Warriors Record Year

Welcome back NBA fans! It is time for the player report card for the end of the season, using my proprietary grading system. The following list is the ranking of the top 25 players for the season.

 

  1. Russell Westbrook – +24.76
  2. Chris Paul – +23.05
  3. Rajon Rondo – +22.58
  4. Draymond Green – +20.62
  5. LeBron James – +19.66
  6. John Wall – +19.56
  7. Ricky Rubio – +19.17
  8. Stephen Curry – +18.86
  9. Kevin Durant – +18.17
  10. James Harden – +18.08
  11. Pau Gasol – +17.26
  12. Jimmy Butler – +16.34
  13. DeAndre Jordan – +15.79
  14. Anthony Davis – +15.67
  15. Kawhi Leonard – +15.43
  16. Kyle Lowry – +15.25
  17. Paul Millsap – +15.09
  18. Kemba Walker – +14.42
  19. Hassan Whiteside – +14.36
  20. Giannis Antetokounmpo – +14.06
  21. DeMarcus Cousins – +13.75
  22. Karl Anthony Towns – +13.29
  23. Al Horford – +13.28
  24. Greg Monroe – +13.05
  25. Damian Lillard – +12.81

 

First of all, congratulations to the Golden State Warriors on their outstanding record breaking regular season they just finished! They are everyone’s favorite to win it all this year, but they won’t go unchallenged in their quest to repeat as champions. It will be a very interesting postseason tournament this year. I can’t wait to see how it plays out. There are some new additions to this list from the second third of the season ranking I listed in my previous blog. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are hurt and won’t play enough games to be included in the rankings for the season. Zaza Pachulia fell off the top 25 list while Giannis Antetokounmpo went from being an average +10.06 to a +14.06 in the last third of the season to make it onto the top 25 list for the year. An amazing improvement achieved over a short period of time. ESPN the Magazine did an article about him in their analytics issue a couple of months ago regarding his unique physical attributes. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like he will be the next young superstar to emerge on the NBA scene. Draymond Green and Stephen Curry just seem to get better as the year goes on. Draymond Green has elevated his game to such a level that he is playing in another zone right now. He is my most improved player of the year. Stephen Curry looks like he could repeat as MVP this year. As I stated previously if the Warriors stay healthy they are going to win it all. Ricky Rubio, from my hometown Minnesota Timberwolves, showed how good a player he can be when he is healthy. Karl Anthony Towns should be the consensus Rookie of the Year for the NBA and he just kept improving his game as the year went on.

 

Congrats to my hometown Minnesota Timberwolves for signing Tom Thibodeau as their next head coach and head of basketball operations. Finally it appears the organization is going to have a professional operation instead of one that always appeared to be running an unprofessional form of patronage. From the beginning with son-in-law Bob Stein to Kevin McHale to David Khan to Flip Saunders loading up their coaching staff and front office with their children and their yes men it has not been pretty as they have not been to the playoffs for 12 years. Let’s hope Thibodeau hires the right coaching staff to help develop the tremendous young talent this team has right now.

 

At the end of the season it is becoming clear that the following teams are the only real contenders for the NBA title this year: Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks. As I stated previously Golden State will repeat as champions if Draymond Green keeps playing at the level he has been playing at and if the Warriors can keep Stephen Curry healthy and not get hit with injuries to their key players. If Golden State gets hit by the injury bug, I see the San Antonio Spurs going up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals with San Antonio winning in seven games. As much as I like and respect LeBron James I have to pick the San Antonio Spurs to win the title because of their coach. Greg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA and he will be the difference in the finals. The darkhorse contenders that could rise up and surprise everybody and win the title are the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Hawks have a very good coach and play well as a team and unlike most NBA teams they actually run plays instead of being stuck in the pick and roll offense that has infected the NBA over the past 15-20 years. The Clippers’ Chris Paul has elevated his game in the last third of the season and now that Blake Griffin is back the Clippers could surprise everybody and win it all.

 

Finally I would like to pay tribute to a couple of giants of the game, Red Auerbach and Sid Hartman. These two gentlemen were the architects of the first two dynasties in the NBA. Sid Hartman was the architect of the first NBA dynasty with the Minneapolis Laker in the 1950’s before they moved to Los Angeles. Red Auerbach, as everyone knows, was the genius behind the Boston Celtics dynasty of the late 1950’s and 1960’s. The Celtics won 11 titles in 13 years with Red coaching them for 10 of the titles and Bill Russell as the player/coach, for the last title in their title run, in 1969. From the beginning of their title run with players like Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and John Havlicek in the 1960’s, to John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and Charlie Scott in the 1970’s to Larry Bird, Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale in the 1980’s; Red Auerbach displayed an uncanny knack for identifying talent and developing that talent into champions. He didn’t coach the team after the 1960’s but he built this franchise into one of the greatest dynasties in the history of sport!

 

Until the next blog post you can follow me on Twitter at @NBAMaven1 during the playoffs. I will be live tweeting during games so look for my tweets during the playoffs. I appreciate any and all feedback!