No Matter How Much Things Change They Still Stay The Same

Welcome back NBA fans! Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors on their second title in three years with a possible third title this coming year.

Everybody say WARRIORS! WARRIORS! WARRIORS!

It is time for the player report card for the first third point of the season using my proprietary grading system. The following list is the ranking of the top 25 players for first third point of the 2017-2018 season.

1. LeBron James – +26.4
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo – +22.2
3. James Harden – +21.7
4. Anthony Davis – +20.3
5. Russell Westbrook – +19.6
6. Ben Simmons – +19.4
7. Draymond Green – +19.3
8. Andre Drummond – +19.0
9. Nicola Jokic – +18.7
10. Stephen Curry – +18.2
11. John Wall – +17.2(17 games)
12. Al Horford – +16.7
13. Kevin Durant – +16.4
14. DeMarcus Cousins – +16.2
15. Rajon Rondo – +15.9(15 games)
16. Jimmy Butler – +15.7
17. Kyle Lowry – +15.7
18. Damian Lillard – +15.6
19. DeAndre Jordan – +15.5
20. DeMar DeRozan- +15.0
21. Clint Capela – +14.5
22. Jeff Teague – +14.5
23. Kemba Walker – +14.4
24. Joel Embid – +14.3
25. NicolaYukevic- +14.1
26. Darren Collison – +14.1

The first third of the season has been interesting with all the player moves in the offseason. The Boston Celtics had a 16 game winning streak early in the year which was broken up by the Miami Heat. Cleveland followed that up with a nice winning streak and now the Warriors are having a nice winning streak closely out 2017. But no matter how much has changed in the offseason things still appear to be the same with LeBron James, THE DAWG, on top of my player grading chart. He is followed in 2nd place by the Heir Apparent, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is making me look like a sage seer as I wrote about him two seasons ago long before everyone else recognized his awesome potential. The top five are rounded out by who else, James Harden, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. The Beard is having another MVP caliber season and the Brow is playing really well again as he appears to have his good health back. The Brow is a tremendous talent who when he gets on a roll he is impossible to stop on both ends of the court. Russel Westbrook is having a few adjustment problems this season so far with Carmelo Anthony but I am sure OKC will get it figured out and Russ, Paul George and Carmelo will form a strong team and could be a serious contender for the title at season’s end.

At the first third point 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, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Toronto Raptors. I am not including the Boston Celtics because I don’t think they have the horses for a title run although their coaching staff does fine work with the talent that they have. The Cavs have traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas Jr. because Kyrie no longer wanted to pay with LeBron. But the Cavs still will need Kevin Love in full form to get to the finals. Toronto could finally get over the hump against Cleveland but that remains to be seen. The Wizards will challenge the Cavs this year as they are now playing very good basketball under their coach Scott Brooks. John Wall has been hurt but still plays at a high level and the Wizards are going to be a tough out for anybody. The Milwaukee Bucks may pull off a first round upset with Giannis Antetokounmpo playing at an All-Pro level this year. Out in the Western Conference, Houston added Chris Paul and that makes them a very formidable team having him play alongside James Harden. San Antonio can challenge if they stay healthy, which has been bit of an issue this season so far. Their core group of players like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are probably in their last years and would like to go out with another title. Their chance are dependent on a healthy Kawhi Leonard. OKC with Russell, Paul George and Carmelo could start to gel as the season goes on and be a possible title contender. But that being said if the Warriors can stay healthy and keep Draymond Green in the game they will likely win it all this year. Draymond Green has been playing at an incredible level but has had some nagging injuries so far this season and really has to be in the lineup or Golden State will find it very difficult to repeat. But in the final analysis the Warriors have too much talent not to repeat, it is as simple as that.

My hometown teams, the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves are still trying to build themselves into championship contenders. The Heat are probably going to go farther in the playoffs than the Timberwolves, even though the Wolves have more talent. The Heat’s coaching staff is superior to the Timberwolves. Coach Thibs is wearing out his starters by not playing the bench players, like Jamal Crawford and Gorgui Dieng, enough. He wore out Derrick Rose in Chicago and last year burnt out Zach LaVine. I expect one or two starters to breakdown this year if he doesn’t reduce the starter’s minutes. He should also bench Andrew Wiggins when he goes into his invisible man act. The Wolves are better off with Jamal Crawford or Gorgui in the game when Wiggins drifts off, which he does quite regularly.

My next player report card will be posted at the 2/3 point end of this season around the All-Star game break. Until the next blog post you can follow me on Twitter @NBAMaven1. I appreciate any and all feedback!

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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!