NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Saturday Slam: People are overreacting to the Warriors' addition of DeMarcus Cousins

                                         (Getty Images) 

When the Golden State Warriors landed DeMarcus Cousins in free agency, it felt like the basketball world became unglued. Everyone from fans to players were upset that the Warriors landed another superstar. The Warriors already have the most stacked team in the NBA and for them to land perhaps the best big man in the league for just $5.3M felt like highway robbery.

If you follow on social media, you will know that I expressed frustration over the move. So, I don't want to come off as hypocritical when I say people are overreacting to Cousins going to the Warriors. I admit that I contributed to the hysteria and that I overreacted to the news like everybody else.

After thinking about the move for a little while, I've come to the conclusion that this move isn't something to get all up in arms about. What people are forgetting in all of this is the fact that Cousins is coming back from a torn Achilles, an injury that is as serious as they come. If Cousins hadn't suffered a torn Achilles to end his season in New Orleans, the Warriors wouldn't have landed him in the first place. What made him available for just $5.3M is the fact that it is far from certain that he'll ever get back to his regular self again. He might still be able to play at an NBA level, but will he once again put up 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game? That remains to be seen.

I totally understand why everyone reacted the way they did. The Warriors are stacking up on talent and adding Cousins for so little money felt like they were rubbing it in everybody's faces. There's a certain arrogance that this Warriors team possesses that rubs people the wrong way. As one who lives in the Bay Area, I get it. I'm around "Dub Nation" 24/7.

Still, we shouldn't let an overall frustration with the Warriors cloud our judgment over this particular move. The reality is that we are yet to see how strong Cousins bounces back from this injury and until we do, we should reserve judgment about him giving the Warriors a dominant big man. As for the other 29 teams in the NBA that are upset about this move, if they are really so upset, why did none of them offer Cousins a decent contract? The fact that the Warriors are the only team that offered Cousins a deal just shows how uncertain his future really is. If there was good reason to believe he could do some serious damage, another team would have offered him a contract in the neighborhood of $20M or more.

My prediction is DeMarcus Cousins will have a nice year for the Warriors and give them just what they need, which is a sound presence in the paint that can score, rebound, and protect the rim a little bit. However, I do not expect Cousins to produce like he did prior to his injury. A torn Achilles is the most serious injury an athlete can get and for a lot of guys, it might as well be a death wish. With that in mind, I think we should all just step back and wait to see what happens before declaring this move the crime of the century.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Saturday Slam: LeBron James is not afraid to speak his mind and it is awesome

One of the things I feel obligated to address on this blog is the way in which LeBron James is not afraid to speak his mind and stand up for what he believes in. In a recent interview with CNN's Don Lemon, James talked about his I Promise School, his future with the Los Angeles Lakers, and how he feels about the direction of our country as a whole. While some athletes prefer to shy away from topics surrounding politics and social justice, James has embraced his celebrity status to shed light on issues that he finds to be important, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

While I don't think every athlete should feel obligated to speak their mind, I think it is awesome that James has felt this moral responsibility. Millions of Americans look up to him, especially young African Americans. To them, he represents the American Dream and all that it stands for. In a divisive time in our country, James has been a beacon of hope and light, reminding us that goodness and decency can still be found in the United States of America.

What I think is most impressive about James is his long-term vision. He understands that he can do so much more than just win NBA championships. He can build a legacy that truly lasts if he is willing to give back to his community, stand up for what he believes in, and do his part to be an instrument for change.

The I Promise School is just one example of that. With this school, at-risk children in his hometown Akron, Ohio and the surrounding areas will get a chance to get an education that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten. Even though he himself didn't go on to college, James still values the importance of an education. He has talked in the past about how much it meant for him to graduate from high school and he wants to make sure that other children get the same opportunities that he got.

Given that he is on the path to becoming a billionaire, it would be easy for James to forget about his roots and spend his time doing other things. He doesn't have to be doing any of this and yet he recognizes how much of an impact he can have on his community and beyond.  When you really step back and think about it, it is amazing what James is doing.

Some argue that James should stick to building schools and other philanthropic projects without weighing in on political matters, but remaining silent about such things would be inconsistent with his larger mission. James isn't just about building schools. He's about molding minds and affecting the social conscious of this country. If he were to remain silent about issues regarding race and social justice, he would be failing to accomplish what he feels is his most important job.

Regardless of who you are, when LeBron James says something, you listen. When he calls out certain people for the way they behave, you listen. You may not like what he says, but you damn sure heard what he said and that is precisely why he's saying it. He's a voice for those who don't have a voice. That's powerful beyond anything that can happen on a basketball court.

Whether you love LeBron James on the court or not, one cannot deny the power of his actions and the force that he is for good off the court. While Michael Jordan will probably go down as the greatest basketball player to ever play the game, LeBron James will undoubtedly go down as having left a bigger legacy. So many guys say they want to prepare themselves for life beyond basketball, but LeBron James is actually doing it. He recognizes the impact he can have as an NBA superstar and is doing all he can to leverage that status for the betterment of society. It is awesome.

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday Slam: Can Kawhi Leonard lead the Toronto Raptors to the NBA Finals?

Despite having a bizarre finish to his career in San Antonio, Kawhi Leonard found a way to tie things up nicely earlier this week, posting a thoughtful message that thanks both the Spurs fans and organization. Regardless of what may have happened this past season, Leonard still won an NBA championship and NBA Finals MVP while a member of the Spurs. His time there should be remembered well both by the fans and organization, so it's great to see that he was able to post the message that he did.

Looking ahead to his time in Toronto, Leonard has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Regardless of whether or not he decides to re-sign with the Raptors in 2019 or look elsewhere, he will want to have a big year and prove that he's not damaged goods after a strange final year in San Antonio. In the 2016-17 season, Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game, putting himself in the discussion for best player in the NBA. If he can replicate those type of numbers, he will have certainly erased any doubt about his abilities to still produce at an elite level.

However, producing big numbers isn't the only thing Leonard has to do in order to be a success in Toronto. The real pressure lies in whether or not he can lead the Raptors deep in the playoffs and give them a real shot at winning a championship. The Raptors have had many strong regular season teams, but they've all fallen well short of the ultimate goal. Watching the Raptors choke is becoming an NBA playoffs tradition that we know all too well. We expect them to fail. If Leonard can flip the script and take the Raptors to the NBA Finals, he will have boosted his legacy immensely and made himself a lot of friends north of the border.

In order to get Leonard, the Raptors traded away DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Pöltl, and a protected 2019 first round pick to the Spurs. In addition to getting Leonard, the Raptors also got Danny Green back in the deal, giving Leonard at least one familiar face on his new team. Given the limited amount of pieces that moved in this trade, the Raptors essentially have the same pieces around Leonard that they had around DeRozan. No disrespect to DeRozan, but if Leonard is as good as everyone thinks he is, the Raptors should fair much better in the playoffs.

                                          (Credit: Bob Donnan. USA TODAY Sports) 
My honest prediction at this juncture is that the Boston Celtics will come out of the Eastern Conference, but if there's one team that they should fear, it is the Raptors. Unlike the Philadelphia 76ers, the Raptors are led by a guy who knows what it takes to a win championship. Even with all the possible baggage that comes with Kawhi Leonard, one cannot take away his championship and NBA Finals MVP. He's got that under his belt and as a result the Raptors have to go into this season feeling like they have much better odds at winning a championship than ever before.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tomahawk Tuesday: Can Carmelo Anthony help the Houston Rockets get over the hump?

                                          (Getty Images) 

Earlier today, Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports confirmed that Carmelo Anthony has officially agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski added that Anthony's deal is expected to be a one-year, $2.4M deal.

Anthony has had a bit of an up and down career. While being known as one of the league's best pure scorers, he has failed to live up to his own expectations of leading an NBA team to a championship. While he himself will never lead a team to a championship, he is presented with the next best thing, which is the chance to help a championship contender get over the hump.

Last season, the Rockets were one healthy Chris Paul hamstring away from winning an NBA championship and with Anthony now on board, the hope is that he'll give them just enough of a boost to get over the hump and supplant the Golden State Warriors as the best team in the league.

A lot of people are understandably skeptical of Anthony's ability to make a difference on this Rockets team. Since he has failed to win a championship everywhere he goes, it stands to reason that his time in Houston will likewise produce no championship jewelry.

What I want to do in this blog post is give you all a few reasons to believe that Anthony might just be the missing piece to a Houston Rockets championship recipe. You are certainly free to disagree with my reasons, but I still want to put this out there given all the negative posts about Anthony and his lack of championship success.

The first reason to think Anthony's addition to the Rockets could result in a championship is the simple fact that the Rockets were really close last year. The Rockets lost to the Warriors in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and as I said earlier, if it weren't for Chris Paul's hamstring injury, the Rockets probably would have won that series. Given how close the Rockets were last year, it's not like they need a whole lot more help to reach the promised land. If Melo can give them a little bit of help and take some of the scoring pressure off the backs of Paul and James Harden, that should be enough to make the difference.

Secondly, it isn't like Anthony sucked last year. With the Thunder, he averaged 16.2 points per game on 40.4% shooting from the field, 35.7% shooting from 3-point range, and 76.7% shooting from the foul line. He can still get buckets and in Houston, he won't need to be the volume shooter that he was asked to be in seasons past. He can come off the bench and provide sound spot minutes that make a real difference in terms of keeping the offense in a good rhythm.

Third, we've seen Anthony thrive in this type of role before. Anthony has played his best basketball in the Olympics, helping Team USA win multiple gold medals. As much as he likes to be a first option kind of guy, he's actually played his best basketball when he is more like the third or fourth option. If he can play like "Olympic Melo" as opposed to "New York Melo", the Rockets should really like their chances of giving the Warriors a serious run.

Given these reasons above, I actually think the Rockets should be excited about adding Carmelo Anthony. He comes in with plenty of experience, an ability to shoot the basketball, and a winning attitude. Unlike previous stops, Anthony is now in the twilight years of his career and more than anything he just wants to win a championship. While there are concerns about his willingness to play off the bench, I personally think Anthony is the type of player that will do whatever is asked of him in order to win a championship. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be coming to Houston in the first place.

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