NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday Slam: The Philadelphia 76ers are starting to look terrifying

For the last few years, the Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the worst teams in all of professional sports and the laughing stock of the NBA. Their methodical tanking approach has taken on a life of its own with the whole "Trust the Process" motto, etc. It's become almost a joke.

This season however, the 76ers are not a joke. They are 8-7 and have one of the best young duos in the NBA in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Simmons is averaging 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game while Embiid is averaging 22.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.9 blocks.

Earlier this week against the Los Angeles Lakers, Embiid had one of the most ridiculous stat lines you'll ever see: 46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 blocks, and 7 assists. It felt like the coming out party for Embiid and the entire 76ers team. It was like they were putting the rest of the league on notice that they aren't going anywhere.

The major question mark with this 76ers team is whether or not they can stay healthy. Simmons missed his first season in the league due to a foot injury while Embiid missed his first two seasons and only played in 31 games last season. This is the first season where Embiid is actually on pace to play for the duration of the season, which if you think about it is pretty crazy. As for their rookie point guard Markelle Fultz, he's out indefinitely with a shoulder injury and is on track to miss a good chunk of his rookie campaign as well.

The bottom line with this 76ers team is that if they stay healthy and are able to keep their core pieces together, they're terrifying. There's no better way to describe it. Joel Embiid looks like the second coming of Hakeem Olajuwon while Ben Simmons has the makings of another LeBron James. If Markelle Fultz is able to live up to his potential and avoid the injury bug, we could be looking at a legitimate "big three" in Philadelphia for the next decade. For all the talk and jokes about trusting the process, "the process" is not only working, it's putting together a scary good basketball team.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: How long can the San Antonio Spurs survive without Kawhi Leonard?

The San Antonio Spurs are 8-5 and currently 3rd place in the Western Conference. While this appears to be business as usual, the Spurs have had to make due without their superstar Kawhi Leonard, who is yet to play in a game this season due to a quadriceps injury. Even worse, he's expected to be out for a few more weeks, putting his return sometime in December at the earliest.

It's no secret that the Spurs are masters of making due with a shorthanded lineup. It is said that Gregg Popovich can grab any five guys off the street and get them to play team basketball. While this principle is certainly true, it would still be foolish to suggest that the Spurs can maintain long-term success without Leonard.

What makes Leonard such a valuable piece to this team is that he literally does everything. He defends both out on the perimeter and in the paint, he can score both inside and out, and he's absolutely lethal in transition due to his combination of size, speed, quickness, and athleticism. There are some who feel Leonard is the best player in the NBA and when you watch him do his thing on the court, it's hard to argue against that position. He is a jack-of-all-trades wing that continues to get better every season.

                                          (Getty Images) 

Fortunately for the Spurs, they have a really talented big man in LaMarcus Aldridge, who is averaging 21.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Aldridge is able to carry more of the scoring load in Leonard's absence and act as a legitimate number one option. In addition to Aldridge, the Spurs have a talented veteran wing in Rudy Gay, who has been averaging 13.0 points and 5.4 rebounds on 47.7% shooting from the field, 41.4% shooting from 3-point range, and 83.8% shooting from the foul line.

In addition to those guys, the Spurs have some quality role players in Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Patty Mills, and Pau Gasol. The Spurs are once again showing that they are a true team. When one guy goes down, even if it's their superstar, they know how to keep the ship afloat.

As for how long the Spurs can survive without Kawhi Leonard, I think the answer is that they can survive just fine so long as he does eventually come back. They can't win a title without him. That's pretty obvious. However, they can play above .500 basketball and keep themselves in the mix to get a top three or four seed in the Western Conference until he returns.

If you are the Spurs, the main thing you need to do is stay patient and make sure Leonard doesn't come back until he is 100% or very close to it. While it may seem tempting to rush him back a bit sooner, if you have been around the block as many times as the Spurs, you have the luxury to give Leonard all the time he needs. It looks like they are taking this approach and I expect it to pay off for them come April and May.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saturday Slam: Will Eric Bledsoe find new life with the Milwaukee Bucks?

                                          (Photo credit:

The big news of the week was the Phoenix Suns trading Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks for Greg Monroe, a protected 2018 1st round draft pick, and a 2018 protected 2nd round draft pick. Bledsoe made it clear on social media that he wanted out of Phoenix and the Suns granted his request.

Bledsoe is in his 8th season in the NBA and is now with his third team, spending his first three years with the Los Angeles Clippers and his next four years with the Phoenix Suns before being traded to the Bucks.

As the 18th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Bledsoe has blossomed into one of the better point guards in the NBA, having back-to-back 20+ points per game seasons in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. His biggest issue over the last couple of seasons has been staying healthy, suffering a torn meniscus in the 2015-16 season, allowing him to only play in 31 games. Last season, he was able to play in 66 games, but once again had his season shortened due to knee soreness.

Now that he is in Milwaukee, Bledsoe is hoping for a fresh start with a team that has a chance to do some damage in the playoffs. Bledsoe never made the playoffs with the Suns and with the current direction they are going in, it wasn't clear if he would be able to get back to the playoffs if he stayed in Phoenix for the long hall.

As far as whether or not Bledsoe will find new life in Milwaukee, he certainly has the chance to do so if he is able to stay healthy and if the Bucks in turn are able to get back to full strength with a healthy Jabari Parker. With Giannis Antetokounmpo at the helm, the Bucks have the pieces to do some serious damage in the Eastern Conference. It's just a matter of building on the foundation that they have and making sure no major injuries happen.

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Saturday Slam: If LaVar Ball really cared about his sons, he'd shut up

                                         (Mark J. Terrell/AP) 

If LaVar Ball really cared about his sons, he'd shut up. There's no way to sugar coat it. His comments directed at other NBA players, most recently John Wall, serve as motivation for these players to shut down his son Lonzo, who is averaging 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game during his first four games with the Los Angeles Lakers.

I debated whether or not I should write this article given that I don't want to give LaVar any more attention. At the same time, there's no way for me to not address this guy. As a basketball writer, I have a duty to give my honest, unabashed take on how this moron is putting a target on his sons' back every time he talks trash. While some like LaVar and see him as a marketing genius, others, like myself, see him as an egotistical nut job that doesn't have all of his wits about him. To a certain extent his actions are theatre, but to another extent, this is who he really is. No sane, normal person would act like he does. Even if they were trying to promote their kids and build a brand around them.

While LaVar is batshit crazy, what's perhaps even more troubling is his lack of empathy for his sons. Especially Lonzo, who is the Michael Jackson of the Ball family. If LaVar actually cared about his son and his NBA career, he'd recede into the background and not become a problem that he has to manage. The fact that LaVar continues to make idiotic and egotistical comments just goes to show that all he cares about is himself.

Unfortunately for LaVar, Lonzo is really all that he has. Neither of his other two sons have a serious shot at an NBA career. LaMelo in particular is an overrated little dweeb that has no idea how to run an offense and only knows how to play street ball. The fact that he has his own shoe is a joke and also will likely deem him ineligible to play at UCLA. As for LiAngelo, the middle Ball brother, he's supposed to be pretty good, but the odds of him morphing into a #2 overall pick in the NBA Draft are very low.

I don't like LaVar Ball and I don't give him a hall pass for being some "marketing genius." His behavior is inexcusable and does nothing to help his sons. If he really cared about them, he'd shut up and not seek the spotlight. It's really that simple.

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Friday, October 27, 2017 Podcast: Phoenix Suns fire Earl Watson; Aaron Gordon is becoming a star

On this week's episode of the Podcast, I address the Phoenix Suns' decision to fire Earl Watson, Aaron Gordon becoming a star, and more. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: Is Aaron Gordon on the verge of a breakout season?

                                          (Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) 

On Tuesday night, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon had a monster game against the Brooklyn Nets, scoring 41 points and grabbing 14 rebounds on 14/18 shooting from the field, 8/10 shooting from the free throw line, and 5/5 shooting from three-point range. The Magic won the game 125-121, improving to 3-1 on the season.

Entering his fourth season in the NBA, the 22 year old Gordon has been viewed as somewhat of a project by the Magic organization. The athleticism has always been there, but they've been waiting for his skills to catch up. While it is early yet, Gordon appears to have flipped the switch, averaging 27.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game on the season during the two games that he has played.

When looking at his stat line against the Nets, what's most frightening is the 5/5 shooting from three-point range and 8/10 shooting from the foul line. When you combine freakish athleticism with that kind of shooting, you have a player that is virtually unstoppable. There's no way for defenses to contain a combination like that. Pick your poison, inside or out, you're going to get burned.

If Gordon keeps this up, he will have a breakout season of epic proportions. The question of course is whether or not he can sustain this for the duration of the season. Personally, I'm optimistic that he can. I was very high on Gordon when he entered the 2014 NBA Draft because of his motor and athleticism. He seemed to have all the pieces needed to be a star in the league. It was just a matter of being patient and letting him develop.

While we are still early in the season, the Orlando Magic have to be excited about what they're seeing from Aaron Gordon thus far. They drafted him with the hopes of him being their franchise player and so far, he's delivering the goods. If he keeps this up, there's no reason to doubt their chances of becoming a serious force in the East.

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: The Phoenix Suns are exploding

Earlier today, news broke that the Phoenix Suns fired their head coach Earl Watson after their 0-3 start, which consisted of two 40+ point losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers. To make things even worse, their star point guard Eric Bledsoe appeared to request a trade, stating that he "doesn't want to be" in Phoenix.

There's really no way to paint a pretty picture of what's going on here. To have your head coach fired and your star player demand a trade on the same day is not a good thing. Especially when you've been getting blown off the court.

Probably the main thing to look for at this point is what the Suns do with Bledsoe. If he wants out, they should seriously explore moving him. At the same time, they shouldn't be in any hurry to move him. He doesn't hit unrestricted free agency until the summer of 2019, so it's not like he'll be gone after the season if they trade him. They could also explore moving a couple of other veteran pieces like Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley to help them rebuild for the future.

At this point, the best thing the Suns can do is just try to calm the waters and bring some sense of normalcy to the locker room. It will be up to interim head coach Jay Triano to make this happen. The Suns are behaving like a team that is 0-20, when in all reality they have plenty of time to turn this season around and not have it turn into a total dumpster fire.

Note: For more insight on the Suns' decision to fire Earl Watson, watch the video below by Phoenix Suns expert Brandon Condron. 

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