Boogie on down to NOLA

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 2nd third of the season.

  1. James Harden – +25.31
  2. Chris Paul – +24.72
  3. Russell Westbrook – +24.14
  4. LeBron James – +22.46
  5. John Wall – +22.09
  6. Kevin Durant – +21.48
  7. Giannis Antetokounmpo- +20.81
  8. Draymond Green – +20,.72
  9. Jimmy Butler – +19.71
  10. Anthony Davis – +19.09
  11. Jeff Teague – +18.51
  12. Ricky Rubio – +17.73
  13. Blake Griffin – +17.36
  14. Kawhi Leonard – +16.65
  15. Damian Lillard – +15.66
  16. Karl Anthony Towns- +16.19
  17. Kyle Lowry – +16.04
  18. Isaiah Thomas – +15.55
  19. Stephen Curry – +15.35
  20. Nicolas Batum – +15.13
  21. Mike Conley – +14.63
  22. Jrue Holiday – +14.43
  23. Damian Lillard – +13.94
  24. Hassan Whiteside – +13.94
  25. Paul Millsap – +13.41

James Harden is still at the top of the list but Chris Paul has edged by Russell Westbrook for 2nd place. Chris Paul might not qualify for ranking at season’s end if he continues to miss games due to injuries. The rest of the top ten are the same with John Wall switching places with Draymond Green and Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis switching places. The remaining 15 places in the top 25 had quite a bit of movement in the 2/3 of the season. Tim Frazier, a newcomer to the list, fell of the top 25 when Jrue Holiday came back and took his starting role back from Frazier. Ricky Rubio made the biggest jump going from 18th to 12th at the end of the 2/3 of the season. He welcomes teammate and future all-pro, Karl Anthony Towns unto the list where KAT sits at 16th on the list at the 2/3 point of the season. Rudy Gobert, DeMAr DeRozan, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo and Tim Frazier fell off of the top 25 list. Isaiah Thomas, Nicolas Batum, the aforementioned KAT, Jrue Holiday and DeMarcus Cousins rose up to be in the top 25.

The big news at the NBA All-Star break is the trade of DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. It should make the Pelicans an interesting team with Anthony Davis joining Boogie up front. We shall have to wait and see how this will play out. Deron Williams is ready to join Cleveland in the Cavs push to repeat as champions. Hopefully DWill stll has enough in the tank to help Cleveland repeat as champions. My former hometown team did not trade Ricky Rubio and that is a good thing. He is playing much better the past two months. Now if his coach could coach better the Wolves would have a shot at the playoffs!

At the two thirds 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. With Kevin Love’s injury it will be hard for the Cavs to repeat if he is unable to return at full strength for the playoffs. The Cavs are reportedly adding 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. 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.

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

NBA All-Star Break/Two Thirds Point of Season Review

Welcome back NBA fans! It is time for the player report card for the second third point of the season at the All-Star Break, 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 – +24.59
  2. Rajon Rondo – +23.27
  3. Chris Paul – +20.77
  4. Draymond Green – +20.25
  5. Ricky Rubio – +19.52
  6. Stephen Curry – +19.12
  7. LeBron James – +18.73
  8. John Wall – +18.73
  9. Kevin Durant – +18.06
  10. James Harden – +17.31
  11. Pau Gasol – +16.45
  12. DeAndre Jordan – +15.69
  13. Jimmy Butler – +15.63
  14. Kyle Lowry – +15.60
  15. Anthony Davis – +15.17
  16. Paul Millsap – +15.09
  17. Kawhi Leonard – +14.92
  18. Kemba Walker – +14.08
  19. Greg Monroe- +13.98
  20. Mike Conley – +13.68
  21. Isaih Thomas – +13.56
  22. Zaza Pachulia – +13.50
  23. Damian Lillard – +13.11
  24. Dwight Howard- +12.93
  25. Marc Gasol- +12.63

 

There are some new additions to this list from the first third of the season ranking I listed in my previous blog. Blake Griffin, Erik Bledsoe and Jarrett Jack are hurt and won’t play enough games to be included in the rankings this third of the season. In fact it appears that Jarrett Jack and Erik Bledsoe are lost for the season and Blake Griffin might be out for a while with his injury and suspensions for the assault he committed on one of the Clippers support staff. Andre Drummond fell off the list with his less than stellar play in the past month or so and Dwight Howard and Zaza Pachulia jumped up into the top 25 list with their recent fine play. 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. 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 and will probably end up with the best season record ever! Russell Westbrook is another player that seems to just get better as the season goes on. He had a +52 game last month and he joins Ricky Rubio and Chris Paul as the only players that have that high of a single game grade. He is playing like a beast these days.

 

Last night I watched the All-Star game and I tell you I got bored watching these guys not playing any defense. Russel Westbrook was the MVP for the second year in a row and like I said he is playing really well right now. Congrats to Russell Westbrook on his MVP award for the game. Paul George came within a point (like Russell Westbrook did last year) of tying Wilt Chamberlain’s scoring record for the All-Star game. Even in a game where there was less than zero defense played today’s players still can’t beat Wilt’s scoring record; and people wonder why I say Wilt is the greatest player ever! Zach Lavine repeated as the slam dunk champion and Karl Anthony Towns won the skills competition. Congrats to my hometown Minnesota Timberwolves players for representing the team well. I would like to share a few thoughts on Zach Lavine. Zach Lavine could be that guy that the Timberwolves fans have been waiting for almost 30 years. He could be the guy that leads them to the title playing alongside Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio and Gorgui Dieng. If he learns, like Michael and Kobe learned before him, to pull up and consistently make the jumper from 18-23 feet he could be a superstar like Air Jordan and Kobe. The Timberwolves need him to develop into a complete player and not just someone who is a high flying dunker. Jerry West told Kobe when he was a young player that he didn’t have to take it to the rack everytime he had the ball and that if he learned to play from the outside as well as he went to the basket he could be unstoppable. We all know that the rest is history. This is the ability I see in Zach Lavine but he needs a mentor to help him get there. Let’s hope the Timberwolves find him a proper mentor.

 

At the two thirds 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. Toronto Raptors have been playing well as of late but I still not convinced that they are a real contender. 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 don’t get hit with injuries to their key players. If this doesn’t happen I see 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 end of the season which at that time I will break down the playoff matchups and give you the eventual champion. Until the next blog post you can follow me on Twitter at @NBAMaven1. I appreciate any and all feedaback!

All Star Analysis

Welcome NBA fans! A few years ago I was visiting a friend in Washington, DC and we talked about the state of the NBA. It was my friend’s contention, and mine as well, that there are only about 15 to 20 players in the NBA worth paying to see. So I decided to start grading the top players in the NBA with my grading system. The goal of my blog is to educate and inform NBA fans so that they may better appreciate and understand the league and its top players. At times it may appear that I’m preaching to hate but all I’m trying to do is set the record straight.

In the NBA there are basically four types of players. They are as follows:
Playmakers – players like Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Ricky Rubio, etc.
Scorers/shooters – players like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Klay Thompson, etc.
Workers – Joachim Noah, Gorgui Dieng, Anthony Davis, etc.
Non producers – ie.practice fodder, roster fillins, retreads, etc.

There are also players that don’t necessarily fit into one category. Most notably LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

My grading system tends to favor the playmakers but can also help identify the workers. Scorers/shooters do not generally grade out as high in my grading system but are needed to have a championship team. NBA championship teams almost always have had at least one player who can create his own shot and score off the dribble consistently. The following is a list of the top 25 players in the league last year based on my grading system. The numbers next to their names are per game averages.

  1. Chris Paul – +24.71
  2. Anthony Davis – +20.88
  3. Russell Westbrook – +20.51
  4. John Wall – +20.08
  5. Stephen Curry – +18.87
  6. James Harden – +18.83
  7. LeBron James – +17.40
  8. Pau Gasol – +16.47
  9. DeAndre Jordan – +16.44
  10. Blake Griffin – +15.81
  11. Demarcus Cousins – +15.80
  12. Jimmy Butler – +15.55
  13. Jeff Teague – +15.12
  14. Tim Duncan – +15.00
  15. Marc Gasol – +14.83
  16. Joachim Noah – +14.62
  17. Kawhi Leonard – +14.47
  18. Al Horford – +14.36
  19. Rajon Rondo – +13.94
  20. Damian Lillard – +13.76
  21. Kyle Lowry – +13.76
  22. Erik Bledsoe – +13.70
  23. LaMarcus Aldridge – +13.19
  24. Paul Millsap – +12.88
  25. Kyrie Irving – +12.36

Based on my grading system the top player in the league last year was Chris Paul. But as I stated previously in this article my system is biased towards playmakers. A person could argue that Anthony Davis was really the top player in the league last year. Chris Paul controls the ball the majority of the time for the Clippers and therefore his grading is just going to be higher because he gets so many assists per game while making few turnovers per game. Anthony Davis on the other hand is the prototypical worker type that I mentioned earlier. He is doing work all over the basketball court, he scores, rebounds, block shots and make steals. These two players along with Russell Westbrook and John Wall had great seasons last year. That being said it is still my belief that LeBron James is still the best player in the league. LeBron James has been to the NBA finals six times, winning two titles, while being coached by below average coaches. Had LeBron James been coached by someone like Phil Jackson or Pat Riley he would probably have 10 championship rings by now. He would’ve probably had his third ring last year had Kylie Irving and Kevin Love stayed healthy through the playoffs.

I will be putting together a list of the top 25 players for the first third of the season during Christmas break. My next blog will list these players. Stay tuned!

The following list is my All Time NBA 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams. Before I list the players for my All Time NBA 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams I would like to clarify one thing. I hear the talking heads on TV talk about Michael Jordan as being the greatest player ever. I wholeheartedly disagree. Based on my 55+ years of watching the NBA, Wilt Chamberlain is the best player to have ever played in the league. There was never anybody like him before him and there has never been anybody like him since he retired. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal are the closest to being as dominant as Wilt Chamberlain was. LeBron James is the closest to being like Wilt in regards to freakish athleticism. I hope that before I die I will get to see another player like Wilt Chamberlain. Here is my list of the All Time NBA 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams. Please be advised I have picked six players per team as the sixth man has always been an integral part of championship squads.

1st Team
Wilt Chamberlain
Bill Russell
Julius Erving
LeBron James
Magic Johnson
Oscar Robertson

2nd Team
Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Michael Jordan
Kobe Bryant
John Stockton
Karl Malone
Jerry West

3rd Team
Shaquille O’Neal
Tim Duncan
Nate Thurmond
Larry Bird
John Havlicek
Tiny Archibauld

I am sure that there will be a lot of people who disagree with my choice of players for these teams.

On a closing note I would like to engage in some critical analysis of my hometown team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Minnesota Timberwolves organization has been and continues to be a total sorry mess. This organization needs a complete and total overhaul. It needs new ownership, new management and in the near term a new coaching staff.

The Timberwolves finally have some talent but lack good coaching. Ricky Rubio is the perfect example of why the Timberwolves need a new coaching staff. He is going into his 5th year with the team and still can’t shoot for a damn. He could become an elite player if the coaches would help him develop a consistent mid-range jump shot. He is playing very well so far but could be even better if he had a consistent mid-range jump shot. The Timberwolves would win more games and possibly be a solid playoff team if Ricky Rubio shot the ball better. Gorgui Dieng is another example of a player that is not utilized properly by the coaching staff. He graded out last year at +12.04 on my grading system. He is also the prototypical worker type I mentioned earlier. The Timberwolves coaching staff run very few sets for him and he basically just goes out and does work every night. In his rookie season after Nicola Peckovic got hurt, he had 3 or 4 twenty point and twenty rebound games. That is because the coach at the time, Rick Adelman, ran sets for him and let him do his work. I sure wish Adelman was still the coach. In regards to Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince, the Timberwolves should have Garnett retire immediately and bury Prince on the bench. Tayshaun Prince should be called the invisible man because in most games he’s invisible. Garnett should retire so he is not a cripple in a wheelchair in 5 to 10 years or sooner. The Timberwolves should give up on the experiment with Zach Levine as point guard, he is a shooting guard and should be starting and playing alongside Ricky Rubio with the first team. Maybe the Wolves should give Tyus Jones a chance as the back-up point guard. He certainly does not lack any confidence in his abilities although I believe he is too little to be an impact player in the NBA. But the Wolves might as well find out sooner rather than later about this kid. It might help sell tickets being that Tyus Jones is a local kid. Adrian Payne should have his name changed to Adrian Painful because he is painful to watch. Who are the Timberwolves scouts that find these guys? It doesn’t appear to me that they are earning their money.

The young players such as Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins remind me of a young Walt Bellamy and a young Bob Dandridge. Shabazz Muhammed should get all of Tayshaun Prince’s minutes as he is another worker who could make them a better team. I would like to see the Timberwolves hire Scott Brooks as their next coach. He got a bad deal in Oklahoma City. I think he could make the Timberwolves into a contender. The most recent news regarding the Timberwolves is that the owner Glenn Taylor is selling 30% of the team. I hope he changes his mind and decides to sell 100% of the team.