NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: Golden State sends a strong message to Cleveland


On Martin Luther King Day, the Golden State Warriors sent a strong message to the Cleveland Cavaliers, crushing the defending champions 126-91. After falling to the Cavaliers 109-108 on Christmas Day, the Warriors struck back in commanding fashion, reminding the Cavaliers that at the moment, the road to the 2017 NBA championship goes through Oakland and not Cleveland.

The Warriors' supreme excellence was on full display as they controlled the glass 58-35 and shot 50.5% from the field while holding the Cavaliers to 35.2% shooting from the field. The Warriors played elite level basketball on both ends of the floor and it showed in the final result. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson all had 20+ points while Draymond Green finished with another triple-double consisting of 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists while LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love combined for 30.2% shooting from the field.

The Warriors are seen as an offensive juggernaut that loves to play at a fast tempo, but the reality is that they are so much more than that. They are a multi-dimensional basketball team that is capable of destroying teams on both ends of the floor due to their athleticism, talent, and versatility. Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant are all elite shooters while Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala are some of the best defenders in the game today. Such a combination of offensive potency and stellar defense has rarely been seen in NBA history, which is why the Warriors are 35-6, on pace to win 70 games.

The one play that everyone is talking about is a flagrant 1 foul that was called on Draymond Green in the second quarter. LeBron James was driving down the court and Draymond Green bumped him at half court. LeBron James sold the call by flopping, which caused Warriors fans to freak out and complain about LeBron James getting superstar treatment. Having watched the play myself, it is clear that Draymond Green committed a flagrant foul and it's also clear that LeBron James helped to sell the call. Draymond Green wanted to send a message to LeBron James and he succeeded by getting the flagrant 1 foul.



On NBA TV,  Rick Fox said the Warriors needed to win big and I think he's right. The Warriors had to bounce back convincingly from the Christmas Day loss and give off the impression that winning in Oakland will be no easy task come June. While the Warriors still have the entire Western Conference playoffs and about half of the regular season to go before the NBA Finals, it is still important for them to send a message to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors know that should they reach the NBA Finals for a third consecutive time, the Cavaliers will likely be the team waiting for them. The Warriors want to give themselves as much of a mental advantage as possible by clinching home court and holding serve at home against the Cavaliers this season.

At the moment, the Warriors have the edge over the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have the better record and had the more convincing win on their home floor. While there is still tons of basketball to be played, Monday's game will definitely linger in the minds of both teams until/should they meet again in June. What's perhaps most amazing is that despite playing in different conferences, these two teams are forming one of the most fun and exciting rivalries in NBA history. I certainly would like to see both of these teams have a rubber match in June. That would be thrilling entertainment.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: Joel Embiid is looking like the real deal

                                          (Credit: YouTube. Click here for video) 

Philadelphia 76ers fans have been told to "trust the process", which means to trust that even though their team traded away all their good players and tanked, they should still believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After initially appearing like another wasted draft pick, it appears as though the 76ers have hit pay dirt with Joel Embiid, who is averaging 19.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game while also shooting 79.2% from the foul line in his first season healthy.

The 76ers drafted Joel Embiid #3 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft but due to back issues and foot issues, Embiid had to sit out for his first two seasons. Naturally, comparisons to Greg Oden and Sam Bowie started to come forth as a result since they were also highly drafted big men that had NBA careers derailed by injury. Fortunately for Joel Embiid, he doesn't appear to be destined for the same fate as them. The 76ers are being cautious with him and monitoring his minutes, but so far all appears to be going well.

During the 2014 NBA Draft, a lot of people were saying that Joel Embiid could wind up being the best player in the whole draft. He was garnering comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon when he was coming out of Kansas, which might be the highest praise that any big man can receive. While he hasn't yet established himself as at the second coming of Hakeem Olajuwon, he is off to a great start considering how his first two seasons went in the NBA. He's gone from bust to boom during these past couple of months and is starting to look like the best player out of the 2014 NBA Draft class.



As far as the 76ers are concerned, they still have a ways to go, but the good news for them is that they appear to finally have their franchise player in Joel Embiid. He's delivering the goods and is on track to being the next elite center in the NBA. While the NBA is increasingly going more and more towards "small ball", quality big men are still valued at a premium. If Joel Embiid continues on the path he is currently on, there's no reason to not see the 76ers as serious contenders within a few seasons.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday Slam: Giannis Antetokounmpo is turning into a legitimate superstar

                                              (Credit: Keith Allison. Click here for source)

In his fourth season, Milwaukee Bucks small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is turning into a legitimate superstar right before our very eyes. The 6'11", 225 pound small forward, better known as "The Greek Freak", is having the best season of his young career averaging 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game on 53.3% shooting from the field and 77.9% shooting from the foul line.

What's most scary about Giannis isn't his stat line. It's the fact that he appears to be able to do whatever he wants to do on a basketball court. Due to his freakish combination of size, speed, and skill, Giannis is able to beat opponents both inside and out. He is developing some nice moves in the post that allow him to score over big men, he's developing a really nice outside jumper, and due to his ball handling ability, defenders never can be sure if he's looking to score or dish the ball. He's probably the most multi-dimensional player to come into the NBA since LeBron James and that is really saying something.

As far as what he needs to work on the most, I would say that Giannis Antetokounmpo needs to improve his three-point shooting. Giannis is shooting just 29.5% from three-point range, which isn't nearly as good as he needs it to be. During his rookie year, he shot 34.7% from three-point range on 1.5 attempts per game. This season, he is attempting 2.4 three-point shots per game, which means he only makes .7 three-point shots per game as opposed to .5 three-point shots per game during his rookie season.

While it is good that Giannis Antetokounmpo is shooting more threes and is becoming more comfortable from that range, he needs to make sure he is still taking good shots. Shot selection is as important as it is making more threes. In many ways, improving three-point shooting doesn't necessarily have to mean taking more threes or even making more threes. It should more revolve around efficiency and making sure that the shots that are taken are good shoots.

For Giannis, more than anything, he needs to figure out how to utilize his three-point shot properly within the larger context of his overall game. Because he has so many weapons and is so talented, he doesn't necessarily have to be a guy that relies on his three-point shot. He just needs to know when to use it and use it effectively.

Outside of his three-point shooting, there really isn't much to complain about Giannis Antetokounmpo. He's averaging more points per game, he's becoming more confident on the floor, and as a whole he is a much more developed and well-rounded player. What's scary to think about is the fact that he's only in his fourth year in the NBA and will only get better.



As far as the Milwaukee Bucks are concerned, I've been saying for a while now that they are a team to keep an eye on and Giannis Antetokounmpo is a big reason why. In addition to Giannis, the Bucks also have another budding star in Jabari Parker, who is starting to make a name for himself, averaging 20.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game in his third NBA season. At the moment, the Bucks are 20-18 overall and are 5th place in the Eastern Conference. So long as "The Greek Freak" and Jabari Parker stay in Milwaukee, the Bucks are going to be an exciting and dangerous team.

Note: Saturday Slam is a weekly blog post that focuses on a major story or star player of the week. 

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Fadeaway Friday: Chasson Randle and Quincy Acy sign 10-day contracts

This week, there were two guys who signed 10-day contracts from the NBA Development League. Point guard Chasson Randle signed a 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers after being with the Westchester Knicks and power forward Quincy Acy signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets after being with the Texas Legends. I will provide a quick breakdown of transactions.

                                               (Chasson Randle. Credit: dleague.nba.com) 

Chasson Randle is a 6'2" 185 pound guard out of Stanford who has bounced around a little bit following his collegiate career. During this season with the Westchester Knicks, Randle has averaged 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 42.2% from the field, 40.2% from 3-point range, and 82.5% from the foul line. Randle has always been a good shooter, but due to being a bit undersized and being more of a combo guard than a true point guard, he's struggled to find a home in the NBA.

Chasson Randle has taken advantage of the D-League, using it to showcase his skills and refine his craft. His decision to sign in the D-League has paid off by getting a 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers and now he looks to prove his worth by signing a second 10-day contract and sticking with the 76ers for the rest of the season.



The reason the 76ers signed Chasson Randle is due to their lack of depth at the point guard position. Jerryd Bayless is out for the season due to wrist surgery and neither T.J. McConnell or Sergio Rodríguez are exactly "lighting it up." The 76ers could use another point guard on their roster, which means there are good odds Chasson Randle gets some minutes at the point guard spot. If he performs well, I could see him staying in Philly for the rest of the season.

                                         (Quincy Acy. Credit: dleague.nba.com) 

Quincy Acy is a 6'7", 240 pound power forward in his 5th year in the NBA out of Baylor. Acy has proven himself to be a quality rebounder in the NBA, averaging 8.4 rebounds per 36 minutes of action. Acy is a banger in the post and is very physical, overcoming his lack of height to still make his presence known in the paint.

The Brooklyn Nets rank 11th in rebounding and so by adding Quincy Acy, they are aiming to get even better in this department. What Acy will provide is toughness down low and one more big body to wreak havoc inside. In some respects, signing Quincy Acy doesn't make a whole lot of sense since where they need more bodies is in the backcourt. Isaiah Whitehead is dealing with a sprained left knee and Jeremy Lin is dealing with a strained hamstring. One would think that if the Nets were looking to sign somebody to a 10-day contract, they would have tried to sign a guard.



All the same, when you are 8-31, you really could get better in every aspect of the game and so in that sense, adding a veteran big guy like Quincy Acy that can crash the boards, play defense, and be a good practice player makes sense. Due to having a healthy front court, it's hard to see Quincy Acy cracking the rotation, but if he can prove himself to be a good practice player that pushes their big men and makes them better, he could warrant a second-day contract.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: The Derrick Rose situation is just another sign of New York Knicks dysfunction


Dysfunction seems to follow the New York Knicks wherever they go. On Monday night, Derrick Rose went A.W.A.L., not showing up for the Knicks' home game against the Pelicans and nobody in the Knicks organization had an immediate answer for his whereabouts after the game. Knicks president Phil Jackson didn't talk to the media after the game or provide any sort of explanation for what had happened to Derrick Rose, leaving Knicks players and head coach Jeff Hornacek to answer difficult questions that they really didn't have answers to. This whole situation is just another sign of incompetency and ineptitude in New York. Sadly, having a player seemingly vanish is just the kind of thing that would happen to the New York Knicks.

What's an especially bad look in all of this is that it was Joakim Noah that broke the news that Derrick Rose was ok, not Phil Jackson or team owner James Dolan. While it is true that Derrick Rose should have alerted somebody in the Knicks organization that he wasn't going to be present for Monday's game, Phil Jackson or James Dolan should have been the ones to address the Derrick Rose matter head on, not putting their players and head coach in an awkward situation.

                                          (Credit: Image via NBATV on YouTube. Click here for video) 

It appears as though the Knicks' dysfunction in the front office is leading to dysfunction on the court. The Knicks have lost 9 of their last 10 games and are now 17-22 overall, which makes them 11th in the Eastern Conference. Despite having some quality players in Carmelo Anthony (21.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game), Derrick Rose (17.3 points and 4.5 assists), and Kristaps Porzingis (19.8 points and 7.6 rebounds), this Knicks team is not able to gel and one has to wonder how much of that has to do with having a front office that isn't in very good communication with its players or coaching staff. In addition, there have been reports that Derrick Rose may not be getting along well with head coach Jeff Hornacek, so it appears as though the dysfunction truly is extending onto the court.

The sad thing with the New York Knicks is that they have their priorities all out of whack. They should be focusing on building around Kristaps Porzingis and making him the center of attention, but instead, they are dealing with all of this Derrick Rose drama and trying to do all they can to keep Carmelo Anthony happy. Honestly, I don't expect that to change so long as they have the same yahoos in charge. The Knicks really need a change of ownership and a brand new front office to take the franchise in a different direction. Phil Jackson isn't the answer and James Dolan sure as hell isn't the answer, either. New ownership needs to take over in order for this team to become contenders again. It's that simple.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Utah Jazz are playing elite defense in the paint

                                       (Credit: Chris Smoove on YouTube. Click here for video) 

The Utah Jazz are currently tied for 5th place in the Western Conference at 24-16 with the Memphis Grizzlies, proving themselves to be one of the most competitive teams in the NBA. The Jazz have won 6 of their last 10 games and are coming off of a 100-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier today.

Currently ranked 26th in points per game (98.4) and 27th in assists (18.9), the Jazz are clearly not winning games because of their offense. Though to be clear, Gordon Hayward is doing his part on offense, putting up 22.0 points per game on 45.0% shooting from the field and 37.3% from 3-point range while guys like George Hill (18.5 points per game) and Rodney Hood (13.5 points per game) are also finding success at putting the ball in the basket.

The Jazz have guys who can shoot the ball, but defense is definitely their calling card. The Jazz rank 1st in opponents points per game (94.9), 1st in opponent field goal percentage (42.9%), 5th in opponents second chance points (11.8 second chance points per game), and 1st in overall team defensive rating (101.4). They are also middle of the pack in rebounding, so they're doing a good job at controlling the boards. But, more than anything, they are just making it very difficult for opponents to score, which at the end of the day is what defense is all about.

The anchor of this Utah Jazz defense is Rudy Gobert, who is averaging 12.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. Rudy Gobert is an elite defensive presence in the paint due to his length, quickness, and freakish athleticism. Gobert is doing a fantastic job at protecting the rim, making it very difficult for opponents to score inside.

In addition to Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors is doing a stellar job at controlling the paint, averaging 8.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game. Favors is proving to be a solid presence down low to accompany Gobert. As far as perimeter defense is concerned, the Jazz aren't as good, ranking 15th in opponent 3-point shooting percentage (35.7%), but they are still solid. George Hill is averaging 1.1 steals per game while Gordon Hayward averages 1.0 steals per game, making them a solid perimeter defending duo.

But, what really is making this Utah Jazz team dangerous is their interior defense. Together, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors guard the paint as if their very lives depend on it. They are really doing a stellar job at forcing teams to take difficult shots inside, which leads to easy baskets in transition on the other end.

At this point of the season, all I can say about the Utah Jazz is that provided they can get fully healthy, they should able to win a playoff series this year. Derrick Favors, George Hill, Dante Exum, and Alec Burks have all missed games due to injury, but with everybody now getting back to full strength, this team appears capable of climbing up the Western Conference standings and living up to the preseason hype.

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Note: This blog post also appears on my Utah Jazz blog. utahjazz406.blogspot.com. Click here to check it out. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: The Indiana Pacers are starting to find their groove


One of the hottest teams in the NBA is the Indiana Pacers, who have won five straight games with wins over the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets, and New York Knicks. At 20-18 the Pacers find themselves in the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference and right in the mix to get home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The man who is primarily responsible for this five game winning streak is none other than Paul George, who is averaging 22.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game on the season. He's had two 30+ point games during this five game winning streak and nothing less than 19 points in any of the games. He's flat out balling right now and the Pacers are winning games as a result.

If there's one other player who deserves credit for the Pacers' new found success, it's their center Myles Turner, who is in his second year out of Texas. Turner is averaging 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, going off for 25 points and 15 rebounds against the Nets and 23 points and 12 rebounds against the Magic. Myles Turner is stepping up and playing big down low, which is huge given the ups and downs of Al Jefferson. "Big Al" was supposed to be the guy who provided consistent post presence down low for the Pacers, but instead it has been Myles Turner.

What's scary about this Pacers team is that in addition to Paul George and Myles Turner, they have other quality pieces like Al Jefferson, Jeff Teague, and Monta Ellis. Even C.J. Miles can get the hot hand from time to time. This Pacers team has a lot of talent and weapons that they can go to. It's just a matter of everybody getting on the same page and playing consistently. Right now, the only consistent players on this Pacers team are Paul George and Myles Turner. If the Pacers want to win a series and actually do some damage in the playoffs, guys like Al Jefferson, Jeff Teague, and Monta Ellis are going to have to step up and provide more consistent production.

The good new for the Pacers is that it's early in the season and they still have plenty of time to put it all together. If this team continues to get better and find their groove, they could be a team to watch out for in the Eastern Conference playoffs. I'm not saying they're championship contenders, but they could give the Cleveland  Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors a scare given the right conditions. It's just a matter of getting all the parts to work together.

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