NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Slam: A critical and logical examination of the Philadelphia 76ers

      After a sensational Rookie of the Year season, Michael Carter-Williams was thought to be the new franchise player in Philadelphia. However, 76ers GM Sam Hinkie didn't share that same view and instead viewed him as an asset to acquire more first round picks, shipping him to the Bucks at the trade deadline. The move had everybody scratching their heads and wondering whether or not Sam Hinkie was properly suited to be the general manager of a professional basketball team.

     To trade the reigning Rookie of the Year seemed like madness because it is in fact madness. Is it not madness to be so determined to win a championship that you are willing to trade anybody for more first round picks if they aren't the next LeBron James or Hakeem Olajuwon? Is it not madness to have the number of first round picks you possess be more important than the number of wins you actually get on the basketball court? Is it not madness to consciously set up your team to lose with the hope that through the NBA draft lottery you will draft the next superstar of the league? Is it not madness that you draft players solely for the sake of trading them to get more draft picks?

     The 76ers are doing all the maddening things I just listed above and they are doing it full-throttle without looking back for even a second. They believe that they have developed a formula that will result in a championship team if they are patient enough. So, no matter the pain it causes them in the immediate future, they see this pain as a temporary means to an end. In their minds, when they win an NBA championship, they will be the ones who get the last laugh.

  There is a famous logical fallacy known as the gambler's fallacy which states that a person is more likely to roll a double six with a pair of dice on the 10th roll than on the rolls that come before it. Similarly, there is a fallacy known as the inverse gambler's fallacy, which states that if a person rolls a double six with a pair of dice, there must have been a lot of rolls that preceded it. The mistake that both of these fallacies make is to make the assumption that any individual action is affected by other individual actions that have come before it.

     I think it's possible that the 76ers are guilty of committing one or both of these fallacies by assuming that they are more likely to acquire the next superstar of their franchise with their 10th first round pick than with their 5th. There almost seems to be a sense in which they believe the next great franchise player will only come after having made many first round pick selections, and that is without question a logical fallacy.

     However, what is certainly not a logical fallacy is to believe that with more first round picks, you have more opportunities to get one right. That's not a logical fallacy because it isn't making the false assumption that any one individual draft pick is affected by draft picks that have come before it. Each act of drafting a player is a separate and isolated event that has no affect on any other event in the universe. If you make a bad draft selection, your next draft selection isn't any more or less likely to be good or bad. It's just another draft selection and another chance to hit a home run.

      If the 76ers are thinking correctly about this and not committing any logical fallacies, does that mean they are doing the right thing? I think we are tempted to say yes, but I don't necessarily think that "yes" is the correct answer. There is the possibility that the 76ers strikeout and never get the player they were hoping to draft. It is also possible that in 10 years the 76ers will still be the worst team in the league, relying on percentages instead of good scouting and drafting.

     The bottom line is that the Philadelphia 76ers are fully committed to an idea or philosophy that may or may not get them what they want. They want an NBA championship and it's unclear at this point whether or not they will get one as a result of what they are doing. One can admire their commitment to their philosophy or at the very least be in awe of it, but one cannot say with any certainty that what they are doing is the right thing.

     The big risk for the 76ers is that if they don't win a championship, they will have to answer the question "What was it all for?" I.e. Why deliberately lose and then not deliver on your promise? I think that has to worry Sam Hinkie and the entire Philadelphia 76ers organization a great deal. If they win a championship in 10 years as a result of their philosophy, they will be viewed as geniuses. If on the other hand they don't win a championship or at least come close, they will instead be remembered as a group of individuals who intentionally drove the Philadelphia 76ers into the ground in pursuit of pie in the sky. Such a legacy would not be pretty.
---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Fresh NBA Power Rankings: February 27, 2015

                                 NBA Power Rankings 

Here are my NBA Power Rankings for Friday, February 27, 2015. These are my first power rankings after the All-Star break.

#1. Golden State Warriors (44-11): It feels as though the Warriors are falling apart a bit after losing two out of their last three @Indiana and @Cleveland, but in truth, they've won 7 of their last 10 games and still are playing the best basketball in the league. It should be noted that Stephen Curry was out for the Indiana game.

#2. Atlanta Hawks (45-12): The Hawks have won only 6 of their last 10 games, so they definitely are cooling off. Still, I see no way they don't walk away with the #1 seed in the East. Part of the challenge for them will be to stay focused until playoff time.

#3. Memphis Grizzlies (41-15): Weird loss at Sacramento. Look for them to bounce back at home tonight against the Clippers.

#4. Houston Rockets (39-18): It is hard for me to see this team vaulting the Grizzlies or the Warriors to win the West, but if they can keep James Harden healthy and get Dwight Howard back healthy for the playoffs, they'll be in the conversation.

#5. Portland Trail Blazers (37-19): Arron Afflalo could be a great addition given that they need some scoring off the bench. It'll be interesting to see how he fits in.

#6. Cleveland Cavaliers (37-22): LeBron James dropped 42 points on the Warriors on Thursday for the Cavaliers' 18th win in their last 20 games. They are really cooking with gas now and looking like the favorites to win the East.

#7. Dallas Mavericks (39-21): Rajon Rondo, their big acquisition of the season, is looking like a headache because of his recent altercations with Rick Carlisle. The Mavericks definitely have to be concerned.

#8. Toronto Raptors (37-20): They've lost three straight games and it's not going to get any easier with the Warriors coming to town tonight.

#9. Los Angeles Clippers (37-21): They've now lost 7 of their last 11 games, and with a trip to Memphis tonight, expect it to be 8 losses in their last 12. The Clippers are in some trouble.

#10. Chicago Bulls (36-22): Derrick Rose going down is obviously really disturbing, but the good news is that he should be back in time for the playoffs (See my daily dunks page for more details).

#11. San Antonio Spurs (34-23): Given their history, I'm tempted to say that their recent swoon of losing 6 out of their last 10 games is just due to the dog-days of the NBA season, but I actually think there is something more to their struggles than just that. Their odds at repeating as NBA champions look really slim at the moment.

#12. Washington Wizards (33-25): They need Bradley Beal back. Period.

#13. Milwaukee Bucks (32-25): It'll be interesting to see how Michael Carter-Williams fits in. They certainly made a space for him by shipping Brandon Knight to Phoenix.

#14. Oklahoma City Thunder (32-26): It's looking like they'll make the playoffs, but if Kevin Durant is out a lot longer than expected, there could be trouble.

#15. Phoenix Suns (31-28): Their remaining schedule is difficult, but there is no reason for them to not believe they can still make the playoffs. Getting rid of Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas was actually a good thing since they got Brandon Knight in return.

#16. New Orleans Pelicans (30-27): Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson going down is not a good thing for this team. Not good at all.

#17. Miami Heat (25-31): Even if they make the playoffs, no Chris Bosh means that this team is going nowhere.

#18. Brooklyn Nets (23-32): This teams is seriously one of the saddest franchises in the league. So much hype with the whole "Return to Brooklyn" thing and this team has instead gotten progressively worse.

#19. Charlotte Hornets (23-32): This team needs Kemba Walker back. Until he returns they're going to continue to struggle.

#20. Detroit Pistons (23-34): It's amazing this team is back in the conversation for a playoff spot. Simply amazing.

#21. Indiana Pacers (23-34): If Paul George can return and be at full strength, these guys are going to be scary for where they'll be seeded in the playoffs.

#22. Boston Celtics (22-33): Getting Isaiah Thomas means this team is gunning for a playoff spot and not the lottery. Good for them.

#23. Utah Jazz (21-35): Getting rid of Enes Kanter will be a good thing if Rudy Gobert steps it up. There is definitely a lot of pressure on Gobert to become the player Utah hopes he will become.

#24. Sacramento Kings (20-35): If I was a Kings fan, talk of George Karl bringing in Ty Lawson and getting rid of DeMarcus Cousins would really worry me.

#25. Denver Nuggets (20-37): They've won just 1 game in their last 10 games. Ouch.

#26. Orlando Magic (19-40): Here's a fun question: Can you name the Magic's interim head coach? Yeah, I can't remember his name, either.

#27. Los Angeles Lakers (15-41): "When they going gets tough, the tough gets going"---Billy Ocean.

#28. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-43): The return of Kevin Garnett is injecting a lot of life into this team. I like it.

#29. Philadelphia 76ers (12-45): Either Sam Hinkie really knows what he's doing by trading Michael Carter-Williams or he's just throwing darts at a dart board. Maybe it's both.

#30.  New York Knicks (10-46): The Knicks are garbage and Phil Jackson is a MORON for calling out his players. It's not their fault they were so poorly assembled.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bear Territory Tuesday: Cal has to get everybody on the same page

     Cal lost their second meeting with Stanford on Saturday by the score of 72-61, giving Stanford a 2-0 sweep of the season series. Stanford as a result improves to 17-9 overall and 8-6 in the Pac-12 while Cal falls to 16-11 overall and 6-8 in the Pac-12. Cal needs to rebound quickly from Saturday's loss and get ready for a really tough four game stretch to finish the season.
     Cal's remaining schedule goes as follows: Wednesday, February 25 vs. Oregon (10-5) at 8:00 PM PST on ESPNU. Sunday, March 1 vs. Oregon State (8-7) at 12:00 PM PST on Pac-12 Networks. Thursday, March 5 at #7 Arizona (12-2) at 6:00 PM PST on ESPN2. Saturday, March 7 at Arizona State (7-7) at 11:30 AM PST on Pac-12 Networks.

    Cal's remaining schedule is very daunting: All four schools are ahead of Cal in the conference standings, two of the four remaining schools (Oregon and Oregon State) are schools that Cal hasn't yet faced, one of the games (@Arizona) is almost a guaranteed loss, and at a minimum Cal has to win three of their remaining four games.

     Cal is really behind the 8-ball and what's scary is that their present situation looks way better than anything we could have imagined after their hideous 1-6 start in the Pac-12. Cal was on the cusp of complete self-destruction and now they've at least restored a sense of dignity and pride. However, dignity and pride does't get you into the NCAA tournament. Playing good basketball does, and that's what Cal has to do in each and every game they play from here on out.

     The biggest problem for Cal all season has been their inability to get everybody on the same page. David Kravish for example had a career game against Stanford, posting 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, while Tyrone Wallace only had 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 assists. Cal won't win any of their remaining games if only one or two of their key players play well while the rest of the team goes stupid. Cal really needs all of its players to step up. Especially Tyrone Wallace, David Kravish, Jabari Bird, and Jordan Mathews.

     The bench of course has to step up, too, but as Cuonzo Martin said in his press conference before the Stanford game, role players aren't expected to come off the bench and be your best players. They're on the bench for a reason and so if the team is going to have success, it has to start with the stars and the bench players have to feed off of their success.

     What's frustrating for Cal is that they have the potential to be a very good team and yet they haven't established any sort of consistency: Tyrone Wallace is one of the best point guards in the country, David Kravish is one of the best big men, Jordan Mathews is one of the best shooters, and Jabari Bird has athleticism and talent that makes NBA scouts drool. If all four guys are playing well at the same time, Cal can beat anybody in the country for the exception of maybe Kentucky and Virginia. The issue is that there hasn't been one game all season in which all four guys played well. It's usually just been Tyrone Wallace and he can't at all be expected to carry the team on his shoulders.

     If Cal wants to win three of their remaining four games and give themselves any hope of winning the Pac-12 tournament, they have to get Wallace, Bird, Mathews, and Kravish playing well together. It's that simple. If those four guys can figure out how to gel and all get the most out of each other, Cal could maybe go on another four game winning streak in Las Vegas. If they can't, they will be praying for a home game in the NIT.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord 

Daily Dunks: 2/23-3/1

                                                   (Credit: Andy Melton. Click here for source and full image)

Here are my Daily Dunks for February 23-March 1, 2015. Throughout the week this page will be updated with NBA news and scores until a new Daily Dunks page is created for the following week.

Monday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Utah Jazz signed point guard Bryce Cotton and forward Jack Cooley to 10-day contracts (Click here for details).

#2. The Nets plan to sign power forward Thomas Robinson to a 10-day contract (Click here for details).

#3. The Kings hired Vance Walberg as an assistant coach (Click here for details).

#4. Carlos Boozer won't pursue a buyout from the Lakers (Click here for details).

#5. Bulls power forward Taj Gibson is dealing with a hand injury (Click here for details).

#6. Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony played most of the season with a partial tear in his knee (Click here for details).

#7. Erik Spoelstra says Chris Bosh should be released from the hospital soon (Click here for details).

#8. Phil Jackson criticized the Knicks on  twitter (Click here for details).

#9. Rajon Rondo is working with the same shooting coach that works with Dirk Nowitzki (Click here for details).

#10. JaVale McGee hopes to remain with the 76ers (Click here for details).

Monday's NBA Final Scores: 

Rockets 113 Timberwolves 102. Jazz 90 Spurs 81. Grizzlies 90 Clippers 87. Heat 119 76ers 108. Pelicans 100 Raptors 97. Bulls 87 Bucks 71. Nuggets 110 Nets 82. Celtics 115 Spurs 110.

Tuesday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose will undergo surgery on his right knee for another meniscus tear. He is out indefinitely (Click here for details).

#2. Thomas Robinson won't go to the Nets. The 76ers scooped him up on waivers (Click here for details).

#3. Thunder small forward Steve Novak is out indefinitely due to an appendectomy (Click here for details).

#4. Report: The 76ers were willing to trade anybody at the deadline including Joel Embiid (Click here for details).

#5. A mansion in Los Angeles was robbed by four masked bandits. The owner was Earl Watson (Click here for details).

#6. Anthony Mason's condition is improving (Click here for details).

#7. Cavaliers small forward Shawn Marion is out two weeks due to a left hip strain (Click here for details).

#8. Kendrick Perkins has officially signed with the Cavaliers (Click here for details).

#9. The Pistons claimed small forward Shawne Williams off waivers from the Pelicans (Click here for details).

#10. Lakers point guard Ronnie Price will undergo an elbow operation on Wednesday. His season is over (Click here for details).

Tuesday's NBA Final Scores: 
Warriors 114 Wizards 107. Cavaliers 102 Pistons 93. Thunder 105 Pacers 92. Mavericks 99 Raptors 92.

Wednesday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. Larry Sanders has no plans to return to basketball in the near future (Click here for details).

#2. The Bulls have been talking to Nate Robinson (Click here for details).

#3. Derrick Rose's injury isn't initially believed to be as serious as his injury last season (Click here for details).

#4. Steve Blake plans to exercise his $2.1M player option next summer to stay with the Trail Blazers (Click here for details).

#5. The Pistons signed point guard John Lucas III for the rest of the season (Click here for details).

#6. Wizards small forward Paul Pierce (bruised knee) was a DNP. He is day-to-day (Click here for details).

#7. Mavericks point guard Rajon Rondo was suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team (Click here for details).

#8. In his first game back with the Timberwolves, Kevin Garnett had 5 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 19 minutes.

#9. Craig Sager will return to the sidelines on March 5 (Click here for details).

#10. In his debut with the Bucks, Michael Carter-Williams had 7 points, 8 assists, and 2 steals.

Wednesday's NBA Final Scores: 

Timberwolves 97 Wizards 77. Lakers 100 Jazz 97. Kings 102 Grizzlies 90. Heat 93 Magic 90. Hawks 104 Mavericks 87. Celtics 115 Knicks 94. Pelicans 102 Nets 96. Hornets 98 Bulls 86. Rockets 110 Clippers 105. Bucks 104 76ers 88. Suns 110 Nuggets 96. Trail Blazers 111 Spurs 95.

Thursday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Heat signed Michael Beasley to a 10-day contract (Click here for details).

#2. Andre Miller is interested in re-signing with the Kings (Click here for details).

#3. Phil Jackson is going to be fined for tampering (Click here for details).

#4. Pacers small forward Paul George has returned to practice. He could be back in a couple of weeks (Click here for details).

#5. Richard "Rip" Hamilton officially retired (Click here for details).

#6. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has undergone surgery on his knee. Part of the meniscus was removed. He should be back in 4-6 weeks (Click here for details).

#7. Kings guard Darren Collison needs surgery to repair a core muscle injury. He'll be reevaluated in 4-6 weeks (Click here for details).

#8. Report: George Karl has full control over the Kings' personnel. He wants Ty Lawson and is willing to trade DeMarcus Cousins (Click here for details).

#9. Cavaliers small forward LeBron James had 42 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists against the Warriors.

#10. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook had a triple-double: 39 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Thursday's NBA Final Scores: 

Cavaliers 110 Warriors 99. Suns 117 Thunder 113.

Friday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. Report: If Ray Allen returns to the NBA this season, it won't be to the Cavaliers (Click here for details).

#2. The highest bid for the Hawks is around $800M (Click here for details).

#3. The NBA will release reports of officials for the last two minutes of each game (Click here for details).

#4. Cavaliers small forward LeBron James (rest) didn't play.

#5. Baron Davis is plotting an NBA comeback (Click here for details).

#6. Kings center Demarcus Cousins (ankle/hip) didn't play (Click here for details).

#7. Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons is still dealing with an ankle injury and won't play on Saturday (Click here for details).

#8. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook had a triple-double: 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists.

#9. Rockets forward Terrence Jones had 26 points and 12 rebounds.

#10. Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas had 28 points and 7 assists.

Friday's NBA Final Scores: 

Warriors 113 Raptors 89. Bulls 96 Timberwolves 89. Clippers 97 Grizzlies 79. Jazz 104 Nuggets 82. Pacers 93 Cavaliers 86. 76ers 89 Wizards 81. Hawks 95 Magic 88. Celtics 106 Hornest 98. Knicks 121 Pistons 115 (2OT). Pelicans 104 Heat 102. Rockets 102 Nets 98. Spurs 107 Kings 96. Lakers 101 Bucks 93. Trail Blazers 115 Thunder 112.

Saturday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. Anthony Mason passed away at the age of 48. May he rest in peace (Click here for details).

#2. Early Lloyd, the NBA's first black player, passed away at the age of 86 (Click here for details).

#3. Warriors center Festus Ezeli was suspended 1 game for grabbing the throat of Raptors power forward Tyler Hansbrough (Click here for details).

#4. Chris Bosh has been released from the hospital and is progressing towards a recovery (Click here for details).

#5. Wesley Johnson says he hopes to re-sign with the Lakers (Click here for details).

#6. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (ankle/hip) is unlikely to play on Sunday (Click here for details).

#7. Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (shoulder) won't play on Sunday (Click here for details).

#8. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook underwent a procedure to repair a fractured cheekbone. He won't play Sunday and is out indefinitely (Click here for details).

#9. Trey Burke had 23 points off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

#10. Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

Saturday's NBA Final Scores: 

Grizzlies 101 Timberwolves 97. Jazz 82 Bucks 75. Wizards 99 Pistons 95. Hawks 93 Heat 91. Knicks 103 Raptors 98. Nets 104 Mavericks 94. Spurs 101 Suns 74.

Sunday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. The 76ers waived center JaVale McGee (Click here for details).

#2. Kevin  Garnett bought 1,000 tickets for fans to an upcoming Timberwolves home game (Click here for details).

#3. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has made some proposals to change the trade rules of the NBA (Click here for details).

#4. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry had 37 points against the Celtics.

#5. Cavaliers small forward LeBron James had 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists against the Rockets.

#6. Rockets shooting guard James Harden had 33 points 8 rebounds, and 5 assists against the Cavaliers.

#7. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan scored 9 points and grabbed 26 rebounds against the Bulls.

#8. Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard had 31 points against the Kings.

#9.  Hornets point guard Mo Williams had 23 points and 11 assists against the Magic.

#10. Thunder center Enes Kanter had 16 points and 15 rebounds against the Lakers.

Sunday's NBA Final Scores: 

Warriors 106 Celtics 101. Clippers 96 Bulls 86. Rockets 105 Cavaliers 103 (OT). Pacers 94 76ers 74. Hornets 98 Magic 93. Trail Blazers 110 Kings 99. Thunder 108 Lakers 101. Pelicans 99 Nuggets 92.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord for NBA news 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Slam: The NBA should expand the playoffs to include all 30 teams

                                         (Credit: Joe Glorioso. Click here for source and original size)

     The NBA should expand the playoffs to include all 30 teams. I am dead serious about this. While this idea may sound as radical and insane as Hunter S. Thompson's idea to eliminate the pitcher in baseball, I have good reasons to believe that the NBA should expand its playoff tournament to include all 30 teams or all 32 teams should it expand that big.

     The number one reason the NBA should do this is because it would be more entertaining. I went to an NBA career conference in Las Vegas during NBA Summer League and one of the things that was discussed was that sports is entertainment. Yes, it's true that sports is also serious and intense competition for athletes, coaches, and members of sports organizations, but at the same time, what really drives the economics of the NBA is that it is about entertainment. Having an NBA playoff bracket with all 30 teams would create more excitement and potential chaos, making the NBA wildly more entertaining than it has previously been.

     Imagine a #15 seed upsetting a #2 seed or a #11 seed upsetting a #6! Such results would have people who don't even care about basketball jabbering away with excitement as if they've been following the NBA from the beginning of the season. There would also be so many entertaining first round series' like an 8-9 matchup, a 7-10 matchup, or even a 5-12 matchup. This would have the flavor of the NCAA tournament and the timing would be perfect since the NBA playoffs begin right after March Madness!

     Secondly, having all 30 teams make the playoffs would greatly reduce the amount of tanking that goes on across the league. It would eliminate the conflict of interest between barely making the playoffs and getting a shot at the lottery. Teams would have no reason to not play their hardest down the stretch and get an 8 seed because it would ensure home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

     In addition, such a radical reform of the playoffs would certainly call for reform to the lottery process, increasing the pool of teams that enter the lottery. Instead of having 14 teams make the lottery, the NBA could expand the size of the lottery to 22 teams, only keeping out the teams which qualified for the conference semifinals. From there, the lottery could either give each of the 22 teams in the pool an equal shot at the #1 pick or just have the same system but with 22 teams instead of 14. The NBA could also increase the number of teams whose draft order is determined by the number generators.

     Any of these changes to the lottery would make tanking much less appealing while also increasing the appeal of trying to win as many games as possible down the stretch. It would give every team in the NBA reason to compete hard throughout the season since they would be competing for a seed in the playoffs as opposed to a certain spot in the draft.

     Third, under the present proposed format with 30 teams, the race for #1 seeds would be super important. Teams with the #1 seed in each conference would get a highly coveted first round bye, eliminating the fear of getting bounced out early and also giving themselves more rest than any other team in the conference. Clinching home court advantage would suddenly be more important than ever and it might even give a team like the Spurs a reason to compete hard in the regular season to get the top seed.

     Fourth, such a playoff expansion would certainly call for a shorter regular season, something the league has been discussing for a while. The league could shorten the regular season to 66 games, the length of the most recent lockout season and give teams more breaks in between games. This would mean less back-to-backs and also that the NBA Finals would still end in mid-June or possibly earlier.
     Fifth, this could bring back the best-of-five series format for the first round. Best-of-seven for the opening round would be ridiculous since it would really give lower seeded teams no chance of advancing. In addition, best-of-seven for the opening round would make the playoffs extend for far too long. By making it best-of-five in the opening round, teams with the first round bye wouldn't get too rusty, and in addition, lower seeded teams would feel like they have a shot if they can steal game one on the road. Best-of-five as opposed to best-of-seven certainly increases the odds of an upset and upsets is certainly something that would make this new format all the more entertaining and exciting for the league and its fans.

     Sixth, this format would encourage stars to stay in smaller markets. If every team made the playoffs, guys like Kevin Love may wanna stay where they are drafted and lead a team to a playoff series victory as opposed to bailing and ganging up with other superstars. I think that guys would still want out of really bad teams, but all the same, this would make free agency more fair for smaller market teams who want to hang on to big name players.

     The impact this change in format could have on free agency is huge and I think it would be for the best. As opposed to having superstar players on bad teams whine and complain about their petty situations, they would be forced to own up to their teams' shortcomings in the playoffs and be humiliated on national television should their team lose in the opening round. They would have no choice but to say that they still have something to play for because they actually would! They would have a seed to play for and an opportunity to pull off a first round upset as opposed to looking ahead to next season or free agency.

     Seventh, this would create as much parity as possible. The NBA wants more parity and having more teams feel like they get a fair slice of the pie. If every team made the playoffs, every team would feel like they have a shot at the championship even if its very small.  For the exception of the Ivy league, every conference in NCAA Division 1 Men's basketball has a conference tournament that decides who gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

     Every team from every conference goes to their conference tournament, which means that almost all NCAA Division 1 teams, for the exception of Ivy League teams are still mathematically alive for the national championship! How exciting is that? If every NBA team knew that no matter how bad their season was going there was still hope to pull off an upset in the playoffs, they would compete so much harder and play with even more optimism. Fans of every team would feel like their team had some sort of a shot and they would all get to see their team host at least one playoff game.

Eighth, the NBA trade deadline would be even more maddening and exciting. Teams could suddenly change the course of their season in a matter of hours. A team with a low seed could land a big name player and suddenly enter the conversation as a "dark horse" even if they were seeded as low as #15. Imagine if the Knicks made a deal for Kevin Durant at the trade deadline! The Knicks would instantly be a viable contender to win the Eastern Conference!

    Finally, this would eliminate the worry of some really good teams missing the playoffs and some bad teams making it. By expanding it to all 30 teams, nobody would feel like they got robbed because they were in a better conference. Everybody would get the same chance to prove themselves and only have themselves to blame as opposed to the system.

     In conclusion, I think that while this idea sounds crazy on its face, it actually has a lot of benefits that would make the NBA a lot better. The league would be so much more entertaining and it would give every team a reason to compete hard throughout the season as opposed to playing for next year or even further down the road. Teams like the 76ers would have a lot less reason to try to stockpile draft picks and play for the future since the "future" would always be the present in a way. Teams would be much more oriented to playing for the present as opposed to the future and that I think would make for a much better NBA product.  (Note: If you want to read Hunter S. Thompson's idea to eliminate the pitcher from baseball, click here)

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord 


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bear Territory Thursday: Looking ahead to Cal's huge game at Stanford

     Cal will travel to Maples Pavilion on Saturday to take on Stanford in a game that is huge for both teams. Cal enters the game 16-10 overall and 6-7 in the PAC-12 while Stanford enters the game 16-9 overall and 7-6 in the PAC-12. Ironically, after it appeared as though both schools were heading in opposite directions, they now find themselves in almost exactly the same position. For Stanford, a win could vault them to a top-four seed in the PAC-12. For Cal, a win gets them back in the mix to maybe land a top-four seed in the PAC-12 tournament.

     The top four seeds in the PAC-12 tournament get first round byes, an advantage that both Cal and Stanford would love to have. Given that Utah and Arizona are locked into the top-two spots and UCLA likely the #3 spot, it's unlikely that Stanford and Cal both get first round byes in the PAC-12 tournament. That's what makes Saturday's game so huge. Both teams are in desperate need of improving their positioning for the PAC-12 tournament and only one of them can get a bye.

     As far as at-large bids for the NCAA tournament are concerned, Cal and Stanford need this win. In order to have a shot at the big dance, Cal needs to win against Stanford on Saturday, hold serve at home the following week against Oregon and Oregon State, and then get a split on the road against Arizona and Arizona State. In addition, they'll also need a strong showing in the PAC-12 tournament, which is why that #4 seed is huge.

     As for Stanford, a loss against Cal would be very bad. Stanford has had the win at Texas as sort of a "signature win" to have in their back pocket, but now that Texas is unranked, that win suddenly doesn't mean as much. In addition, their win over UConn doesn't amount to much since UConn is also unranked and just 14-10 overall. Despite having a stronger start to their season, Stanford appears to be just as much in need of quality wins as Cal.

     What helps Cal is that they got the split in the Rocky Mountains by beating Colorado, whereas Stanford got swept by both Colorado and Utah. Cal is coming into this game having won five of their last six games, whereas Stanford is coming into the game having lost four of their last five. Cal definitely has found its groove as of late whereas Stanford appears to have lost theirs.

     A big factor in the polarizing directions that both teams have taken is that Cal sophomore shooting guard Jabari Bird is now healthy after suffering a stress reaction in his foot and Stanford freshman forward Reid Travis is just recovering from a stress reaction in his leg. Bird is finding his groove, scoring 21 points against Utah and 16 points against UCLA, whereas Travis has been held scoreless in the last two games. Both players are important to their respective teams and it has shown in recent games.

     If Cal wants to beat Stanford on Saturday, there are four things they need to do: Get point guard Tyrone Wallace into a groove, get solid production off the bench, keep Stanford off the glass, and slow down Stanford senior point guard Chasson Randle.

     Tyrone Wallace is the heart and soul of this Cal team. He does everything for them. He scores, dishes assists, rebounds, and plays good defense. If he doesn't have a big game, there is no way Cal can win. In addition, if Cal wants to get other players going like Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on the wing as well as David Kravish in the post, they need to have Tyrone Wallace attacking the basket and making plays.

     Cal also needs solid production off the bench. When guys like Brandon Chauca, Dwight Tarwater, and Sam Singer get into a rhythm, Cal suddenly has a really scary eight man rotation. When those guys aren't on their game, Cal really struggles since they start asking a lot from their starting five.

     Keeping Stanford off the glass will be huge. Reid Travis who I mentioned is a banger inside as is  Stanford center Stefan Nastic. Cal has had problems defending inside, so it will be huge for them to grab as many rebounds as they can, limiting the opportunities for those guys to get buckets inside.

     Last but certainly not least, Cal has to make sure Chasson Randle doesn't have a big game. In a press conference regarding Saturday's game, Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin said about Chasson Randle: "He hits big shots. We need to limit his touches, play him aggressive, and fight through those ball screens."  Martin recognizes that keeping Randle quiet is key and they have to especially lock down on him in crunch time.

     As for what Stanford needs to do to win this game, they need to make sure Cal doesn't succeed at doing the things I said they need to do. If Stanford can keep Tyrone Wallace quiet, limit Cal's bench production, dominate on the glass, and have Chasson Randle steal the show, they'll win the game. It's that simple.

     As far as what my prediction is, I think Cal is going to win. I'm not just saying that because I'm a Cal graduate and a passionate fan. I'm saying that because of the recent trends I've seen from both teams over the last five games. Cal has their swagger back and has a ton of confidence coming into this game. The same cannot be said for Stanford, who is limping into this game.

     While it is true that Stanford will be extra motivated to defend their home floor, I do believe that Cal has just as much motivation given that they lost to Stanford at home earlier this year. Cal wants to get some revenge and if anything hurt Stanford's NCAA tournament resume. The motivation is there for both teams to win, and so I'm going with Cal because they come into this game with more momentum and confidence. Go Bears!

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday Windmill: The Utah Jazz should keep Enes Kanter and trade Rudy Gobert

     There is a lot of discussion right now about where Goran Dragic will end up now that it's been made known that he doesn't intend to re-sign with the Phoenix Suns. It's almost a foregone conclusion that Dragic is gone, but as for Enes Kanter and his future with the Utah Jazz, it remains much more murky. Reports say that the Jazz are willing to trade Kanter but that their asking price is high: A first round pick and somebody who they see as a potential building block for the franchise.

     The main reason why Enes Kanter's name is coming up in trade rumors is that the Utah Jazz appear to have a formidable front court with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert forming, making Enes Kanter the odd man out. In addition, Kanter himself has requested to be traded, which certainly ups the odds that he is the big man who gets shipped out of Salt Lake City.

     The combination of Kanter wanting out and the emergence of 7'2 center Rudy Gobert certainly makes it appear as though trading Kanter is the smart thing for the Utah Jazz, but I am not of the opinion that trading Kanter is the right move. As a matter of fact, I'm of the opinion that the Utah Jazz would be better off trading the second-year Gobert and keeping Kanter.

     I hold this opinion for three reasons: (I) I agree the Utah Jazz have a front court that is too crowded and that somebody has to go. (II) Enes Kanter is already coming into his own and becoming a quality big man. (III) Rudy Gobert has more "potential" which means the Jazz can get a lot more for him.

     In regards to the front court being too crowded, this is obvious. Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert all have the potential to be quality starting big men in the NBA. There is no need to keep three guys who can all do the same thing. The Jazz would be wise to move one of them and get another piece back to make their team more complete. Derrick Favors is the best of the bunch, so it makes no sense to move him. It comes down to keeping Kanter or Gobert.

     The reason I keep Kanter over Gobert is that Kanter has made the leap from potentiality into actuality. He is averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in just his fourth season in the league. If he levels out from here he's already a quality and serviceable big man. If he improves at all, he's a borderline all-star.

     The same cannot be said for Rudy Gobert. Obviously he is two years younger, but all the same, there is no guaranteeing that Gobert makes the leap from potentiality into actuality. Gobert does have more potential, but all the same, it's possible that he never becomes a consistent double figures scoring big man in the NBA, whereas Kanter has been that for the last two seasons.

     As for why I prefer to trade Gobert over Kanter, Gobert has more potential. Teams are in awe of his freakish athleticism and I can guarantee the Utah Jazz could get some really good pieces back for him. They could get some good pieces back for Kanter, too, but I think a team in desperate need of jump-starting their franchise might offer more to land Rudy Gobert.

     Now, the counterargument to my position is that the Jazz should keep Gobert because he has more potential and I totally understand that perspective. NBA general managers are all about potential in how they draft, scout, etc. Guys like Gobert don't grow on trees and so when you get a guy like him on your team, you usually want to keep him at all costs.

     What makes Utah's situation unique is that they already have two other proven big men who appear capable of holding down the fort in the front court for the coming decade. Gobert hasn't yet blossomed and perhaps he never will. That is why trading him is the less risky move and the smarter move. The Jazz can get more back for him and risk less in giving him away.

     By trading Kanter and sticking with Gobert, the Jazz would be gambling by giving up an already quality center for a guy who they hope will be even better but is yet to prove himself. When it comes to keeping a guy who you know is good or keeping a guy who you hope will be even better, stick with the guy who you know is good every time. It's the safer and better move to make.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Daily Dunks: 2/16-2/22

                                                   (Credit: Andy Melton. Click here for source)

     This is the Daily Dunks page for the week of February 16, 2015 through February 22, 2015. Throughout the week, this page will be updated with all the key news and scores throughout the week. Make sure to keep checking this page until a new daily dunks page is created for the following week.

Monday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. Just a quick Public Service Announcement that the NBA trade deadline is on Thursday and games resume after the All-Star break on Thursday.

#2. After being waived by the Knicks, Amar'e Stoudemire verbally agreed to a one-year deal with the Mavericks worth the veteran's minimum. He can't sign the contract until Wednesday at 5:00 PM EST (Click here for details).

#3. The Knicks may call up Thanasis Antetokounmpo from the D-League to replace Amar'e Stoudemire, but odds are likely they hold off until the start of the 2015-16 season (Click here for details).

#4. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri is interested in Pacers power forward David West (Click here for details).

#5. There are conflicting reports about whether or not the Suns want to trade Goran Dragic (Click here for details).

#6. Jermaine O'Neal is calling off his comeback (Click here for details).

#7. Kings power forward Jason Thompson reportedly wants to be traded (Click here for details).

#8. The Bulls and shooting guard Ronnie Brewer may agree to a deal (Click here for details).

#9. The Celtics elected not to sign G Andre Dawkins for the rest of the season after his second 10-day contract expired (Click here for details).

#10. The Bucks and power forward Larry Sanders reportedly are working on a buyout (Click here for details).

Tuesday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Jazz are willing to trade center Enes Kanter, but the asking price is high (Click here for details).

#2. The Magic are reluctant to trade power forward Andrew Nicholson due to the market (Click here for details).

#3. The hiring of George Karl by the Kings became official today (Click here for details).

#4. James Borrego will coach the Magic for the rest of the season (Click here for details).

#5. The Magic hired Igor Kokoskov as an assistant coach (Click here for details).

#6. Goran Dragic has informed the Suns he won't re-sign in free agency. The team is promising him that he'll be traded by the deadline (Click here and here for details).

#7. Mavericks point guard Rajon Rondo will play on Thursday (Click here for details).

#8. The Pistons are offering Brandon Jennings to the Nets for Joe Johnson. The Nets are interested (Click here for details).

#9. The Lakers and Knicks are interested in power forward Miles Plumlee (Click here for details).

#10. The Clippers are still interested in Tayshaun Prince. So are the Trail Blazers (Click here for details).

Wednesday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Mavericks officially signed power forward Amar'e Stoudemire and waived guard Ricky Ledo (Click here for details).

#2. The Bucks bought out Larry Sanders' contract. He is now a free agent (Click here for details).

#3. The Raptors re-assigned Bruno Caboclo to the D-League to join the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Click here for details).

#4. The Timberwolves signed guard Lorenzo Brown for the rest of the season (Click here for details).

#5. Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (leg) is out for at least three more weeks (Click here for details).

#6. 76ers guard Jason Richardson could play on Friday (Click here for details).

#7. Russell Westbrook likes playing with Kevin Durant (Click here for details).

#8. Goran Dragic says he has lost faith in the Suns' front office (Click here for details).

#9. Kevin Durant has apologized to the media (Click here for details).

#10. George Karl is considering hiring Nancy Lieberman to join his staff in Sacramento (Click here for details).

Thursday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Nets reunited Kevin Garnett with the Timberwolves by trading him for Thaddeus Young (Click here for details).

#2. The Suns traded Goran Dragic the Heat (Click here for details).

#3. Tayshaun Prince is going back to the Pistons (Click here for details).

#4. The Jazz traded Enes Kanter to the Thunder; Thunder ship Reggie Jackson to the Pistons (Click here for details).

#5. The Bucks shipped Brandon Knight to the Suns but got Michael Carter-Williams from the 76ers (Click here for details).

#6. The Suns traded Isaiah Thomas to the Celtics (Click here for details).

#7. The Knicks traded Pablo Prigioni to the Rockets and get back Alexey Shved (Click here for details).

#8. The Nuggets traded Arron Afflalo to the Trail Blazers (Click here for details).

#9. The Wizards traded Andre Miller to the Kings for Ramon Sessions (Click here for details).

#10. The Nuggets deal JaVale McGee to the 76ers (Click here for details).

#11. The Bucks waived power forward Kenyon Martin (Click here for details).

#12. The Pistons signed small forward Quincy Miller to 10-day contract (Click here for details).

#13. The  Warriors signed power forward James Michael McAdoo for the rest of the season (Click here for details).

#14. The Suns waived newly acquired shooting guard John Salmons (Click here for details).

#15. The Spurs signed SG/SF Reggie Williams for the rest of the season (Click here for details).

#16. The Pelicans will buyout newly acquired small forward Shawne Williams' contract (Click here for details).

#17. F Joffrey Lauvergne has officially signed a multi-year deal with the Nuggets (Click here for details).

#18. The Pelicans waived guard Toney Douglas and guard Ish Smith (Click here for details).

#19. The 76ers traded  K.J. McDaniels to the Rockets and get back Isaiah Canaan (Click here for details).

#20. The Mavericks signed center Bernard James to a second 10-day deal (Click here for details).

#21. The Rockets sent Clint Capela and Nick Johnson to the D-League (Click here for details).

#22. The Suns waived newly acquired point guard Kendall Marshall (Click here for details).

#23. The Heat are expected to re-sign Goran Dragic to a max-deal (Click here for details).

#24. The Jazz will buyout Kendrick Perkins' contract, who they just acquired from the Thunder (Click here for details).

#25. The Thunder traded Ish Smith to the Pelicans before the Pelicans waived Smith (Click here for details of that trade).

#26. The 76ers signed guard Tim Frazier to a second 10-day deal (Click here for details).

#27. Heat power forward Chris Bosh is in the hospital for blood clots on his lungs. His season could be over (Click here for details).

#28. For a recap of all the trades and deals made just click here (Note: Mo Williams was traded to the Hornets and not the Pelicans, so don't be confused by the trade at the bottom.)

Thursday's NBA Final Scores: 

Thunder 104 Mavericks 89. Clippers 119 Spurs 115.

Friday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Kings signed point guard David Stockton to a 10-day  contract (Click here for details).

#2. Kevin Garnett will make his debut with the Timberwolves on Wednesday (Click here for details).

#3. The Pistons are not discussing a buyout with Tayshaun Prince (Click here for details).

#4. The 76ers are not discussing a buyout with JaVale McGee (Click here for details).

#5. Thomas Robinson agreed to a contract buyout with the Nuggets (Click here for details).

#6.  Michael Jordan is getting tired of his country club so he may just build his own golf course (Click here for details).

#7. Timberwolves shooting guard Kevin Martin had 28 points.

#8. George Karl made his debut as the Kings' head coach.

#9. Cavaliers small forward LeBron James had 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.

#10. The Nuggets waived forward Victor Claver, who they got from the Trail Blazers (Click here for details).

Friday's NBA Final Scores: 

Timberwolves 111 Suns 109. Jazz 92 Trail Blazers 76. Warriors 110 Spurs 99. Magic 95 Pelicans 84. Pacers 106 76ers 95. Raptors 105 Hawks 80. Pistons 100 Bulls 91. Heat 111 Knicks 87. Cavaliers 127 Wizards 89. Mavericks 111 Rockets 100. Bucks 89 Nuggets 81. Kings 109 Celtics 101. Nets 114 Lakers 105.

Saturday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. Heat power forward Chris Bosh is done for the season due to blood clots in his lungs (Click here for details).

#2. 76ers shooting guard Jason Richardson has returned to an NBA game after a two year absence (Click here for details).

#3. Timberwolves power forward Anthony Bennett (right ankle) is out two weeks (Click here for details).

#4. Timberwolves shooting guard Shabazz Muhammad (broken finger) is out for the season (Click here for details).

#5. Raptors point guard Lou Williams (ankle) didn't play on Saturday and is questionable for Monday (Click here for details).

#6.The 76ers officially waived forward Andrei Kirilenko (Click here for details).

#7. The Bucks officially waived forward Larry Sanders (Click here for details).

#8. The Jazz waived center Kendrick Perkins. Perkins is going to sign with the Cavaliers (Click here for details).

#9. Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (leg) has been cleared for to resume basketball related activities (Click here for details).

#10. Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis injured his shoulder and didn't return (Click here for details). Also, expect an update on either Sunday's Daily Dunks or Monday's Daily Dunks.

Saturday's NBA Final Scores: 

Thunder 110 Hornets 103. Pelicans 105 Heat 91. Bulls 112 Suns 107. Rockets 98 Raptors 76. Clippers 126 Kings 99.

Sunday's Daily Dunks: 

#1. Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons (ankle) out for the next 3 games (Click here for details).

#2. Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson is out 2-4 weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee (Click here for details).

#3. The Pelicans officially waived small forward Shawne Williams (Click here for details).

#4. Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis has a right shoulder sprain. He's out 1-2 weeks (Click here for details).

#5. Thunder small forward Kevin Durant underwent a procedure on his foot. He'll be reevaluated in one week (Click here for details).

#6. The Nuggets have waived power forward Thomas Robinson. It's official (Click here for details).

#7. The 76ers signed guard Ish Smith and waived forward Malcolm Thomas (Click here for details).

#8. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is day-to-day with a foot injury and did not play on Sunday (Click here for details).

#9. Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has returned from his hamstring injury (Click here for details).

#10. Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood has returned from his foot injury (Click here for details).

Sunday's NBA Final Scores: 

Pacers 104 Warriors 98. Grizzlies 98 Trail Blazers 92. Cavaliers 101 Knicks 83. Pistons 106 Wizards 89. Hawks 97 Bucks 86. Magic 103 76ers 98. Thunder 119 Nuggets 94. Mavericks 92 Hornets 81. Lakers 118 Celtics 111 (OT).

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord for NBA news 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Slam: NBA three-point contest highlights All-Star Saturday


                                          (Credit: Click here for source)

     Every NBA All-Star weekend it feels as though the slam dunk competition is the big event and everything else just builds up to it. But this year it's the three-point contest that everybody is talking about and the slam dunk competition feels like an after thought. The reason this is so is because in essence, this event is complied of the top eight three-point shooters in the NBA: Marco Belinelli (38.1%), Stephen Curry (39.9%), James Harden (38.3%), Kyrie Irving (41.4%), Kyle Korver (52.3%), Wesley Matthews (39.8%), J.J. Redick (43.6%), and Klay Thompson (44.0%). (Note: Current season three-point percentages are in parentheses)

     In almost any other year, any of these eight players would be the favorites to win the event. But this year, it's way too close to call. Judging by the statistics, one would say Kyle Korver is the clear front runner, but given that James Harden and Stephen Curry take a lot more pull up threes, the discrepancy there isn't as huge as one might think. Still, given that Kyle Korver is a catch and shoot shooter and this is a catch and shoot event, Kyle Korver has to be the favorite to win this event.

     In case you are not familiar with how three-point contests work, there are five racks of five balls that one has to shoot within 60 seconds. The last ball on each rack is typically called a "money ball" that is multi-colored like an ABA ball. Hitting a shot with the money ball is worth two points, so players really want to make sure they make those shots. Three players will advance to the finals and the best out of those three will be deemed the champion. I'm not entirely certain of the format since it sometimes changes from year to year, but my guess would be that each player gets two rounds and the top three from there will advance.

     If  I had to pick two other finalists to go alongside Kyle Korver,  I would have to go with Marco Belinelli and Klay Thompson. Marco because he's the defending champion and has experience with this event, and Klay because he's a catch and shoot shooter. However, I could see any number of possible outcomes happening, which is why this event has so many people buzzing. There really is no favorite and there really is no dark horse. Each and every participant is an accomplished shooter who knows how to hit open threes. I expect the scoring for this event to be through the roof and the bar raised to another level that we have never seen. It should be pretty wild!  (Note: This article also was featured on The Hardwood Nation blog. Click here for a link to the site)

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord