NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: What should the New Orleans Pelicans do about Anthony Davis?

                                         (Getty Images) 

The big news in the NBA world over the last few days is the revelation that Anthony Davis wants out of New Orleans and that he has no plans to sign an extension. The news came from his agent Rich Paul, resulting in a $50,000 fine for Davis since the league prohibits players or their agents from publicly requesting trades. Despite the fine, the cat is already out of the bag and now the whole league knows Davis wants to find a new home.

The big question on everyone's mind is what should the Pelicans do? The soonest he can opt out of his contract is the summer of 2020, so the Pelicans don't have to make a move before the Thursday, February 7th trade deadline. At the same time, why prolong the inevitable? If a guy wants out and isn't willing to change his mind, you might as well move the player and get as much back as you can.

One thing that is for certain is that the Pelicans are going to be fielding a lot of calls about Davis over the next few days as the trade deadline approaches. A lot of teams are going to want to roll the dice on Davis, even if it means having him for just a year and a half. If the Pelicans get an unbelievable offer, they have to pull the trigger and get back whatever they can for Davis.

If the Pelicans don't get an over the moon type of offer, they might be smart to hold on to him and see what type of offers they get next season. The only concern is there will be less teams willing to risk a big move to get him. Kinda like what the Raptors did to get Kawhi Leonard. Right now, a lot more teams are going to be interested in rolling the dice on Davis than they will in a year, making now the time for the Pelicans to move Davis if at all possible.

Regardless of whether or not Anthony Davis publicly requested a trade, I think it's safe to say we could all see this coming. The Pelicans have struggled to put together a winning team around him and given his talents, he's certain to want to go to a place where he feels he can contend for a championship. With that in mind, the Pelicans might as well not delay the inevitable. While they shouldn't be willing to accept any deal, they should be aiming to make a move before the February 7th trade deadline. If they don't, they'll just have their franchise hanging in some weird limbo state until they finally get rid of him. The sooner they can move on from him and start afresh around a new crop of talent, the better.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: It's fun to see Derrick Rose playing good basketball again

                                         (Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) \

After looking like his career was probably over due to serious knee problems, Derrick Rose is having a renaissance in Minnesota, averaging 19.3 points and 4.8 assists per game on 48.3% shooting from the field, 43.1% shooting from 3-point range, and 85.4% shooting from the foul line. He's playing like he has a new lease on life, enjoying every moment he's on an NBA floor.

Back in his 2011 MVP season, Rose was one of the most exciting players in league history. He attacked the rim with reckless abandon and was incredibly fearless, always putting his body on the line. Unfortunately, that style of play caught up with him, resulting in an ACL tear, a torn meniscus, and other issues that would derail his career.

While it's easy to root for any player to make a comeback, it's been especially fun to watch Rose hit game winners and energize NBA fans once more. Even though we'll never know how good he would have become had the injuries not happened, there's something even more satisfying about watching him have this type of season knowing what he's been through. He could have hung up his sneakers and given up on his dream of playing high level basketball again. Instead, he kept honing his craft and developed a jump shot, something he would need after losing so much of his explosion.

Given all that he's been through and how well he's playing, Rose absolutely deserves to be an All-Star this year. He's playing like one and I think the fans would get a real kick out of watching him play. For all the years that Kobe Bryant and other legends have played in All-Star games past their prime, it would only be fair if Rose got that same type of treatment. The only difference is he's legitimately playing like an All-Star!

Once again, it's been an absolute blast to watch Derrick Rose have the type of season he's been having. He's always struck me as a really humble, down to earth person. It's great to see guys like him find success.

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday Slam: DeMarcus Cousins' Warriors debut should scare the rest of the NBA

                                            (Credit: Mark J. Terril/Associated Press)

On Friday, DeMarcus Cousins made his Golden State Warriors debut in Los Angeles against the Clippers, finishing with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in just 15 minutes of action. The Warriors won the game 112-94, keeping themselves half a game up on the Denver Nuggets, who they dominated earlier this week in Denver (Click here to read more about that).

Even though it is just one game, seeing a relatively good DeMarcus Cousins in a Warriors uniform has to scare the rest of the NBA and justify all the initial panic that ensued upon his signing. While some people, including myself, urged caution about the move given the severity of Cousins' Achilles injury, I think it's safe to say that if he can even play like this going forward, it's going to be almost impossible to stop the Warriors.

As if it wasn't enough to have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant, the Warriors now add a talented big man to the fold that can protect the rim, crash the boards, and give them a legitimate inside presence on offense. With a smaller front court, the blueprint to beating the Warriors was to go inside and take advantage of their lack of size. With Cousins now healthy, that's no longer a viable option.

What will be interesting to see is how opposing teams adjust to this new look Warriors team and what moves are made before the trade deadline. Even if such moves do occur, it's hard seeing any move that can effectively counter it. DeMarcus Cousins takes the Warriors from being scary good to being like really really scary good.

The last point I want to make is that teams complaining about this move have only themselves to blame. No one wanted Cousins, which is why the Warriors so easily scooped him up for just $5.3M. If the Nuggets, Trail Blazers, or Rockets really wanted to make sure the Warriors didn't add a guy like Cousins, they should have signed him for an ever bigger contract. No one likes the rich getting richer, but when you leave them with a pot of gold to take for free, who can really blame them for taking it?

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wednesday Windmill: It's officially time to Fear the Deer

"Fear the Deer" is the mantra of the Milwaukee Bucks and while fun to say, it has been hard to take seriously over the years. This year is different, though. With the best record in the NBA (32-12) and also the best home record in the NBA (20-4), the Bucks are finally a team to be feared. Especially by those in the Eastern Conference. 

The secret to the Bucks' success begins and ends with Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 26.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game on 58.0% shooting from the field and 70.0% shooting from the foul line. What's scary is that he's shooting an abysmal 17.0% from 3-point range. Once he gets that part figured out, it's gonna be lights out for the rest of the NBA. 

                                          (Credit: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Accompanying the "Greek Freak" are Khris Middleton (17.5 points & 5.8 rebounds), Malcolm Brogdon (15.5 points & 4.6 rebounds), and Eric Bledsoe (15.3 points & 5.6 assists), who are all very talented scorers. While not the flashiest of players, they're very consistent and always bring it every night, contributing to the Bucks' consistent play. When you combine an elite superstar with solid role players, you have a recipe for success. 

When looking at their team stats, what makes the Bucks good is their efficiency. They rank 4th in the NBA in field goal percentage (48.0%), 2nd in 3-point field goals (13.4), 1st in rebounds (49.1) and 5th in assists (26.7). For those that like advanced stats, the Bucks rank 6th in pace (102.7), 2nd in true shooting percentage (58.5%), 2nd in effective field goal percentage (55.3%), 4th in offensive rating (114.0), tied for 1st in defensive rating (104.3), and 1st in Pythagorean wins (34.0). 

In case any of that jargon confuses you, the bottom line is this Bucks team is really good. They're young, fearless, and they have the best up and coming player in the NBA in Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the way they're playing, they have to be considered the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference and challenge the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. In the past, "Fear the Deer" has just been a fun thing to say, but this year, it's no joke. 

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Golden State Warriors just lit up the Denver Nuggets

Earlier today, I got a text from my buddy Brandon Condron that the Golden State Warriors (30-14) dropped 51 points in a quarter against the Denver Nuggets (29-14) and I couldn't believe it. I mean, I could believe it because this is the Warriors and getting buckets is what they do, but you know what I mean, staggering stuff. As expected, the Warriors went on to this win this game 142-111 as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each scored 31 points while Kevin Durant chipped in 27 of his own. With the win, the Warriors leapfrog the Nuggets to reclaim the top spot in the Western Conference.

It would be one thing if the Warriors did this at home, but it's another for them to do this in Denver on the Nuggets' home floor. If you're the Nuggets, this is a tough loss to shake. It's going to be very hard for these guys to face themselves in the mirror and still believe they can really win the West.

By sending the Nuggets a strong message, the Warriors send the rest of the NBA a message that they are still the best team in the league. During this regular season, the Warriors haven't been their regular dominating selves and yet here they are blowing out the top team in the West on the road to reclaim the top spot. If that doesn't send shivers down the spines of the rest of the league, I don't know what will.

As if tonight's win wasn't enough, the Warriors can look forward to getting DeMarcus Cousins back this Friday when they travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers. By adding him to the fold, their front court gets some extra depth and one more big body that can rebound, score, and protect the rim. While I don't yet know how much we should expect from Cousins, just having him out there can only be a good thing for this Warriors team.

The lesson from today is that if you are wondering whether or not the Warriors still got it or whether or not they're still serious championship contenders, the answer is a resounding yes. Come playoff time, these guys will still be the team to get through to win the NBA title. Believing otherwise is wishful thinking.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday Slam: The Minnesota Timberwolves need to do some soul searching

As you've probably heard by now, the Minnesota Timberwolves fired Tom Thibodeau, who was serving both as head coach and president of basketball operations. Ryan Saunders, son of the late Flip Saunders, has taken over head coaching duties with the interim tag. Under Thibodeau, the Timberwolves had some success, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Unfortunately, his management style clashed with the rest of the organization, both on the court and in the front office. Star players felt overworked and disrespected while the front office felt he wasn't willing to adapt.

While the reasons for firing Thibodeau are clear, it shouldn't be forgotten that the Timberwolves did find some success under him. Reaching the playoffs is a big deal for this franchise and not something that they should take lightly. If you want to have more buzz around your franchise, isn't making the playoffs the best remedy to that problem? Ultimately, if they want to justify moving on from Thibodeau, they're going to have to find a coach who is able to get more out of their players and get them back to playing playoff level basketball.

What's a bit puzzling is how quickly things have spun out of control in Minnesota. A year ago, they were on the verge of making the playoffs with Thibodeau at the helm and Jimmy Butler as their veteran superstar. Now, they've shown both Thibodeau and Butler the door, ending an experiment that resulted in a playoff appearance. It feels weird.

With Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins as their key building blocks, the Timberwolves still have a chance to do a lot of damage in the future. The problem is they don't seem to know who they are as a team. At least with Thibodeau and Butler they had an identity, even if it was flawed. Over the next few months, the Timberwolves have to do some soul searching and figure out who they are and what vision they have for the future. If they can't figure that out soon, they could be heading for some dark times.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Houston Rockets are back to being contenders

Winners of 12 of their last 14 games, the Houston Rockets are on a roll, currently 23-16 and 5th in the Western Conference. After coming out of the gates slow, the Rockets are looking close to the championship level form that they displayed last season, putting the rest of the NBA on notice. James Harden has been the catalyst to the Rockets' surge, scoring 40+ points in 7 of their last 14 games, putting himself in the MVP conversation.

If there's one game during this stretch that stands out, it is definitely the Rockets' 135-134 overtime win at Golden State. Harden hit a ridiculous game winning shot that left the fans at Oracle Arena speechless, finishing with 44 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists. It was the Rockets' way of saying "We're back."

While it's safe to say the Rockets are probably going to make the playoffs, I wouldn't put all of your money on them just yet. Chris Paul has been out with a hamstring injury and it's unclear when he'll return. As well as they are playing, they absolutely need him healthy. They weren't able to go the distance without him last year and there's no reason to think they could do so this year.

If Paul is able to get back to full strength and stay healthy in the playoffs, the Rockets are absolutely contenders. The rest of the pieces are there. Clint Capela is a fantastic rim running big that controls the paint, P.J. Tucker plays the enforcer role to a tee, and Harden is the best player in the NBA when he's in the zone. There's not a lot to dislike about this Rockets team, it's just a matter of them staying healthy and surviving the grind of a full NBA season.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Wednesday Windmill: Just how dangerous are the Indiana Pacers?

One team that seems to be flying under the radar is the red-hot Indiana Pacers, winners of 5 straight games and 8 of their last 10. Led by Victor Oladipo (19.6 points), the Pacers currently have a 25-12 record, putting them just two games back of the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference. In an Eastern Conference that is wide open, this Pacers team needs to be taken seriously as a legitimate contender to reach the NBA Finals.

What makes the Pacers so dangerous is their depth. While Oladipo is their feature player, he has plenty of help around him in guys like Bojan Bogdanovic (16.2 points on 45.7% shooting from 3-point range), Domantas Sabonis (14.6 points & 9.6 rebounds), Myles Turner (13.1 points & 7.3 rebounds), Thaddeus Young (12.1 points & 5.8 rebounds), and Tyreke Evans  (10.5 points). With this depth, the Pacers have the shooters to keep perimeter defenders on their toes and the size up front to bang down low.

The biggest question with this team is whether or not they have a legitimate go-to player in the clutch. It's one thing to have guys who you can go to in the regular season, but it's another to have a guy who you can count on to make a key play in the playoffs. When you look at the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders, it's clear who the go-to players are. The Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Raptors have Kawhi Leonard, the 76ers have Joel Embiid, and the Celtics have Kyrie Irving. While the Pacers can say they have Oladipo, I wouldn't put him in the same league as those other players. At least not yet.

If Oladipo can prove his worth as a legitimate franchise player and show that he's not afraid to step up in the playoffs, then the Pacers have a real chance to go the distance. They have the depth and the versatility to do so. As an added bonus, they have a killer fan base that comes out in droves to support their Pacers come playoff time.

At the moment, I'm not yet sure who to pick to win the Eastern Conference title given that the 76ers and Celtics are underperforming and the Bucks and Raptors are yet to prove they can go deep in the playoffs. With that in mind, I don't see why the Pacers should be excluded from the discussion. They're playing great basketball and have all the pieces to be a nightmare matchup for whoever they face in the playoffs. It's been a while since the Pacers were in the NBA Finals, but I have a feeling this just might be the year that they finally get back.

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