NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Skyhook Sunday: The Brooklyn Nets have been a pleasant surprise

One team that has been a pleasant surprise this season is the Brooklyn Nets, who are currently the #7 seed in the Eastern Conference at 36-36. Led by Magic Johnson castaway D'Angelo Russell (20.2 points & 6.7 assists), this Nets team is quietly becoming one of the more dangerous teams in the NBA. They have a solid backcourt composed of Joe Harris (13.4 points) and Spencer Dinwiddie (17.5 points & 4.8 assists) in addition to Russell, a sound big man in Jarrett Allen (11.1 points & 8.4 rebounds), a versatile swing man in Caris LeVert (13.8 points), and some solid role players like DeMarre Carroll, Shabazz Napier, and Allen Crabbe.

What's most exciting about this Nets team is their youth. Just about all the guys I listed are either still in their mid-20s or younger. With plenty of time to continue to grow and gel, this Nets team is expected to get even better in the coming seasons.

The feel good story from this Nets team is Russell, who was the #2 overall pick of the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2015. After having him for just two seasons, the Lakers decided he wasn't a legit franchise player and shipped him off to the Nets hoping to get back better assets. Rather than proving the Lakers right for giving up on him so soon, Russell is making the Lakers look like fools. He's having the best season of his career and was named an NBA All-Star earlier this season. When you consider the pedigree he had coming out of Ohio State (McDonald's All-American, Jerry West Award, and Consensus first-team All-American), it really is surprising that the Lakers wouldn't at least wait until his rookie contract is up before making a decision on him. Fortunately for the Nets, their decision to trade for Russell has paid off as they now have one of the brightest young stars in the league.

While the future looks bright, I don't expect this Nets team to do much in the playoffs this year, likely getting bounced in the first round by either the Raptors or the Bucks. Even if they do, this will still be a productive year for them. All teams have to take their lumps in the playoffs and the sooner they can take them the better.

The bottom line is that things are looking good for this Nets team. They have a star point guard, a talented young core around him, and plenty of years to develop. When talking about what teams to look out for in the coming the seasons, the Nets are definitely worthy of discussion.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Phoenix Suns are starting to find their groove

Currently sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with a 16-52 record, not a lot has gone right for the Phoenix Suns this season. T.J. Warren (18.0 points per game) went down with a right ankle injury and has missed 25 games and counting. On top of that, Devin Booker (25.1 points per game) has missed 15 games due to a hamstring injury. When you combine youth with injury, you have a recipe for a lot of losses.

Despite this adversity, this Suns team has found a way to stay together and it's starting to show in their most recent outings. In their last 10 games, the Suns are 5-5. Even more recently, they've won four of their last five games defeating the Lakers, Bucks, Knicks, and Warriors. That's right, they've defeated the top team in the Eastern Conference (Bucks) and the top team in the Western Conference (Warriors) in their last five games. If that isn't finding a groove, I don't know what it is.

What seems to be making the difference is Devin Booker going off and Kelly Oubre, Jr. starting to find his footing with his new team. In their 114-105 win over the Bucks, Oubre finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds. In their win over the Warriors, Oubre had 22 points and 5 rebounds while Booker finished with 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 11 assists. Against the lousy Knicks, Booker scored 41 points while Oubre chipped in 18.

While not having as explosive of outings, Deandre Ayton has done a good job of being the brick of this team. He's missed hardly any time (6 games) while averaging 16.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He's always hovering right around his scoring average, providing the Suns with a lot of consistency.

If I'm a Suns fan, I would be feeling optimistic about the future. Booker, Oubre, Ayton, and Warren form a really talented core that is starting to figure out how to win basketball games. What's been particularly impressive about the Suns' recent hot streak is the fact that they've been doing this without Warren. Once he gets back, it should be really interesting to see what this team does.

The bottom line is that this year is all about growth and development with wins not being the main focus. What you want to see is improvement and the Suns are definitely showing that. Provided they keep this core together and everyone stays healthy, there's no reason to doubt this team's ability to become a force in the Western Conference.

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