The NBA Second Half Resumes Tonight!

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February 18th, 2014

So many things have happened in the first half in the season that is going to make the second half that much better. There are 5 teams in the West that could potentially make the finals, OKC being the favorite. In contrast the East has 2 teams destined to meet in the Conference Finals: Miami & Indiana. It should be an awesome second half.

Ubaldo Signs in Baltimore.

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The Baltimore Orioles have signed Ubaldo Jimenez to a 4 year $50 Million contract. The former Rockies and Indians pitcher is coming off one of his few good seasons he’s had, particularly in September where he had 6 starts and only gave up a total of 5 Earned Runs. Ubaldo defines inconsistency from year to year.

Every year since 2008, Ubaldo has started at least 31 games. That’s the most consistent thing about him as a starting pitcher. He has a career 9.6 K/9, 8.0 BB/9. He’s twice lead the entire league in Wild Pitches and was in the top 3 in walks the past 2 years. He’s given up 41 homers the past 2 seasons in Cleveland and now he’s headed to a hitters ballpark in Baltimore. HIs 2010 campaign seems like a lifetime ago.

But, with that said, Baltimore needed a starter and if he pitches like he did this past September, he could have some real value to Baltimore. He has postseason experience that seems very valuable due to what division the O’s are in. They had only a few choices with above average MLB experience and Ubaldo was the selection. I’m not sure how this deal will turn out 4 years from now when he’s 34, but as of now, I’m not a fan.

NBA Awards at the Break

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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

 

 

The Everyday Saga of Carmelo Anthony’s Future: What Should He Do?

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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.

Kyrie Irving Swerved His Way to the All-Star Game MVP

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Kyrie Irving Swerved His Way to the All-Star Game MVP

February 16th, 2014

Kyrie Irving was simply awesome in the All-Star game last night, second half especially, to grab the MVP award. He beat out guys who had monster nights; Durant, Griffin & Anthony with a 31 point, 14 assist night on 14-17 from he field. Sorry Kyrie, now you’re headed back to the Cavs!

NBA Roundtable Discussion: Volume ll

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What’s going on guys and gals. Welcome to @therealgrande’s round table discussion: volume II

This episode my guests are;

@Jessedoyle7

@ST_Ayo

@HOTSINCE92

@15LMN

@Yama_Hazheer

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?

@The_Real_Grande:

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.

1) Be an All-Star? No because if he is resting during the season why should he play the all star game. 2) Be an All-Star starter? No.
1) In regards to Wade being an All-Star I think he should be there, especially since Joe Johnson has a spot. 2) As far starting goes, I would give the nod to DeMar Derozan who is having his best statistical year yet. I certainly would not give it to Joe Johnson, but its not up to me is it?

@YamaHazheer:

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.

@ST_Ayo:

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.

@HOTSINCE92:

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?

@The_Real_Grande:

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.

@15LMN:

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.

@Jessedoyle7:

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.

@Yama_Hazheer:

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. 

@ST_Ayo:

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.

@HOTSINCE92:

Goran Dragic: Snub of the year goes to this kid, I understand Damien Lillard has the hype behind him, but Dragic is playing all around better basketball then the young kid and isn’t being attacked on defense for being an invisible wall. He should 100% be in the game over Lillard and Kobe Bryant in my opinion.
DeMarcus Cousins: Arguably the best Center in the NBA this season is not in the All-Star game but Dirk is? I hate All Star games because of popularity vote because too many idiots vote and we get shit like this and…./endrant -_-

Give me your top 5 Point Guards this year. Base your argument’s to each on; stats, offense & defense, injuries etc.

@The_Real_Grande:

1. Chris Paul

2. Steph Curry

3. Goran Dragic

4. Tony Parker

5. John Wall

@15LMN:

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.

@Jessedoyle7:

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.

@Yama_Hazheer:

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.

@ST_Ayo:

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.

@HOTSINCE92:

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?

@The_Real_Grande:

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.

@15LMN:  

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.

@Jessedoyle7:

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.

@Yama_Hazheer:

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.


@ST_Ayo
:

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.

@HOTSINCE92:

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?

@The_Real_Grande:

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.

@15LMN:

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.

@ST_Ayo:

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.

@HOTSINCE92:

East – Chicago Bulls, Maybe I’m bias, but the Bulls have been playing some great basketball with DJ Augustin and Joakim Noah leading their team past the terrible start of the Bulls faced early in the season. With Thibs finally getting the chemistry flowing well the Bulls should be the 3rd seed in the East standings and remain that way until the end of the season.
Fade – Atlanta Hawks, Can a team really fade in the East? Pretty sure the entire East has began too fade entirely…
West – Jump – Memphis Grizzlies, who really thinks Memphis won’t be a playoff team? I thought so….
Fade – Mavericks, Portland feels like the obvious choice here, but i just don’t see the Mavs retaining the success they’ve had so far.

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

@The_Real_Grande:

  • A) True
  • B) True
  • C) False
  • D) True
  • E) True

@15LMN:

  • 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.

@Jessedoyle7:

  • 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.​

@Yama_Hazheer:

  • 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.

@ST_Ayo:

  • 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.

@HOTSINCE92:

  • 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.

Is AJ Burnett Really Worth $16 Million? Philly Thinks so.

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Over the past 2 seasons, AJ has been worth what the Philadelphia gave him this offseason and that’s 1 Year worth $16 Million. He’s 26-21 in 61 starts while posting a 3.40 ERA during his time in Pittsburgh. I understand he’s 37, but just last season at age 36, he had the highest K/9 of his entire career at 9.8 along with the lowest WHIP of his career at 1.215. He’s had his ups and downs in his 15 year career but of late, he’s been nothing short of a very, VERY reliable major league starter. Just looking at all numbers from his stint with Pittsburgh you realize AJ is different from his time spent elsewhere. Yes. I’m talking to you Yankee fans.

In 2011, AJ’s last year in NY, he gave up 31 home-runs. 2012 through 2013 he only allowed 29 total. May be due to a ball-park change, which may not help his Philly campaign at very hitter friendly confines of Citizens Bank. AJ’s had relatively good health the past 6 seasons where he’s pitched 30+ in all 6. He joins a staff with Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels who’s starting the season on the DL, Kyle Kendrick and than a 5th starter, most likely a young arm. He adds veteran game experience to a staff that has balance between guys with plenty of years ahead of them and some with there windows closing.

I’m personally a fan of the signing. The obvious factors that would scare me, or anybody for that matter, would be age one and the home park he’s pitching in. He’s made $16.5 Mil over the past few years so the salary aspect really isn’t the end all be all in this signing. If it was a multi-year deal this would probably be a whole different discussion.