Posts Tagged ‘LeBron James’

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After the blockbuster trade that sent future hall of famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets, the general reaction was very mixed. Some felt that this deal was a steal for the Nets, making them instant championship contenders. Others felt that this was an absolute disaster for the Nets, due to the fact that they gave up three first round picks. However, feelings toward the Celtics were pretty much unanimous. It was clear that the Celtics were going to enter rebuilding mode and analysts felt they were off to a good start with this move. While it is incredibly early in the year, the doubters of the trade have had their assumptions proven correct. Lets break down the Brooklyn Nets early troubles and look ahead to the future.

Old and Slow

A common criticism of the new Nets was that they would be old and slow. This has proven to be quite true. The Nets are being forced to play half court offense and have been awful on the fast break. Younger teams have had their way with the Nets. Take a game where they played the Orlando Magic. The leading candidate in the Andrew Wiggins lottery obliterated the Nets 107-86. In this game, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Afflalo, and Nikola Vucevic all torched their counter parts on both ends of the floor. Oladipo in particular used his speed and athleticism to beat Joe Johnson, Shaun Livingston, and Paul Pierce on multiple occasions. While Oladipo shows promise, he’s still a rookie. What’s going to happen when the Nets play more seasoned veterans like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and cross-town rival Carmelo Anthony? All of these stars feast on fast break opportunities and it seems like they will have a full plate against the Nets.

A Kidd Coaching

Bringing in a head coach fresh off of playing his last year in the NBA as a player is a massive gamble with a high ceiling. Crossing sports, take a look at Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals. He had been the team’s catcher for many years and when he wanted to become a coach St. Louis brought him. In three years as a manager, Matheny has led the Cards to Two World Series Appearances. Jason Kidd has not shown the same promise. Kidd has looked lost late in games, struggled with defensive assignment, and has been abysmal when it comes to time management. Kidd has had an interesting approach when it comes to managing player’s minutes. The Nets have 8 players averaging 20 minutes a night. This is an experiment that could prove a huge payoff come late in the season, or crash and burn massively.

Not Enough Versatility

If you look at Brooklyn’s starting five, they have five players who fit their positions. The problem is, at this point, they are all shells of their former selves. Garnett is completely broken down and may not make it through his contract. Pierce and Johnson are shooters who can play a little bit of on ball defense. Lopez is a scorer but isn’t strong enough to play on defense. Then there is Deron Williams. While he showed flashes of being the All Star PG that the Nets acquired, there has been something off this year. It may be the injured foot or it may just be the possibility that he’s past his prime. The issues get worse when the 2nd unit is just a lesser version of the starting five. Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Jason Terry, and Mason Plumlee are just carbon copies of their starting counterparts. The one thing the Nets need more than anything is a bruising center like Brenden Haywood to make up for the weakness of Brook Lopez.

It needs to be noted that Brooklyn has only played six games this season. Growing pains are expected for a unit as new as this, but that is no excuse. This team looks slow, weak, and old. They wont be able to keep up with teams like the Pacers Heat, and Bulls with this current play.

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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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With Tip-Off fast approaching here’s an in-depth look at the league, Team by Team.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Where They Have Been:
They have been in the basement of the NBA. Since LeBron left for south beach, the Cavaliers have been the worst team in the NBA bar none. However, with the high risk moves the Cavs made in the offseason, the Cavs can either become a total embarrassment or a sneaky good team.

Who They Have: Starters
Since LeBron left, the Cavs have had at least one top 4 pick (including two #1s) in the NBA draft. They have used these picks to essentially build their starting five. PG Kyrie Irving, SG Dion Waiters, and PF Tristian Thompson were all top 4 draft picks. Veteran SF C.J. Miles and C Anderson Varejao round out the starting five. Irving is already an established superstar, but Waiters has yet to show us anything special. Thompson and Miles are nothing better than role players on a good team, and Varejao is injury prone. This may not be the starting five as the season goes on, but if it is, the Cavs are in for a world of hurt.

Who They Have: Bench
Here is the silver lining for this Cleveland team. They signed troubled C Andrew Bynum to a 1 year deal, and have this year’s surprise first overall pick, Anthony Bennett waiting in the wings. Both are complete wildcards (especially Bynum since he hasn’t played in over a year and might not this year), but if they pan out as hoped, this Cavs team could see some daylight. Other bench payers include Tyler Zeller, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, and Alonzo Gee. Once you add Varejao and Thompson to that bench, all of a sudden this team has depth.

What To Expect:
This team is a total wildcard in terms of predictions. On one hand, if everything pans out, this team could be as good as a 6 seed in the slim Eastern Conference. On the other hand, if Bynum doesn’t play and Bennett doesn’t work out (both literally and figuratively), Cavs fan can be looking at another top 4 pick. The way it’s looking right now, I’d have to lean towards disastrous, given Bynum’s track record and Bennett’s preaseason play. This could prove to be catastrophic as Kyrie Irving will become a free agent soon.

Record:
25-57