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!