Posts Tagged ‘James Harden’

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Ever since the monumental draft night trades in 2008, the NBA has essentially become a league of superpowers. Players have foregone the ideal of rivalries for example, Magic vs. Bird in favor of joining forces to gain guaranteed championships. This started on that infamous night and has continued with signings of LeBron James to the Miami Heat and Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets. With Carmelo Anthony set to join the free agent market after this coming season, speculation is heavy that he will go out to the west coast to join the Los Angeles Lakers. While a combination of Carmelo and Kobe may seem scary to some, an even more terrifying group may be forming down south.

Recently, on his Grantland podcast, Jalen Rose suggested a more than real possibility that Kevin Durant will be taking his talents to Houston to team up with Dwight Howard and one of his best friends, James Harden. Durant is eligible for free agency in 2016, which would be when he is midway through his prime. If Durant has not won a championship by then, it is more than likely that he will be packing his bags and going to H-Town. Another motivation for Durant to go the Rockets, He played his college ball at the University of Texas. The possible return has its storyline already written.

However, on PTI Friday, host Michael Wilbon made another interesting suggestion for Durants possible destination. Wilbon suggested that Durant might go to the Washington Wizards to team up with PG John Wall and blossoming SG Bradley Beal. This possibility has an even better storyline, based on the fact that Durant was born and raised in Washington D.C.. The Wizards will have a younger and faster core than the Rockets. They will also probably have more cap space to bring in a couple of smaller pieces, which could entice Durant even more.

This potential move from OKC won’t only affect Durant. This move could potential change the power shifts in the NBA. The reason for this is, with Durant gone, Russel Westbrook is likely to move out of Oklahoma City as well. Potential landing spots for him could include the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, or even the Houston Rockets (assuming Durant doesn’t go there). Any of those teams, with the addition of Westbrook, could be extremely deadly going forward.

These hypothetical moves have a lot of variables in play within the next few years. What if Kyrie Irving goes to the Lakers? What if Dwight Howard gets upset in Houston? What if John Wall leaves Washington? Most importantly, what if this superteam trend dies out? These are all valid questions, but assuming the majority of these things don’t happen, it is very possible we will see two new superpowers in the NBA, while the Thunder take the brunt of the storm.

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Here we go folks, the NBA season is less than a week away from Tip-Off, and that makes us VERY happy. There are so many questions to answer, but let’s just stick to the ones that are on the forefront of my mind right now.

The Questions:

1) Will Kobe Bryant come back from his torn Achilles tendon as the Mamba/Vino, or will he be just a shell of his former self? Will Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo?

2) Will the Miami Heat fail or succeed in their bid to secure a three peat, and make it to the NBA finals four years in a row? If they don’t, where do they fall, and whom do they fall too?

3) Which team, if any, in the NBA can unseat the Heat? Is that even possible after the past three years (2 championships, 3 straight trips to the finals, arguably the best 1-2 [and 3] combo in the league, the best player in the league, and a 27 game winning streak)?

4) Will the Clippers finally distinguish themselves where it matters most, in the playoffs?

5) Are both of NY’s team’s contenders, or pretenders? Which one of them has a more legitimate chance of competing for a title?

6) How serious are the Rockets?

The Answers:

1) Kobe is Kobe. There are few who can match his competitive drive, and after a whole summer’s worth of hearing people debate about how he’ll come back, he’ll do whatever it takes to come back as his old self. Derrick Rose is back, 21.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 7.9 assists through the preseason should alleviate any and all worries Bulls fans might still have. Same goes for Kevin Love who is putting up his monster double doubles, on a daily basis. Though Rondo isn’t due back for some time, there is no reason to think he still won’t be a top point guard, the only difference; he won’t have Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to pass to.

2) At first guess, the answer is, yes The Heat will succeed and LeBron will win a third title. However, personally I don’t think they will. The eastern conference has become much more competitive, with the Pacers, the Bulls, the Nets and the Knicks adding pieces to already solid rosters. Of those 4 the Pacers are the team most likely to supplant the Heat. Consider last season’s E.C.F finals where they took them all the way to game 7, and were a potentially bad substitution away from winning. They retained their core, Danny Granger is back, and Lance Stephenson has something to prove, after an encouraging season. Next they added Luis Scola, Chris Copeland and CJ Watson to shore up their bench offense. While they might not match up with the Heat in terms of pure Star power (though Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Paul George aren’t a bad star lineup), they DO match up (and win) in depth and bench production.

3) Expanding upon question #2, the Indian Pacers are the team MOST likely to unseat the Heat. The other serious contenders on this short list include the Chicago Bulls, the Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs. I can’t put the Thunder in here because this is the first season they’re playing without an established 3rd man, if someone can step up and fill that role, they’ll be back in contention.

4) I put the Clippers on question 3 for a bunch of reasons. An elite, no nonsense coach that knows what it takes to win a title is the first step toward legitimacy. The next reason is their depth. They have what it takes, from the role players (Louis Admundson, Willie Green) to the stars ( Paul, Griffin) they are a legitimate 10 deep team, with players who can (and will) take over close games. Look for the Clippers to aim for a 60 win season, a top 3 seed in the Western Conference and a berth in the W.C.F.

5) Pretenders, the Knicks more so than the Nets. The Knicks have not really upgraded over the summer, adding a shooter who can’t shoot, and a great defender who is a couple years past his prime. They’ll win and they’ll be fun to watch, but inevitably they will flame out in the 2nd round (and even the first depending on whom they match up with). The Nets are a bit different, they’ve clearly upgraded, adding Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko, to their core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. However, they are untested as a group, their coach is brand new and they will have to compete with the Miami Heat, the Bulls (who have regained their MVP) and of course their house mates in the city, the Knicks.

6) The rockets are a wildcard in the west, talented enough to go toe to toe with any team, in any conference, but unproven. They have no Chemistry yet, and until they develop it, they won’t be able to jump over the list of Western Conference contenders that include the Clippers, the Spurs and the Thunder.