Coronavirus – Impact to SF Giants, GS Warriors, and SF Niners

posted in: Baseball, Basketball, Football | 0

Sports is entertainment and a great way to escape real-world realities and life challenges. Sports is simply a way to “Relax Your Mind”.

With the current global Coronavirus situation, Sports has taken a back seat and made the right decision to cancel all entertainment events to avoid crowd gatherings and lessen the chance to spread this dreaded disease. My heart goes out to all those impacted by this outbreak. Focus is rightfully placed on protecting our family members and friends.

With this pause in sports, I’ve decided to comment on the three Bay Area franchises that I follow. But before doing so, I have to applaud all those sports franchises and athletes who have donated to pay the stadium/arena workers who won’t have any income until these sports venues open their doors again.

SF Giants

GM Farhan Zaidi has struck during this off season. He did try to sign Nick Castellanos who would have been a wonderful addition to a bad club to get this team kick-started in the right direction. After he wasn’t able to sign Castellanos, it became apparent that stars or potential stars simply want to go to a team having a chance to make the playoffs. Zaidi made a half-hearted contract offer to Madison Bumgarner who felt insulted so he left to go to Arizona. Zaidi’s only additions of note were to bring back Hunter Pence (37) and sign Billy Hamilton (29). So, instead of getting younger, the Giants got older. The Giants have fully adopted the “Go Green” principle. They will use the fewest bats in the league and kill less trees this year. I love the Giants but fans like me will have to wait a long time to see if Zaidi can turn this franchise around. The only positive for the Giants as it relates to the work stoppage is that they will be tied for first place into April and perhaps May or June.

GS Warriors

With the Dubs simply devastated by injuries, they finish this shortened season with the worst record in the league. The NBA lottery process changed to discourage teams from purposely tanking games to get the best chance for the #1 pick. With the new process, the Dubs are guaranteed to get a top 5 pick while having a 14% chance to get the top pick. Assuming that they get a top 3 pick, my hope is that they draft Obi Toppin (Dayton, Sophmore). He is a 6’ 9”, 220 LB athletic PF who can fit well with the Dubs running style of play. If they can’t get him, then one of the top 3 Centers (Onyeka Okongwu (USC, Freshman… 6’ 9” 245 Lbs.), James Wiseman (Memphis, Freshman… 7’ 1” 240 lbs.) or Isaiah Stewart (Washington, Freshman… 6’ 9” 250 lbs.) would be solid picks as well. I happen to be in the camp that Bob Myers made a terrific trade to off-load D-Lo Russell in exchange for Andrew Wiggins plus a Top 3 protected First Round pick in 2021. While D-Lo is an offensive threat, it became quickly apparent that he didn’t fit the Dub style of play. He hogged the ball so ball movement came to a screeching halt. While Wiggins will never live up to his #1 overall pick stature, he has length and is very athletic, showed he can play defense, and can put up 20+ points on any given night. With Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Marquese Chriss as starters next year, they will definitely be back in the playoff hunt again. Comparing this starting team to the first 2014 Championship Team, Wiggins is better than Harrison Barnes and either Marquese Chriss or a Center that the Dubs draft this year is an improvement over Andrw Bogut. Additonally, with the growth of Damien Lee and Eric Paschall and the potential growth of Jordan Poole, the bench depth may approach that of the dynasty team. It’ll be difficult to compare this bench with Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and Mo Buckets Speights but these new young guys have benefitted by being able to play and improve their games. Really looking forward to seeing this new group play next year !!!

SF 49ers

The Niners are in a good place as they went from a 4-16 team to the Super Bowl in one year. While it was extremely disappointing that they couldn’t keep Patrick Mahomes under wraps during the last 7 minutes of that game, nobody can deny that they were the better team for 3 and ½ quarters. They do have some tweaking to do going into the 2020 season. Following are my recommendations:

My first recommendation is that the Niners trade down twice in this year’s draft and get an additional 2nd round and 3rd/4th round pick. Currently, they have one 1st round pick and their next pick isn’t until the 5th round. This draft is deep so although they won’t get any “named players”, they will get good players in the middle rounds.

QB: Stay with Garoppolo and Nick Mullens. I recommend that they look for a quick and mobile QB to replace CJ Beathard. The talk and rumors of bringing Brady here is absolutely ludicrous. Brady is 42 and on the downside of his career. Garoppolo is 28 and his career is ascending. As a matter of fact, in the first two years of their careers, Garoppolo had better overall stats than Brady.

FB: No changes. Kyle Juszczyk is the best in the league.

RB: Stay with Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. If Jerick McKinnon can come back with a lower restructured 1 year salary and proves that he is healthy, I recommend keeping him over Matt Breida. For some reason, Breida had fumble problems during the latter part of the season and thus didn’t see much action during the playoffs.

TE: Stay with George Kittle, Ross Dwelley and Levine Toilolo. They may bring in a Free Agent or draft a TE to compete for that 3rd job.

WR: Keep Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James, Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd. Both Taylor and Hurd were on IR all of last year and are expected to make contributions going forward. I would love to see E-Man Sanders stay but this depends on if they can agree on a team/player friendly contract. Now that the CBA has been approved, this raises the salary cap for all teams by an additional $10 million. Part ways with Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis. Look for another WR either through Free Agency or the draft.

LT: Joe Staley may retire. Justin Skule did a decent job while Staley was injured but he can’t be considered a full time starter. The wild card is Shon Coleman who was on IR last year. They will have decide if Coleman can be a full time starter at this critical position. I recommend that they look to Free Agency and not the draft to bring in another LT if Staley retires.

LG: Stick with Laken Tomlinson. Look to Free Agency or the draft to bring in another Guard.

C: Weston Richburg was having an All-Pro year until he broke his leg during the season. Ben Garland did a great job filling in for Richburg so no changes are needed.

RG: Mike Person should remain the starter but the Niners should bring in a number of new candidates either through Free Agency or the draft.

RT: Mike McGlinchey will be the starter and Daniel Brunskill his backup. New candidates will be fighting it out for the third slot.

DE: Arik Armstead deserves a long term contract. With the new CBA contract approved raising the salary cap by $10 million, there will be no excuses for the Niners not to come to an agreement with Arik. Nick Bosa and Ronald Blair are the other two that I feel are guaranteed to come back. The interesting player to me is Dee Ford. Although he is a force, he also has a $85 million contract and the Niners are on the hook to pay him $19.75 in 2020. While I don’t endorse trading him, I recommend that Lynch explore what he may possibly get in exchange for Ford. If they can get enough value and also allow them to keep Sanders, Armstead, Sheldon Day and Ward, then Lynch should pull the trigger. Guys like Kentavious Street and Anthony Zettel will have to prove themselves to make the team this year.

DT: DeFo Buckner, DJ Jones, and Julian Taylor are guaranteed to be back. I really would like the Niners to pay Sheldon Day appropriately and bring him back. He plays like a starter and other teams will offer him a good salary. I recommend that they pay Day and release Soloman Thomas.

LB: Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw will be starters. Niners should keep Mark Nzeocha and Azeez Al-Shaair. The other two slots will be a dogfight for those jobs.

CB: Richard Sherman and E-Man Mosely will be starters. Ahkello Witherspoon will be the 3rd CB. The other 4 or 5 jobs will be up in the air. I feel that this is the position of greatest need so their first draft pick should be a CB. I also recommend that Lynch look hard and deep at the Free Agent market for this critical position.

SS: Jaquiski Tartt is the starter and Marcell Harris will be his backup. Niners will be looking for another player at this position.

FS: Jimmie Ward is a key decision. He will be offered a hefty salary by other teams so the question is if the Niners will match what other teams offer. The most important free agents on the Niners team this year are Arik Amerstead, Jimmy Ward, Sheldon Day and E-Man Sanders and I list them in my priority order. If the new salary cap allows them to keep all of them, GREAT!!! But if they can’t, then I say that is where potentially moving Dee Ford comes into play. If they lose Ward, then Tarvarious Morre becomes the starter by default. But, this position then becomes a priority in Free Agency or the draft.

ST: The Niners are set with Wishnowsky and Gould. Having said that, I recommend that the Niners bring in a new FG kicker to compete with Gould as he is getting long on his age.

Off season needs in priority order:

  • A shut-down CB.
  • A FS if we lose Jimmie Ward.
  • A very speedy WR to stretch the field allowing Garoppolo options to either go deep or find open receivers in the mid-level.
  • A Left Tackle if Staley retires and Coleman isn’t the guy.
  • Another Edge Rusher
  • A stout Guard.

With respect to this year’s draft, the Niners have the following picks:

Round 1 (own)
Round 5 (own)
Round 5 (via Broncos in Sanders trade)
Round 6 (own)
Round 7 (own)
Round 7 (via Lions in Eli Harold trade)

With a very deep draft class, I am hoping that the Niners trade down twice from their #1 pick to accumulate more picks.

Whatever they do, I have utmost confidence in Lynch and Shanahan to make this great team even better going into the 2020 season!!!

2019 GS Warriors – The Human Side of Our Beloved Sports Stars

posted in: Basketball | 0

With 8 seconds left in Game 5 and the Warriors clinging to a 106-105 lead, Kawhi Leonard held the ball with the intent to score the winning basket and give Toronto its first NBA title in their history. Kawhi was guarded closely by Klay Thompson but when he made a move to the right, Andre Iguadala rushed up to double team Kawhi leaving him no option but to give up the ball. With time running out, Kyle Lowry had an open 3 point shot from the corner. But, Draymond Green ran hard at him with the proper angle and tipped the ball away. Game over, the Warriors stayed alive, and Game 6 will be played at Oracle in Oakland.

As an avid Warrior fan, I thought I would be jumping up and down when Klay drained those two 3’s and Steph also knocked down a 3 and the Warriors outscored the Raptors 9-2 in the final 3 minutes of the game. And I thought I would go wild when Draymond blocked Lowry’s shot at the buzzer. But, I just watched this thrilling ending with a strange calmness as my mind was on Kevin Durant and what he was going through after his leg injury. At the time, I didn’t know the severity of KD’s injury but I did know that we would not see him for the remainder of this 2019 Championship Final.

While watching the post-game interviews, my entire focus was on the status of KD. When Bob Myers broke down at the podium to announce that KD’s injury was to his Achilles, my heart sank. As Bob spoke of the greatness of KD as a player, as a great teammate, and as a wonderful “person” that he was lucky to know, I also broke down. It re-kindled what I always thought about sports celebrities… They are human and have the same emotional drives and feelings just like anyone else. We, as sports fans, focus only on what our sports stars do on the playing field and our idea of them is measured only on whether our teams win or lose. If they get hurt, we expect them to recover as quickly as possible and get back to playing so our teams have a better chance of putting up another W on the board.

I confess that I am as guilty as most other sports fans as I look to sports as a way to relax and get away from thinking about what’s going on in the real world. I wanted KD to come back as his greatness as a player gave the Warriors the best chance to win another title. When KD went down last night, the Raptor fans began cheering his injury which is perfectly understandable as the Warriors without KD gave the Raptors the best chance to win their first title. In the NBA, there is a brotherhood throughout the league. Kyle Lowry and Danny Green urged their crowd to show respect to KD. Only then did the fans began showing their respect.

Professional sports is a multi-billion dollar industry. Since the world revolves around money, our sports stars are under a lot of pressure to win as fans pay top dollars to watch them perform and TV advertisers overpay to get their products out in front of the fans watching their teams. Also, the sports media are paid to sensationalize every angle of every game with special attention given to championship games. As KD was recovering from his first injury in the Houston series, the headlines focused on:

  • If the Warriors win the title without KD, it’ll be his worst nightmare as he isn’t needed for the Warriors to win.
  • If the Warriors win, KD will leave… If they lose, he will stay…
  • KD will not return for this championship series as he doesn’t want to risk getting hurt which will affect his free agency and earn him top dollars in his next contract.
  • The Warriors are confused and pissed off that it is taking KD so long to recover from his initial injury.

Now that KD did suffer a devastating injury last night, the media coverage is all about:

  • The Warriors should never have allowed KD to come back.
  • KD’s injury will have a profound impact on the entire NBA in July when free agency begins. Teams like the Knicks, Nets, Clippers, Lakers and others have already made big moves to trade players and clear their team salaries to entice KD to join their team. Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent and hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent for KD’s new contract.
  • Which team will still offer KD a max contract knowing that he will not be playing next year and also not knowing if he can fully recover.

There is no media coverage on how KD is feeling as a person. How he feels does not generate interest thus does not generate revenue.

During Bob Myers’ report on the status of KD, he made a point that KD is the most misunderstood person that he knows. The reason that Bob said that is due to the sensationalistic reporting by the media about KD. Many media reporters make up stories about KD which are totally untrue simply to stir up controversy. This is the reason that KD and many other sports stars hate the media. Not all media reporters are bad. They also have a job to do and the better ones do thorough investigating and report on facts. But, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the entire barrel and because sports stars are real people too, many are very reluctant to reveal too much when being interviewed. DeMarcus Cousins said it best when he was interviewed last night about KD’s injury and his critics:

“F— them, f— them,” Cousins said at Scotiabank Arena following the Warriors’ 106-105 win.

Cousins made it clear that he didn’t like the crowd’s initial reaction. 

“Trash,” Cousins told reporters. “So trash. But like I said, we’re idolized as superstar athletes, not human beings. It’s always about what we can do between those lines [on the court]. That’s it. That’s all that ever matters. 

“And then once we lash out and do human-type things, then we’re considered bad guys.”

None of us really know our star athletes on the teams that we cheer for. But, we can get a pretty good idea of what kind of person they are by what they do for our communities, how loved they are for giving to charities, and how loved and respected they are by their teammates and the organization. By these measures, it appears to me that most if not all athletes who play for the Warriors are good people who care for one another and also their community.

Whether the Warriors win or lose this year’s championship, they will always hold a spot in my heart knowing that this is a team that plays exciting ball because they are not only talented but they also care for one another and care about the community that they serve.

2019 GS Warriors – Houston, We have a Problem

posted in: Basketball | 0

Houston’s biggest problem is the Golden State Warriors!!! Houston’s other problem is that their entire game is based on isolation (ISO) play. Both James Harden and Chris Paul dominate the ball and everyone else stands at the 3 point line. That method of play works perfectly fine during the regular season but when they face the Warriors who have perfected the art of total team play, they are simply over matched.

First order of business is to congratulate the Warriors who played the 4th quarter of Game 5 and all of Game 6 without one of their key All-Stars, Kevin Durant (KD), and this entire series without another All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins (Boogie). With their Core Four (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguadala) and their Strength in Numbers bench, they kept the team in the game in the first half (57-57) even though Steph was scoreless and had committed three fouls. What transpired in the second half of Game 6 was beautiful basketball at both ends of the court by the entire Warriors team. They out-scored the Rockets 36-26 in the 4th quarter crunch time even though the Rockets were playing for their Playoff lives. We saw the 2 time MVP and 3 time World Champion Steph Curry come alive and score an astounding 33 points in the second half with 23 in the critical 4th quarter. Klay scored 27 with 21 in the first half, Andre scored 17 with 5-8 from the 3 point line, and Draymond scored 8 but had 7 assists, 10 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block.

The Strength in Numbers bench:

Kevon Looney had 14 points with 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 huge block with the game on the line.

Shaun Livingston had 11 points on 4-6 including 1 monster dunk.

Jordan Bell, who hadn’t seen the court in the Playoffs, had 4 points on 2 huge dunks and 2 rebounds in 10 minutes.

Jonas Jerebko had 2 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists in 12 minutes.

Quinn Cook had 2 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 15 huge minutes while Steph sat on the bench with 3 quick fouls in the 1st half.

The Strength in Numbers bench scored 33 points but more importantly played great at both ends of the court. In many ways, the bench was the MVP but in reality, the entire team including Steve Kerr was the MVP.

Steve Kerr is a genius when it comes to basketball (Hear that, Kyrie?). When KD went down, he knew he couldn’t rely solely on the Core Four to all play 40+ minutes so he went back to the basic principles that made the Warriors 3 time World Champions… Strength in Numbers team play!!! The so called expert analysts were saying that the Warriors simply can’t win without KD. Since KD joined the team, the Warriors have an astounding 35-4 record when KD doesn’t play. Simply put, this is the reason that they continue to be the Kings in the Game of Thrones.

I’m certainly not saying that the Warriors are better without KD. They are a much better team with him, period. With the promising news that KD’s calf strain is relatively minor, there is a good possibility that he’ll be able to play again within the next week or two. The same can be said about Boogie and Damien Jones. Damien has been out since the beginning of the year with a torn pectoral but is now cleared to play and practicing with the team in 3-on-3 drills. Boogie’s recovery from a torn quad has been amazingly swift and he may be available for the Western Conference Finals. This is especially good news as Denver’s Nikola Jokic has been a beast. But, Boogie has handled him superbly with his own big body. Portland’s big guy, Enes Kanter has also been playing well but Boogie has his number as well. This doesn’t bode well for either Denver or Portland.

Congratulations to the entire Warrior’s organization for keeping a great team together in a time where all other teams are shuffling their personnel and salary caps to try to de-throne them. The Rockets are openly obsessed with beating the Warriors and have made huge decisions in trying to reach their goal. Although they are a very good team, they have failed in their mission.

Follows are tweets by prominent NBA personnel congratulating the Warriors:

LeBron James: Never underestimate the heart of a Champion.

Magic Johnson: Steph Curry is not only one of the greatest shooters we’ve ever seen, he is one of the greatest clutch players the game has ever seen. 33 points in the second half to lead his Warriors over the Houston Rockets…Incredible! Golden State showed why they are one of the greatest and most entertaining teams of all time. The splash brothers were splendid and Draymond Green just showed the world again why he is one of the best all-around players in all of basketball.

Daryl Morey (GM of the Rockets): You come at the Kings, you best not miss. Congratulations.

Morey’s tweet pretty much sums up the Rocket’s futile chase of the Warriors…. “You best not miss”. The Rocket’s entire philosophy is to play ISO ball with two of the very best ISO players in the world, James Harden and Chris Paul. The other players simply camp out at the 3 point line. They best not miss!!! In their do-or-die Game 6, they chose to put the entire game plan on the shoulders of Harden and Paul. Both of these great players did have good games (Harden – 35 points and Paul – 27 points). But their other starters had only 34 points and their entire bench had only 17 points. It really boiled down to 2 Rockets playing against 11 Warriors. I’ll take Strength in Numbers any day of the week.

My opinion only, but I believe that the Rocket’s downfall began when they traded 8 players for Chris Paul, then a year later gave him a huge contract even though he is old and injury prone. The trade netted the Clippers Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and a 1st round pick which turned out to be a very good player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Rockets also gave an average player, Clint Capela a huge contract. Now, they are on the hook to pay a 34 year old Chris Paul $160,000, James Harden $153,000, and Clint Capela over $87,000. This leaves very little $$$ to attract star free agents to their team. They are stuck with the players they have who have proven that they can’t beat the Warriors. My belief only, but if they had kept Beverly, Williams, and Harrell, the Rockets would have been a much more dangerous team. Just as Steve Kerr is a genius coach, the Clippers special advisor, Jerry West, is also a genius who masterminded this monster trade and has put the Clippers in a position to challenge the Warriors going forward. They have great young players with a low overall salary so have the ammunition to attract the star free agents. Remember that West played a key role in putting the Warriors team together.

I’ll let Chris Paul’s and James Harden’s actions speak for themselves. Last year, they stated emphatically that they would have beaten the Warriors had Paul not gotten injured. They never mention that had Andre Iguadala not gotten injured, the Warriors would have beaten them in 5 games. This year, the Warriors beat them with both KD and Boogie injured. No injury excuses please… Injuries are part of the game and teams have to play with the next-man-up philosophy. Both, Harden and Paul have perfected the art of flopping and drawing fouls. Their tactics didn’t work in Game 6 as the Refs called the game as they saw it. Both Harden and Paul walked off the court immediately after the game without congratulating the Warriors… poor losers…. After the game, Harden stated that “They know exactly what they need to do to beat the Warriors”. How about playing team ball and making free throws to start with…. Later, we all found out that Steph Curry reserved the Toyota Center on Thursday night to get some practice in. Chris Paul found out about this, went to the Center and chased Steph off the court preventing him from practicing. Steph tried to compromise with Paul and asked if he can shoot on one end of the court while Paul practiced on the other. Paul would have none of that and chased Steph off the court. After the win, Steph was heard yelling “Chase me off the court again, boy!!!”. We now know a bit more about the character of both Harden and Paul. Now, they both have much more time to make more State Farm commercials… Or, just maybe, State Farm is looking for a new pair of stars for their commercials…

The state of the Warriors look as bright as ever while the state of the Rockets look as bleak as ever… Houston, we have a BIG problem!!!

2018-12-23 – Warriors Beat the LA Clippers in Renewed Rivalry

posted in: Basketball | 0

The Warriors beat the LA Clippers in a thriller at Roarcle tonight (129-127) on a last second drive by this year’s MVP, Steph Curry. He totaled 42 points while Kevin Durant had 35 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocked shots. They won despite the Clippers pouring in 18 3’s on 23 shots for an NBA record 78.3%. Thanks to Jerry West, he has masterminded some great trades to make the Clippers a legitimate threat to the Warriors. The rivalry today is much better than in the past when the Clippers had Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

So, how did West rebuild the Clippers? He made a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets by sending Chris Paul to the Rockets and in return got a bundle of great players plus draft picks. Back in July of 2017, I wrote a blog entitled “Free Agency Winners and Losers”. Follows is a recap of what I thought about that trade.

The Rockets got a boost by the Chris Paul signing. Having said that, they had to give up 7 players (Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a protected first-round pick next year and cash considerations). This reminds me of the Hershel Walker trade between the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys where the Cowboys got 5 players and 7 draft picks. As we all know, the Cowboys became a dynasty and the Vikings became the Vikings. It is fitting that two ball hogs (James Harden and CP3) are on the same team. They’ll have nobody to pass the ball to but that’ll be fine with them. The Rockets instantly became a worse team and will fall to the middle of the pack in the West.

Since that article, the Rockets got worse as they did not resign Trevor Ariza nor Luc Mbah a Moute, their two best defenders.

West also traded Blake Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to the Pistons for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, a 2018 first rounder and a 2019 second rounder.

And, he traded Paul Milsap to Denver and Jamal Crawford and a 1st Round pick (from the Houston trade) to Atlanta to acquired Danilo Gallinari from Denver.

Back to the Rockets, they re-signed Chris Paul to a horrible 4 year, $160 million contract. He is 33 years of age and has not been able to remain healthy for an entire year. The Rockets have no more room to attract any more impact players while the Clippers have plenty of salary cap room and may be the front runner in attracting Kawhi Leonard and possibly another super star in 2019.

Looking at the NBA standings as of December 23, 2018, the Clippers are in 6th place in the playoff rankings while the Rockets are in 8th place.

While giving all this praise to the Clippers, they and all other teams in the NBA do not play defense on a consistent basis like the Warriors. This is the ingredient that separates the Warriors from all other teams. NBA teams have done a decent job in emulating the Warriors offense as everyone is now shooting 3’s at an unprecedented rate. Every young player from grade school and up are trying to be the next Steph Curry. Steph has revolutionized the game like nobody else including Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and even LeBron James.

As long as Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green stay together, they will continue to dominate the NBA scene… PERIOD !!!

2018 GS Warriors – 9-1 After 10 Games

posted in: Basketball | 0

After the first 10 games of the 2018-2019 NBA season, this is what I can say about the World Champion Golden State Warriors:

  • Steph Curry is in the best basketball shape of his career, both physically and mentally. He is averaging 32.5 points per game, 5.9 3’s while shooting 51% from the 3-point line, 6 assists per game, and 5.4 rebounds. His floor leadership is his best asset this year as he is spreading the court and finding the open guy. Steph is leading the league in so many categories (or near the top), the media have finally been forced to come to their senses and “mention” Steph as a possible MVP candidate… DUH… Steph is LOCKED IN !!!
  • Kevin Durant is having the best year of his career averaging 28.3 points per game, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and shooting 40% from 3 while playing great defense. He is by far the best offense weapon in the NBA and perhaps in NBA history. KD is LOCKED IN !!!
  • Klay Thompson is the best two-way player in the league. He always gets the toughest defensive assignment night after night because of his defensive skills. His offense may suffer some nights but his defense is stellar every night. After getting off to a slow start shooting-wise, Klay is back to form and is averaging 20 points per game, 4 rebounds, and has developed his skill to drive to the hoop and pick up fouls. Against the Bulls in Chicago, Klay went off and made the most 3’s in NBA history, 14 of them breaking Steph Curry’s record of 13. He scored 52 points in 27 minutes or more points per minute than when Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a game. The most amazing stat in Klay’s record breaking game is that he dribbled a total of 9 times ( I didn’t miss a trailing 0) for his 14 3’s… He is the best catch-n-shoot pure shooter in the history of the NBA. When, Klay broke Steph’s record, it was Steph who was the happiest guy on the court. It was Steph and KD who kept feeding Klay the ball encouraging him to break the record. This defines the Warriors… team play and going to the hot hand. Klay is LOCKED IN !!!
  • Draymond Green is the glue of the team. He does everything. His stats are consistent in all categories (8.4 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, 8.5 assists per game). What his stats say is that he comes close to getting a triple-double every single game. He is the game’s first ever Point Power Forward. What this means is that after getting rebounds, he brings the ball up-court much like a Point Guard and calls out the play or finds the open guy. What his stats don’t show is that Dray is the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY). Draymond’s ability to guard his guy, then anticipate passes and switch to guard other players and steal passes or block shots of bigger players is remarkable. It was insult to him and to the organization that Dray was not even voted onto the 1st team defensive team last year. Draymond is on a mission this year to secure the DPOY and his play is reflecting his mission. Dray is LOCKED IN !!!
  • Although not an All-Star, Damien Jones has become the athletic Center and player that the Warriors have been training him for. After the Warriors won their 3rd World Championship Title in 4 years last year, Steve Kerr turned to Damien and told him that “Next year is your year”. I don’t think Steve was prophetic, I think Steve knew that Damien was ready after 3 years of hard work. That hard work is paying off big time this year. Damien is LOCKED IN !!!

So all the starters are LOCKED IN, but they can’t play 48 minutes per game. What makes this team so special this year is that they have accumulated the best second/third team players that I’ve ever seen. At Center, Kevon Looney has taken his game to the next level after playing like a beast in last year’s playoff games. Jordan Bell can play both Center and Power Forward and is still learning the game. Both Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala look much fresher this year than last year. And Quinn Cook has improved his game at Point Guard after blossoming last year. But, the two additions to this year’s squad who are having a huge positive impact are Alfonzo (Zo) McKinnie and Jonas Jerebko. Both guys hustle like crazy and they have a natural instinct to find and get the ball. Zo is averaging 13.3 minutes, 6.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and is shooting an astounding 59% from 3. Last night against a very good Timberwolves team, Zo played 27 minutes including all 12 minutes of the 4th quarter, had 8 rebounds and scored 8 points with a slam dunk and a dagger 3 pointer to ice the game. Zo is LOCKED IN !!! Jonas is averaging 16.2 minutes, 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and is shooting a great 44% from 3. Like Zo, Jonas has a nose for the ball and gets the tough rebounds when it counts. Lastly, both Zo and Jonas play great defense which is the cornerstone to the Warriors game.

So, all 5 starters from a World Championship team are LOCKED IN. The next seven players off the bench are all LOCKED IN. Sound scary for the rest of the NBA? Nope… DeMarcus Cousins (Boogie) hasn’t boogied yet. When he starts to boogie, that will be down-right SCARY!!!

The power rankings for the rest of the teams in the NBA don’t really matter.

2018 Golden State Warriors Boogie Thru NBA Free Agency

posted in: Basketball | 0

As expected, LeBron James stole the free agency show by signing with the LA Lakers, a 4 year $154 million contract at age 33. The other key free agent signings were reported with very little fanfare although, in my opinion, had much more of an impact on the NBA landscape:

Chris Paul, age 33, signed a 4 year $160 million contract to remain a Houston Rocket

Paul George, age 28, signed a 4 year $137 million contract to remain an OKC Thunder

DeAndre Jordan, age 29, signed a 1 year $24 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks

Trevor Ariza, age 33, signed a 1 year $15 million contract with the Phoenix Suns

To me, the real headline is that none of LeBron’s buddies followed him to Hollywood. Magic Johnson losing Paul George (PG-13) to the Thunder is indeed very surprising and even shocking on many levels. PG-13 is still in his prime and he would have legitimized the Lakers. He grew up in LA and made comments about wanting to go home. Very curious why he chose to stay in OKC. Yes, I agree that the Lakers will be much better with LeBron but without PG-13, their roster now looks much like the Cavs roster that LeBron just left.

Also, in looking at the 4 year contracts for both LeBron and Chris Paul, both are age 33 and on the downhill slope of their careers. While both are still playing at a high level, father time always has a way of catching up. After losing PG-13 to the Thunder, I’m surprised that Magic Johnson didn’t offer a max contract to Uncle Drew. He got game, is from Hollywood, and looks younger than LeBron.

LeBron’s signing with the Lakers immediately became the headline. Then, two days later, the Warriors shocked the NBA world by signing DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins to a mid-level 1 year contract for $5.3 million. This, in fact, will cost the Warriors more than $20 million due to the NBA luxury tax for going beyond the allowable salary maximum. The World Champions just filled their only weakness with the most dominant Center in the league. Last year, Boogie averaged 25 point, 13 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game and is still only 27 years of age. JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia combined averaged 9 points, 5 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game.

Boogie is an All-NBA Center meaning that the Warriors now have all five starting positions filled with All-Stars (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant). How in the world could this have happened? The short answer is that when an organization develops a winning culture, treats their employees with class, and treats all of their opponents with respect, great players will want to migrate to that organization.

Boogie has a torn Achilles tendon which most likely had a lot to do with him signing with the Warriors for much less than his worth. He said that he is working very hard to be ready for the start of the 2018-2019 season. Knowing the Warriors, they will be very cautious and won’t play him until they are absolutely certain that he is fully recovered.

So here are the events that lead to Boogie’s decision to sign with the Warriors. He couldn’t sleep Sunday night as he had zero offers on the table including nothing from his current team, the New Orleans Pelicans. Boogie called his agent and told them that he is going to call Bob Myers, the GM for the Warriors, to express his interest in joining the team.  He then called Kevin Durant, Draymond Green who is vacationing in Greece, and Steph Curry to make sure that they were comfortable with him coming on-board. They all greeted his interest with shock and awe. Boogie said that Steph was especially thrilled thus sealing the deal for Boogie to join the team. Boogie also said that he played his Ace of Spades with the Warriors this year hoping that his role in another successful year will lead him to a lucrative contract next year.

Why the Pelicans didn’t offer him a contract is beyond my comprehension. They had their best season in their franchise history last year and really had the inside track to make some real noise this year. They, instead decided to go in another direction for unknown reasons. The Lakers also had plenty of salary cap space to offer Boogie a good contract. After losing PG-13, you would have thought that the Lakers would go after Cousins. Very curious why they didn’t. Instead, the Lakers signed Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo and got rid of one their young stars, Julius Randle. I’m not sure that these are LeBron’s kind of guys and I’m fairly certain that they will supply Shaqitin with some good Tweeting materials next year.

These are the kinds of decisions that make teams like the Pelicans and Lakers just average teams. I can say that about most teams who are desperately trying to catch the Warriors. They start on the right path but if they don’t win immediately, they make desperate decisions. Take, for example, the Toronto Raptors. They had the 2nd best record in the league next to the Rockets last year. Their coach, Dwayne Casey, won the NBA Coach of the Year award but they lost to the Cavs in the playoffs so they fired Casey. Another example is the Houston Rockets who had the best record last year but bought players putting them at their max salary. This year, they were forced to give Chris Paul a max deal for 4 years at $160 million even though he is 33 years old and has a history of leg injuries. Because they are at the salary cap, they couldn’t afford to bring another star to their team and instead lost one of their stars, Trevor Ariza. This is a big blow to them as Ariza was their best defender.

For Warrior haters who dislike their “Super Team” image, of the 5 super-stars, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were all draft picks. Kevin Durant, is the only super-star who signed from another team whom the Warriors recruited. The Boogie signing was initiated by him and not by the Warriors. I am also very curious if these Warrior haters also hated the Celtics, Bulls, Spurs, and Lakers in their dominant years. Or, are most of these haters just millennials who never saw those other dynasties play? The NBA has survived all of these dynasties and will also survive the current Warrior dynasty. After all, they are the model of greatness and plain fun to watch.

All of the other “Super Team” pretenders have spent millions (up to their salary cap) to sign the next level stars in their attempt to beat the Warriors. If these teams would draft better and/or sign complimentary “team” players instead of signing individuals who play for themselves, they would have a better chance to catch up to the Warriors. They would also be better off to stick with their plans instead of blowing it up if they don’t win immediately. The Warriors won their first title in 1975 and took another 40 long years to win another championship in 2015. So Warrior fans have suffered through many lackluster years prior to the current organization putting together this dynastic team.

NBA fans may hate the Warriors now but they will continue to spend money on their teams in the hope that their team will one day become champions themselves. Everything is cyclical so Warrior fans are enjoying their time to shine while it lasts.

2018 NBA Finals – Cavs vs Warriors – Sweet Sweep

posted in: Basketball | 0

The Golden State Warriors are the 2018 NBA Champions and have now won 2 titles in succession and 3 trophies in 4 years. They have made their statement by playing TEAM ball without caring what the rest of the basketball world have said about this current dynasty. If Warrior haters are tired of seeing the same team in the Finals year-after-year, then some other team has to beat them before they get to the Finals…. Period.  The same can be said about the Cleveland Cavs who have also reached the Finals in the last 4 years. The difference is that the Cavs have lost to the Warriors in 3 of the 4 Finals. In head-to-head games between the Warriors and Cavs since the beginning of 2017, the Warriors are 3-0 during the regular season and 8-1 in the Finals for a combined 11-1 in the last two years. This is called DOMINATION !!!

As for the pundits who say that the Houston Rockets would have beaten the Warriors if Chris Paul hadn’t hurt his leg at the end of Game 5 of their 7 game series.  Why don’t these pundits look at what the Rockets didn’t do in Games 6 and 7. In Game 7, from the middle of the 2nd quarter to the middle of the 4th, the Rockets missed an NBA record 27 straight 3-point shot attempts and finished making 1 of their last 30 three point shots. James Harden was 2 for 13, Trevor Ariza 0 for 9, and Eric Gordon 2 for 12. In the 2nd half of Game 7, the Warriors out-scored the Rockets 58-38. In the 2nd half of Game 6, the Warriors out-scored the Rockets 64-25. Thus, for the 2 games that mattered most, the Warriors out-scored the Rockets in the 2nd half for a combined 122-63. Can anyone convince me that Chris Paul would have made up a 59 point difference in the 2nd half of Games 6 and 7? Also, one can easily say that the Warriors would have won that series in 5 games if Andre Iguodala hadn’t hurt his knee. The point is that teams have to play with the players available to them. It just so happens that the Warriors have more depth than any other team in the league… This is the reason that their motto, “Strength in Numbers” fits the team so well.

Let’s take a look at the Warriors Strength in Numbers during the Finals:

Shaun Livingston – made 13 out of 15 shots

JaVale McGee – made 16 out of 20 shots

Jordan Bell – made 10 out of 14 shots

Andre Iguodala – made 7 out of 12 shots

Kevon Looney – made 5 out of 7 shots

So these 5 players shot a cool 75% from the field during the Finals. This, my friends, is called Strength in Numbers !!!

Now, let’s take a look at the age of the core of the Warriors Team:

Kevin Durant (29), Steph Curry (30), Klay Thompson (27), Draymond Green (27), JaVale McGee (30), Shaun Livingston (32), Jordan Bell (23), Andre Iguodala (34), Kevon Looney (21), Zaza Pachulia (33), David West (37), Nick Young (32), Quinn Cook (24), and Patrick McCaw (22).

With the exception of Pachulia and West (and perhaps Iguodala), the rest of the guys on the World Champion team are all in their prime with their better years ahead of them. This is called current and ongoing DYNASTY !!!

For Warrior haters who dislike their “Super Team” image, of the 4 super-stars, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were all draft picks. Kevin Durant, is the only super-star who signed from another team. All of the other “Super Team” pretenders have spent millions (up to their salary cap) to sign the next level stars in their attempt to beat the Warriors. If these teams would draft better and/or sign complimentary “team” players instead of signing individuals who play for themselves, they would have a better chance to catch up to the Warriors.

Kevin Durant won his 2nd consecutive MVP award for the Finals but on this team, individual awards take a back seat to the team goal of Team World Championships. If I were to pick an MVP, my most valuable individual in this injury ridden year is Chelsea Lane, the team’s Head Performance Therapist. She worked diligently on Steph Curry on his 3 ankle sprains and the severe knee contusion, on Andre Iguodala on his knee bone bruise, and performed a miracle on Klay Thompson’s ankle which he injured in Game 1 of the Finals. Due to Chelsea’s great work, Klay didn’t miss any games.

We can talk at length about the drama in Game 1 of the Finals when LeBron’s drive to the bucket with less than a minute was initially called a blocking foul on Durant, then changed (correctly) to a charge. Or the George Hill missed free throw with 4 seconds left which would have given the Cavs a lead. Or the JR Smith empty brain decision when he rebounded the missed free throw and dribbled the clock out because he thought the Cavs were ahead. He received the loudest standing ovation at Roaracle Arena in Game 2 when his name was announced and also received a chant of MVP MVP MVP when he went to the free throw line during the game. If the Cavs had won Game 1, then the series would have been over in 5 games instead of a 4 game sweep. We later learned that LeBron took his frustration out on a white-board after the Game 1 loss. But, apparently, this white-board took it out on Lebron’s hand and won that battle, too. Here is another example of the difference between the Cavs and Warriors. Steve Kerr can shatter a white-board during the game and his players get the message and responds in a positive way. LeBron breaks a white-board and also breaks his hand and his team doesn’t respond. Steve used a magic marker to break the white-board. There was no magic in LeBron’s hand when the Cavs needed a lot of magic.

In the 2018 NBA season, there were 3 teams in contention for the Title… The Warriors, Rockets, and Cavs… In a seven game series, the cream always rises to the top and the Warriors have been the cream of the crop for the last two years.

This year’s Finals sweep was indeed very sweet !!!

2018 NBA Finals – Warriors & LeBron show the world why they are winners

posted in: Basketball | 0

The cream has risen to the top both in the East and the West once again. LeBron single-handedly willed the Cavs to win the East and the Warriors’ Strength in Numbers proved that there still are no equals in the NBA.

The stage is set for the Cavs vs the Warriors for the 4th consecutive year to determine the 2018 NBA Champion. Two teams meeting for a championship four years in a row has never happened in any professional sports until now. LeBron’s teams have reached the NBA Finals 8 years in a row, a feat that may never be replicated. Despite critics who say they are bored with watching the same teams battle it out again, both teams deserve to be in the Finals… Because they happen to be the best teams in their respective conferences… period…

I also believe that the Celtics and the Rockets were the 2nd best teams in the East and West. Both teams showed their grit by taking the Cavs and Warriors to a seventh game showdown. Both the Celtics and Rockets hosted the seventh game and both started the game strong. In the end, the Cavs and Warriors had the will and the heart and the stamina to finish the job to achieve their goal.

In the East Finals, the Cavs won Game Seven 87-79 after the Celtics got off to a 12 point lead. The Celtics finished the game shooting 34% (29 for 85) while shooting 18% from the 3-point line (7 for 39). Their two hottest 3 point shooters Terry Rozier (0 for 10) and Jaylen Brown (3 for 12) went ice cold. The Cavs shooting wasn’t much better but LeBron carried them to the East Title. The Cavs shot 45% (30 for 66) while shooting 26% (9 for 35) from the 3-point line.

In the West Finals, the Warriors won Game Seven 101-92 after the Rockets started red hot and quickly built a 15 point lead. The Rockets finished the game shooting 40% (36 for 90) while shooting 16% from the 3-point line (7 for 44). This after beginning the game shooting 6 for 14 from the three. From the middle of the 2nd quarter to the middle of the 4th, the Rockets missed an NBA record 27 straight 3-point shot attempts and finished making 1 of their last 30 three point shots. James Harden was 2 for 13, Trevor Ariza 0 for 9, and Eric Gordon 2 for 12. On the other hand, the Warriors shot 49% (39 for 80) and 41% (16 for 39) from the 3-point line.

In the 2nd half of Game 7, the Warriors out-scored the Rockets 58-38. In the 2nd half of Game 6, the Warriors out-scored the Rockets 64-25. Thus, for the 2 games that mattered most, the Warriors out-scored the Rockets in the 2nd half for a combined 122-63. This is an astounding stat but not totally surprising as the Warriors have repeatedly performed like champions in must-win situations.

Some negative comments that I have regarding the Rockets… They are a bunch of sore losers, from Morey down to their top players. I didn’t see any congratulatory messages from Morey to Lacob. Also, Harden, CP3, and Ariza walked off the court after losing without congratulating the Warrior players. And, when Draymond tried to help Harden off the floor after a fall, Harden shoved him away. Instead of congratulatory messages, the Rockets said that they would have won if CP3 had played. It doesn’t register with them that if Andre Iguodala had played, the Warriors would have won the series in 5 games. In sports, you play with the players that are available to play and may the best team win. In this case, the best team won.

In the Finals, the Warriors are heavy favorites. Having said that, one can never count out a LeBron lead team. May the best team win !!!

Already looking forward to 2019, what will the title pretenders do?

Houston Rockets: Chris Paul (CP3) is 33 years old. He is a premier point guard but will be a free agent. GM Daryl Morey (in his obsession to unseat the Warriors) did a great job this year to build a team capable of competing with the Warriors. The Rockets are at the salary cap and have no draft picks. It’ll be very interesting to see if they offer CP3 a max contract at his age. Additionally, he has a long history of leg injuries proving once again that he can’t endure the rigors of a long season. If they commit to CP3, it will limit what they can do to sign another super-star like LeBron or Paul George. My take on the Rockets is that they will remain as a top competitor in the West but don’t appear likely to unseat the Warriors anytime soon. Also, their philosophy of ISO and live-or-die-by-the-3 makes them an exciting team to watch but in a long series, the better team will figure them out.

Boston Celtics: The Celtics may have over-achieved this year in the playoffs by making it to the East Finals. They did so without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. With the return of Kyrie and Hayward and the other young studs that they have (Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum) they have the inside track to win the East next year.

There are other good teams who will continue to make the playoffs and make some noise but still aren’t at the same level as the Warriors…

The Cleveland Cavs will literally fall apart if LeBron leaves. They may not even make the playoffs in the weaker East Conference.

The Philly Sixers are an up-and-coming team and will compete against the Celtics for the East Title. This can become a reality if LeBron decides to sign with them. Note: It will not be wise for LeBron to join a team in the West Conference. It’ll break his streak of 8 consecutive years in the Finals.

The NOLA Pelicans can make some noise next year when DeMarcus Cousins returns. He with Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday are an awesome trio but they have little else.

The OKC Thunder struck out trying to build a super-team with the signings of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Good individual players but sucky team players.

Finally, you know that the Warriors will not stand pat. They will keep their core four together (Steph, KD, Klay, and Draymond) but everyone else (including Andre) may not be on the team next year. Do not be surprised if they go after free agent DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers. They need a dominant Center and Jordan is a great fit for the Warriors’ pick-and-roll style of play. DeAndre and KD are best friends so I’m sure there are some player recruiting going on. Zaza, JaVale and David West likely will not return next year. To make room for DeAndre, the Warriors may have to sadly say good-bye to Andre and Shaun. The three young players that the Warriors will likely retain are Quinn Cook, Patrick McCaw and Jordan Bell. I would love to see the Warriors do something to keep Kevon Looney, but he may have played so well, he’ll command a good payday from another team. Back in October of 2017, they decided not to pick up Looney’s 4th year option for 2.2 million but did pick up Damien Jones’ 3rd year option for 1.5 million. The 700k financial decision may come back to haunt the Warriors but at that time, they had no idea that Looney would have such a positive impact. Regardless, the Warriors are the team that all other teams will be chasing for years to come.

2017-2018 GS Warriors – Strength and Length in Numbers

posted in: Basketball | 0

In this 2017 year-end assessment of the Dubs, this team is a much better team than the one that won the World Championship last year. Steve Kerr made this statement before the season started. Thirty five games into the season, the Dubs hold a 28-7 record which is the best in the NBA but their record is simply a by-product of the real reasons why they are the best.

The Dubs re-signed all of their key players from last year’s championship team. In addition, they aggressively upgraded their only weakness by improving their supporting team. The signings of Omri Casspi and Nick Young improved the second team scoring power which was missing from last year. An added bonus is that Casspi fit into the Warriors scheme immediately and he has been a rock on both ends of the court. Omri runs the court like a deer and cuts like a knife getting many easy hoops in the paint. His shots have so much arc on them that the fans in the upper bowl of the coliseum get a close-up view of the basketball prior to descending toward the hoop. Omri’s 6-9 length doesn’t hurt either. Nick Young has worked hard and is now playing the kind of Dubs ball that Kerr was hoping. At the beginning of the year, Nick looked lost, especially on defense. He also had issues running and passing on offense. In the early stages, it looked like a rare mistake bringing Swaggy P to a smooth running team like the Warriors. He found his shooting range 10 games into the season so I started calling him Swaggy 3, but his defense was still suspect. In the last 10 games, all of the coaching and his hard work started paying off as Nick is now playing like a Warrior at both ends of the floor. Nick’s Swaggy references are now history.

In addition to Omri and Nick, the Dubs “bought” Jordan Bell from the Chicago Bulls who drafted Bell in the 2nd round of this year’s college draft. Jordan (6-9 with a 6-11 and ¾ wingspan) was a defensive gem at Oregon blocking 2.2 shots per game while scoring 10.9 points per game and lead the Ducks into the Final Four. The Warriors didn’t have any draft picks this year or last and wound up buying Patrick McCaw and Jordan Bell in consecutive years. I’m thinking that the Dubs front office knows talent. And that is not the end of the talent story. Jordan Bell was NOT the best player on the Oregon Ducks team. Chris Boucher (6-10 with a 7-4 wingspan) was the MAN for the Ducks until he tore his ACL in the Pac-12 tournament against Cal. He wasn’t drafted so the Warriors signed him and he is now ahead of schedule in his recovery with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Lastly, the Dubs also signed Quinn Cook who played 4 years under Coach K. at Duke and is one of seven players who scored over 1,000 points with 500 assists.  He also ranks 4th best all time at Duke with a .853 free throw percentage. Quinn was cut by Atlanta, Dallas and New Orleans prior to being signed by the Warriors. Cook started 2 games and had some significant minutes during Steph’s absence with an ankle injury.

Andre Iguodala has taken McCaw under his wings, Draymond Green has taken Bell under his wings, and although a bit odd, Kevin Durant has taken Cook under his wings. These are examples of why the Warriors are the best team in the league. They genuinely like each other and will go to great lengths to keep the team close and “preach the process”. On the floor, one can easily see how McCaw’s, Bell’s, and Cook’s game have improved due to the presence of the team veterans.

The unsung heroes of this year’s team are David West, Shaun Livingston, ZaZa Pachulia, and Kevon Looney. West is the enforcer, Shaun is the calming influence, Zaza is the hulk, and Kevon is the hustler. Much credit goes to Kevon as his first two years were injury ridden with hip issues. He lost 25 pounds and now looks leaner and faster than ever. His offense rebounding skills are “off the boards” and he hustles like crazy to keep balls alive on the offensive end.

As for the big 4 All-Stars, Klay is the solid rock who hasn’t missed any games this year. He is by far the best 2-way guard in the league. Steph is the captain and the leader but he has missed 12 games due to a sprained ankle. Displaying their strength in numbers, the Warriors went 11-1 during his absence. This in a nutshell shows the depth of this team and the strength in their numbers. Last year, Kevin Durant hurt his knee and missed the last 22 games of the regular season. The Warriors went 17-5 without him with a 14 game winning streak after adjusting to playing without him. Draymond is the Defensive Player of the year but does so much more on offense. He is one of the team’s assist leaders and best passers. Lastly, Kevin Durant is no longer KD. He has become K-D with emphasis on the D. Kevin is never satisfied with his game even though he is acknowledged to be the league’s offensive MVP and the MVP of the Championship series. He worked long and hard on his defensive skills during the off season. He is averaging 6.5 defensive rebounds per game which leads the team and 7.1 overall rebounds which is second to Draymond’s 7.5. He is also averaging 2.33 blocks per games which second in the league next to Miles Turner of Indiana who is averaging 2.36 blocks per game. In the Christmas day game with the Cavs, he had 7 rebounds and 5 huge blocks in addition to his 25 points. K-D is on course to win this year’s Defensive Player of the Year and he has the full support of last year’s winner, Draymond Green.

The Strength and Length of the Warriors are real and built under the leadership of Steve Kerr who won the Coach of the Year in 2015-2016 and by Bob Myers who won Executive of the Year in 2016-2017. The NBA is a copycat league and the top teams have made some dramatic trades to compete with the Warriors. The Rockets appear to have done the best job but they traded away much of their depth. The others are all pretenders. Also, look for other teams who don’t have any 2nd round draft picks to try to “buy” drafted players like the Warriors did.

For now, the Warriors look hard to beat with Myers, Kerr, and their supporting cast…

2017 NBA Free Agency Signings – Winners and Losers

posted in: Basketball | 0

Free agency in the NBA focused on one and only one thing… How to create a team that could compete against the Golden State Warriors. How did the top competitors do to close the gap?

Cleveland Cavaliers

Although the Cavs tried to sign one of the top free agent players, they failed. Paul George went to OKC, Chris Paul went to Houston, and Jimmy Butler went to Minnesota. They did re-sign Kyle Korver (age 36) and added Jose Calderon (age 35). Additionally, they fired their GM, David Griffin, right before the NBA draft and the beginning of free agency. LeBron was very fond of Griffin. Also, Chauncey Billups, a close friend of LeBron, turned down the GM slot. Something bad is brewing in Cavs-land. There still remains the possibility of adding Carmelo Anthony who stated they he would waive his no-trade clause if he were moved to either the Cavs or Houston. In the case of the Cavs, it would be a straight-up Anthony for Love trade. The big question is if the Knicks want Love on their team. They haven’t had any “love” on that team for a very long time. If the Love for Anthony trade does go down, will the Cavs be improved? In my opinion, at this stage in their careers, Love is a better player than Anthony. Thus, the Cavs will not have closed any gaps on the Warriors. However, with or without Anthony, the Cavs are still the best team in the East.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics went hard after both Paul George and Jimmy butler but lost both bids. They did land Gordon Hayward who is re-united with his college coach, Brad Stevens. It hasn’t yet been determined who the Celtics will have to give up for the Hayward signing. Regardless of who they lose, the Celtics became a better team and have closed the gap on the Cavs.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets got a boost by the Chris Paul signing. Having said that, they had to give up 7 players (Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Kyle Wiltjer, a protected first-round pick next year and cash considerations). This reminds me of the Hershel Walker trade between the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys where the Cowboys got 5 players and 7 draft picks. As we all know, the Cowboys became a dynasty and the Vikings became the Vikings. It is fitting that two ball hogs (James Harden and CP3) are on the same team. They’ll have nobody to pass the ball to but that’ll be fine with them. The Rockets instantly became a worse team and will fall in the middle of the pack in the West.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers lost CP3 but added a boatload of players from the Rockets. They also re-signed Blake Griffin to a large contract. In my opinion, the largest addition to the organization was the signing of Jerry West. He was the mastermind in huge CP3 trade that brought 7 good players to the Clippers. It is a great first step in re-building the Clippers and I applaud the move. They have closed the gap on the Warriors but are still far away from being able to compete with them.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder added Paul George to their roster and gave up Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. George is a great player but nowhere near the player that Kevin Durant is. OKC was not able to beat the Warriors with Westbrook and Durant so they will not stand a chance with Westbrook and George. Also, George is a one year rental as he will bolt for the Lakers next year when he becomes a free agent. Thus, OKC gave up a good guard in Oladipo and a potentially good center/power forward in Sabonis for renting George for one year. OKC just became a worse team.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs tried very hard to unload LeMarcus Aldridge but found no buyers. They did not sign any free agents but did re-sign Patty Mills to a hefty contract. They stood pat which is not necessarily bad as they are loaded with talent. Having said that, they may lose Manu Ginobili to retirement and an old Tony Parker ended his season with a serious injury. The Spurs need to get younger to be able to compete with the Warriors.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Of the Warrior competitors, the Timberwolves improved their team the most. They added Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague along with trading Ricky Rubio to Utah for their 2018 first round pick. The Wolves were a team of the future before these signings with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. They became an instant playoff team with their new additions. In a two or three years, I believe that they will be one of the top 5 teams in the NBA and will continue to close the gap on the Warriors if they keep this team together.

Golden State Warriors

The world champion Warriors became a better team with their signings if you can believe that. Although some of the teams listed above became better, the Warriors lapped everyone. First and most importantly, they re-signed all of their key free agents (Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Kevin Durant, and signed Steph Curry to a max contract). The Warriors are never happy with standing pat even though they are the class of the NBA. They added Nick Young (6-7 off guard with length) and Omri Casspi (6-9 forward with length). They both shoot at better than 40% beyond the 3 point line. The Warriors are hoping to add to their lead when the second team is on the floor with Young and Casspi. Lastly, it looks likely that Zaza Pachulia will return and there is an outside chance that JaVale McGee may also come back after testing the free agency waters.

I must also mention that Kevin Durant sacrificed his salary to allow the Warriors to re-sign all of their free agents. He made it known that he will re-sign with the Warriors only after the other free agents were taken care of. You won’t find any super stars in any sport who did what KD did. He is the ultimate team player. The Warriors will take good care of KD next year by giving him a max contract.

Lastly, I must also comment on what the Warriors did in the NBA draft. Last year, they bought the rights to Patrick McCaw from the Milwaukee Bucks who drafted him in the second round. This year, they bought the rights to Jordan Bell from the Chicago Bulls who drafted him in the second round. Thus, a championship team having no draft picks in the last two years added 2 good players to their roster.

The biggest winner in free agency also happens to be the best team in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors.