Happy Easter! NBA Playoffs are starting

Welcome back NBA fans! It is time for the player report card for the second third point of the season using my proprietary grading system. The following list is the ranking of the top 25 players for the 2016-2017 season.

  1. Russell Westbrook – +25.43
  2. James Harden – +25.14
  3. LeBron James – +23.40
  4. Chris Paul – +22.98
  5. John Wall – +21.62
  6. Kevin Durant – +21.21
  7. Jimmy Butler – +20.71
  8. Giannis Antetokounmpo – +20.63
  9. Draymond Green – +19.43
  10. Ricky Rubio – +19.17
  11. Anthony Davis – +19.04
  12. Nicola Jokic – +18.34
  13. Jeff Teague – +17.63
  14. Karl Anthony Towns – +17.13
  15. Rudy Gobert – +16.64
  16. DeAndre Jordan – +16.44
  17. Blake Griffin – +16.38
  18. Kawhi Leonard – +16.29
  19. Kyle Lowry – +16.13
  20. DeMarcus Cousins – +16.12
  21. Stephen Curry – +15.67
  22. Mike Conley – +15.29
  23. Damian Lillard – +14.97
  24. Hassan Whiteside – +14.89
  25. Nicolas Batum – +14.42                                                                                                                                             Russell Westbrook put it into another gear in the last third of the season to end up as the NBA Maven Player of the Year. James Harden is next with LeBron James finishing the season strong and moving into third place. Chris Paul is fourth after LeBron. The rest of the top ten are with John Wall at the five spot followed by Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Draymond Green and surprise Ricky Rubio rounding out the top ten. The remaining 15 places in the top 25 had quite a bit of movement with Nicola Jokic rising up to 12th and Karl Anthony Towns moving up the list where KAT sits at 14th on the list at the end of the season.

     

    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, and Washington Wizards. The Cavs have added Deron Williams to help but they still will need Kevin Love in full form to get to the finals and repeat. The Wizards will challenge the Cavs this year as they are now playing very good basketball under their coach Scott Brooks. John Wall is playing 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. 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. Too much talent, it is as simple as that.

Until the next blog post you can follow me on Twitter @NBAMaven1. I appreciate any and all feedback!

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The Cavs Go for Two in a Row

Welcome back NBA fans! 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 the first third of the season.

  1. James Harden – +25.82
  2. Russell Westbrook – +24.71
  3. Chris Paul – +24.14
  4. LeBron James – +22.57
  5. Draymond Green – +21.74
  6. Kevin Durant – +21.54
  7. Giannis Antetokounmpo- +21.08
  8. John Wall – +20,.20
  9. Anthony Davis – +19.78
  10. Jimmy Butler – +19.19
  11. Jeff Teague – +16.66
  12. Kyle Lowry – +16.30
  13. Blake Griffin – +16.15
  14. Kawhi Leonard – +15.92
  15. Damian Lillard – +15.66
  16. Rudy Gobert- +14.83
  17. Stephen Curry – +14.97
  18. Ricky Rubio – +14.59
  19. DeMar DeRozan – +14.59
  20. Kevin Love – +14.33
  21. Rajon Rondo – +14.30
  22. Hassan Whiteside – +14.21
  23. Tim Frazier – +13.96
  24. Mike Conley – +13.89
  25. Paul Millsap – +13.84

 

I am sure there will be people that think how can James Harden be grading higher than Russell Westbrook with Westbrook having all those triple doubles. Both of these players play a style of basketball that I am a big proponent of and that is take the ball to the basket and score when the clock is stopped. Harden just does it a little better because he makes fewer turnovers and makes more free throws. Both of these players are pretty much doing it all on their own for their respective teams. It will be interesting to see how well they hold up over the course of the season. Last night Harden became the first NBA player to have a triple double of a minimum of 50 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists. He also tied Wilt Chamberlain’s record for most points scored by a NBA player with a triple double by scoring 53 points. Once again the late great Wilt Chamberlain is still mentioned in the record books. This record of Wilt’s is about 50 years old so Harden had a magnificent game. Any time your name is alongside Wilt’s in the record books you can be sure that it was a once in a lifetime performance.

There are some new additions to this list from the end of season ranking I listed in my previous blog. The two most interesting names on my list are Jeff Teague and Tim Frazier. Jeff Teague appears to really like playing at Indiana as he is playing at a higher level this year so far. Tim Frazier is taking advantage of his playing time due to Jrue Halliday’s injury and showing that he is a very capable point guard in the league. DeMar DeRozan is also a new addition and he is playing very well so far this year. He and Kyle Lowry have some people talking about the Raptors being a title contender. Another notable addition to the list is Rudy Gobert. The big Frenchman has the Jazz playing very good basketball. A couple of notable players dropping out of the rankings are Pau Gasol and Greg Monroe. Pau Gasol signed with the Spurs and has a lesser role with the Spurs than he had with the bulls and his numbers are reflecting that. Greg Monroe is player that made the list for the first third of last season. He looked like he would be a significant contributor for the Milwaukee Bucks but for some reason Jason Kidd has him sitting on the bench. I question that move by Kidd. Monroe should get more playing time. As long as I am talking about the Bucks I recall discussing Giannis Antetokounmpo in my end of season blog last spring and he is improving his game in a big way. He looks like the next big superstar in the NBA!

At the 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, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Toronto Raptors. I believe Cleveland will repeat as champions. LeBron James is still the best player in the game and now that Kevin Love is fully integrated into the Cavs offense along with Kyrie Irving playing at a high level I don’t believe that they can be beat. At the minimum it looks like a 7th Finals appearance for LeBron will happen this summer. I am not discounting Golden State but I don’t think they will be able to get it done against Cleveland at least this year yet. Future years look bright for this team with the addition of Kevin Durant.My next player report card will be posted at the two thirds point of the season which will coincide with the NBA All Star Game break period. Until the next blog post you can follow me on Twitter @NBAMaven1. I appreciate any and all feedback!

One for the Land

First of all, congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers on winning the NBA title. Secondly, I am going to have to eat crow regarding my prediction of Golden State winning it all. I underestimated the will of LeBron James. I have never underestimated his ability but I didn’t think he would be able to do it with the Cavs. However, Kyrie Irving stepped up his game just in time so LeBron wasn’t playing alone. Once again LeBron proved to everyone that he is THE DAWG of the NBA. I believe there is no doubt anymore that he is the best basketball player on the planet. Steph Curry had another excellent year but as I tweeted earlier I didn’t think he was the real MVP of the league and definitely not a unanimous choice for MVP. I believed LeBron was the MVP based on the fact that Cleveland without LeBron doesn’t even make the playoffs much less win the title, whereas Golden State with Steph is still a playoff team. I felt that Draymond Green was the MVP of the Warriors based on the fact that his suspension for game 5 in the Finals was what allowed the Cavs to win it all. Regarding Steph Curry’s unanimous MVP selection I believe the MVP award from the league writers is a vanity show and not really indicative of who is the real MVP. Look at it this way, Wilt Chamberlain, in 1961-1962 playing for the Philadelphia Warriors, averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds a game and was not voted the league MVP, so I look at a lot of these awards as popularity contests and not real accurate evaluations of players’ talents and contributions to their respective teams. Even if you happen to agree with Steph being voted MVP you would still expect some votes going to LeBron and other players like Russell Westbrook, who had an outstanding year. In fact if Westbrook wouldn’t have deferred to Kevin Durant at the end of game six in their playoff series with Golden State, Oklahoma City would have been in the Finals and not the Warriors. Westbrook should have taken over at the end of the game instead of Durant, who turned over the ball several times at the end of the game allowing the Warriors to overcome them. It wouldn’t have mattered who represented the Western Conference anyway because LeBron was on a mission to win one for the Land and that he did. Kudos to LeBron and maybe the brothers in the barbershops across the country will stop calling him LaWanda, because #LeBronJames aka THE DAWG, is all the way up and his opponents couldn’t keep up.

Looking forward to next year there are some interesting discussions regarding the top free agents, LeBron and Kevin Durant, going on in cities like Miami, New York, Washington and Oakland. Word out of Miami is that don’t be surprised if LeBron opts out to return to play with his buddy DWade and possibly win a couple more titles with him. New York, Washington and Oakland are talking a lot about Kevin Durant. He would make each of them much better, possibly unstoppable and OKC would not be a contender anymore. He was recently offered a government cabinet position by the Governor of Oklahoma. He might stay in OKC after all. We shall see. The player I think that is going to be on the rise next year is Giannis Antetokounmpo. He has tremendous physical attributes and improved his play in the last third of the season this past year and I expect him to continue to do so. My hometown team the Timberwolves drafted Kris Dunn from Providence. He is a defensive stopper and should fit into Coach Thibs system of playing. Tyus Jones does not appear to be big enough or good enough defensive player to be interested  the league much longer. Dunn gives the TWolves some insurance in case Ricky Rubio gets hurt, which has happened all too often in Ricky’s career. The Timberwolves look like they are getting all the pieces of the puzzle together but they need to retire Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince as they are done. It will be interesting to see how they will play with Thibodeau running things now. They have all the talent to be a future contender but we will have to wait and see. As far as the Olympic Games are concerned the USA should easily win the gold. Maybe France or Lithuania could cause some problems but that is about it. Spain would have been my choice to challenge the USA, and they will still be a force, but without Marc Gasol they will be playing at a disadvantage.
Until the next blog post you can follow me on Twitter at @NBAMaven1. I appreciate any and all feedaback!

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!

Report on first 1/3 of NBA season

Welcome back NBA fans! 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 the first third of the season.

 

  1. Russell Westbrook – +23.07
  2. Rajon Rondo – +22.32
  3. Ricky Rubio – +19.57
  4. Chris Paul – +19.29
  5. Draymond Green – +18.96
  6. Stephen Curry – +18.82
  7. LeBron James – +18.12
  8. John Wall – +17.96
  9. Kevin Durant – +17.83
  10. James Harden – +17.20
  11. Kawhi Leonard – +16.61
  12. Blake Griffin – +16.21
  13. Paul Millsap – +15.68
  14. Anthony Davis – +15.52
  15. Pau Gasol – +15.28
  16. Kyle Lowry – +14.83
  17. Andre Drummond – +14.43
  18. Greg Monroe- +14.21
  19. Isaih Thomas – +14.07
  20. Erik Bledsoe – +13.90
  21. Jimmy Butler – +13.62
  22. DeAndre Jordan – +13.55
  23. Marc Gasol- +13.42
  24. Jarret Jack – +12.93
  25. Mike Conley – +12.87

 

There are some new additions to this list from the end of the 2015 season ranking I listed in my previous blog. The two most interesting names on my list are Draymond Green and Ricky Rubio. Ricky Rubio was hurt most of last year so he didn’t meet the requirements of having to play in 60 out of the 82 games during the regular season to qualify for the top 25 player list. This year he is off to a great start playing for another lousy Timberwolves team. Hopefully he can stay healthy for the full season, something he has not been able to do since joining the league. On the other hand Draymond Green has elevated his game to such a level that he is playing in another zone right now. He recorded two triple doubles in a row in his last two games leading the Warriors to victories while Stephen Curry was out the first game and played limited minutes in the second game due to injuries. If Draymond can keep playing at this level and if the Warriors stay healthy the Warriors will repeat as champions. Both Draymond Green and Ricky Rubio have posted +45.00 games this season, the highest single game grades for any player in the league so far this year. Greg Monroe is another player that made the list for the first third of the season. He is proving to be a quality big man for the Milwaukee Bucks.

 

At the 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, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks. As I stated in the previous paragraph, 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 don’t get hit with injuries to their key players. If this doesn’t happen I see the San Antonio Spurs 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 contender that could rise up and surprise everybody and win the title is the Atlanta Hawks. They 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.

 

My next player report card will be posted at the two thirds point of the season which will coincide with the NBA All Star Game break period. Until the next blog post you can follow me on Twitter at @NBAMaven1. I appreciate any and all feedaback!