NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday Slam: It's about time the WNBA started treating their players better

Earlier this week, the WNBA announced a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) that gives its players an opportunity to make way more money ($250K+ salaries), paid maternity leave, an upgrade from coach to economy plus or comfort plus on flights, private hotel rooms, etc. Click here for a full breakdown.

What I wanted to quickly do in this blog post is express my happiness about this news and also frustration that it took this long for WNBA players to get treated better. Let me first talk about my happiness.

What makes me happy about this news is the fact that WNBA players are really really good at basketball. It's a ridiculously competitive league. When you are one of only 150 people or less in a profession, you should be treated really well. These WNBA players have made the same sacrifices as NBA players and deserve to get treated way better than they have as a result. They also grew up with dreams of playing pro basketball, practiced for hours on end, played on their travel ball and high school teams, played college basketball, etc. They've taken a very similar path to get to where they are and its about time they get better compensation for it.

Some of you know I also cover Cal men's and women's basketball for, so I've gotten to appreciate the women's game over the years. I've seen up close how hard they work. Trust me. They put in the same work as the men.

As for why I'm frustrated that it's taken this long, my frustration stems from the fact that the NBA makes LOADS of money and the NBA runs the WNBA. Why the NBA couldn't have used some of their revenue to give WNBA players a better situation years ago baffles me. It's good it's happening now, but once again, this should have happened a while ago.

Finally, I want to say that while I'm glad this CBA is being implemented, I feel WNBA players deserve even more than what they're getting. I don't understand why they can't fly private jets. Like, seriously? Give me a break! However, when you are hoping for progress, you gotta be happy when progress is being made and that is most certainly happening here. Hopefully this news will steer more young women into basketball and give them more reason to follow their dreams and become the best athletes and role models that they can be.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wednesday Windmill: The Atlanta Hawks need to get Trae Young some help

                                         (Credit: Getty Images) 

Hawks point guard Trae Young is in his second year in the NBA, averaging 28.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.4 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Yet despite his amazing season, the Hawks are 9-32, possessing the worst record in the Eastern Conference and only half a game up on the 9-33 Golden State Warriors. The Hawks are bad and it's not Young's fault.

The only player who the Hawks can have confidence in being a quality piece to build around Young is third year power forward John Collins (17.0 points & 9.7 rebounds). Collins was suspended for the first 25 games of the season due to failing a drug test, but now is back, helping to take some of the pressure off of Young.

As for the rest of the team, it's a bunch of unknowns. Jabari Parker (15.0 points & 6.0 rebounds) is playing well, but it's unclear if he'll be able to stay healthy and be a part of their long-term plans. Second year shooting guard Kevin Huerter (11.2 points) is looking like a promising player, but I'm not sure what his ceiling is. As for rookie forward Cam Reddish (8.3 points & 3.8 rebounds), he had a ton of hype coming out of Duke, but so far, it's too early to tell whether or not he'll be a reliable building block.

Perhaps the best path to getting Young some help is through the 2020 NBA draft. If the Hawks could add Anthony Edwards or James Wiseman to the fold, maybe that will do the trick. At the same time, you don't want to put all your eggs in the basket of the draft. Especially when you want to build a competitive team in the near future.

The good news for the Hawks is they have some time to think this through. Young doesn't hit restricted free agency until the summer of 2022 and by that time, they should have better pieces around him. At the same time, they can't procrastinate. They need to actively be thinking through all their options whether it's making a move at the trade deadline, clearing cap space for free agency, or going through the draft.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Utah Jazz are on fire

                                          (Credit: Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune) 

The two hottest teams in the NBA right now are the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz, who have both won nine games in a row. I've blogged a lot about the Lakers this season, so it's time for me to focus on the Jazz. At the moment, the Jazz are 27-12, putting them at third place in the Western Conference standings.

During this nine game winning streak, the Jazz have posted the following results (home in bold; road in italics): Jazz 121 Trail Blazers 115. Jazz 120 Clippers 107. Jazz 104 Pistons 81. Jazz 102 Bulls 98. Jazz 109 Magic 96. Jazz 128 Pelicans 126. Jazz 128 Knicks 104. Jazz 109 Hornets 92. Jazz 127 Wizards 116.

As you can see, the Jazz have won most of these games away from Salt Lake City, which is scary considering the fact that they are historically not a very good road team. On that note, the Jazz are now 15-3 at home on the season and 12-9 on the road. If they can keep up their success on the road and continue to dominate at home, they'll be serious contenders come April, May, and possibly June.

What's made this streak all the more impressive is the fact that the Jazz are doing this without their big offseason acquisition Mike Conley (13.6 points and 4.6 assists), who is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury. This is truly a testament to their depth and versatility. Donovan Mitchell (24.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.1 steals), Bojan Bogdanovic (21.0 points and 4.3 rebounds), Rudy Gobert (14.8 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks), and Joe Ingles (10.8 points) have done a great job at picking up the slack.

Ultimately, how far this Jazz team goes will come down to whether or not Conley and Bogdanovic make the impact in the playoffs that everyone thinks they will and whether or not Mitchell and Gobert can raise their level of play. If this team stays healthy and continues to ball out like they have been, there's no reason to doubt their ability to make some serious noise in the playoffs. I'm not ready to deem them the favorites to come out of the Western Conference, but I could absolutely see them reach the conference finals. Pending on who they face, it's conceivable they play their way into June.

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

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Mock Draft Monday: Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards looks like the real deal

                                          (Credit: Joshua L. Jones, AP)

If you haven't heard about Georgia freshman guard Anthony Edwards, it's probably time that you did. Edwards is projected to be the #1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft on, averaging 18.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.4 steals per game on 41.3% shooting from the field, 31.1% shooting from 3-point range, and 69.2% shooting from the foul line. Listed at 6'5", 225 pounds, Edwards has ideal size for an NBA guard, possessing tremendous athleticism to go along with it.

At the moment, the Bulldogs are 10-5 overall and 0-2 in the SEC, looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Given how talented Edwards is, I don't see why not. When you have a guy as gifted as him on your team, you have a chance to beat anyone at the college level.

Touching more on why he's so good, Edwards is a great two way player due to his size and athleticism. He can score, rebound, and defend. Offensively, he looks pretty polished, possessing a good stroke on his jump shot. While some guys may take a little bit of time to adjust to the NBA, Edwards looks like a guy who will make an immediate impact.

While there's a lot he's good at, there are some areas Edwards needs to improve in. For starters, his rebounding numbers could be a little higher. Given his physical tools, he should be grabbing around 6.0 rebounds per game. 4.8 rebounds per game isn't bad, but he could be doing more in that department.

Also, his free throw and 3-point percentages need to improve. His percentages aren't bad for a freshman and I'm confident he'll get better, but still, he'll have to put that work in. LeBron James for example shot 75.4% from the foul line his rookie year and is shooting below 70% from the line for the second consecutive season. It's not like more years in the NBA means you'll shoot better.

As for whether or not he's worthy of the top pick, a lot of that will come down to what team has the pick and what their needs are. A team needing a point guard may choose LaMelo Ball while a team looking for a big man may opt to select James Wiseman. Regardless, Edwards is positioning himself to get drafted in the top three and quite honestly, he'll probably go number one.

What will be interesting to see is how far Edwards takes Georgia and if they are able to do some damage in March. Before Tom Crean took the head coaching job, the Georgia men's basketball program had been wandering aimlessly in the woods for quite some time. If he is able to get the Bulldogs to their first NCAA tournament win since 1996 (2002 win was vacated), that could cement his status as the top pick in the draft.

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Saturday Slam: Can the Philadelphia 76ers survive without Joel Embiid?

                                         (Credit: Matt Slocum/AP Photo) 

One of the major stories this week in the NBA is Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid tearing a ligament in his left hand, requiring surgery. Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, he'll be re-evaluated in 1-2 weeks and is out indefinitely. Even though the 76ers are used to Embiid getting hurt, that doesn't mean it's easy for them to soldier on without him. He's averaging 23.4 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, which are big numbers to fill when he goes down.

Assuming he's out for only a few weeks, his absence is still significant given where the 76ers sit in the Eastern Conference standings. They're in 5th place with a 25-15 record, just a half game up on the 6th seeded Indiana Pacers and a full game back of the 4th seeded Toronto Raptors. When things are as tight as they are, going without your top player for any stretch of time hurts.

With Embiid out, Tobias Harris (19.4 points & 6.5 rebounds), Ben Simmons (15.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, & 8.4 assists), and Al Horford (12.4 points & 6.5 rebounds) will need to step up. The 76ers do have enough depth to keep the ship afloat, but all of these guys, especially Horford, will need to step it up. They're certainly capable of doing so, but they're still going to have to go out and get it done.

Of those three guys that I mentioned, Simmons probably needs to step it up the most. Alongside Embiid, he's billed as the main attraction on this team and now is his time to really shine. He needs to start playing like a guy who is capable of carrying a team. Now is his chance to show that he can do that.

While the 76ers do have the pieces to weather this storm, it's still going to be interesting to see how they do over these next few weeks. With how close this race in the Eastern Conference is, these next couple of weeks could make or break their season. It's the harsh truth.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Wednesday Windmill: Do the Brooklyn Nets have a Kyrie Irving problem?

                                            (Credit: Getty Images) 

Kyrie Irving has played just 11 games in a Brooklyn Nets uniform and it is unclear when he'll return from his shoulder injury. He might go the route of surgery, he might not. It's anybody's guess how this will end and the longer things remain murky, the more one has to wonder whether or not Irving is being entirely truthful about his injury and his sincerity to get back on the court.

If Irving didn't have a history of being a head case, I wouldn't be writing this blog post. I might instead be writing about how terrible the Atlanta Hawks have been this season. But I'm not writing about the Hawks. I'm writing about Irving and the Nets. Precisely because he's the kind of guy to pull off a stunt like not being honest with the Nets about the severity or lack of severity of his shoulder injury.

As for how the Nets can proceed, I'm not sure there's a whole lot they can do. Irving when healthy has been balling out this year, averaging 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game. Those are really good numbers. On top of that, they're still waiting for the return of Kevin Durant, who is missing the entire season due to a ruptured right Achilles tendon that he suffered in the NBA Finals last year with the Warriors. Irving and Durant were a packaged deal to Brooklyn, so they really can't trade Irving if they want any hope of keeping Durant for the future.

The long and short of it is the Nets do have a Kyrie Irving problem and what's worse is that he seems to hold all the cards. They just have to hope that he's being truthful about his injury and that he does actually want to get back on the court as soon as possible. Otherwise, this whole Irving/Durant experiment could blow up in their face before it even really got started.

As Hunter S. Thompson once wrote: Buy the ticket, take the ride. The Nets bought their ticket and now they have to take the ride.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Tomahawk Tuesday: Chris Paul has been a good fit in OKC

                                          (Credit: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) 

At the moment, the Oklahoma City Thunder are 21-16, comfortably in the 7th spot in the Western Conference standings, a good 5.0 games up on the 8th seeded San Antonio Spurs. A major reason for their success has been the presence of veteran point guard Chris Paul, who everyone initially thought would only temporarily be with the team after getting traded from the Rockets in the deal that sent Russell Westbrook to Houston. Instead of packing his bags before training camp for some other destination, Paul has settled in and done a nice job for this Thunder team, averaging 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.

He could have complained and demanded a trade, but instead he went to work and is reaping the benefits. While not a championship contending team, the Thunder are a playoff level team that is not content being the 7th seed. Just 4.5 games back of Paul's former former team Los Angeles Clippers, the Thunder could end up with a top four seed in the playoffs if everything shakes out like they hope.

I haven't written much or perhaps anything about the Thunder this season, so I should make it known to all of you that it isn't just Paul that's playing well for them. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (19.8 points & 5.4 rebounds), Dennis Schröder (18.6 points), Danilo Gallinari (18.0 points & 5.6 rebounds), and Steven Adams (12.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, & 1.2 blocks) have been doing their part as well. With Paul inserted into the mix, the Thunder have five players scoring in double figures on average that are all capable of doing different things. Paul brings the facilitating, Alexander brings versatility at the wing, Schröder brings some depth at point guard, Gallinari brings perimeter shooting, and Adams brings a sound post presence.

This Thunder team is pretty well-rounded and as a result are playing very well. They're exceeding everyone's expectations and looking like a team that will not only make the playoffs, but perhaps win a series as well. What remains to be seen is what this team will do at the trade deadline. Whether they'll stand pat or make a move. Personally, I would expect them to stand pat and certainly not part with any of their top scorers, including Paul. Things are going well for them and they should see where this train ends.

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