The Chicago Bulls have been a complete different team since the New Year begun. The Joakim Noah reign has officially taken over and everybody has hopped on his back and come along for the ride. This has been Thibs’ best year coaching and if this play continues he may wind up with his second Coach of the Year award.
Since January 1st, the Bulls have recorded an 19-8 record. Better than Indiana’s 18-8, Miami’s 16-7 mark, 17-10 in Toronto and has the best record in the whole Eastern Conference since that time. Chicago has had two separate 5 game winning streaks since January 1st, has won 7 out of there last 8 games. 9 of there 19 wins in this run the Bulls have had they’ve scored 100 points or more in. Prior to that, only 3 of there wins they scored 100 points, so that’s pretty significantly better than the 1st 2 months of the season. Not only have they improved offensively, but defensively, if you can believe they’ve gotten better they have. Since Jan 1st they’ve allowed an outstanding 91.8 points per game and that’s only .3 points behind the Memphis Grizzlies. They’ve mounted the 2nd best defensive team rating at 96.9
Now, to the players. Chicago has SIX players scoring 12-15 Points a night since this team has come together so greatly; Boozer, Noah, Gibson, Augustin, Butler and Dunleavy JR. Out of the 27 games since New Years, Joakim Noah has piled up 19 double-double’s while averaging a smooth 13.6 PPG, 13.2 RPG and 5.9 APG all while being the anchor for Chicago’s stellar defense. Speaking of that defense, Taj Gibson is someone worth noting who’s been not only a great offensive weapon for Chicago, but has stood out on the defensive end. His 97.8 defensive rating ranks in the top 10 in the entire league, along with his front-court mate Joakim who’s at an even 98. Not only have there defensive ratings been worth noting, but Joakim is 3rd in defensive win shares while Taj is 18th. And that’s in the entire NBA. They’ve both played themselves onto All-Defensive teams and the league should recognize such.
Losing Derrick to injury, again, and trading Luol hasn’t made life in Chicago Basketball land very easy. Losing a top 10 player in the league is always devastating to a team, along with a player that was with you since 2004 and is one of the better 2-way players the league has to offer. That being said, as frustrating as it has been at times, Thibs and the boys haven’t taken there foot off of the gas pedal all season long. Tank? There is no such thing in the land of the Thibs and there won’t be as long as he and Joakim still are part of the Bulls organization. DJ revitalizing his career in Chi-Town cannot go without being noted. He’s spelled Kirk since he’s gotten a contract and also played great in starts while Kirk was injured and missed time. ‘Derrick Jr’ has shot at 40/40/90 splits and has played the point guard position perfectly, as he is a complete change of pace from NationalTVKirk, as they call him.
The Bulls, as of today, sit in 4th in the Eastern Conference at 31-26. A top 4 matchup, would get them home court advantage the 1st round of the playoffs and the Bulls are 17-10 at the United Center thus far. The Bulls have notable wins since the New Year against the Raptors on the road, Suns twice, one home one away, home versus Warriors and at the Spurs. They’ve played against top notch competition and have won games, home and on the road. It may not be pretty all the time, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this years squad. Thibs for Coach of the Year ’14. But hey, Joakim Noah may deserve one or two MVP votes, shouldn’t he?
First and foremost, this wasn’t a very exciting trade deadline. Not many big names were dealt, not many players that will bolster one to become a championship caliber team. So lets delve into it.
Oklahoma City Thunder: They got there perennial all-star point guard back from injury, Russell Westbrook. I’d say that’s a pretty good pickup going forward.
Philadelphia 76ers: They lost 2 of the better players, I won’t say best because there team was very horrible, but losing them was better off. They’ve entered themselves in full tank mode, probably going to challenge Milwaukee for the worst record in the league from here on out.
Washington Wizards: Getting Andre Miller is a lot of good for this organization. Andre has been a very solid player for a very long time, and will be a great back-up and chance of pace from John Wall. Not only will he be valuable on the court, but he will be a good mentor to the younger guards on the Wiz.
Indiana Pacers: I’m not one to say this made Indiana the clear cut favorites because until Miami loses a series, they’re still the 2 time defending champs. But, Granger was shooting below 40% and Turner is avg. career high in scoring. Indiana is 19th in offensive efficiency and Turner will help the Indy bench score more efficiently. Lavoy just gives the giant front court even more size.
Golden State Warriors: Adding Steve Blake, a guy with playoff experience and a scoring threat off the bench. They added him for 2 guys that they weren’t using at all anyways; MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore. Can play both guard positions and will be a nice change of pace between him and the other GSW guards.
Philadelphia 76ers: I understand I put them in the winners category but they’re also losers as well, from a gameplay aspect. They’re going to be atrocious the remainder of the season and I’m not sure I see more than 7-8 wins left on there schedule and that may be courteous.
Cleveland Cavaliers: They added Spencer Hawes and he’s not bad, but that creates a big log jam in the front court. Between Hawes, Zeller, Thompson, Varejao and Anthony Bennett is there enough playing time to go around? Dan Gilbert is a wizard at these kind of things.
Detroit Pistons: Not dealing Greg Monroe is something the Pistons and there front office may regret. They could have dealt him for draft picks or a true small forward and move Josh Smith to the power forward position. The 3 big lineup of Smith-Monroe-Drummond hasn’t been very successful. In 18 MPG they have a +/- of -2.0.
New York Knicks: I’m not sure if Dolan/Grunwald realize, but NY isn’t very good this season. Melo has no help, they have the worst starting PG in the league and there best trade piece is still on the team. Melo said he wanted help and staying put at the trade deadline may not have been the start he envisioned.
Headed to the second portion of the NBA season, here are my awards up to date.
Most Valuable Player
Kevin Durant: 31.4 PPG – 7.8 RPG – 5.5 APG – 51.0% FG – 41.0% 3PT – 88.2% FT
Leads the NBA in PER (31.9), Offensive win shares (10.3), Usage percentage (32.7), Minutes played (2061) and not only offensively, but Kevin is 7th in the entire league in defensive win shares (3.4). OKC went 21-4 without Rus, where he had a stretch of 12 straight 30+ point games, 4 of those were 40+ and 1 54 point game. Simply put, KD has been more valuable than anybody else and personally I don’t think it’s all that close. Period.
Rookie of the Year
Michael Carter-Williams: 17.1 PPG – 5.4 RPG – 6.5 APG – 39.6% FG – 29.1% 3PT – 70.4% FT
MCW leads all rookies in all 3 of those categories above and although he hasn’t shot very good percentages he’s been the best rookie in a very weak year for the rookie class. He’s played a lot of minutes for a very porous 76ers team and unless Oladipo or Burke have monster 2nd half’s of the season, it’s his award to lose.
Defensive Player of the Year
Roy Hibbert: 94.3 Defensive rating – 3.9 Defensive win shares – 2.5 BPG
Roy is 1st in defensive rating and 2nd in defensive win shares. He or teammate Paul George are 1st and 2nd in both categories. He’s 3rd overall in blocks per game and the Pacers are the clear cut best defensive team in the entire game. Roy has an advantage on his side as the last non PF / C to win the award came 10 years ago. The previously named Ron Artest won the award.
Sixth Man of the Year
Taj Gibson: 12.9 PPG – 6.6 RPG – 1.5 BPG – 48.4% FG – 72.5% FT
Taj has come along strong during late January into February. 12 out of his last 13 games he’s scored in double figures including 8 with 15+. 8 double-doubles thus far for a bench player is impressive. He’s made a strong case for himself to be the starter, but as long as Carlos is still a Chicago Bull, he’ll be a in a bench role.
Coach of the Year
Scott Brooks: Thunder 43-12 (Best record in the NBA)
Through all the criticism he’s received throughout the years based on adjustments, or the lack there of. Believe it or not, he’s been great at adjustments this year. His lineup changes, trust in his younger players with big minutes and the job he did, not only Kevin Durant, while Rus was out was amazing. OKC is the 4th ranked defense for who a team that is recognized as an offensive powerhouse, which they’re the 5th ranked team in the league in. I understand guys like Hornacek, Thibs, Vogel have done great with what was expected but this Thunder team has been simply great on both ends of the ball and Brooks has a lot to do with it.
All NBA First Team
- Chris Paul
- LeBron James
- Kevin Durant
- Blake Griffin
- Kevin Love
All NBA Second Team
- Steph Curry
- James Harden
- Paul George
- Carmelo Anthony
- Dwight Howard
All NBA Third Team
- Kyrie Irving
- DeMar DeRozan
- LaMarcus Aldridge
- Anthony Davis
- DeMarcus Cousins
It’s no secret that at the end of this season, Carmelo Anthony will become a free agent. Plenty of people have made assumptions and statements on where Melo will go, if in fact he goes, or he’ll stay. Carmelo himself, has made a few comments on wanting to be in New York but if he were to leave he described the few spots he would want to play. Well, I’m here to give you another opinion on what Melo should do with his future that seems to and forever will receive scrutiny as long as Melo is well, Melo.
A lot of people suspected the Knicks to be successful following a 2 seed just last season in the Eastern Conference. They’ve nose dived to a 20-32 record at the All-Star break, lost there 1st round pick in 2016, JR Smith got a new contract in the off-season and has simply hasn’t performed and has been a distraction for everyone in the Knicks organization. One of the lone bright spots, if not the only REAL bright spot for New York has been Carmelo Anthony. He’s been doing basically everything for New York this year but it hasn’t been enough. We all know about his 62 point outbreak versus Charlotte. But it’s been a lot more than that. He’s been scoring the basketball at pretty high percentages all season. 44.8% FG’s, 41.6% 3 PT’s, and 84.7% FT’s, very elite splits for the amount of shots per game (21.5) he takes and the amount he scores per night (27.3). ’13-’14 has been his best year rebounding the basketball as he’s averaging 8.6 boards per game and has 18 double-doubles at the break while last season he had a grand total of 10.
Now, where should he go, if he goes at all. New York has the chance to offer him the most money he could get if he tested free agency but he’s said he’s willing to take a pay cut if Grunwald and Dolan can make roster changes to make them a championship contender. The only way I see the Knicks making that leap, is to form there own big 3, INVOLVING Carmelo Anthony. Presumably, Rajon Rondo has made the most sense too me for a while now. Melo continues to receive bad point guard play as the Knicks have the worst point guard group collectively and as everyone knows, Rondo has been rumored to be on the trading block for sometime now. The realistic move would most likely involve Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert or maybe even both players. But, for the Knicks to have Championship aspirations sooner rather than later, they need to start trading these assets for bigger names. Secondily, the Knicks should look to acquire Marc Gasol after the ’14-’15 season as he becomes a Free Agent. A big 3 of Carmelo, Rondo and Marc Gasol is very promising and has a very dynamic from the team the Knicks have in place right now. You’d have to add another scorer with a group like that, as Rondo and Gasol won’t get you anymore than 14-15 points a game but the defense and passing would greatly improve. That is the one scenario I would say Melo should 100% stay in New York. That trio could be so attractive to other free agents the Knicks would look to build a championship roster around.
BUT, with all of that being said if a player of Rondo or Gasol’s caliber isn’t signed or traded for, before Anthony inks a new deal in New York, Melo should pack up his things and try winning a championship elsewhere. He’s rumored to say if wants to leave, it would be the Lakers, Bulls or Clippers according to Probasketballtalk here. I think the Lakers should be the last place on that list he would want to play. Melo and Kobe coinciding only sounds promising when it’s on the same Olympic team where the USA’s best players are also playing along side them and they don’t feel the need to take 20+ shots each. I don’t see that working out. Chicago or the Clippers seem the best fit for Carmelo. A chance to make his own big 3 in Clipperland would potentially have 3/10 best players in the entire league, maybe even 3/5 seems like a Dreamy situation for anybody. Chicago, seems very realistic as well. The team is built for a championship if Derrick comes back to full strength and if they could just add one more elite scorer. More than likely, Boozer will be amnestied, freeing up enough money for the front office to call up Carmelo to have him come play in Chicago.
My opinion is one of many. At the end of the day, Carmelo wants to stay in New York, but he wants to win a championship more. He’s willing to take a pay cut to stay but the next move is for James Dolan and Glen Grunwald to provide Knicks fans Carmelo what they want. A CHAMPIONSHIP. If not, bolt, Carmelo. Whether it be the Los Angeles Clippers or the Chicago Bulls, those would be your best 2 options if you leave.
What’s going on guys and gals. Welcome to @therealgrande’s round table discussion: volume II
I asked them questions about the NBA, as well as answered myself. Here we go!
Do you believe Dwyane Wade should;
1) Be an All-Star?
2) Be an All-Star starter?
To answer 1 & 2 both; No & No. Although he has missed so many games, his numbers have been great. However, he shouldn’t be rewarded solely based on stats. You don’t reward people that miss that many games, when others at the same position have performed at a high level and played all the games this season.
No and no. Wade could easily be an All-Star if he played. He consistently has been sitting out of games due to “soreness” and “migraines”. Kyle Lowry was the biggest snub this season, by far. If Wade is sitting out games so much, he should man up and sit out of the All-Star game too. Kobe Bryant would have done the same thing and even urged fans to vote for younger players. Wade is not deserving of his spot on the team and should do the right thing by giving it up so a more deserving player gets it. Wade shouldn’t be fined from the league for it, either. He sits out of enough games to rest, so he shouldn’t play in the ASG.
1) Yes. There have been many issues over his health and whether he had played enough games to deserve an All-Star selection, but Wade has played in 36 games out of 51 for the Miami Heat leading into the All-Star break. To me, that’s enough. In those games, Wade has been averaging 18.7 points, which is relatively low for his standards, but he’s been doing it on a very efficient 54.8% shooting. Across the board, his stats aren’t the most appealing, but in a weak Eastern conference that is short in star quality guards, it’s hard to think of many other guards that should replace Wade.
2) No. I earlier stated that Wade had played in enough games to be an All-Star, but to be an All-Star starter; it’s a different deal. It’s unfair to players like John Wall who has been on another level this season consistently, while Wade has been sitting out games due to niggles and preserving his health. In my opinion, Kyrie Irving and John Wall should be starting the All-Star game for the East.
No he should not be a starter, yes he can be an all star. Wade has missed almost 1/3 of his teams games this season and has taken a large step back in his play. At this point in his career he is no longer an all star starter though in my eyes but that might be simply because of how rapid is career appears to be slowing down. He definitely deserves a spot over Joe Johnson on the All-Star roster for the East, and maybe Affalo too. But I actually think Lance Stephenson should start in the All-Star game or have Paul George at SG and put a really big man in the forward spot, but that is a totally different argument.
Who was your biggest snub(s) from each conference and why?
Eastern Conference – Lance Stephenson & Arron Afflalo. Western Conference – Boogie Cousins & Goran Dragic. Lance is one of two players averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds & 5 assists per game. Other player; KD. Arron has arguably been the 2nd best SG in the EC thus far. Boogie has been the best offensive force at the center position all season. Goran, has been one of the 3 best PG’s in the league this year. He’s broken out for a Phoenix team that deserves an All-Star.
Goran Dragic– West does have a lot of great PGs but Dragic deserves to be there. Stats dont lie and he has his team in playoff contention.Lance Stephenson- Breakout year on the best team in the NBA. Guy can do it all and he has stats to back it up. The All Star game is just a popularity contest.
Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors (East) Kyle Lowry is beyond deserving of a spot on this squad. He has stepped up in the wake of Rudy Gays departure to the West Coast. Averaging around 20 points and 7 assists he is one of the best Eastern Conference point guards currently. On top of his offense his defense is also spectacular. He averages 1.6 steals per game and leads the league in charges taken.
DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings (West) Cousins is in a division with many competitive centers. Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis to name a few. Cousins is averaging 22.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. While I believe Cousins numbers were beyond good enough to land him on the squad, he is in a very competitive conference. Look at the bright side; He is only 23 years old.
Lance Stephenson – Indiana Pacers (East) Stephenson is having his best statistical year averaging 14.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. On top of that, nearly 1 steal per game. I believe this marks a breaking out for Stephenson, who once again has better numbers than Brooklyn Swingman Joe Johnson’s mediocre season. The problem with Lance is that he is on the number one team in the East, and is overshadowed by superstar small forward Paul George. With that being said I think it’s a matter of time before he’s participating in All Star Weekend.
Goran Dragic – Phoenix Suns (West) Talk about a player that’s just plain fun to watch. Dragic’s numbers are similar to that of first timer Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers. It was clearly a judgment call. But Dragic is clearly having a year worthy of an All Star selection. He could have been a starter on the Eastern Squad, but plain and simple, the Western Conference is just better. Better luck next time, Goran.
Kyle Lowry from the Eastern Conference. He has been the best point guard in the East this season and if fans were not voting, Lowry would be starting in the backcourt next to John Wall. The fact that Joe Johnson made the game over Lowry is absurd.
Goran Dragic from the Western Conference. There will always be a snub in the West, it’s just too deep of a conference. Dragic has led the Suns to a very surprising record in the tough West. Losing Eric Bledsoe looked like it might hurt the team, but Dragic has helped them stay in the playoff hunt. He has played like he could finish as a top five point guard this year.
Injury has meant that notable names like Russell Westbrook are unfortunately absent from the game, but to me, Demarcus Cousins is the biggest snub from the West. I would have said Anthony Davis but he’s replacing the injured Kobe Bryant. It’s ridiculous that the West has only one center (Dwight Howard) in the whole roster, and Demarcus Cousins has arguably outperformed him. Either way, the West should have at least two centers, and Cousins should be one of them. From the East, I’m guessing Kyle Lowry will be the popular answer, so I will say Lance Stephenson. He leads the NBA in triple doubles, and that perfectly describes what Stephenson is to the Pacers. He does everything, and he’s also been quite flashy with his offensive brilliance, something the All-Star game could have definitely used to spice up the game.
Give me your top 5 Point Guards this year. Base your argument’s to each on; stats, offense & defense, injuries etc.
1. Chris Paul
2. Steph Curry
3. Goran Dragic
4. Tony Parker
5. John Wall
1. Steph Curry: 2nd in assists. Top 5 scorer. Top 10 SPG. 40% 3pt. He is above his career average in all 3 major categories. One knock on him is his turnovers. Other than that he is the star of this “under performing” team in my eyes.
2.Chris Paul: Only reason he is second is because of injuries. He leads the league in assists and the Clippers are a major threat in the WC when this man is 100%.
3.Goran Dragic: All star snub. Career high in 3 major categories. The Suns are currently a playoff team and he is the main reason why. Most underrated PG in the league and he finally had himself a breakout season.
4.Tony Parker: Statistically he’s nothing special, but he plays great despite a lot of injuries around him.
5.Ty Lawson: Career high in points and assists. Lawson has been consistent all year despite some injuries around his team and with himself. I look for the Nuggets to make a possible playoff push if Lawson stays healthy.
1. Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
19.2 ppg 11.1 apg 4.6 rpg 2.5 spg
Hear me out, Paul has missed a couple of weeks this season. But he continues to be a nightly double-double while remaining one of the best defenders in the NBA. Throughout the injury Darren Collison filled in and the Clippers remain legitimate title contenders. Really an easy number one for me.
2. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
24.6 ppg 9.0 apg 4.4 rpg 1.7 spg
While Curry averages more points per game, including his part in the “Splash Brothers”, Paul is better in every category, and is also a much better defender. While Paul was a clear cut Number one, based off injuries to people would normally fill this list (Rose, Rondo, Westbrook) Curry is a clear cut number 2.
3. John Wall – Washington Wizards
19.8 ppg 8.4 apg 4.4 rpg 2.0 spg
In my opinion this is a huge step forward for John Wall. His numbers keep improving, and I can only expect it to remain that way. His offensive numbers, as well as defensive. I believe he is the Eastern Conferences number 1 this year and deserves the nod as started in the all-star game over Kyrie Irving, but hey, oh well.
4. Goran Dragic – Phoenix Suns
20.3 ppg 6.2 apg 3.5 rpg 1.4 spg
Dragic is in my opinion the number one reason the Suns have been one of the NBAs biggest surprises this season. His offensive numbers speak for themselves. He is one of the names flying under the radar in a conference flooded with talent and depth at every position. Dragic is also an above average defender which lands him at number 4 on my list.
5. Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors
16.7 ppg 7.5 apg 4.4 rpg 1.6 spg
This was the hardest decision of the list. I know what the average thought process is. Where is Damian Lillard? Well if you really look at numbers the only thing that Lillard has on Lowry is Points per game and it’s not by much. Plus, Lowry is clearly a better defender. The way Lillard controls the Blazers could easily land him on this list farther down the line, but for now Kyle Lowry is a standout in the depleted Eastern Conference.
1. Stephen Curry: Still has to become a better defender, but Curry has been playing out of his mind offensively. He has improved his playmaking throughout the season so far and is now deadly in the final moments of a game.
2. Chris Paul: Paul would be number one if he didn’t miss so much time, nonetheless he is the best point guard in the league hands down, when healthy.
3. Tony Parker: Parker quietly gets the job done. In a season where the team has been dealing with constant injuries, he has the team around the top of the West.
4. Kyle Lowry: After the trade rumors have simmered down, Lowry has been a monster. He is leading a team with low expectations to potentially winning the Atlantic Division.
5. Damian Lillard: Portland has been one of the better teams in the league with Lillard’s help. He needs to become a better playmaker, but is one of the most clutch players we have in the league today.
Based on just this season, my list would be Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard, in that order. Chris Paul is almost an automatic first place; he’s been the best point guard in the league for a while. Stephen Curry is catching up however; his passing and playmaking ability has been just as sensational as his three point shooting this season. John Wall has been doing a great job carrying the Washington Wizards to a respectable position, and his assist numbers are impressive. Irving has had a relatively down year but with all the chaos happening in Cleveland with the Cavaliers, what would you expect? The team has been sub-par, and still Irving has put up decent numbers, with 21.5 points per game to go with 6.2 assists per game on a team that has been a mess. Lillard is fifth, to because statistically, his numbers aren’t too different from Wall and Irving, but he is averaging the least assists out of the three, while being on the best team. All three are under 43% shooting for the season, and the only thing Lillard does noticeably better than the other two is shooting threes (40.4% for the season). Despite Lillard’s rapid rise with the Blazers, I’m not ready to put him higher than fifth. And when including the fact there are injured point-guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook that are better when healthy, Lillard still has some way to go to be threatening the top.
1. Chris Paul: This guy was competing with King James and Durant in what could of been a great MVP race this year putting up some absolute phenomenal numbers for a Clippers team that could go all the way this season if they get another big forward before the trade deadline. His numbers right now are the best since in his career since 2009 and CP3 is looking to put a pretty ring on his finger at the end of the season.
2. Stephen Curry: We’ve had some really big PG’s out this year (Westbrook, Rose) and although I would NOT put Steph Curry in a class with the big three PG’s on the NBA due to him being somewhat of a defensive liability, his improvement over the past 3 years have made Golden State one of the funnest teams to watch in the NBA. He is averaging +1 TRB, +3 Ast and 10+PTS per game then 2 years ago. Steph Curry has become what everyone thought he would be and then some. Now if only the guy could step his defensive game up and become a complete package.
3. Goran Dragic: Can we stop ignoring this guy for now? The guys averaging 20PTS, 6AST, 3RBS and under 3TO’s a game. Dragic isn’t only just playing All-Star basketball, he’s made Eric Bledsoe somewhat expendable too.
4. John Wall: It’s like John Wall took 10 steps forward this season, and Kyrie Irving took 10 steps backwards. Now for the love of god John Wall, please learn how to shoot in the off-seasos. This is the same guy who once averaged .071 in his sophomore campaign from downtown. If he can add that 3 or even great mid-range jumper his game would be THAT much better that I would put him at 2 over Steph Curry now.
5. Tony Parker: I can’t say anything about tony Parker that hasn’t been said already.
Since the New Year, has Joakim Noah been the best Center in basketball. Why or why not?
I believe Jo has been the best center in the Association since the New Year. He’s averaged 13.45 PPG, 13.55 RPG & 5.75 APG and even with those gaudy numbers, it’s much more than that. His leadership for this undermanned Bulls team, leading fast breaks, AS A CENTER, being the anchor of the second rated defense in the NBA. The New Year has been a prime example of how great Jo really is.
No, maybe the hardest playing center, but not the best center. Why? Because Dwight Howard is still in this league and has been playing great since the new year. Sure Joakim is the best passing center, but Dwight is still the best center and has proven it in 2014 thus far.
Joakim Noah has been the best center since the New Year and I’m going to tell you why. While Noah seems to be overshadowed by Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins, there are many reasons why he shouldn’t be. Noah is one of the hardest workers on both sides of the ball. Where he lacks offensive skill, he makes up for it in fighting for the ball every minute he’s on the court. He is a beast on the glass and averages a double-double in points and rebounds. On top of that the Bulls have been extremely shorthanded at the point guard position this year due to Derrick Rose’s Unfortunate Circumstances. So who other than Augustin and Heinrich step up? How about your 7 foot center. Noah averages 4.3 assists per game which for someone of his size is among the best. He has phenomenal court vision for a man of his size. The reason he has been the best of 2014 is due to the Bulls turn around since 2013. The Bulls are 14-7 in 2014 and are climbing up the weak Eastern Conference all the time. I believe a lot of the reason for this is due to Joakim Noah’s tenacity and ability to be a Jack of All trades on the floor.
Noah has been good, but I would still take DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard over him. Noah is still not there yet on the offensive end to dominate both ends of the floor consistently. Cousins is an absolute monster in the paint and Howard is still a top two, if not, best center in the league.
In terms of versatility, I don’t see why not. Noah has been doing everything for the Bulls, whether scoring, rebounding, defense or assisting. Any center that can notch double digit assists without it being a one-off occasion is special. However his, scoring hasn’t been as great compared to other big men, but all in all, Joakim Noah has been the most versatile center since the new year, so I’m not going to disagree. He recently got a triple double in a game, and he’ll arguably give you the most value over any other center.
I think Joakim Noah has made the biggest jump now that it is his turn to be the leader of the Chicago Bulls with Deng gone and Rose out. People are seeing his stats increase now that he is the focus on the team but what people are seeing even more is his ability to get everyone on the floor playing together. Noah isn’t only one of the NBA’s best defenders and rebounders but he is also the best big man at passing and working on offense. Until Boogie Cousins can do so, I have to say Noah has been the best center in the NBA over Cousins and Hibbert since the new year.
Looking forward to the second half of the season, pick a team, from each conference, to you expect to jump spots in the standings or
make noise. And which teams do you expect to fade?
Increase: Western Conference – Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol back, Lee has been a great addition. Eastern Conference – Brooklyn Nets. Nets have been great since the New Year. Guys like Blatche, Teletovic & Livingston have added depth. Having a HEALTHY D-Will is big.
Decrease: Western Conference: Dallas Mavericks – Vince Carter as a 6th man doesn’t provide enough depth in my opinion to sustain success. Eastern Conference: Atlanta Hawks – The loss of Al Horford is going to start to take it’s toll in the 2nd half of the season.
I see Chicago jumping one spot to the 3 seed and I also see Detroit in the playoffs after the coaching move. In the west I have the Grizzlies making a jump once Conley is 100% healthy. I also expect to see the Clippers jump to the 2 seed no doubt.@Jessedoyle7:
Eastern Conference – Jump: Chicago Bulls Current Position: 4th Predicted Final Position: 3rdFade: Brooklyn Nets Current Position: 7th Predicted Final Position: Out of contention.
Western Conference – Jump: Los Angeles Clippers Current Position: 4th Predicted Final Position: 2ndFade: Dallas Mavericks: Current Position: 8th Predicted Final Position: Out of contention.
In the West, I expect the Warriors to make noise and jump a few spots. Choosing the Warriors seems weird as they’re one of the best and most talked about teams in the league today, but they’re still only 8th in the West and as of now, still in danger of missing the playoffs! Imagine that scenario. My Western team to fade would be the Trailblazers. A few weeks ago, they were top of the West, but are currently in a three-way tie for 3rd, meaning they’re as much fifth place as they are third. I’m not convinced they can keep up their standard of play in the 2nd half of the season like they did in the first. In the East, I expect the Nets to keep climbing the ranks. They’re currently 7th, but since the beginning of the year, they’ve been one of the hottest teams, and I expect them to make up lost ground. I can see them finishing in the top 4. My Eastern team to fade would be the Bulls. They’re essentially supposed to be tanking this season right? They still remain fourth due to good play by their team, but tanking efforts aren’t supposed to mean a run in the playoffs, which is where the Bulls look like they’re going for. Maybe more injuries will hit, but I expect the Bulls to end up in the lower spots for the playoffs instead of the top 4.
True or False to each of the following:
A) Carmelo Anthony will leave NY after this season
B) The T’Wolves should move Kevin Love
C) The Thunders chemistry will be worse with Russell Westbrook returning
D) Mike Woodson will be fired at some point in the 2nd half
E) Blake Griffin has been a top 5 player this season
- A) True
- B) True
- C) False
- D) True
- E) True
- A) True. 100% no doubt.
- B) The T’Wolves should move Kevin Love. True. The whole Timberwolves organization should move as well. No one wants to play there. Ouch.
- C) TRUE. Westbrook is a great player but this Thunder team is on a roll and he may break up their chemistry. Shouldn’t be a factor come playoffs though.
- D) True. I think he has a week to prove it after the all star break and if they fail he will be jobless.
- E) False. LeBron.KD.Love.PG.LMA. He is having a great season and I would probably put him in my top 7 or 8 but those 5 I mentioned are playing better in my opinion.
- A) True. I think its clear the Melo experiment in NY has worked the way the expected. Its time for a change
- B) True. Either Bring in someone to play alongside Your superstar big man or send him somewhere where he has a chance at some rings
- C) True. I love Westbrook, but he tries to hard to be Durant, and he’s not. Until he understands his role a little better this squad will suffer a minor hit in their record amongst his return.
- D) False. If he hasn’t been fired yet its not happening. He is at least safe for the rest of this season
- E) False. In no particular Order, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Chris Paul, Kevin Love/Anthony Davis. Take your pick on that one. Ill take either of their seasons of Blake Griffin. He’s easily top 10 though.
- A) True. Melo needs to win and needs a fellow star by his side.
- B) False. They should sign him and make moves to show they are serious about winning. They are close to being a playoff team.
- C) False. Durant will cool off a bit but the Thunder will be fine. Westbrook is a hell of a player and they will be more dangerous with their bench now developed.
- D) True. If the Knicks are not deep in the playoff picture by Mid-March, Woodson will be gone.
- E) False. Blake might be in the 6-9 range. He struggled at the start, but has been phenomenal as of late. He will be top five if he keeps this up even with Paul back.
- False. I say this because there isn’t many other destinations Anthony could realistically go with the cap space and the team to realistically challenge for a title. After forcing his way to New York, it will also be hard to then leave the NBA’s biggest market team without making himself a public enemy. Also New York can offer Anthony a lot of money with his next deal, and I mean a lot.
- True. I genuinely believe Love is as good as gone from Minnesota. For some reason, the current trio of Love, Martin and Rubio can’t lead the Wolves to even close to the playoffs and maybe partial blame is on Love. Maybe he isn’t ready to lead a team as the first option. Either way, Love will be frustrated by the lack of playoff action, and internally, there have been reports of tension between Love and the Timberwolves front office. The Timberwolves shouldn’t let Kevin Love walk in 2015 free agency for nothing, so maybe trading Love would benefit both parties. However there is still a while before that free agency happens, and a lot can happen in that time.
- False. The Thunder has played with Westbrook starting since 2008, and just because the Thunder have found a winning formula without him, it doesn’t mean it will disturb their flow when Westbrook returns. Westbrook is a top three point guard when healthy, and the Thunder is better with him on the team. He reduces the burden on Kevin Durant, and while players like Reggie Jackson would suffer with less playing time, when you’ve got Westbrook back, who cares? The Thunder will simply continue the way they’ve played with Westbrook previously when he returns.
- False. He may be under pressure, but firing Woodson will achieve next to nothing. This is the same Woodson that led the Knicks to the 2nd seed last season, and before we make a scapegoat of Woodson, we should turn to the players. JR Smith for example, was the sixth man of the year last year, but this year he has been a controversial player, making more stupid plays that good ones. Other players like Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton have been underwhelming, and the front office let go of some impactful players during the offseason.
- Absolutely true. This is not to say that Blake Griffin is a top 5 player in the league, but in a season when superstars are falling like flies, Griffin has stepped up his game massively, especially during the recent absence of Chris Paul. As of 2014 alone, I’d say Griffin has been a top three player after Kevin Durant and LeBron James. And if you were to say that Griffin has played better than LeBron, I wouldn’t argue. His shooting abilities have noticeably improved especially, and he is quickly becoming one of the most versatile big men in the league. Hopefully he can carry it into the playoffs.
- TRUE. Carmelo has spent his whole career in the shadows and now he’s in the dark. Either he realizes he’ll never get it and settle in New York, or more likely I think he seeks Chicago or LA and pursues his first ring.
- FALSE. I think Kevin Love would leave IF Minnesota doesn’t make a move to get another legitimate scoring threat on their roster (Kevin Martin does not count). Minnesota doesn’t seem dumb enough to make the same mistake twice of getting rid of the best PF in the game again….right?
FALSE. This is mostly the same group of guys who have been playing with Westbrook the past couple of years. Their chemistry will be fine.
TRUUUUU. Can we end this era of terrible coaches in New York already?
FALSE. He is at six with Durant, James, Paul George, Kevin Love, and Chris Paul, YES I SAID CHRIS PAUL, all ahead of him.
When Derrick went down and Lu was traded, everyone’s first reaction was how bad this team would be. Everybody’s first reaction was the Bulls should tank! Few people believed. One of the few who night in night out puts every ounce of energy he has in his body in his profession, Joakim Noah believed.
The Bulls now sit 25-25. The 6th seed and only 1 1/2 games out of 3rd place in the conference. They’re 2nd in the entire NBA in points allowed per game, only behind Indiana, all behind the anchor of Jo. 21 out of the last 22 games, Jo has gathered 10 rebounds or more. 14 being double-doubles, and an outstanding 13 of them with 5 or more assists. Chicago has gone 14-8 during that stretch. His month of January alone, was outstanding. Averaging 13.6 points per game, 14.1 rebounds per game, not only 14 boards a night but he didn’t have less than 10 the entire month and 5.8 assists per game. Oh, and 2 blocks a night on the defensive end, shocker.
Jo earned his 2nd All-Star appearance in as many years this past week and it’s well deserving. All he does is work hard and buy into the coaches system. He’s all in on coach Thibs and it’s paid off. Jo does so much for this team. While watching games you’ll often see ‘Point Noah; emerge as he runs fast breaks for the Bulls on occasion. And do it successfully. He’s 4th in the NBA in defensive win shares and he’s 5th in defensive rating, 6th in total rebounds, 4th on the offensive glass.
Numbers don’t do Jo-No the full justice. He’s the epitome of a team player and a guy who wants nothing more to do whatever he can to help his team win and win championships. Whatever happens in the second half of the season good or bad, Jo will be in the middle of everything, doing anything he can, to help the Bulls succeed.
Based on this season alone, here are my top 10 players at each position!
- Point Guards Shooting Guards
- Chris Paul 1. James Harden
- Steph Curry 2. DeMar DeRozan
- Goran Dragic 3. Monta Ellis
- Tony Parker 4. Lance Stephenson
- John Wall 5. Arron Afflalo
- Mike Conley 6. Dwyane Wade
- Damian Lillard 7. Klay Thompson
- Kyrie Irving 8. Kevin Martin
- Kyle Lowry 9. Wesley Matthews
- Isaiah Thomas 10. Jamal Crawford
- Small Forwards Power Forwards
- Kevin Durant 1. Kevin Love
- LeBron James 2. Blake Griffin
- Carmelo Anthony 3. LaMarcus Aldridge
- Paul George 4. Anthony Davis
- Rudy Gay 5. Dirk Nowitzki
- Chandler Parsons 6. David Lee
- Nicolas Batum 7. Paul Millsap
- Evan Turner 8. Chris Bosh
- Jeff Green 9. Serge Ibaka
- Trevor Ariza 10. Tim Duncan
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Dwight Howard
- Roy Hibbert
- Joakim Noah
- Nikola Pekovic
- Andre Drummond
- DeAndre Jordan
- Andrew Bogut
- Robin Lopez
- Marc Gasol ?