NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Monday, December 30, 2019

Mock Draft Monday: Should LaMelo Ball's foot injury be a concern?

                                          (Credit: Getty Images) 

Earlier this month, it was announced by the Illawara Hawks of the Australian NBL that LaMelo Ball would miss four weeks due to a foot injury. ESPN/Draft Express' Jonathan Givony provided more details back on December 8th:

"Ball suffered a bruised foot in practice with the Illawara Hawks of the Australian NBL last week and was prescribed to rest by a foot specialist he visited, which will likely keep him out of action until January...Ball will rehab his injury in Australia and is expected to make a full recovery and continue to play for the Hawks as they close out the regular season in mid-February." 

On the surface, this injury doesn't seem like a big deal. Given the injury happened towards the beginning of this month, Ball should be back in the next week or two. It seems like both he and the Hawks are being precautious. Both for the sake of his NBA career and for the sake of their season. It certainly isn't anything that should cost him any time come NBA training camp in the fall of 2020.

At the same time, missing these four weeks gives NBA teams less opportunities to watch him play and more importantly, he'll enter the NBA draft with this injury on his resume. Even though it doesn't seem like a big deal, NBA teams factor in everything when it comes to picking a player. You can bet they'll be asking him about his foot and doing their due diligence on that. Will it cause him slide in the draft? Probably not, but you never know. He could also suffer another seemingly minor setback that casts more seeds of doubt in the minds of NBA teams.

Overall, Ball's injury as I said isn't something to worry about. At least not right now. But it is something to be aware of when looking ahead to the 2020 NBA draft. All these little things matter. Especially when there's so much money and expectations on the line with each pick.

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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Saturday Slam: The Houston Rockets would be crazy to trade Russell Westbrook

                                         (Credit: David J. Phillip/Associated Press) 

Rumors have been swirling about the 21-10 Houston Rockets possibly trading Russell Westbrook. I don't know what the basis of these rumors are, but let me just say that if the Rockets did make such a move, they would be crazy to do so.

For starters, they just got Westbrook. They're not even half-way through their first season with him. It's way too early to tell whether or not he'll be the desired upgrade over Chris Paul that they were hoping he would be. When the whole reason for why you got him was to possibly win a championship, it would be foolish to trade him before you even play one playoff series with him.

Secondly, Westbrook is playing pretty well, averaging 24.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Those are very good numbers. It's not like he's stinking up the joint. He's bringing his hard hat to work every day and for the most part is doing everything one would expect from him.

Finally, the Rockets are right in the mix for the top seed in the Western Conference, just three games back of the 24-7 Los Angeles Lakers. If the Rockets were hovering around .500 and looking like a team that might miss the playoffs, maybe it would make sense for them to pull the trigger on such a move. Given they have a 67.7% winning percentage and are in the mix for the top seed in a very competitive Western Conference, it's hard to see a good reason for them to blow things up.

All of this is to say that the Rockets would be crazy to trade Russell Westbrook and I don't put much stock in these trade rumors. No situation is perfect and there's always going to be second guessing about offseason moves. But with how things are going, the Rockets don't have much reason to second guess the addition of Westbrook, making rumors of him being being traded likely ridiculous.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Wednesday Windmill: The Philadelphia 76ers gave the Milwaukee Bucks coal for Christmas

                                         (Credit: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports) 

On Christmas Day, the Philadelphia 76ers put the wood to the Milwaukee Bucks, defeating them 121-109. The 76ers hit a franchise record 21 3-pointers as Joel Embiid (31 points & 11 rebounds) and Tobias Harris (22 points) led the way. The 76ers improve to 23-10 while the Bucks fall to 27-5.

If you follow the NBA, you know the 76ers are good, so seeing them win against the Bucks at home shouldn't come as a shock. What is surprising though is the way in which they won. The 76ers aren't known to be much of a 3-point shooting team, so to see them go wild like they did from beyond the arc took everyone by surprise. Especially the Bucks.

As an extension of that, seeing them win so convincingly was surprising. Had they won by five points or fewer, one might even say that's what we should expect from a quality team playing at home on Christmas. But for them to dominate the Bucks and blow them out is another matter.

Even though this is just one game, the 76ers definitely sent a message to the Bucks and the rest of the Eastern Conference that they are a force to be reckoned with. That if they play like this with more regularity, they might represent the East in the NBA Finals.

Touching quickly on the Bucks, this game is disappointing, but nothing to get overly upset about. If you're them, you have to chalk this up as a bad game that you'll learn from. The Bucks have the best record in the NBA and should feel confident in their body of work. They also have the best player in the NBA in Giannis Antetokounmpo and are still the odds on favorites to win the East. No reason for them to freak out. Just move on to the next game and do a better job defending the perimeter.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Denver Nuggets are Mannheim Steamrolling into Christmas

                                         (Credit: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) 

As we head into Christmas Day, the Denver Nuggets have the hottest winning streak in the NBA, having won seven games in a row. They're now 21-8 and currently second in the Western Conference behind the 24-6 Los Angeles Lakers. On Christmas Day, they'll look to make it eight wins a row as they have the 8-23 New Orleans Pelicans coming to town. That game will close the NBA's five-game Christmas Day special.

Considering what we saw from the Nuggets last season, their success shouldn't be a surprise. They have five players scoring in double figures and two legitimate All-Star level players in Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. When you combine that kind of balance with All-Star talent, you have a recipe for success.

The only question for the Nuggets is whether or not Murray and Jokic are both ready to lead a team to a championship. They've proven their worth in the regular season but are still yet to prove their worth come playoff time. Like all young duos, they have to go through the fire and have their breakthrough moment. While their moment hasn't come yet, I have a feeling it's coming soon.

If you are tempted to skip out on Christmas Day's Nuggets/Pelicans game because it isn't as flashy as Lakers/Clippers, please reconsider your decision. The Nuggets are playing really good basketball and are putting themselves in a good position to get home court advantage through much of the NBA playoffs. If you're going to be sitting around the television Christmas night, please turn on the Nuggets and see basketball being played the right way. You won't regret it.

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Mock Draft Monday: Is it risky for James Wiseman to pull out of school?

                                          (Credit: AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht) 

Rather than accepting his suspension and returning to the Memphis Tigers in mid-January, James Wiseman has made the decision to withdraw from school and formally declare for the 2020 NBA draft. In my previous post on Wiseman (which you can read here), I wrote that Wiseman's NBA draft stock shouldn't be affected by his suspension. However, I was still assuming that he would return to school and give NBA scouts a chance to see what he can do.

By withdrawing from school, Wiseman is banking on his physical profile and overall potential doing the work for him to get picked in the top two of the 2020 NBA draft. The thought process is that playing in college only bears the risk of injury and that there's no upside in staying. Is that really true?

The answer is complicated. If you are certain to go #1 or #2 in the upcoming NBA draft, it's hard to argue against pulling out of school, training on your own, and avoiding the risk of injury. However, the key lies in being certain that you'll go #1 or #2. If your draft stock is more fluid, then it becomes trickier.

In the case of Wiseman, he appears to be right on the border. has him projected to go #2 at the moment, but he could slide down to #3 behind LaMelo Ball or even out of the top five if a couple guys in college (e.g. Dayton's Obi Toppin) really ball out. By sitting out this season, Wiseman is denying himself a chance to showcase himself against those guys and that could come back to haunt him on draft day.

The other issue of course is what teams will think of him for pulling out. Does it show a lack of competitive fire? Are they certain he'll play hard for them if he gets bruised up a bit in his rookie year? Will he instead want to sit out and avoid ruining his chance at a more lucrative contract down the road? Some teams may think that, which once again could hurt him.

To quickly sum this all up, is it risky for James Wiseman to pull out of school? The answer is yes, but if he feels confident enough in his skill set to get picked #1 or #2 in the 2020 NBA draft, it's worth it. Why risk getting injured and seeing your draft stock fall from #2 to #10? Worst case, Wiseman falls to #5 or #6, but that's like a doomsday scenario. In all likelihood, he's going at least #4. On top of that, he was already facing a suspension and would only be able to play for like 6 weeks. Wiseman is making the right move. I just hope he's making it while also calculating the risks that come with it.

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Saturday, December 21, 2019

Saturday Slam: Adam Silver's mid-season tournament idea makes no sense to me

                                         (Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

One of the more interesting stories floating around the NBA right now is commissioner Adam Silver's goofy idea of a mid-season tournament involving all 30 teams in some sort of round robin format that turns into a knockout tournament. The prize? $1M for each player on the winning team.

On the surface, it seems like a cool idea. I mean, who doesn't love tournaments, right? The problem with this tournament idea though, is it just doesn't make sense. How would it fit into the regular season standings as a whole? Would winning it guarantee a playoff spot? If not, why care? The NBA is all about June and winning the NBA Finals, something that this tournament doesn't seem to really fit into.

Adam Silver seems to think that having a tournament for the sake of a tournament is a good idea and I'm here to tell you that it isn't. Tournaments need to have meaning. Especially at the pro level. A cash prize isn't enough to give a tournament meaning.

Instead of adding a mid-season tournament, the NBA needs to look at tweaking the league format that they already have. For starters, eliminate conferences and give every team in the NBA a more balanced travel schedule. The Timberwolves, Thunder, Pelicans, and Grizzlies all have brutal travel schedules as the eastern most teams in the Western Conference. If you eliminate conferences, you could give those teams a travel schedule that is more fair and less imbalanced. I mean, the Timberwolves make three or four trips to Los Angeles every year and just one trip to Milwaukee. That's stupid.

As an extension of that, by eliminating conferences, that means the NBA could adopt a top-16 playoff format, making it so that the best teams in the NBA regardless of conference make the playoffs. A lot of fans have been pushing for this for a while and would totally embrace this change. It would create more playoff matchup possibilities and reward the better teams, creating a better playoff experience.

Another idea for the NBA is to do a tournament before the season starts and include teams from all across the globe. Add teams from Europe, China, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the world into one big maddening pre-season World Series of basketball kind of thing. Something like that might get eyeballs. If you're going to go creative, go creative to the max and really have some fun.

Lastly, the NBA can make the season more exciting by reducing the number of regular season games and the number of playoff games. Going back to best-of-five in the first round would be a great place to start. If each game had more meaning, that alone would make the season better.

Unless Adam Silver goes wild and adopts something like my World Series of basketball idea, he would be wise to look at more minor modifications to the season like eliminating conferences and going back to best-of-five in the first round of the playoffs. Sometimes less is more and simpler ideas are better.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wednesday Windmill: Are the Indiana Pacers a healthy Victor Oladipo away from winning the East?

                                          (Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images) 

On Tuesday, the Indiana Pacers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 105-102 at home, improving to 19-9 overall and 6th in the Eastern Conference. As has been a staple of theirs over the years, the Pacers have a pretty balanced scoring attack with five players scoring in double figures: Malcolm Brogdon (19.1 points per game), T.J. Warren (17.8 points per game), Domantas Sabonis (17.7 points per game), Jeremy Lamb (14.6 points per game), and Myles Turner (11.1 points per game). When you have so many different weapons, you're a very difficult team to stop both at home and on the road.

That all said, the Pacers appear to be lacking at least one additional weapon, which is where Victor Oladipo comes in. Oladipo hasn't played all season due to a knee injury and it remains unclear when he'll return. His absence is nothing small as he averaged 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game last season. He's their best player on paper.

The good news for the Pacers is that so far at least, they're playing really well without him. They're on pace to make the playoffs and are keeping themselves within striking distance of a top four seed in the East for when he returns. Assuming he does return this season and is able to play like his regular self, this Pacers team just might make a run at the Eastern Conference crown.

What makes Oladipo so good is that he's a complete two-way player. It's not just the points. It's the rebounding, the assists, and the steals. He does a little bit of everything and knows how to get it done on both ends of the floor. Guys like him are invaluable and truly make a difference on their teams. He's the kind of player every coach wishes that they had.

When talking about which teams could come out of the East this year, don't sleep on the Pacers. They're already one of the better teams in the league and are still awaiting the return of their best player. That should have everyone in the East on notice.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: How will the return of De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III affect the Sacramento Kings?

                                         (Credit: Getty Images) 

After both being out for an extended period of time due to injury, De'Aaron Fox (18.2 points & 7.0 assists) and Marvin Bagley III (13.0 points & 7.3 rebounds) are back for the Sacramento Kings. Tonight, the Kings lost on the road at Charlotte, but got solid production from their two young stars off the bench. Fox finishing with 19 points and 8 assists and Bagley finishing with 14 points and 7 rebounds.

At this moment, the Kings are 8th in the Western Conference standings with a 12-15 record. Considering that they are currently in the top eight despite having gone without Fox and Bagley for most of the season, the Kings should feel good about how their season has been going. It stands to reason that with them now back, the Kings shouldn't just be eying a playoff berth, they should be looking to climb up the Western Conference playoff ladder.

In addition to having Fox and Bagley back, the Kings also have the advantage of a favorable home schedule. Of their first 27 games, they've only played 11 games at home and will play two more road games at Indiana and at Memphis before returning home to face the Rockets on December 23rd. That means that of their first 29 games, 18 of those games will have been on the road. For them to navigate such a tough early schedule without Fox and Bagley is pretty impressive and should give them a lot of confidence.

That all said, climbing up the standings won't be easy for this young Kings team. The Suns, Trail Blazers, and Timberwolves are all nipping at their heels and it's not like the Jazz, Rockets, and Nuggets are just going to go belly-up. The Kings will have to earn it.

Over the next several weeks, we're going to find out what this Kings team is really made of. They've weathered a tough storm and now have two of their better players returning with a favorable home schedule. If they can't take advantage of what they have in front of them, this is going to be a really disappointing season in Sacramento.

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Monday, December 16, 2019

Mock Draft Monday: Going to the Golden State Warriors offers the best of both worlds

If you head over to, a site that I contribute to during the months leading up to the NBA draft, you'll notice that the Golden State Warriors are currently projected to get the top pick in 2020. Of course, one cannot predict the lottery and how that will shake out, but regardless, at the rate they're going, the 5-23 Warriors are going to end up with a really nice draft pick.

Typically, most teams picking in the top five of the NBA draft are rebuilding and a few years away at least from being serious contenders. The Warriors are an exception as they were in the NBA finals last season. They are only in tank mode due to Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry both getting injured. Come the 2020-21 season, both guys should be back to full strength and ready to gun for another championship alongside the help of a top rookie.

If you are one who is gifted enough to see themselves at the top of these mock draft boards, you have to be praying to go to the Warriors. You'll get paid top rookie money and not have to be a part of a long rebuilding process. Instead, you'll instantly get to be a part of a team that is eager to get back to the NBA finals.

As for what kind of rookie the Warriors should be targeting, they could use more help in the front court, making Memphis big man James Wiseman and Duke big man Vernon Carey logical targets. Given the presence of Thompson and Curry, it wouldn't make sense for the Warriors to go with a point guard or a wing unless they really fall in love with one. Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards might turn out to be such a wing.

As we head into 2020, it will be interesting to see how the Warriors do and if they fully embrace tanking. I wrote a blog post earlier about how they should do that and given where they are in the standings right now, it looks like they're taking my advice to heart. It kind of sucks for Warriors fans to watch their team struggle to this degree, but with Thompson and Curry set to return next year alongside a lottery pick, the future remains bright.

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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Saturday Slam: The Los Angeles Clippers are starting to gel

                                         (Credit: Sports Illustrated) 

In last week's Saturday Slam piece, I wrote about the Los Angeles Lakers. This week I'm writing about the team who they share the same building with: The Los Angeles Clippers. At 20-7, the Clippers are just 3.5 games back of the 23-3 Lakers and starting to look like the team we all thought they would be.

On Friday night in Minnesota, Paul George (46 points) and Kawhi Leonard (42 points) became the first duo in franchise history to each score 40+ points in a game, guiding the Clippers to their fourth straight win. The two of them are forming a really scary tandem, capable of scoring, rebounding, and playing elite defense.

Around George and Leonard is a killer supporting cast in Lou Williams (19.9 points & 6.2 assists), Montrezl Harrell (18.7 points & 7.6 rebounds), Landry Shamet (9.1 points), and Patrick Beverley (7.8 points & 1.5 steals). These four guys are the glue. The ones who really make the engine go.

As we saw last year, these guys were capable of playing winning basketball before George and Leonard arrived. They just didn't have enough to go all the way. What George and Leonard are able to give the Clippers is that extra boost to become a true championship contender. In addition to having a steak, you need a little sizzle to win an NBA championship and the Clippers have that now.

While the Lakers are the favorites to come out of the West, the one team they should be keeping a close eye on is the Clippers. The Clippers have a legitimate one-two punch in George and Leonard, a great supporting cast, and toughness. Harrell and Beverley are the kind of players who won't back down to anyone and after what we saw him do in the NBA Finals last season, there's no reason to think Leonard is afraid of anyone, either. It's going to be fun to see what they do in 2020.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Wednesday Windmill: The New York Knicks are a total joke

After making the decision to fire head coach David Fizdale, the New York Knicks once again confirmed that they are a total joke. At 4-20, they sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, acting like coaching and not their lame roster, is the problem. The Knicks have four players who I think are actually worth anything: RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Marcus Morris, and Julius Randle. That's it. The rest of the roster is trash and can be done away with. Even those four guys, while solid, aren't nearly enough to field a competitive team.

By firing Fizdale, the Knicks are neglecting to acknowledge what's really going on here. They keep making dumb decisions in free agency and in the draft. They don't know how to build a cohesive roster and instead throw darts at a wall, hoping something sticks. It's pathetic and an embarrassment.

What's sad is that the Knicks are such an iconic NBA franchise playing in the most iconic basketball arena in the world: Madison Square Garden. If the New Orleans Pelicans toiled in obscurity for 10+ years, nobody would give a damn. But the Knicks? They're a team a lot of people care about. Both fans of the team and the NBA as a whole. If the Knicks are competitive, even remotely competitive, there's an added buzz to the league that makes it all the more fun.

That isn't to stay the NBA should give the Knicks any extra breaks. The Knicks need to figure this out on their own and get their act together. Ultimately, this comes down to ownership. James Dolan is a clown of an owner and might as well have bubbles coming out of his fanny. He's a complete embarrassment to the league and should resign from his position. So long as he remains at the helm, the Knicks will continue to be a laughingstock. There really isn't anything more that needs to be said.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: Luka Doncic isn't Michael Jordan, but he's damn good

                                         (Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) 

On Sunday, Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic finished with 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists in his team's 110-106 loss to the Sacramento Kings. While his team lost the game, he did surpass Michael Jordan for most consecutive games with at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists since the NBA/ABA merger. Jordan's record was 18 games and Doncic now has 19 games achieving the feat. For your reference, Oscar Robertson had 29 games of 20/5/5, but it was before the merger.

Scottie Pippen, who has turned into an apologist of sorts for his 90s Bulls teams, made a statement to TMZ about how Doncic can't be compared to Jordan because he doesn't have six rings: "He got six titles yet?!" The question Pippen was asked was whether or not he sees any of MJ's game in Doncic. It's actually a pretty fair question. Instead of giving a good response, Pippen gave one of his pompous "I'm not the GOAT, but I played with the GOAT, so that makes me more important than you and your silly question" answers. It's annoying. I understand MJ is the greatest basketball player of all-time, but that doesn't mean he can't ever be compared to anybody.

Look, it's highly unlikely that anyone will come along who matches MJ's overall impact on the sport. A major reason for that is timing. MJ came along in an era in which the NBA had most of its fan base in the United States. Thanks to him, the NBA became much more popular worldwide. No matter how good someone else is, they'll never be able to replicate that same impact. On top of that, it's highly unlikely, though not impossible, that someone else will lead a team to six NBA championships in the same decade without losing in the finals. Maybe someone will come along and win seven, but the odds of that are really low.

That isn't to say Doncic can't put his own stamp on basketball. We need to stop looking for the next Michael Jordan because there's only one Michael Jordan. We need to instead appreciate what other great players bring to the table and cherish what they're accomplishing.

While he isn't Michael Jordan, Luka Doncic is damn good. He's one of the most versatile players we've seen and he's only in his second season. So long as he keeps playing like he is, he'll make the Basketball Hall of Fame and go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest player of his generation. As tempting as it is to compare him to those that came before him, we need to do our best to live in the present and admire what he's doing for its own sake.

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Monday, December 9, 2019

Mock Draft Monday: Cavaliers players are frustrated by John Beilein's college style

                                          (Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) 

This blog post may not seem related to the NBA draft or rookies, but it does involve a rookie head coach who is coming from the college ranks. In case you haven't heard the news, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein is reportedly receiving backlash from his players. Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic have the details (Click here to check out the full article):

"Cavaliers players are bristling at new coach John Beilein because he’s treating this season like they, and he, are still in college, numerous sources told The Athletic.
It’s already gotten to the point where players are looking past Beilein to his lead assistant, J.B. Bickerstaff, for guidance, those sources said.
Grievances include his nitpicking over basic fundamentals, too much harping in lengthy film sessions, not enough versatility on offense, and a broader lack of understanding of the NBA game and opposing players."

The article includes quotes from multiple players, one of which says: "Our assistants are definitely more prepared for the NBA." That's a pretty scathing quote.

We've seen this movie before: Successful college coach seeks new challenge in the NBA. Gets fired. Ends up back in college, coaching at a lesser school. Anyone remember what happened to Rick Pitino?

I'm not saying John Beilein's decision to leave Michigan for the Cleveland Cavaliers will result in him getting fired and ending on the bench at say Winthrop, but what I am saying is there is a history of college coaches not able to find success in the NBA. What I want to unpack in this post is why is this such a common trend? I mean, basketball is basketball, right?

I think that line of thinking is actually the first problem that college coaches encounter. They think basketball is basketball and that when they get to the NBA, they can approach things the same way they did in college. What makes this line of thinking dangerous for college coaches is that while basketball is basketball, the NBA is a whole different brand of basketball. NBA players are the very best in the world and they demand to be treated as such.

In college, if your players start to act up, you can demand respect by reminding them that they're not in the NBA. You can play the whole "You're in college to get an education and prepare for the NBA" card.  In the NBA, there's no higher level that you can tell these players to strive towards. They've made it and as such feel entitled to being treated like multimillionaire superstars. Even if they're on a rookie contract.

Beilein seems naïve to this reality and is getting chewed up as a result. In college, your players have to respect you because you're their coach. In the NBA, it's the other way around. You have to respect the players because you've been given this amazing opportunity to coach them. They don't have to listen to you and quite honestly, they have better job security than you do. Especially if they're really good.

The bottom line, assuming these reports are correct, is that Beilein needs to wake up and realize that he's not in Kansas anymore. Coaching NBA players is possible, but you have to do so through the lens of letting them know that you know just how freaking gifted they are at basketball. I don't mean that in a sarcastic way. NBA players legitimately are ridiculously gifted. There's a reason they are where they are and other basketball players are not. If Beilein can start to make his players feel more valued and respected because of where they are, then he might start to find success. If instead he continues to harp on them and make them feel like they're in college, his NBA coaching days will end real quick.

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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Saturday Slam: Can anyone stop the Los Angeles Lakers?

                                         (Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports) 

It didn't take long for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to find synergy on the basketball court. The newly formed Los Angeles Lakers are 20-3, having won 9 of their last 10 games. I got a chance to watch the Lakers a bit this week as they defeated the Utah Jazz 121-96 in Salt Lake City on Wednesday and the Portland Trail Blazers 136-113 in Portland on Friday.

What really stood out to me is how effortlessly they dominated. James and Davis looked like they were out there on the playground having fun while Dwight Howard was prancing around like a happy little kid as he blocked shots, grabbed rebounds, and even made a 3-pointer. Watching James and Davis execute a pick and roll is a thing of beauty and also very frightening for opposing teams. When they get it going, it's hard to see anyone stopping them.

In addition to having a superstar duo in James and Davis, the Lakers have a really good supporting cast around them in Howard, Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, and JaVale McGee. Aside from Kuzma, that's a pretty veteran group and it shows in how well they play.

While the Lakers have a lot of depth, it really is James and Davis that are making them go. James is averaging 25.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 10.7 assists per game, and 1.3 steals per game while Davis is averaging 26.6 points per game, 9.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 2.7 blocks. Both are putting themselves in the MVP conversation and playing some of the best basketball of their careers. Especially Davis.

At this point, the only thing I can see slowing down the Lakers is the grind of the NBA season. If Davis catches the injury bug and others get banged up, there is a real chance some other team comes out of the West. Otherwise, this is the Lakers' to lose. They have two of the top five players in the NBA and are already playing like a cohesive team. If you are the rest of the NBA, you should be very afraid.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Wednesday Windmill: The Milwaukee Bucks are lighting up the East

                                         (Quinn Harris/Getty Images) 

The Milwaukee Bucks currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with an 18-3 record, having won 12 straight games. That's their best winning streak since the 1981-82 season. Giannis Antetokounmpo leads this Bucks team with 30.8 points, 13.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game, truly living up to his nickname: "The Greek Freak."

In an Eastern Conference that has appeared to be wide open, the Bucks are coming out and reminding everyone that they are the team to beat. They had home court advantage last year and are eager to reclaim it once again. Even though it's only December, the Bucks are making a definitive statement with this winning streak. I don't care what month it is. Having a double digit winning streak is mighty impressive.

The main question surrounding this Bucks team is whether or not Giannis can keep up at this frenetic pace for the entire season. If he can, the Bucks will be playing in June. If not, their lack of depth could hurt them. They lost a really good shooting guard in Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers and it's unclear if they will be able to make up the difference in the long run. So far, it appears to be working out, but the season is still young.

The other question is whether or not they'll be able to handle the pressure come playoff time if they do get home court advantage. Regular season success is one thing while playoff success is another. Right now, the Bucks are showing that they are a great regular season team, but as we've seen in NBA history, being great in the regular season doesn't always translate to playoff success. Just ask the 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks and 2001-02 Sacramento Kings.

Regardless, what the Bucks are doing deserves recognition. They have the best winning streak in the NBA and are on track to rack up at least a few more wins before it ends. While it may seem like a cute little mantra, "Fear the Deer" carries real meaning in today's NBA.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: Carmelo Anthony is having a renaissance in Portland

                                         (Alika Jenner/Getty Images) 

The big news in the NBA this week is Carmelo Anthony picking up Western Conference Player of the Week honors. After looking like his career was dead in the water, Melo has risen out of the ashes of basketball obscurity like a phoenix, averaging 17.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game during his first six games with the Portland Trail Blazers. As you can tell by his expression in the above photo, he is genuinely out there having fun.

For all the criticisms he has gotten for being a ball hog and not a team player, Melo has actually been a pretty stand up dude for his entire career. He's stayed out of trouble and has been a class act. He's been supportive of LeBron James who he came into the league with and genuinely doesn't seem to be comparing himself to other people. That is quite refreshing.

If there's anything we've learned from Melo's comeback, it's that the basketball world missed his presence. He's been one of the best and brightest stars in the NBA for the last 15 years and has done a lot more for the game than he gets credit for. That's why we're all so happy to have him back!

As for whether or not he'll continue to have this renaissance, I don't see why not. Getting buckets is what he does best and Portland seems to have created a perfect environment for him to do so. He just needed to find the right fit.

Lastly, Melo definitely didn't deserve to go out on a sour note, so in that vein it's great to see him having success again. At this point, he's made all of his money and honestly doesn't have anything left to prove. He's just playing for the love of the game and out there having a good time. I think that's something we can all get behind.

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Monday, December 2, 2019

Mock Draft Monday: Could Zion Williamson still win Rookie of the Year?

                                          (AP Photo/Steve Marcus) 

When Zion Williamson was drafted #1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in June's draft, he was the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors. 20 games into his rookie year, Williamson is yet to play in a regular season game as he is recovering from right knee (meniscus) surgery. It's also unclear when he'll make his regular season debut, though the vibe seems to be sometime this month.

Even if he does return by the end of the month, he will have missed over 25% of the regular season, which could ruin his chances of winning Rookie of the Year. Especially when rookies like Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies), Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards), R.J. Barrett (New York Knicks), and others have been playing really well. At this point, odds of Zion winning Rookie of the Year honors seem slim. Especially since his return date is still up-in-the-air.

That said, it's not impossible, at least in my view, for him to still win the award. For starters, Morant just went down with back spasms and is listed as week-to-week. It is possible that other rookies get hurt and miss some time as well. If Williamson can play at least 50 games this year and really ball out, it's conceivable that he puts himself back in the conversation.

Secondly, NBA awards have had a history of not making sense. The fact that Steve Nash has two MVPs while Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal each have one is a perfect example. We also have had weird debates about whether or not a guy who misses his rookie year is eligible to win the award in his sophomore year. Ben Simmons vs. Donovan Mitchell was the most recent example of that. Even with more deserving candidates, it is possible that members of the media defy all common sense and still give him the award even if he plays only like half the season. They've done it before, so what's stopping them from doing it again?

Lastly, it's possible no other rookie makes a really strong case to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. We could find ourselves in a situation come April where Zion has played the best out of every rookie when looking at the per game stats while no individual rookie has made a strong enough case for them to win the award over everyone else. In other words, it could be a Zion versus the field kind of deal. If we find ourselves in that kind of situation, where the ONLY thing holding Zion back is his lack of games played, he might still sneak out with the award.

While I do think the odds are stacked against Zion and that he probably won't win Rookie of the Year, don't totally count out the possibility. There's still plenty of basketball left and thus opportunities for him to work himself back into the conversation. If he does come back in a reasonable time frame and plays really well, we could be in for some really interesting debates in the second half of the season.

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