcer who shouts, “IS THERE AN UPSET BREWING HERE IN (FILL IN THE LOCATION HERE)????”, as a 16-seed heads to a timeout with 12 minutes left in the first half holding a 20-15 lead. How many times do we have to see a #1 seed go on a huge run to end the first half or start the second half before we realize the silliness of this announcer’s quote?  Often, a #16 seed can hang with a #1 seed for a little while, but eventually the #1 seed figures out how to neutralize the #16’s strength or takes advantage of its major depth advantage.

 

  •  The announcer/analyst who calls an “11 over 6”, “10 over 7”, “9 over 8” an upset.  Stop it.  In the first round, “12 over 5” is the smallest seed disparity that counts as an upset.

 

Monday to Wednesday of the Following Week: I spend several hours playing with the “Scenario Generator” on my bracket pool’s site to see how many different paths there are to my victory.

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Thursday to Sunday of Weekend #2: I love it!!!!  We get the quantity of 48 games in Weekend #1.  Now, we get the quality of 12 huge games between dominant teams – with a few Cinderellas sprinkled into the mix.

 

Monday to Friday of Next Week: I can’t wait for the Final Four.  I think, “It all comes down to this.  All the hours of college basketball I have watched this season culminate right here. This is my reward. What an incredible ride it has been.”

 

Saturday to Monday of Final Four Weekend: I intently watch all three remaining games.  It is bittersweet though, as I know that, after Monday, I have to wait until mid-November to get to watch college basketball again.

Monday Night: While watching “One Shining Moment”, I think to myself, “I love college basketball!  Next year, I am going to watch a lot of college basketball all year long.”

….and there you have it – my Circle of Madness!

LeBron James Lists Warriors As One of His Potential Teams; Fans of Literally Every Other Team Decide to Start Watching More Baseball

According to Bleacher Report , LeBron James claimed he will listen to offers from the Warriors and Spurs this offseason, as well as the Cavs, Lakers, Heat, and Rockets. His decision to include the Warriors is based off his “respect” for their “winning culture”.

 

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Fans yelling at their phones and TV screens when they hear this
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Fans when it actually happens

Clearly, I don’t think it will ever happen because there’s no shot they would be able to offer him a max deal while keeping Draymond or Klay long-term, but even the thought of LeBron, Curry, and Durant on the same team makes me feel like Owen Wilson.

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All respect for the NBA, LeBron, KD, Curry, Kerr, and anyone else involved with this move, would be lost entirely. However long LeBron chooses to play for in his deal will be followed with the worst years of the NBA in the history of the league. Professional basketball would matter so little, that I might actually consider watching the Ball brothers in Lithuania before I watch the NBA.

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But don’t you think LeBron would have learned his lesson when he went to Heat and got annihilated for joining a “Big Three”? Or when Durant went to Golden State and had to make a fake Twitter account just to boost his self-esteem? Let’s make this clear:

LEBRON, IF YOU GO TO PLAY WITH THE WARRIORS, FANS WILL HATE YOU AND THAT TEAM.

Your journey to “Catching Jordan” will be over because having a team like that around you is basically like using PEDs (maybe not), and any championships you win basically won’t count in the eyes of those that judge you. Nobody can deny you are the most dominant player of this generation, and your stats alone will force people to argue for you as the greatest player of all-time, but doing this will only hurt your legacy. And at this point in your career…that has to be the last thing that means something to you.

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On the bright side, more people will watch baseball, and maybe 2K19 will be a little cheaper.

A List of Things Markelle Fultz’s Shot is Uglier Than

Remember Markelle Fultz? The first overall pick in the draft? Consensus best player in a stacked class? Sure thing, great speed, great vision, great player. Well…this is him now.

Feel old yet?

A few videos have been released of Fultz learning to shoot again, and it is UGLY. With free throws like that, he has potential to be the biggest bust of all-time. He’s still young, and he can still fix it, so I’m not going to be making any assumptions. But, for the time being, I don’t want to let an opportunity for humor slip away. Let’s discuss a few things that Markelle Fultz’s shot is uglier than:

Steve Buscemi

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50 Cent Throwing a Baseball

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Kyle Kuzma’s Outfit Choices

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Jabba the Hutt in his prime

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Kevin Durant Trying to Drink a Beer

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Dennis Rodman (two pictures were required)

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Matt Schaub Pick Six’s

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Ed, Edd, and Eddy in Real Life (Viewer Discretion Advised)

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Moles (both kinds)

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Anyone Who Consciously Hates on Nicolas Cage

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Science…it’s stupid and hard

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Kim Kardashian singing anything, let alone her own song “Jam (Turn It Up)”

Shaq Shooting Free Throws (didn’t know this was ever possible)

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And finally…this

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I’m sure I’m missing something, so comment below if you think there is anything Fultz’s shot is uglier than before he figures out how to be good again.

The Leadership Role of Kyrie Swervin’

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics
Picture Courtesy: Newsweek

After the Celtics saw Gordon Hayward go down in the opening minutes of the first game of the season, it looked very dismal that the Celtics would compete for the first spot in the Eastern Conference with the Cleveland Cavaliers. “Yes, the Celtics will still make the playoffs this season without Hayward, but they’ll be a middle pack team in the East standings,” said many sports analysts. After the Hayward injury in Cleveland, I don’t think anyone in their right minds would have thought the Boston Celtics would be 24-7, first in the East, three months into the NBA season.

How have the Celtics been so successful losing their new superstar that was supposed to be “their missing piece”? Easy,  Kyrie Irving. Although a lot of the hype this early summer had been all about acquiring the shooter in which the Celtics needed bad, in Hayward, it can not be forgotten that Kyrie Irving can straight-up ball. He might have been number 2 to Lebron James, but who wouldn’t be?

Just a few of Irving’s accolades to look at:

-2011-2012 Rookie of the Year

-4x Allstar (’14 MVP)

-2014 “All NBA”

Could he be successful without LeBron James? Throughout the first three months of the NBA season, the answer to this is YES. Although he has missed a few games this season with a facial injury, he is doing legit everything to put his team in a successful place, and giving the Celtics a chance to win every single night he steps on the floor. Kyrie Irving is shooting the ball great this year to start the season. He is averaging 24.3 points and shooting 49.4 %, which is about 5 percent above his career average.

This might be seen as average statistics for an NBA All-Star, but he is putting up these numbers and winning games with a whole new team and cast of players. Within the starting lineup for the Celtics is Jayson Tatum (age 19) and Jaylen Brown (age 21). Irving is really making space for these two, allowing them to get open shots.

We all know Irving has incredible ball handling skills. He is using these skills to give his players space, by opening up the court by his handles and being double teamed throughout games. A great example of this was this past Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets. In this game, Irving had 7 assists. The special thing about this is 5 of these assists were to Celtics big man Aaron Baynes. What NBA Allstar is looking to pass the ball to Aaron Baynes that many times throughout a game? He is really getting his team involved especially the many young guys on the team.

Irving seems to be a mentor on this Boston Celtics team, being one of the older guys at only 25. He is always high-fiving his teammates, coaching and showing a lot of emotion during games. Head Coach Brad Steven’s has noticed the leader Irving has become on this “New Look” Boston Celtics Team.

Video from ESPN

It sure will be fun to witness a series between the Celtics and Cavaliers, if they match up in the upcoming playoffs this March. It is evident that Kyrie wants to prove that he does not only win championships in LeBron’s shadow.

 

Knee-Jerk Reactions for All 30 NBA Teams One Week Into the Season

Basketball’s back, folks.

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While I was able to enjoy parts of it since I’m a huge fan of the league, the general consensus of sports fans was that last year’s NBA season sucked. And for the casual fan, I don’t blame you for thinking so. There was very little parity in the NBA last year, and a very big majority of last year’s preseason predictions were true in the end. However, after an exciting offseason, fans of the NBA seem to be a lot more excited for this season, with a few new look teams, and a few other teams on the rise. There seems to be more excitement coming into this season, and I’m ready for it to unfold.

It’s way too early too tell what’s going to happen this year, but I feel confident in some of my knee-jerk reactions after the first week. Maybe the biggest knee-jerk reaction is thinking these are great knee-jerk reactions, but I have decided to combine these along with some of my other preseason predictions to give an update on where all 30 teams are headed.

Atlanta Hawks– They have enough experience to keep them out of the basement of the Eastern Conference.

2014-15:

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2017-18:

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The Hawks impressive run of 10 straight playoff appearances will come to an end this year, as their entire starting lineup from 3 years ago is gone. However, they still have pieces that were important to those teams in Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore, and 2015 Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer. Expect a major drop off in wins, but this team will be better than most think.

Boston Celtics– They won’t win as many games as last year, but they will still be one of the best teams to watch in the league.

As great of a player as Gordon Hayward is, I don’t think his loss will result in that many fewer wins than they were projected. However, they gave up a lot of their depth to acquire Hayward and Kyrie Irving, and now they are down a lot of depth and Hayward. This team may take some time to get it together also, as they have only returning 4 players, and just one starter (Al Horford). That being said, they were great to watch last year, and now they have one of the most incredible players to watch in Kyrie, so they will still be a hot watch in the NBA this season.

Brooklyn Nets– Bet the over in every Nets game this year.

Don’t take that tip as a definite, Vegas could adjust the lines. But the Nets first two games both went over, game 3 went under by half a point, and game 4 went over. The point being that the Nets have a team to watch that is actually pretty exciting. They’re currently leading the league with 123.5 PPG, but they have also given up 122.5. I’m not expecting a playoff appearance from my Nets this year, but they’ll be a fun team to watch. Jeremy Lin’s loss hurts, but D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Allen Crabbe, and Jarrett Allen have all looked good through their first 4 games as Nets. The 19 year old rookie Allen (video above) could prove to be a steal at 22nd if he can develop his NBA with that size. Russell has turned the ball over a bit too much, but he has also made some incredible plays.

Charlotte Hornets– The Hornets will return to the playoffs this season.

…but a lot of that will by default of a weak Eastern Conference. Outside of the Cavs, Wizards, Celtics, Raptors, and Bucks, there are no teams in the East that really come up as noteworthy on an opponent’s schedule. Kemba Walker will make another All-Star team, but besides that, there won’t be much to talk about with the team unless there is Dwight Howard drama. I do think they will be the 7th or 8th seed though. BTW, the Jordan logo on their uniforms is fire.

Chicago Bulls– They were already going to be a mess, and things got even worse before a game was even played.

The Bulls have been searching for an identity for a few years now, and many fans felt they did not get enough for Jimmy Butler. Now, an incident like this happens just days before the season starts. The Bulls are a mess, and I think they will finish in the basement of the Eastern Conference this year.

Cleveland Cavaliers– By season’s end, they will be better than last year’s team.

After an interesting offseason in Cleveland, this Cavs team suddenly looks different. However, they are still the best team in the East until someone proves otherwise. Getting adjusted to post-Kyrie, with Wade and DRose, and eventually Isaiah Thomas life is going to be a transition. But by seasons end, this group of veterans will have a team that will be even stronger going into the playoffs’s than last year’s.

Dallas Mavericks– Dirk’s age will finally catch up.

Saying Dirk will struggle this season because he has started the year with just 7.3 PPG through four games is definitely a knee jerk reaction. But it’s also definitely possible when you consider he’s 39 years old. Watch out for Dennis Smith Jr., the rookie out of NC State who is a project favorite for Rookie of the Year. The Mavericks are not a terrible team, but they won’t be competing for a playoff spot at the end of the season.

Denver Nuggets– They are not a playoff lock in a competitive Western Conference.

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With the addition of Paul Millsap, and full year with Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets are deserving of a playoff projection this year. However, since this lineup does not have that much playoff experience outside of Millsap, the Nuggets are going to be fighting for seeds 6-8 come seasons end with teams like the Jazz, Clippers, Blazers, Grizzlies and Pelicans.

Detroit Pistons– The Pistons will also return to the playoffs this season.

I see the Pistons as a team very similar to the team they are fighting in the above video, the Hornets. The Pistons have a higher ceiling behind the likes of Tobias Harris, Reggie Jackson, and Andre Drummond. However, they were favored to make a jump last year, and they ended up taking a step back. Like the Hornets, they should take a late playoff seed by default.

Golden State Warriors– Their road back to the Finals will be more of a challenge, and Steph and KD are the spoiled kids who are lost when they don’t get their way.

Most readers may not know because I have not really blogged about them, but I hate the Warriors with a burning passion. I won’t deny that they are the best team in the league and they are my pick to win the title once again. As for my first point, I think their road back is going to be tougher, because each and every night, teams will be going out and giving their best. We’ve seen that in their early games against the Rockets, Pelicans, and Grizzlies. As for my second point, fuck KD and Steph. I didn’t watch the game, so I don’t know how the refs were throughout, but Steph throwing his stupid mouthpiece at the official was fucking ridiculous. YOU WEREN’T EVEN FOULED BUDDY. And that’s why I fucking can’t stand Steph. Guy has won 2 MVPs and 2 championships in the last 3 seasons. He also carries himself as a humble, respectful player and a nice overall guy, because that is who he is. But then when he does not get his way, all he does is bitch and moan, and throw his disgusting mouthpiece. TWICE NOW. LeBron wants respect when he complains to refs all the time, and I see why that is annoying, but that’s who he is on the court every night. I hate Draymond too, but at least he knows he’s the bad guy and always acts like that. Steph always comes across as the respectful guy, but then when he doesn’t get his way and acts like an asshole, he acts like he deserves that respect of being an asshole just because of how good he is. And it’s a fucking joke that he has now thrown his mouthpiece at a fan, and a ref, and has not gotten suspended for a single game. And KD just had to get himself involved like the fucking loser he is. Then shows off his ring finger to the Memphis crowd. NEWS FLASH BUDDY: ANY GRIZZLIES PLAYER OR FAN COULD HAVE HOPPED ON THE WARRIORS TRAIN AND WON A RING THE SAME WAY YOU DID! Okay, now, the NBA is coming for the Warriors, and while Golden State will probably win in the end, I’m excited for the war to come.

Houston Rockets– The addition of Chris Paul won’t be as valuable as the Rockets had hoped.

The Rockets will be one of the top teams in the West once again this year. However, I don’t think their addition of Chris Paul will be that valuable. CP3 has not played in a tempo like this in quite awhile, and this is how the Rockets run every night. This is undoubtedly James Harden’s team, and they were able to win on opening night at Golden State despite little contribution from Paul. Also, I read that part of the reason the Rockets traded for Paul was because their next move was to trade for Melo, which obviously fell through. That being said, I think Harden and the Rockets will have another great season.

Indiana Pacers– Their season will be very similar to the Nets’ season.

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The Pacers and the Nets have very similar looks this year. They both have an average age of 25.4, both have a mix of young guys and veterans, but overall, they both have a much different looking lineup than they did as recently as two years ago. In addition, both teams will score a lot and give up a lot of points. My prediction is that the Nets and Pacers will finish within 3 games of each other.

Los Angeles Clippers– He won’t win MVP, but Blake Griffin will be this year’s Russell Westbrook.

Last year, All-Star KD left All-Star Russell Westbrook, and he went off. This year, All-Star CP3 left All-Star Blake Griffin, and he will go off as well. Griffin scored 29 points in each of his first two games, then followed it up with 22 in game 3, and has looked dominant with the ball in his hands. I think he will be an MVP candidate, and will lead the Clippers to a late playoff spot.

Los Angeles Lakers– He may not average a triple-double as a rookie, but Lonzo Ball has potential to be great in all three major offensive categories.

Lonzo Ball comes in as one of the most intriguing rookies of all time. Every game he plays will be treated as a real event by fans and the media. He went off against the Suns and was an assist short of a triple double. While his numbers weren’t nearly as good against the Clippers and Pelicans, he had 9 rebounds against the Clippers and 13 assists against the Pelicans. It’s clear he has potential in all three major offensive categories, and while he may be shut down scoring on certain nights, he will find a way to get either 10 assists or 10 rebounds on most nights.

Memphis Grizzlies– They are still a playoff caliber team.

Most people are picking the Grizzlies to be on the outside looking in come playoff time, but they are still easily good enough to be anywhere from a 6-8 seed. They have made the playoffs 7 straight seasons, and still have most of their top pieces. They played hard in the first round against the Spurs last year, and have beaten the Warriors and Rockets early. While I’m not guaranteeing they will be a playoff team, they still have an excellent chance to make it come April.

Miami Heat– They won’t be nearly as dominant as the team that went 30-11 in the second half of last season, but they will return to the playoffs.

Dion Waiters and the Heat were so exciting to watch in the second half last year. The combination of their great finish and the weak East means they will most likely be a playoff team. But don’t expect them to be nearly as good as that team. That team would have won 60 games over an 82 game stretch, which will obviously not happen. Things should even out, and the Heat won’t be dominant, but they’ll be a playoff team once again.

Milwaukee Bucks– Giannis will win MVP.

The Greek Freak has been picked by many as a breakout player this year, and he has completely lived up to that prediction so far with three 30+ point perforamnces and one 44 point performance. Nights like these prove that he could be the league MVP this year. Also consider the other stars of the league. Almost every single one plays with another star, and their numbers would be completely different than if they had their own team. Giannis is the best player on a team without more than one star, and I think he will completely breakout this year and with MVP.

Minnesota Timberwolves– They will wish they were an Eastern Conference team.

The TWolves will undoubtedly be the most improved team in the league this year in my mind between potential breakout years for Andrew Wiggins, KAT, and the addition of Jimmy Butler. I also think they will be the 5th seed in the West behind the four clear juggernauts… and for that reason the TWolves will wish they were just slightly more Eastern on the US map. They could be a top 2 or 3 team in the East, but in the West it will be a real challenge to make in out of the first round this season.

New Orleans Pelicans– They are not guaranteed to make the playoffs in a competitive West, but they will be much stronger than they were after acquiring Boogie last year.

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Many people thought the Pelicans would make the playoffs last year after trading for Demarcus Cosuins. However, it didn’t really work out. But after an offseason, I think the Pelicans will figure it out with this big man combo of Cousins and Anthony Davis. The Pelicans will be one of the many teams fighting for a late playoff seed come seasons end.

New York Knicks– Kristaps Porzingis will be team MVP, and it won’t be close.

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This is not exactly a hot take, but Porzingis is that much better than any of his teammates. Tim Hardaway Jr. is much better than the player that was with the Knicks a few years ago, but it would take an extreme breakout for him to live up to that contract. Porzingis will have an excellent year for a bad Knicks team, who will be looking to get one of the top picks in the 2018 draft.

Oklahoma City Thunder– There will be growing pains, but this team will figure it out by the end of the season.

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As comes with any new combination of superstars, they will have to adjust to each other’s playing styles, and in PG and Melo’s cases, a brand new team. The Thunder have lost a few games early on, and I think there will be an adjustment period. However, by seasons end, I think these three stars form an awesome team that will ultimately be the biggest threat to knock off the Warriors.

Orlando Magic– Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon will have their best seasons to date, and the Magic will be in the mix for a late playoff spot.

A little biased because I’ve watched the Magic play the Nets twice now, but Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon have looked great. Vucevic has been one of the best players on the Magic for a few years now, and the 4th year player Gordon could be in turn for a breakout year. The Magic’s lineup looks a little more similar to last year’s than some of the other lower Eastern Conference teams, so by seasons end, I think they will be in competition for one of the later playoff seeds.

Philadelphia 76ers– Minutes restrictions, potential injuries, and youth will make this team still a year away.

The Sixers have potential to be much improved this year, as can be seen in performances like in the video above. But they were 0-3 going into that game. Joel Embiid has minutes restrictions and Markelle Fultz may have a shoulder injury that prevents him from shooting free throws. The Sixers are probably also going to be careful with Simmons as well, and both he and Embiid could always get hurt, and the team could shut them down for a time in thoughts of their futures. While they will be great on some nights and fun to watch, I think all of these factors will prove to make them another year away from being a legit player in the Eastern Conference.

Phoenix Suns– The Suns had the worst record in the NBA after 3 games, and that fact may still be true after 82.

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The Suns were looking terrible through three games, so they fired their coach and it got a whole lot worse when Eric Bledsoe tweeted he didn’t want to be there anymore, and now the Suns are looking to trade him. Phoenix has some exciting young players, most notably Devin Booker, who could be an All-Star is the conferences were more even. But the Suns will struggle this year, and they will finish with the worst record in the West, and possibly the NBA as well.

Portland Trail Blazers– The Blazers will be better than last year, but making the playoffs will be a tougher task.

With Damind Lillard and CJ McCollum getting another year older, and the Blazers getting a full season with Jusuf Nurkic, I think the Blazers win more games than last year. However, with the competition for the later seeds in the West that I’ve mentioned throughout this article, a better Blazers team won’t make it much easier to make the playoffs this year.

Sacramento Kings– De’Aaron Fox will be the best rookie that no one is talking about.

Everyone is talking about Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, and Dennis Smith Jr., but no one is talking about the 5th pick from Kentucky in De’Aaron Fox. Fox is leading the Kings with 15 PPG through 4 games. Fox will also see good playing time on a young Kings team, and he may not be better than some of these rookies, but he will be the best of the ones no one is really talking about.

San Antonio Spurs– Despite the offseason noise in Houston and OKC, the Spurs will finish higher in the standings than both of those teams.

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The Spurs will be the 2nd seed in the West, because that’s who they are, and they have a very similar lineup to last year, unlike the Rockets and Thunder. The Spurs have been a top 2 seed in the West 6 of the last 7 years, and I see the same happening this season as well.

Toronto Raptors– While I don’t think they have any chance to beat the Cavs in a 7 game series, they are the best team in the East that no one is talking about.

The Raptors have been a top-4 team in the East for 4 years now, but since they have not really made any additions, they have not been very newsworthy. However, they are still one of the best teams in the East. With the injury to Hayward and their loss of depth, the Celtics could easily see the Raptors win the Atlantic this year. It would take an injury to LeBron to give them any chance to make the Finals, but they are still a team that is notable on any team’s schedule.

Utah Jazz– The Jazz will be just fine without Gordon Hayward, and they will go back to the playoffs.

Gordon Hayward was a tough loss for the Jazz, but they are deep enough to make the playoffs again. With players such as Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, the addition of Ricky Rubio, and a few others, the Jazz have enough to make the playoffs once again. There is a lot of competition for the final few spots, but I think the Jazz may be the best of all those teams.

Washington Wizards– The Wizards will make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Celtics have lost Hayward and depth, the Raptors have not improved much, and the Wizards are getting better, and they will face the Cavs in the Conference Finals. The Wizards probably can’t beat the Cavs, but I like them to take the next step and be one of the NBA’s final four teams.

Excited to see all of the predictions come true. Then again, I didn’t like how every prediction came true last year, so let’s hope for some chaos. Here’s to a great NBA season.