What LeBron wants THE DAWG gets

Welcome back NBA fans! We are at the 2/3 part of the season right near the NBA All Star Game break.

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 second third point of the 2017-2018 season. Please note that the players with asterisks next to their name are injured and won’t be back this season or won’t play the required 75% of the games to be graded for the season’s end list.

1. LeBron James – +26.4
2. Russell Westbrook – +23.6
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo – +21.6
4. James Harden – +21.5
5. Chris Paul – +21.4
6. Andre Drummond – +21.0
7. Anthony Davis – +20.8
8. Nicola Jokic – +19.6
9. Jimmy Butler – +19.2 *
10. Draymond Green – +18.9
11. Ben Simmons – +18.3
12. Kevin Durant – +18.2
13. Stephen Curry – +17.5
14. DeMarcus Cousins – +17.5 *
15. John Wall – +16.8
16. DeAndre Jordan – +16.3
17. Damian Lillard – +15.9
18. Al Horford – +15.2
19. Kyle Lowry – +14.7
20. Clint Capela – +14.4
21. Blake Griffin – +14.2
22. Nicola Vukevic – +14.5
23. Rajon Rondo – +13.7
24. Darren Collison – +13.6
25. Hassan Whiteside +13.5

The second third of the season has been interesting with all the player moves the Cleveland Cavaliers made to appease LeBron James. Like the title of this blog What LeBron wants, THE DAWG gets. 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 Russell Westbrook. Who is finally getting everybody on the same page down in OKC. 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, Giannis Antetokounmpo(The Greek Freak), James Harden, and Chris Paul. The Beard is having another MVP caliber season. Playing alongside Chris Paul has not been a problem and they are making Houston look like a serious title contender.

At the second 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, Oklahoma City Thunder, 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 traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas Jr. because Kyrie no longer wanted to pay with LeBron. Now that the Cavs realize that Isaiah Thomas, Jr. is no replacement for Kyrie, the Cavs have basically totally revamped their team to keep LeBron happy and give them somewhat a chance at winning the NBA title. The Cavs had to do this because LeBron is having a tremendous season and needs more help without Kyrie providing offensive firepower. LeBron is having one of his best years ever, very similar to 2012. I am unwilling to bet against LeBron in the playoffs, but the Cavs still will need Kevin Love in full form to get to the finals and challenge for the title. Toronto could finally get over the hump against Cleveland but that remains to be seen. Speaking of firepower I was at a martial arts seminar last Sunday at the Minnesota Kali Group facility. The seminar was held by Guru Dan Ihnosanto. He was a partner of Bruce Lee and is carrying on in the martial arts tradition Bruce Lee established many years ago. He spoke about firepower as something impossible to defend against and having the need to sidestep or retreat. This made me think that even though I believe LeBron can beat his Eastern Conference rivals by himself he will not be able to do that against the Golden State Warriors. In fact the team that I believe has the firepower to beat the Warriors is OKC Thunder. OKC with Russell, Paul George and Carmelo starting to gel could go on and be a possible title contender. But for OKC to be a contender their big three will have to stay healthy and play at their highest level. This is something we will have to wait and see if they can do that. 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. 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 and firepower(remember that word I will use it a lot going forward) 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. Now he has a banged up Jeff Teague, who missed games earlier in the season due to injuries, and Jimmy Butler just went down with a torn meniscus in his knee. I called it in my most recent blog(see 1/3 season blog I state this: 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. Unfortunately for my fellow Timberwolves fans this coaching staff, basketball operations management and talent scouting looks woefully inadequate to be ever become a serious NBA title contender.

My next player report card will be posted at the end of this season around mid-April. Until the next blog post you can follow me on Twitter @NBAMaven1. I appreciate any and all feedback!

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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!

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!