NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday Slam: It's about time the Los Angeles Clippers get their own arena

                                          (Credit: Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Earlier this week, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer purchased the Forum in Inglewood, California for a cool $400M from The Madison Square Garden Company. This purchase helps pave the way for the Clippers to get their own arena in Inglewood. It should be noted that the Forum isn't being torn down and will remain as a concert venue. However, the Clippers' new arena will also be able to serve as a concert venue, making it competition to the Forum. That is, unless the Forum and the Clippers new arena are owned by the same company. So, in case you were wondering why Ballmer needed to purchase the Forum, that's why.

As for the title of this blog post, it really is about time the Clippers finally get their own arena in Los Angeles. I've believed for the longest time that the Clippers should have their own arena and have wondered why they didn't move into the Honda Center (home of the NHL's Anaheim Ducks) years ago.

During their entire time in the Staples Center, the Clippers have been second fiddle to the Lakers. At times it's almost been awkward. There was the whole controversy of them putting black drapes over Lakers banners during their home games to get some distance from their more successful co-tenants. But no matter how many drapes they put up in the Staples Center or whatever other moves they make, so long as they play in the Staples Center, the Clippers will always be the B-team in Los Angeles.

But by finally having plans to have an arena all to themselves, the Clippers can finally establish their own identity that is separate from the Lakers. Especially since they'll be in a different part of town. Typically, I'm not a fan of all these teams getting new arenas, but the Clippers are one team that I feel really needs to get a new home that they can truly call their own. It's the principle of the thing.

What also helps is that with Ballmer at the helm, the Clippers are actually putting a competitive product on the floor. These aren't the Clippers of the 1990s and 2000s that were dismal. They're finally a championship contending team and should treat themselves as such by getting their own arena.

As for when the arena is scheduled to be completed, per Wikipedia, construction is supposed to begin in 2021 with a completion date in the fall of 2024. So if you're a Clippers fan that is nostalgic for the Staples Center era, you have at least a few more years to enjoy it. However, I bet that most Clippers fans can hardly contain their excitement for this new arena and are eager to say goodbye to the Staples Center. Saying goodbye is often hard, but in this instance, saying goodbye will be a feeling of sweet relief for the Clippers and their loyal fans.

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Saturday Slam: Now is the time for Adam Silver to push for his wacky tournament idea

                                                (Credit: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images)

With the future of the 2019-20 NBA season up-in-the-air due to coronavirus/COVID-19, now is the time for NBA commissioner Adam Silver to push for his wacky tournament idea. Maybe not right now since player safety and all that jazz should be priority number one, but right after that, Silver has to be licking his chops to make his idea for an NBA tournament a reality.

The reason why now is the time is because the whole season is in peril and it's unclear how it can be saved without ending the season in say August or September. The NBA shouldn't want to get too out of synch with their yearly calendar, making a tournament an exciting and efficient way to expedite the season, save it, and get things back to normal as soon as possible.

As it stands, NBA teams have played around 65 games at this point of the year. E.g. Milwaukee Bucks (53-12). The NBA could still aim to finish the full 82 games, but instead of having a best of seven series for each round of the playoffs, they could do something crazy like invite all 30 teams to a round robin tournament that culminates in a knockout stage that is single elimination until the NBA Finals. It would be a fun substitute for March Madness in a year that has deprived us of the most exciting tournament in sports.

Like, really think about that for a second. A single elimination NBA tournament! Think of how intense each game would be! Especially if you opened the doors for say the Cleveland Cavaliers to get a shot at the title.

Such an idea seems crazy, but given the current climate we are in, now is the time to try something of this nature and see how things go. I'm not saying the NBA should permanently switch to a tournament model in future seasons. But, what I am saying is that if Adam Silver is serious about that kind of format becoming a reality, what better season to try such an experiment than this year? The fans would love it, the players would love it, and it would make the 2019-20 season fun and memorable in a good way. Even if it's just a one-time thing that gets scrapped and never used again.

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Saturday Slam: Making sense of how coronavirus is affecting the hoops world


One of the main industries that has been affected by the coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19, is sports. Especially sports that are in season. Basketball in particular has taken a hit as the NBA has suspended its season for 30 days while the NCAA Tournament has been canceled. What's been weird to see is how everything went from "we'll play the games and see how things play out" to "we'll play the games with no fans and only essential personnel" to "shut it down, let's go home" to borrow the words of Dirk Nowitzki.

I understand we need to take this virus seriously, wash our hands more often, stay inside if we feel sick, but what exactly accounts for the rapid change in approaches? Did the virus suddenly become more dangerous? Did the virus team up with the Black Plague? What happened? There's not really a good answer to that question.

The only thing that seems to have tipped everything is the news that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell both have the coronavirus. It was actually Gobert testing positive that set everything in motion. It wasn't until later that we also learned about Mitchell. As soon as Gobert tested positive, the Jazz-Thunder game at Oklahoma City was suspended and then the NBA immediately decided to suspend its season.

From there, the Pac-12, SEC, Big East, and other NCAA conferences made the decision to cancel their tournaments. After that, the NCAA decided to cancel the NCAA Tournament, ruining that one shining moment that every college basketball player dreams about. From there, the NHL made the decision to suspend their season and now we find ourselves in a world where every major sports league from golf to tennis to soccer to baseball is suspended indefinitely. On top of that, the schools are all shutting down, etc.



One has to wonder if Rudy Gobert hadn't tested positive if the NCAA Tournament would still be planned to be played in front of no fans. I'm not blaming Gobert. It's not his fault. But it is a fact that his positive test for coronavirus seems to have been the one singular event that tipped everything over the edge both in the world of sports and the world at large.

It's a little ironic in that earlier in the week Gobert was joking about how the whole virus was being blown out of proportion, touching microphones and all to prove a point. I sympathize with his feelings, but there's a lesson here. If you think something like this is absurd, keep it to yourself. Otherwise, your actions may come back to haunt you.


But anyways, moving on from Gobert, we now live in a world where the NBA has been suspended for at least 30 days while the NCAA Tournament has been canceled. As a basketball fan, it's incredibly frustrating. The NCAA Tournament in particular is a special event and to have it called off just feels wrong. It's like a big part of our year has been sucked down the drain and there's nothing we can do about it aside from voice our complaints and hope somebody more important than us takes our complaints seriously.

Personally, I wish the NCAA Tournament would instead plan to resume in May or something along those lines. The NBA can change the date of its draft to accommodate those that want to play in the tournament while the NCAA I think can make a one-time exception given these unique circumstances. Jay Bilas expressed frustration about this very point earlier in the week. Like, why cancel? Why not postpone? Why not at least leave the door open for the tournament to resume? If canceling is necessary, why is that the only option?

The NCAA needs to give us an answer because so far, they've handled this whole thing very poorly. To go from "we'll play with no fans" to  "we're not playing at all" thing is just silly. It shows nobody knows what's actually going on and everyone is just hopping on the bandwagon to cancel stuff because it's the only course of action they can think of or are willing to follow through with.

Anyways, I hope this all blows over sooner than later. People are being affected in a very real way by this. They're losing money, losing work, etc. We as a society need to come together to mitigate the damage as much as possible. That's why it's nice to see Zion Williamson, Kevin Love, and many NBA and NHL team owners volunteer to pay the expenses of those who work at these games while they're out of work. It's a very nice gesture and is the kind of gesture that's going to get us through this.

For those that are reading this, my final piece of advice to all of you is to stay calm. Don't chug bleach and freak out. Wash your hands more, stay inside if you are feeling sick, and keep a safe distance from people. That is a good place to start. But don't be afraid to go outside and maybe help a small business in your neighborhood by buying a cup of coffee or a sandwich. Sanity and calmness will get us through this. Panic and hysteria will only make things worse. Be part of the solution and not the problem. If you know people that are freaking out, don't make fun of them. Help them. Try to calm them down. Simple acts of kindness will go a long ways.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Tomahawk Tuesday: It's nice to have Stephen Curry back

                                         (Credit: Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters) 

On Thursday, March 5th, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry returned to the lineup against the Toronto Raptors, finishing with 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. The Raptors won the game 121-113, reminding us that they are indeed contenders to the win the NBA championship despite no longer having Kawhi Leonard. But the big story of the night was the return of Curry, who had missed 58 games due to a broken left hand. Curry has since missed the last couple of games with the flu, but is expected to be back on Thursday against the Nets.

What I wanted to quickly do in this blog post is express my gratitude that Curry is back. Whether you are a fan of the Warriors or not, chances are you've been entertained by Curry's wizardry on a basketball court. His incredible dribbling moves, his wide array of shot making, and ability to leave your jaw on the floor in sheer awe. Curry is a gift to the game of basketball and I for one am glad to have him back. Even if we won't see him in the playoffs this year.

Hopefully Curry will be able to play out the rest of this season and give us a taste of what's to come next year when Klay Thompson returns to the fold. This Warriors team isn't done contending for championships yet and provided they get their key pieces back, they should be a force next year and beyond. So to some extent, the rest of the NBA should enjoy this year while they have it because next year, the Warriors are going to be back to their usual tricks.

One final thought is that we never know how long these great basketball players are with us. While most of them are with us for a very long time, sometimes we sadly lose them before we are ready to say goodbye. In that vein, I just want to say that I'm glad we got Steph back, I'm glad he's healthy, and I hope he has many more years ahead of him where he can entertain us and remind us why he's one of the most unique talents to ever step on a basketball court.

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Mock Draft Monday: How good is Obi Toppin?

                                          (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports) 

A guy I've been meaning to address sooner on here is Dayton sophomore forward Obi Toppin, who is averaging 19.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Toppin is projected to be a top three pick according to my guys at NBADraft.net and has the Flyers ranked #3 in the country. Admittedly, I haven't watched a ton of Toppin but from the film I've seen of him, he looks to be the real deal.

For starters, he has great physical tools. At 6'9", 220 pounds, he is light on his feet, runs the floor like a gazelle, and really excels in the pick and roll. He is perfect to catch lobs from point guards and throw it down a la Blake Griffin. He has good hands and has all the pieces to be a killer power forward in the NBA.

Secondly, Toppin is a pretty good 3-point shooter, shooting 41.6% from 3-point range during his two years at Dayton. He shot 52.4% his freshman year on .6 attempts per game and is shooting 38.8% this year on 2.8 attempts per game. It's natural for guys to see a dip in their percentage when they start to shoot more threes since they're not being as timid with their shot selection. Perhaps he could improve his shot selection a bit, but even so, his 38.8% shooting is pretty good in and of itself.

Finally, Toppin is comfortable being the man on a championship contending team. As it stands, the Flyers are projected to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and they'll go as far as Toppin can take them. So far, he has proven to be up to the challenge of being the main player on his team and accepting the pressures that come along with it. If he can lead Dayton to a national title, that will bode very well for his draft stock, potentially making him the top pick in the draft.

The bottom line is Obi Toppin has all the pieces to be a really good player in the NBA. He has the physical tools, he has the skill, and he has the intangibles. I look forward to seeing what he does in March and whether or not he can lead the Flyers to a national championship.

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Mamba Monday: An emotional memorial service at Staples Center honoring Kobe Bryant

                                          (Credit: Kevork Dejansezian/Getty Images) 

On Monday, there was an emotional memorial service honoring the life of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. The service was a reminder of how amazingly driven Bryant was and the passion he had for basketball and life. I want to keep my words on here brief since I feel the words spoken by Michael Jordan and Sabrina Ionescu do a better job of expressing just how much Bryant meant to the game of basketball. Below are both of their speeches. I encourage you to watch them and be inspired by the messages that were said.







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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Saturday Slam: The Cleveland Cavaliers are a mess after letting John Beilein go


(Credit: Tony Dejak/Associated Press) 

The big news story of the week in the NBA is the Cleveland Cavaliers parting ways with their head coach John Beilein, who didn't even get a chance to finish year one of his contract. The official report is that Beilein resigned and is being given a new role in the organization. J.B. Bickerstaff has been promoted from assistant coach to head coach. Just so we're clear on that. 

The Beilein era didn't go as the Cavaliers hoped. They went an abysmal 14-40 during his brief stint as head coach and all along the way there were reports of tension and frustration from both the players and Beilein. The nut of it is Beilein took an old-school college approach to the NBA and it backfired in his face. A lot of what players were complaining about is what you would expect a good basketball coach to do: Practice hard, watch a lot of film, etc. 

Unfortunately, that old-school approach works better in college where players aren't getting paid and are not yet in the NBA. Sadly, in the NBA you have a lot of players who act entitled and think they're better than they actually are. Charles Barkley sounded off on this below. 



Now don't get me wrong, NBA players are incredibly gifted athletes and basketball players. That's why they're there. However, that doesn't mean they don't still have to work hard and perfect their craft. It would be one thing if the Cavaliers had a bona fide superstar on their team. Someone who could mentor the younger players like Collin Sexton to make it clear that being in the NBA doesn't mean you stop watching film and practicing hard.

The players that have been complaining about Beilein (e.g. Andre Drummond who just got to Cleveland) haven't accomplished much in their careers in terms of team success. They're great individual talents, but they haven't figured out how to play as a team. That's where a good coach like Beilein is supposed to help.

Ultimately, what's happened in Cleveland rests on the shoulders of their front office. Namely general manager Koby Altman. You can't hire a coach and then not even have him complete his first year. That's embarrassing. You need to send a message to your players that they can't just blame their coach for all their problems. Their job is to play basketball and they need to treat it as such.

In the event that Beilein truly wasn't a good fit and not cut out for the NBA, that also is a bad look for management. If he was as much of a disaster as the players want us to think he was, then that means he was a bad hire and shouldn't have been offered a job in the first place. Given his track record at Michigan, I have a hard time believing he's as bad as they say he is. Even though the NBA game is different, it's still the same sport.

Going forward, the Cavaliers need to do some soul searching as an organization after the way this all went down. Their front office needs to seriously evaluate if they have the right players to right the ship and whether or not Bickerstaff is the man for the job. There are lots of questions that need to be asked by the Cavaliers and they're not easy questions to have to ask yourself. The Cavaliers are a mess right now and it's unclear how they'll get themselves out of it.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wednesday Windmill: The Toronto Raptors are legit contenders


The Toronto Raptors' 15 game winning streak came to an end on Wednesday as they lost to the Brooklyn Nets 101-91 in Brooklyn. It was the longest winning streak in franchise history. The Raptors are now 40-15, just 6.5 games back of the 46-8 Milwaukee Bucks.

Earlier in the year, I wrote about how we shouldn't sleep on this Raptors team and it looks like I was right. What I like about them is their combination of depth and stardom. Pascal Siakam (23.7 points & 7.5 rebounds) is a legit star with a great supporting cast around him in Kyle Lowry, Fred Vanvleet, Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, and Marc Gasol. The only guy in that group not scoring in double figures on average is Gasol. The rest of those guys are. That's six guys scoring in double figures every night! That's just scary!

Most assumed that with the departure of Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors would sink back into the middle of the Eastern Conference standings and maybe win a playoff series if they caught a break. What made me doubt those assumptions is what I said above. I felt Siakam had the pieces to be the face of the franchise and that he had a really good supporting cast around him. On top of that, as sensational as Leonard was last year, people forget that it really was a team effort to bring the first NBA championship to Toronto. Everyone contributed. It wasn't just Leonard.

Emboldened by winning a title with the help of Leonard, the Raptors now have the confidence to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the NBA. Especially the rest of the Eastern Conference. With the way they've been playing, they shouldn't be afraid of anyone.

As for whether or not the Raptors win the NBA championship, I would be lying to you if I told you I thought they would win it all again. When you lose a guy as good as The Claw, it's hard to defend an NBA championship. Most teams who lost a guy of his caliber would be in rebuilding mode or at least not contending for another title. That said, the fact that the Raptors are contending once again does give me hope that they might repeat or at the very least come out of the East once more. The only team standing in their way is the Bucks and as good as they've been in the regular season, there's reason to doubt their ability to get it done come playoff time.

If the Raptors keep playing like they've been and the Bucks falter a bit, don't be surprised to see them back in the NBA Finals. They have a new star in Siakam, a quality supporting cast around him, and experience. We The North isn't done just yet.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tomahawk Tuesday: Marcus Morris should be a good fit for the Los Angeles Clippers

                                         (Credit: Tony Dejak/Associated Press) 


At the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Clippers acquired Marcus Morris from the New York Knicks in a 3-way deal that also included the Washington Wizards. In case you are wondering, the Clippers do not intend to keep Isaiah Thomas, who was included in the deal.

Morris was averaging 19.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season with the Knicks as their leading scorer. With the Clippers, he will be asked to play much more of a support role as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are their top two options while Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are their third and fourth options. As a quick digression, it says a lot about how bad the Knicks are that their top scorer would be a fifth option on a contending team!


As I said above, what Morris brings to this Clippers team is additional depth. He can score and he can rebound. That's pretty much it, but that's all the Clippers really need more of. He should be able to take a little bit of pressure off their top four scorers and be an extra body in case one of them goes down.

Make no mistake, this move was made squarely for the Clippers' playoff push. He's on an expiring contract and it's no guarantee that he even re-signs with them in the offseason. The Clippers are using him as a short-term rental that can hopefully lift them ahead of their rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Personally, I feel Marcus Morris should be a good fit for this Clippers team. He should be able to give George, Leonard, and Harrell more time to rest while also producing at a high clip when he's in the game. While the Clippers' move for Morris was overshadowed by some other deals that were made, we may look back at their move as the most impactful one in terms of what happens come playoff time.

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Mock Draft Monday: Are the Minnesota Timberwolves one good draft pick away from being good?



The most notable trade the Minnesota Timberwolves made at the trade deadline was the trade they made to land D'Angelo Russell from the Golden State Warriors. By getting a ball dominant All-Star level guard to play with their franchise center Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves feel they are back in business. Or at least close to being back in business.


One other piece of the puzzle for the Timberwolves is whoever they draft in the 2020 NBA draft. At the moment, they are projected to get the #5 pick, which means there is the real possibility that they could land the #1 pick in the lottery. Even if they don't get the #1 pick, they're still positioned well to add a really talented player to their team next year. I like Georgia freshman guard Anthony Edwards a lot and think he would be a great addition to this young Wolves team. You give them a talented shooting guard alongside Russell and they really could be cooking with gas.

Of course, Edwards isn't the only rookie that could fill that need for them. Washington freshman small forward Jaden McDaniels is another great option for the Wolves that should be available if they are picking 5th. He would bring athleticism out on the wing and also play well alongside Russell in the backcourt.

                                          (Credit: Frank Gunn. Canadian Press) 

The Timberwolves injected some new life into their team by getting Russell and can now look ahead to the 2020 NBA draft with some additional excitement. Over these next few months, their front office needs to do their due diligence to make sure they find the right fit for their team and prepare for the likelihood that they don't get a top three pick. Provided they do that, their future looks to be very bright.

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Saturday, February 8, 2020

Saturday Slam: Will Andrew Wiggins thrive in Golden State?

                                          (Credit: John Hefti-Associated Press) 


The biggest trade made at the deadline was the Minnesota Timberwolves trading Andrew Wiggins to the Golden State Warriors, getting D'Angelo Russell back in return.


When the Warriors got Russell, many assumed he was going to be used as a trade chip due to the fact that they already had two other ball dominant guards in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Those assumptions turned out to be correct as the Warriors did in fact move him to get a better fit in Wiggins: Another wing that can play alongside Curry and Thompson.

In his 6th year in the NBA, Wiggins is averaging 22.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He's putting up solid numbers, but the Timberwolves felt a more ball dominant guard like Russell would be a better fit alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, who has emerged as their franchise player. The Warriors conversely felt Wiggins would be a better complimentary piece around the players that they already have.

Considering their recent championship success, Golden State is a perfect fit for Wiggins, who had been stuck in a losing environment in Minnesota. He gets to be around a winning culture and be more of a complimentary piece as opposed to dealing with the pressures of being the go-to player. Once Curry and Thompson come back, he'll give the Warriors a solid third/fourth option alongside Draymond Green, bring athleticism out on the wing, and solid defense. It'll be interesting to see how this goes once the Warriors are back to full strength.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Wednesday Windmill: Which Eastern Conference teams should make a move before the NBA trade deadline?


The NBA trade deadline is on Thursday at 3:00 PM EST. Yesterday I did a breakdown of which Western Conference teams should consider a move before the trade deadline (click here to check it out) and today I'll address the Eastern Conference. Same drill as yesterday, I'll address the teams in order of where they sit in the standings. Also, on the NBA Lord Twitter and Facebook pages, I will be providing updates on trades and all that jazz.

#1. Milwaukee Bucks (43-7): The Bucks have the best record in the NBA, led by the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo. Considering how well they're playing, I don't think they have much of a need to make a move. They do have a few guys on expiring contracts in Kyle Korver, Sterling Brown, and Pat Connaughton, so those are chips they could use in a trade if they so like. But, I would expect the Bucks to more or less stay the way they are. When you're the best in the league, why mess with what you have?

#2. Toronto Raptors (36-14): Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, and Serge Ibaka are all on expiring contracts so in theory, the Raptors could go wild and unload their stars for future assets and all. But that would be a strange thing to do when they are once again a legit contender in the Eastern Conference. I would be very surprised if the Raptors made any major move before the trade deadline.

#3. Boston Celtics (34-15): The Celtics have Brad Wanamaker on an expiring contract. Aside from the players they have on two-way contracts (which I don't really count as expiring contracts), that's all they have in terms of players on expiring deals. That means the Celtics don't really have anyone to unload. Given that they are third in the East and that everyone seems to be gelling well, I expect the Celtics to stay as is come the trade deadline. If the Celtics were to make a move, it would be to shore up their front court. So perhaps, they do move Gordon Hayward or something along those lines, but I highly doubt it.

#4. Miami Heat (34-15): The Heat have Goran Dragic, Meyers LeonardDerrick Jones, Jr., and Udonis Haslem on expiring contracts. Haslem is a Heat for life, so he isn't going anywhere. Dragic is one of their top players, averaging 16.0 points and 5.0 assists per game, so I don't see him getting moved. As for Leonard and Jones, maybe the Heat will move both of them in order to get a better player or land some draft picks for next year. But, I would expect those guys to stay put as well.

As for the rest of their roster, I'm sure the Heat would love to unload Dion Waiters, but I don't see them finding a home for him. He's pretty toxic. One name to keep an eye on KZ Okpala. The Heat are trying to develop him, but perhaps they can sell some other team on his upside and get some assets back for him. The bottom line is I'm not feeling a trade coming from the Heat, but there are enough possible routes for them that one may emerge.

#5. Indiana Pacers (31-19): The Pacers have a few minor players on expiring contracts in JaKarr Sampson, Alize Johnson, and Justin Holiday. Their big addition around this time of year is getting Victor Oladipo healthy. I don't see the Pacers making a move at the deadline, but given that they have some players on expiring contracts, maybe they move one of them.

#6. Philadelphia 76ers (31-20): The players who the 76ers have on expiring contracts are Kyle O'Quinn, Trey Burke, and Raul Neto. Similar to the Pacers, pretty minor players. Also like the Pacers, I don't find a trade likely for the 76ers. Maybe they move one of their more minor players on an expiring contract to get some assets back or something, but that's the extent of what I see them doing. Maybe they'll prove me wrong.

#7. Brooklyn Nets (22-27): Joe Harris is on an expiring contract as is Wilson Chandler. It's a possibility that the Nets move one of them, but in truth, the Nets are really eying next year and the return of Kevin Durant. Given that, I don't expect the Nets to be active at the trade deadline, but if they were to make a move, it would likely involve Harris or Chandler. Teams have been inquiring about Spencer Dinwiddie (21.3 points per game), but I find it unlikely that the Nets will move him. Once again, the Nets are looking ahead to next year. This isn't the year for them to get aggressive at the trade deadline.

#8. Orland Magic (22-28): D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams are both on expiring contracts, so it's possible that one of them gets moved. Aaron Gordon is another name that has popped up in trade rumors, offering more value than either Augustin or Carter-Williams. The Magic are in a weird spot where they're on the cusp of making the playoffs while also knowing that this season isn't a year where they're likely to make noise in the playoffs. One thing I will say is they have a lot of guards and both Augustin and Carter-Williams are guards. They could use some front court help, so maybe that's a direction they'll go. We'll see.

#9. Chicago Bulls (19-33): The Bulls have a couple players on expiring contracts in Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison. Neither player is doing much for the Bulls, but perhaps a change of scenery will do them good. Especially Dunn, a former top five pick. However, Dunn is out with an MCL sprain and that could ward off some teams from trading for him. Expect the Bulls to stay silent, but maybe they'll find Dunn a better situation and get some draft picks in return.

#10. Washington Wizards (17-32): Ian Mahinmi, Isaiah Thomas, and Davis Bertans are on expiring deals. Bertans is the most interesting one, having a breakout year with his 15.0 points per game. If the Wizards don't think they can re-sign him or afford him in the summer, good odds they move him and get something back for him. A lot of playoff level teams would love to add him. Don't be shocked if the Wizards unload Bertans. It would actually make a lot of sense for them to do so.

#11. Detroit Pistons (18-34): The Pistons and Suns were rumored to be discussing a deal sending Luke Kennard to Phoenix, but reports are now saying those talks have hit an impasse. Andre Drummond has also come up in trade rumors. Neither are on expiring contracts, so maybe the Pistons hold off on moving them for now. Reggie Jackson, Langston Galloway, Thon Maker, Markieff Morris, Christian Wood, Tim Frazier, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk are all on expiring deals, giving the Pistons a lot of different options there. I would say odds are above 50 percent that the Pistons get involved in some move, but of what nature is hard to foresee.

#12. Charlotte Hornets (16-35): The Hornets have Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams, Willy Hernangomez, Dwayne Bacon, and Ray Spalding on expiring deals. None of those guys have a ton of value, but there are decent odds the Hornets find a home for one of them. Especially if they are willing to help facilitate a three-team trade.

#13. New York Knicks (15-36): The Knicks have Marcus Morris, Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, and Kadeem Allen on expiring deals. Morris (19.3 points per game) is their leading scorer, so he could offer a ton of value to a playoff contending team. If the Knicks can get a lot back for him, he would make sense to move. My intuition is the Knicks will look to make a deal at the deadline, but it will come down to what other teams want back, etc. Look for the Knicks do something if they can. I know they've been eying Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell. Maybe something happens there.

#14. Cleveland Cavaliers (13-38): Tristan Thompson, Brandon Knight, John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, Ante Zizic, and Dean Wade are on expiring deals, so there's a lot of routes the Cavaliers can go. Kevin Love's name has popped up as well, but given his contract situation, I find it unlikely he gets moved. If the Cavaliers do make a move, it likely will involve one of the guys on an expiring deal. But you never know, maybe they'll do something unexpected with Love.

#15. Atlanta Hawks (13-38): The Hawks just made a move last night, acquiring Clint Capela from the Rockets in a 4-team, 12 player deal. Click here for details. Alex Len, Jeff Teague (who they traded for from Minnesota earlier this year), DeAndre Bembry, Damian Jones, Treveon Graham, Brandon Goodwin, Charlie Brown, Jr., and Vince Carter are all on expiring deals, so there's a lot of other moves they might make before this trade deadline is over.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Tomahawk Tuesday: Which Western Conference teams should make a move before the NBA trade deadline?




The 2020 NBA trade deadline is later this week: Thursday, February 6 at 3:00 PM EST. In this blog post, I wanted to quickly go through each team in the Western Conference and the need they have to make a trade before the deadline. I will address each team in order of where they are in the standings at this moment. On Wednesday, I will address the Eastern Conference.

#1. Los Angeles Lakers (37-11): As the top team in the Western Conference, the Lakers shouldn't feel much of a need to make a trade. The only reason why they might consider a move is if they feel they don't have enough depth, relying too much on LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

If the Lakers were to make a move, it would likely involve third year forward Kyle Kuzma, who is averaging 13.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021 and has a contract that wouldn't cost a team too much, paying him $1.9M this year and $3.6M next year. His qualifying offer in the summer of 2021 is $5.3M.

Kuzma is a talented player that doesn't cost much. A lot of teams might be interested in getting him and the Lakers could get some attractive pieces back for him. I don't know if I see the Lakers moving Kuzma, but if there's any move they make, I would expect Kuzma to be involved. We'll see what happens.

#2. Los Angeles Clippers (35-15): While I could see the Lakers possibly making a move, I don't see the Clippers making one. They have their core in Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell playing well and a solid supporting cast around them. Anything is possible at the trade deadline, but the Clippers are a team I expect to stand pat.

#3. Denver Nuggets (34-16): The Nuggets have a few guys on expiring contracts in Paul Millsap, Juan Hernangomez, Torrey Craig, Mason Plumlee, and Malik Beasley. I don't see Millsap being moved because he is making $30M this year and is a big part of what the Nuggets do. The other guys though could be moved in order to add a piece that they feel better helps them contend.

Do I see the Nuggets making a move? It's possible, but I don't expect anything major to happen. They'll more or less stay the same, but they could make an upgrade if the right opportunity presents itself.

#4. Utah Jazz (32-17): The Jazz already made a move earlier this year by trading Dante Exum to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jordan Clarkson. A move that appears to be working out well for them as Clarkson is averaging 14.9 points per game in a Jazz uniform. It's possible the Jazz make a minor move like trade a role player on an expiring contract (e.g. Emmanuel Mudiay), but I doubt it.

#5. Houston Rockets (32-18): There have been rumors of the Rockets moving Clint Capela, so that's something to definitely keep an eye on. They do have some minor players on expiring contracts in injured guard Gerald Green, Thabo Sefolosha, and Tyson Chandler, but those guys don't have much value. Either the Capela rumors have legs and they move him or they don't make a move. That's how I hedge things at the moment.

#6. Dallas Mavericks (31-19): The Mavericks have a few minor players on expiring contracts like J.J. Barea and Courtney Lee, but given how well they've been playing, I see the Mavericks staying put at the trade deadline. They also made a small move earlier as well in acquiring Willie Cauley-Stein from the Warriors, so there's good odds they feel they've already made their move. Similar to the Jazz.

#7. Oklahoma City Thunder (30-20): The Thunder are playing pretty well at the moment while also having a few guys on expiring contracts, most notably Danilo Gallinari (19.2 points per game). I don't see them moving Gallinari considering how well he's playing and Chris Paul, who everyone thought would be traded, seems to be enjoying life in OKC. I wouldn't be shocked if the Thunder made a move, but I think odds are good they stay as is.

#8. Memphis Grizzlies (25-25): The Grizzlies have several guys on expiring contracts in Solomon Hill, Jae Crowder, Josh Jackson, Dillon Brooks, and most notably Andre Iguodala, who Ja Morant and others on the team are quite frustrated with. If the Grizzlies are to move anyone, it should be Iguodala, who otherwise will sit out the rest of the season. I expect the Grizzlies to find a home for him and possibly one or two others as well.

#9. Portland Trail Blazers (23-27): The Trail Blazers have a few guys on expiring contracts, making a trade certainly possible. Hassan Whiteside is on an expiring contract and playing quite well, so it's possible they see him as a trade chip that they could get a lot back for. At the same time, if they want to make the playoffs and make a push, they probably should hang on to him.

The other guys on expiring contracts are Carmelo AnthonySkal Labissiere, Caleb Swanigan, and Wenyen Gabriel. Anthony isn't going anywhere and has his contract guaranteed for the rest of the year. So that leaves the other three guys. It's possible one of them gets moved, but there isn't much back the Trail Blazers could get. That said, they could move them to get some draft picks back or something. The Trail Blazers are sort of a coin flip for me. We'll just have to see.

#10. San Antonio Spurs (22-27): The Spurs have a few guys on expiring contracts in Jakob Pöltl, Marco Belinelli, Bryn Forbes, Drew Eubanks, and Quinndary Weatherspoon. Making a move quite possible. The one with the most value is Forbes, who is averaging 10.9 points per game. If the Spurs feel they can get some decent assets back for him, maybe they move him. The same goes for others as well. The Spurs I see as another coin flip. I could see it going either way for them.

#11. Phoenix Suns (20-30): The Suns have a few guys on expiring contracts in Tyler Johnson, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, Jevon Carter, Jared Harper, and Tariq Owens. Given that, a trade is quite possible. They've been rumored to be interested in Pistons guard Luke Kennard, so that's certainly one direction they could go. Otherwise, I could see them doing something minor like unload a few expiring contracts to clear cap space and/or gather draft picks.

#12. New Orleans Pelicans (20-31): There's some speculation that the Pelicans may move Jrue Holiday, so that is certainly something to look for. Also, they have a few guys on expiring contracts in Derrick Favors, E'Twaun Moore, and Brandon Ingram, so a trade is certainly possible with any of those guys. If the Pelicans can get a lot back for Holiday, good odds they make a move. At the same time, he's playing really well (19.7 points & 6.3 assists), so they may also want to keep him for the purposes of giving them a foundation to build around Zion Williamson. If Holiday was on an expiring contract, I would say he gets traded for sure, but since he's not, I think there's decent odds the Pelicans keep him. It'll be interesting to see what they do.

#13. Sacramento Kings (19-31): The most notable trade asset the Kings have is Bogdan Bogdanovic (14.6 points per game), who yup, you guessed it, is on an expiring contract. If the Kings can get some assets back for him, I bet they'll move him. Otherwise, I see them staying the same at the deadline.

#14. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-34): The Timberwolves need a lot of help and quite honestly need to hit the reset button. They've been rumored to be interested in Warriors point guard D'Angelo Russell, who many feel would be moved at the deadline to start the season. If the Timberwolves could land him, maybe that will give them the jolt of life that they need. I feel odds are good the Timberwolves make a move, but I'm not sure they'll be able to get Russell. It'll come down to what the Warriors want to do with him and what other offers they can field. Also, how much the Timberwolves are willing to give up.

#15. Golden State Warriors (12-39): I already touched on the Warriors above, but what they do with D'Angelo Russell is the big thing to look for. He's never been viewed as a long-term option for them and much more of an asset that they can use as a trade chip. If they can get a good offer from the Timberwolves or some other team, I say he's gone. However, what remains to be seen is how much other teams are willing to give up to get him.

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Monday, February 3, 2020

Mock Draft Monday: Kobe Bryant helped pave the way for high schoolers choosing to go pro

                                          (Credit: Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports) 


Last week I wasn't much in the mood to blog about the NBA after the death of Kobe Bryant. I just needed some time to regroup a bit and think about how I wanted to remember Bryant on NBALord.com. I was planning on doing my Saturday Slam piece to remember his whole career, but I needed a bit more time to think about what my next blog post would be. Considering that I have my different themes on here, I figured I would use those themes to address Bryant's career through several different lenses. Up first is through the lens of his high school career and more specifically, what impact he had on high schoolers thinking of going straight to the pros.

Leading up to the 1996 NBA Draft, Bryant wasn't sure what he was going to do. He was genuinely torn about whether to go to college or go straight to the NBA. Both had their pros and cons. In the interview I've attached below, Bryant talks about weighing those options and not yet being sure what decision he would make. The pros of going to college was to get a year or two to grow as a basketball player without the pressures of being a professional while also getting to enjoy the college life. On the other side of the coin, going to the NBA meant the chance to get paid right away, something that also appealed to Bryant. Even though it meant more responsibility.



A year earlier, in the 1995 NBA Draft, Minnesota Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett went 5th overall out of high school as well, becoming the first player in two decades (Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby) to go straight from high school to the NBA. One major difference between Garnett and Bryant was the fact that Garnett had horrible grades and test scores, making division one college basketball a non-option for him. The only colleges Garnett could attend were junior colleges, sort of forcing his hand into going pro. Bryant on the other hand was a good student in high school and took his education seriously. College was an option for him and he knew that if he went straight to the NBA, some may second guess his commitment to getting a quality education.

In the end, Bryant chose to go to the NBA. When the Lower Merion High School Class of 1996 listed what colleges they were attending (in the school yearbook or newspaper), Bryant wrote "NBA-nuff said!" Bryant's decision resulted in him getting drafted 13th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers via the Charlotte Hornets. By choosing to go straight to the NBA when college was an option for him, Bryant helped legitimize that path for the likes of LeBron James and others who felt they were ready out of high school.

Flash forward 25 years later, the NBA is likely to once again allow high schoolers the option to come straight out instead of having to spend a year in college or overseas. When the NBA does formally make the switch back, it will be a nod to Bryant and all that he accomplished. Bryant proved that if you are ready to go pro, you should do so. He also showed that such a decision requires a lot of thought and shouldn't be taken lightly.

When looking back on the 1996 NBA Draft, what is a bit crazy is to see Bryant selected 13th overall. In hindsight Bryant would have gone #1 overall to his hometown Philadelphia 76ers instead of Allen Iverson. At that time, coming out of high school was so rare that a lot of teams were afraid to gamble on him. Especially since he was a guard. To the Lakers' credit, specifically Jerry West, they recognized Bryant had a lot of talent and was capable of being their next franchise player. Their decision to take Bryant changed the course of basketball history forever. Bryant went on to become a five time NBA champion and arguably the greatest Laker of all-time.

If you're going to look back on Kobe Bryant's career, it's impossible to not reflect on his high school career and how amazing it was that he took that leap into the NBA without playing in college. Such a bold and brave decision is truly fitting for one who would give birth to "Mamba Mentality."

Note: If you are reading this article via e-mail, click here to check out the interview I posted above. 

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Mamba Monday: Reacting to the death of Kobe Bryant

                                          (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images) 

Monday on NBALord.com is typically dubbed "Mock Draft Monday," taking a look at the NBA's up and coming talents and prospects. Today I thought I would dub my Monday article "Mamba Monday" to honor the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed in a helicopter crash yesterday along with his daughter Gianna. I should also add that this helicopter crash killed nine people in total, so by no means do I want to make it sound like Kobe or Gianna's life had any more meaning or value. Every life is precious and holds the same value. I believe that as a believer in God and follower of Jesus Christ. As such, I want to say that times like this make me grateful for the faith and knowledge that all of us will be resurrected and will one day see our loved ones again.

Still, that doesn't soften the initial pain of losing people close to us or people who we admire. Kobe Bryant influenced millions of people through the game of basketball and his death is a tremendous blow to the basketball community. Those that are grieving or still in shock have every right to be. It's important to go through the four stages of grief or whatever process you need to go through.

Speaking for myself personally, my initial reaction to the death of Kobe Bryant was that of shock and disbelief. I found out about his death while at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, covering the Cal men's and women's basketball Sunday doubleheader. It was weird to be at a basketball arena covering the game that he had such a profound influence on while simultaneously processing the fact that he was in fact gone. It was weird. I didn't feel like covering basketball.

What also added to the weirdness of it was conflicting reports about what was going on. There were some false rumors that all of Kobe's kids were on board, that Rick Fox was on board, etc. It was weird trying to process that information and hearing conflicting things. Especially when you're also trying to cover a basketball game that's happening in real time in front of you.

But, with the dust having now settled, all I can say is that I am really sad we lost Kobe, his daughter, and everyone else that died in that crash. Nobody should have to go out like that and yet that's life. Sometimes shit happens and we have to figure out how to deal with it.

On my Saturday Slam piece, I will take a look back on Kobe's legacy and what he meant to basketball, but for now I wanted to share my condolences and what my initial reactions and thoughts were at the time that this was happening. It was a weird day and one that I along with every other person in the basketball world: Fans, coaches, players, and media alike, will never forget.

Note: I did get instant reactions from Cal players and coaches about the death of Kobe Bryant. Click here to check that out on GoldenBearReport.com.

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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Saturday Slam: Assessing the NBA All-Star starters


Earlier this week, the NBA All-Star starters were named. In the East, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (captain), 76ers center Joel Embiid, Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, Celtics guard Kemba Walker, and Hawks guard Trae Young are the starters. In the West, Lakers forward LeBron James (captain), Lakers forward Anthony Davis, Mavericks forward Luka Doncic, Rockets guard James Harden, and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard are the starters.

Ultimately, I don't have much beef with this list. I feel like with the East, arguments could be made for Zach LaVine on the Bulls (I actually voted for him), Jaylen Brown on the Celtics, Ben Simmons on the 76ers, and Kyle Lowry on the Raptors. I'm sure there's a couple others I'm leaving out in the East, but those guys spring to mind as guys who one could argue a case for. I feel like Antetokounmpo and Embiid are the only two that should be on the starting five for sure. The other three spots I feel are up for debate.

In the West, I feel like it's much more tight. James is a no-brainer as is Davis and Doncic. Harden I don't really have a quibble with and after what he did in the NBA Finals last year,  I'm not going to leave Leonard out, either.

Every year, there's going to be debates about who should have made the All-Star team and who shouldn't have. Who should have been starters and who shouldn't have. It goes with the territory. This time though, I think the voting process delivered.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wednesday Windmill: The Boston Celtics sent a message to the Los Angeles Lakers



On Martin Luther King Day, the Boston Celtics destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers 139-107. It was Kemba Walker's first win against LeBron James (he was 0-28 against James before Monday night) and the most lopsided victory in the regular season series between the two teams since the 1960s. That's kind of mind blowing considering there was a time when the Lakers were really good and the Celtics were trash. Anyone remember the Rick Pitino Celtics years?

Anyways, Pitino is in Greece coaching Panathinaikos, so I don't need to write more about him. What I want to write about is the statement win the Celtics had on MLK Day. Was it a statement win? If you ask me, it most certainly was. Jaylen Brown's dunk on LeBron James (click here to check that out) was absolutely FILTHY. And I'm not just saying that because he went to Cal. That alone made it a statement win along with the fact that it was a 32 point win.



Of course, this is just one game and the Celtics need to make sure this game isn't just a one-hit wonder for them. They need to make sure they can build off this win and become more of a force in the Eastern Conference. At the moment, they are 28-14, which is 4th in the East and 9.5 games back of the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks. They definitely have their work cut out for them. Still, you gotta start somewhere. If you're trying to establish yourself as a legit contender, blowing out the top team in the West isn't a bad place to start.

Looking at the big picture for a moment, what remains to be seen is if the Celtics will stand pat at the trade deadline or if they'll make a move. Their front court is a bit iffy, so perhaps they'll move one of their guards to shore up their front court. I know the Pistons are open to moving Andre Drummond. Maybe the Celtics will explore that option.

Ultimately, this win will either be the start of something great for the Celtics or it will just be one win that doesn't have much bearing on the rest of the season. Personally, I'm gonna roll the dice a bit and say that this win propels the Celtics to bigger and better things. I'm not saying they win the East, but after what we saw, I don't see why they can't be in the conference finals.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tomahawk Tuesday: Zion Williamson's debut is overhyped

                                          (Credit: NBA.com. NBAE/Getty Images) 

On Wednesday, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson will make his NBA debut against the San Antonio Spurs. Game time is 9:30 PM EST on ESPN for those that want to tune in. Speaking of ESPN, if you've been watching ESPN this week like I have (E.g. Australian Open), you've seen a lot of adds about Zion's debut and the hype around this game. I don't want to be a kill joy for those that are excited about this, but if I can be real, I don't think this is that big of a deal.

I understand Zion's a number one overall pick and that he's been compared to LeBron James and other surefire hall of fame players, but that is precisely why I want everyone to pump the brakes on this. Zion hasn't played in a real NBA game yet and for the second consecutive year has missed time due to precautionary reasons. I mean, his handlers had to sign off that Wednesday night against the Spurs would be the date as if he's a prized fighter that doesn't want to get hurt in the ring.

I'm not saying Zion is soft and pampered, but then again I kinda am. No, I'll be more definitive. I think he's soft and pampered. Everyone has said this dude will be the next great player in the NBA and quite honestly, he hasn't yet done anything to back up the hype. Instead, he keeps finding ways to put off his debut, avoid playing, as if the grass is greener somewhere else.

I understood it at Duke because he didn't want to get hurt before the NBA draft, but he's in the NBA now. The vibe I'm getting is that he doesn't want to be in New Orleans for the long-term and that he just wants to make sure he doesn't get hurt so as to not ruin his chances of playing for the Bulls, Knicks, or Lakers when he hits free agency.

Maybe I'm off my hinges, but this is how I read the situation. Zion is a very talented player with a ton of upside, but there are legitimate questions about his work ethic, his diet, and his commitment to the New Orleans Pelicans organization. Just like how there were questions about his commitment to Duke when he went down with that blown-out shoe. Hopefully he'll prove me wrong and turn out to be a really good NBA player, but for now, he has to back up the hype. Enough of the commercials. Go out there and hoop.

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Monday, January 20, 2020

Mock Draft Monday: LaMelo Ball's Australian career is over

                                         (Credit: Getty Images) 

If you are a loyal reader of NBALord.com, you know that I've spent a fair amount of time addressing LaMelo Ball in my recent Mock Draft Monday pieces. First he was out for a month due to a foot injury, then it was reported he was donating money to help with the fires in Australia, and now it's been revealed that he is in fact done playing for the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League in Australia, choosing to instead get ready for the 2020 NBA Draft. For more on that, read Jonathan Givony's story here.

In my first blog post on Ball (which you can read here), I expressed cautious optimism that so long as his foot injury isn't that big of a deal and that he can return to finish his season, his draft stock shouldn't be affected much if at all. However, I did also raise the possibility that his injury could be worse than advertised and that NBA teams will take note of his injury and track his progress.

This latest development in the LaMelo Ball saga isn't a good one, even if his camp is insisting he's just rehabbing as expected. For starters, this gives NBA teams less chance to evaluate him. It's already hard enough to fly down to Australia to scout him, but when he only plays half the season, that catches teams by surprise, many of which weren't able to send an international scout to watch him yet. If Ball was a surefire lock to go #1 overall in the draft and was deemed the second coming of LeBron James, this wouldn't be a big deal. However, he's not the second coming of LeBron James. There are some questions about whether or not he's really as good as advertised and if he's perhaps hiding his flaws by going overseas and cutting his season short.

As an extension of that, there have to now be questions about his toughness and durability. Especially after what we've seen from New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson. If you aren't able to play a full NBA season and are constantly in and out of the lineup, it doesn't matter how good you are. I know it sounds obvious, but in order to help a team win, you have to actually play!

Another issue for Ball is he's running the risk of a couple college players perhaps leaping ahead of him in the draft if they have a good NCAA tournament. While he is projected to be a top three pick at the moment, that could change if someone has a killer tournament and boosts their stock. We've seen guys expected to go in the top five fall outside of the lottery. I'm not saying that will happen to Ball, but it is conceivable teams pass on him over concerns of him being too much of an unknown. E.g. Dante Exum.

One final issue for Ball is the fact that his brother Lonzo isn't exactly lighting the world on fire. Lonzo is averaging 12.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game in his third year with the New Orleans Pelicans. Those are solid numbers, but not numbers you would expect from a number two overall pick in his third year in the NBA. NBA teams could see LaMelo as another version of his brother and that's not a good thing if you're trying to get picked in the top three.

So, where does this leave us? Ultimately, that remains to be seen. It's totally possible that LaMelo still gets picked in the top three or even goes #1 overall. If that happens, then all of my concerns were for naught. However, given that we can't predict the future, the possibility that LaMelo slips in the draft also remains. It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out for him.

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday Slam: It's about time the WNBA started treating their players better


Earlier this week, the WNBA announced a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) that gives its players an opportunity to make way more money ($250K+ salaries), paid maternity leave, an upgrade from coach to economy plus or comfort plus on flights, private hotel rooms, etc. Click here for a full breakdown.

What I wanted to quickly do in this blog post is express my happiness about this news and also frustration that it took this long for WNBA players to get treated better. Let me first talk about my happiness.

What makes me happy about this news is the fact that WNBA players are really really good at basketball. It's a ridiculously competitive league. When you are one of only 150 people or less in a profession, you should be treated really well. These WNBA players have made the same sacrifices as NBA players and deserve to get treated way better than they have as a result. They also grew up with dreams of playing pro basketball, practiced for hours on end, played on their travel ball and high school teams, played college basketball, etc. They've taken a very similar path to get to where they are and its about time they get better compensation for it.

Some of you know I also cover Cal men's and women's basketball for Rivals.com, so I've gotten to appreciate the women's game over the years. I've seen up close how hard they work. Trust me. They put in the same work as the men.

As for why I'm frustrated that it's taken this long, my frustration stems from the fact that the NBA makes LOADS of money and the NBA runs the WNBA. Why the NBA couldn't have used some of their revenue to give WNBA players a better situation years ago baffles me. It's good it's happening now, but once again, this should have happened a while ago.

Finally, I want to say that while I'm glad this CBA is being implemented, I feel WNBA players deserve even more than what they're getting. I don't understand why they can't fly private jets. Like, seriously? Give me a break! However, when you are hoping for progress, you gotta be happy when progress is being made and that is most certainly happening here. Hopefully this news will steer more young women into basketball and give them more reason to follow their dreams and become the best athletes and role models that they can be.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wednesday Windmill: The Atlanta Hawks need to get Trae Young some help

                                         (Credit: Getty Images) 

Hawks point guard Trae Young is in his second year in the NBA, averaging 28.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.4 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Yet despite his amazing season, the Hawks are 9-32, possessing the worst record in the Eastern Conference and only half a game up on the 9-33 Golden State Warriors. The Hawks are bad and it's not Young's fault.

The only player who the Hawks can have confidence in being a quality piece to build around Young is third year power forward John Collins (17.0 points & 9.7 rebounds). Collins was suspended for the first 25 games of the season due to failing a drug test, but now is back, helping to take some of the pressure off of Young.

As for the rest of the team, it's a bunch of unknowns. Jabari Parker (15.0 points & 6.0 rebounds) is playing well, but it's unclear if he'll be able to stay healthy and be a part of their long-term plans. Second year shooting guard Kevin Huerter (11.2 points) is looking like a promising player, but I'm not sure what his ceiling is. As for rookie forward Cam Reddish (8.3 points & 3.8 rebounds), he had a ton of hype coming out of Duke, but so far, it's too early to tell whether or not he'll be a reliable building block.

Perhaps the best path to getting Young some help is through the 2020 NBA draft. If the Hawks could add Anthony Edwards or James Wiseman to the fold, maybe that will do the trick. At the same time, you don't want to put all your eggs in the basket of the draft. Especially when you want to build a competitive team in the near future.

The good news for the Hawks is they have some time to think this through. Young doesn't hit restricted free agency until the summer of 2022 and by that time, they should have better pieces around him. At the same time, they can't procrastinate. They need to actively be thinking through all their options whether it's making a move at the trade deadline, clearing cap space for free agency, or going through the draft.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Utah Jazz are on fire

                                          (Credit: Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune) 

The two hottest teams in the NBA right now are the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz, who have both won nine games in a row. I've blogged a lot about the Lakers this season, so it's time for me to focus on the Jazz. At the moment, the Jazz are 27-12, putting them at third place in the Western Conference standings.

During this nine game winning streak, the Jazz have posted the following results (home in bold; road in italics): Jazz 121 Trail Blazers 115. Jazz 120 Clippers 107. Jazz 104 Pistons 81. Jazz 102 Bulls 98. Jazz 109 Magic 96. Jazz 128 Pelicans 126. Jazz 128 Knicks 104. Jazz 109 Hornets 92. Jazz 127 Wizards 116.

As you can see, the Jazz have won most of these games away from Salt Lake City, which is scary considering the fact that they are historically not a very good road team. On that note, the Jazz are now 15-3 at home on the season and 12-9 on the road. If they can keep up their success on the road and continue to dominate at home, they'll be serious contenders come April, May, and possibly June.

What's made this streak all the more impressive is the fact that the Jazz are doing this without their big offseason acquisition Mike Conley (13.6 points and 4.6 assists), who is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury. This is truly a testament to their depth and versatility. Donovan Mitchell (24.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.1 steals), Bojan Bogdanovic (21.0 points and 4.3 rebounds), Rudy Gobert (14.8 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks), and Joe Ingles (10.8 points) have done a great job at picking up the slack.

Ultimately, how far this Jazz team goes will come down to whether or not Conley and Bogdanovic make the impact in the playoffs that everyone thinks they will and whether or not Mitchell and Gobert can raise their level of play. If this team stays healthy and continues to ball out like they have been, there's no reason to doubt their ability to make some serious noise in the playoffs. I'm not ready to deem them the favorites to come out of the Western Conference, but I could absolutely see them reach the conference finals. Pending on who they face, it's conceivable they play their way into June.

Note: This blog post also appears on my Utah Jazz blog. Click here to check it out. 

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