<![CDATA[NBA Insight Stuff - Commentary]]>Mon, 14 Dec 2015 03:23:47 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[2015 All-Star Voting - My selections]]>Sat, 21 Mar 2015 21:28:10 GMThttp://theinsightblog.weebly.com/commentary/2015-all-star-voting-my-selectionsI make it no secret that I have not kept up with my expectation of making numerous posts and commentary.  Nonetheless I could not miss out giving my All-Star selections for the 2015 All-Star game.  This year has shown to be more difficult to pick deserving players.  Let's be honest, there are most deserving players that need to take part of this game than the league allows.  It might be time to increase the rosters?  In light of this, I was compelled to cast 3 votes this year.  In retrospect of my picks, I can admit I may have gaffed on a few.  But I can say I can own up to it. Make it be no surprise, Durant and Westbrook did not get my vote.  As with some, I think that players eligible for this game need to play a minimum amount of games to be considered.  I'm not going to get into a long piece as to why, but I will add 2 key points and they both lead to monetary gains.  First being the extra amount of money a player may get from being an all-star from either being in the game, or a clause in their contract.  The second being that being an all-star does factor into a players contract in the future.  I would hate to see a popularity contest get in the way of someone's livelihood, something that we don't necessary consider as fans of the game.  That aside, here are my selections:
For those who have followed my All-Star selection from the previous year may understand that I try to select a traditional line up (i.e.: PG, G, F, PF, C).  For those that follow the league well enough, you may notice a shortage of All-Star caliber Small Forwards around the league.  As with the Point Guard and Center positions, I'm certain that will change in the coming years.  With that said my 1st team All-Star selections were:

1st team selection

EAST

Backcourt
Kyle Lowry
Jimmy Butler

Frontcourt
LeBron James
Chris Bosh
Pau Gasol


WEST

Backcourt
James Harden
Stephen Curry

Frontcourt
Anthony Davis
LaMarcus Aldridge
Marc Gasol


I don't feel I made a mistake here, although selections can always be argued.  I think that as far as the backcourt situation for both sides, they should be undisputed with the exception of the mention of John Wall.  Both Harden and Curry are top MVP consideration thus far in the season, Lowry is continuing to prove that he is the best leader the Raptors have ever had, and Butler is on his way to being the leagues Most Improved Player.  Something we've seen with another good 2 way guard named Paul George.  

My Frontcourt selections of course can be argued in many ways.  The Gasol Brothers have been steady contributors on their respective teams and will likely end up starting in my opinion.  How sick is that, brothers starting an All-Star game against each other?! On both lineups we have perhaps 2 of the best mid-range shooting big men in Bosh and Aldridge. Bosh is looking to be showing what he said he could do if he wasn't to lessen his role, now with LeBron in Cleveland. Aldridge's play just speaks for itself on the usually improving Trailblazer team.  Boy am I glad of having the honor to drive down to Portland to witness their growth, now that I am living on the West Coast. LeBron, really?!  Anthony Davis?  I kind of feel the same way about this selection as I do about LeBron.  It is a no-brainer as far as an All-Star selection. My only question is who is really more important to their team, Davis or Cousins?  This is a question that some consider for an MVP selection, but can be weighted in an All-Star selection.  At least mine. I think they are both as equally important to their teams.  Sure, New Orleans does boast a better roster than Sacramento when either player is out, thus not being as nearly as bad of a team.  This is also why I consider both players as important to their teams because their teams are marginally better with them in the lineup.  I went with overall production on this choice, where Davis is putting up numbers not seen since a young KG and Tim Duncan.
2nd team selection

EAST

Backcourt
John Wall
Brandon Knight

Frontcourt
Andre Drummond
Paul Millsap

Nikola Vucevic

WEST

Backcourt
Chris Paul
Damian Lillard

Frontcourt
DeMarcus Cousins
Blake Griffin
Tim Duncan


My 2nd selection no doubt would cause some to scratch their heads, but hear me out.  I think the All-Star game is about rewarding.  What that entails may differ for many. I'm one of those that like to reward players with great production on winning teams, along with awarding great consistent production on teams that show improvement from previous year(s). As I may have hinted earlier, Wall is a deserving All-Star.  Brandon Knight, I think deserves a vote.  The Bucks are an improved team.  Yes, Jason Kidd should get most of the credit.  The Bucks roster hasn't changed much aside from acquiring more shooters.  But let's face it, Knight is clearly their most noticeable player. Given how poor the Bucks record was last year, Knight still produced on a nightly basis and is continuing this production on a slightly improved roster. The Bucks are a playoff team this year. Correction, the Bucks will be a playoff team this year, and someone on that team needs to be in that All-Star game to let the league know that they are relevant.  For that reason I made this selection. My selections for the Frontcourt slightly differ in my reasoning. I like Andre Drummond, period.  Once he gets it all together and (hopefully) figures it out he should be as dominant, if not more, than what Dwight Howard was. Actually he should be more dominant has he runs better and is more physical than Howard. Drummond is a true center and is what the All-Star game needs for the entertainment factor. My claim for why I selected Drummond is somewhat the opposite to why I selected Vucevic. For those that followed Vucevic when he was coming off the Philly bench should not be surprised by his production. I really mean that. He's another Kevin Love type player.  A player who, for whatever reason, "rides the pine" although showing productivity in the limited minutes received "surprisingly" blows up the following year when given starters minutes and become a high scoring double-double machine. I can't think or see anyone else right now to claim that I'm not bullshitting. As a "reach" perhaps keep the likes of Gorgui Dieng and Mitch McGary in the mix. Vucevic is a multi-faceted scorer and proves that he can be a produce while not being the focal point of an offense.  That is a skill people. Paul Millsap is perhaps the best player on the best team in the East. That alone warrants a vote. 

Cousins, Griffin and Duncan got my 2nd team vote.  Cousins is the best Center in the league on both ends. Sure, there are better defensive centers (i.e.: DeAndre Jordan), but Cousins continues to improve his defense and is practically unstoppable in the paint. Need I mention his shooting range, ball handling and passing?  Nah, you should already know. Griffin is as power of a Power Forward we have in the league. He made bigger strides of improvement last season and continues to show no signs of regression. Duncan may be a selection not many understand. First, I will admit that its hard to dismiss a player off a team that won the previous Championship from the All-Star ballot given their team is still doing well. Second, Duncan is still a steady player (15ppg, 10rpg, 2blks).  Stats like that usually warrant an All-Star selection given my points.
3rd team selection

EAST

Backcourt
Jeff Teague
Dwyane Wade

Frontcourt
Kevin Love
Tobias Harris
Al Jefferson

WEST

Backcourt
Monta Ellis
Mike Conley (Jr.)

Frontcourt
Tyson Chandler

Dirk Nowitzki
Rudy Gay


This is perhaps a ballot I didn't need to cast, but as I mentioned, I know I messed up. Jeff Teague deserves a vote. The press is lobbying that Teague, Millsap, Horford and Korver all should be in the All-Star game. I'm not going to speak on that "hot" topic, but let's just say that I just think "that's touching". A Point Guard is an important position on any team. With Atlanta being the best team, surely Teague is a big reason. Wade, this year, is playing better than expected. I cannot think of another deserving Shooting Guard. Although Miami is a mere shell of its former self, they are still in playoff contention in the East. I think its about time for Ellis and Conley to be participants in the All-Star game. One is a talented  and top scorer on a Conference leading team, while the other is a talented and  pure 2-way Point Guard on a top 3 team in the league. With Ellis, he's shown the ability to adapt and emerge as a key player on a team that can contend, unlike in his time with  the Golden State Warriors. Conley has continued to improve, especially as a scorer, and is the anchor on both the offensive and defensive scheme of this underrated Memphis team.

My Frontcourt picks here are perhaps a bit of a reach here.  Chandler is continuing to show that he is a factor at near the basket on both offensive and defense, along with being perhaps being the prototype of the "new school" centers that have been emerging over the last few years. He is surely a reason to the Dallas Mavericks early success.  Dirk, he was probably more of a reach here. He's not the same player, but still an offensive threat on one of the best teams.  Rudy Gay has come out the gate en route to perhaps his best season statistically at the Small Forward position. Not to make any comparisons, but Gay may end up in the realm of players like Rod Strickland, as the best players at their position, at the peak of their careers, that never make an all-star team. If Rudy Gay can demonstrate how he can be a difference maker to improve a team, I think he'll garner more attention for an all-star consideration in the future. 

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<![CDATA[My 2014 - 2015 ESPN fantasy draft]]>Sat, 01 Nov 2014 06:38:40 GMThttp://theinsightblog.weebly.com/commentary/my-2014-2015-espn-fantasy-draftHere we have it folks, another year of the NBA.  For those that have followed my fantasy post from last year, I fared pretty by placing 1st.  The team I had was pretty much "criminal" to obtain. As I did last year, I will share with you folks the results of my draft going into the 2014 - 2015 season.  

I can start off by saying that I didn't get away with what I did last year.  But then again, my picks last year was, in my opinion, ahead of the curve.  Despite having joined a more knowledge league, I did well pretty well building my roster for this season.  Let's begin.


Round 1:
With the 9th pick in the draft I was aiming for DeMarcus Cousins.  I thought to be in a good position to get a big time player.  With the 9th position, out of 10 teams, there wouldn't be any pressure to make a guaranteed pick.  If I couldn't land Cousins I had a backup plan.  I had to resort to my backup plan. That back up plan was Kevin Durant. I'll refrain from mentioned the mock draft positions I've seen.  If you have to ask why I took Durant, I ask you this, "How can you go wrong with this pick when you're at the bottom of the order?".  I guess the wise answer would be "What if Durant ends up being out for the majority of the season?|". I say "Bump that!".  He's worth the risk.  Young bones heal fast.  Given what I've read about the "Jones" fracture, Durant has been playing with it until it came to the point where it was unbearable. He probably took action here, at the right time, to correct the issue. I think my pick here was brilliant.  Besides, I will have another pick 3 spots later.


Round 2:
With my 2nd pick I selected Damian Lillard. I went after a specialist. A 3-point specialist. Lillard is discretely the next best 3 point shooter outside of the Splash brothers, Curry and Thompson. I know Thompson was still available, but he's not he's not as well rounded as Lillard. I have drafted Lillard on my every team  I've had since he's been in the league.  As you should all know, he produces. I get the idea that Lillard will be playing with a chip on his shoulder this year, having not been selected on the  USA Mens's FIBA basketball team this summer. Portland is a deeper team and I anticipate the similar success they experienced last year again.  When it comes to Lillard, I anticipate 22ppg, 7ast, 2 3's a game.


Round 3:
It's in the 3rd round where I start thinking about how to mold my roster. With my 3rd pick I went after a big man, and a multi productive one, in Joakim Noah.  The Chicago Bulls have, what looks to be, a deeper  and talented roster this year.  This is not going to matter in terms of Noah's production.  He will still be a defensive beast, a monster on the glass, and  a great interior passer. Seeing Coach Thibs is striving to build his own system, a-la Coach Popovich, Noah will be able to find ways to score whether it be a 2nd chance point or off a pick n' roll. I'm really high on the Bulls this year.


IRound 4:
With my 4th pick I went with Paul Millsap.  He really surprised me last year. He had perhaps his best season and added 3 point shooting in his repertoire. He doesn't look to force anything in his game which is a hidden bonus in fantasy play. The Atlanta Hawks are a team that no one really seems to talk about, and with reason.  The franchise doesn't have any flare.  With the balance shift in the Eastern Conference, I would expect a team like the Atlanta Hawks to be even hungrier this year and seeing there chances of getting deeper in the playoffs are on the upside. This will all start with the Hawks "new" big 3 in Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Paul "Trill"sap himself.  Millsap proved to be one of the best valued player not named Dirk Novitski. Having made his 1st All-star appearance last season, I don't imagine that his will regress much, if at all, this season.


Round 5:

Good and reliable Tony Parker was my 5th pick .  Point guards are valuable and few are as valuable as Parker.  He's continues to get better and will again be the San Antonio Spurs leading scorer on perhaps the best team in the league. Parker continues to shoot a high percentage at his position, which is a bonus, and is the anchor of the Spurs offense.  Barring injury, and many "old" DNPs status', he'll continue to have another strong season.


Round 6:
I haven't gotten around to picking up a Shooting guard at this point. This may come to be a problem later on.  There were some guys I wanted to make sure I have on my team this year. Having seen someone take Jabari Parker in the 5 round, someone who is a ROY candidate, I decided to grab one myself. Nerlens Noel.  Noel at one point was thought to be a #1 pick in last year's draft, prior to his injury while playing at Kentucky. I watched a few summer league games and Noel is definitely as advertised. A long and athletic player who is capable of defending as well as Anthony Davis.  That kind of a player are few and far between so I had to snatch him up.


Round 7:
At this point I'm thinking about being strong in certain categories of my 8 CAT league.  I went with Kyle Korver with my 7th selection.  Korver had a decent season last year.  His name doesn't stand out in fantasy, but with him you do know what you're getting. He'll shoot a good percentage on the floor, on the line, as well as being a league leader in 3's made including 14ppg.  At this point I know that scoring is going to become a problem, but I got to be smart here.  This is an 8 CAT league.  Right now I know I am close in becoming dominate in the 3 point category in my league.


Round 8:
Right now I'm looking to stock pile my roster with special talents. I've accepted that my drafting expectations will not be as strong.  I will admit that I was reaching with my 8th pick, Ricky Rubio. Rubio is not a greater shooter and may end up hurting me in the scoring and FG% at times in my league.  The thing about Rubio is that he's equally as strong in other areas as he is weak in some. With the new structure in Minneapolis more responsibility will be asked to be taken by Rubio. With Rubio playing for a contract he'll be reaching within himself to prove worthy of a sizable contract. Rubio will continue to be a league leader in AST and STL as he has been ever since entering the league. Personally, I hope to see the Rubio that we were all excited about prior to his knee injury in his rookie season.


Round 9:
Arron Afflalo was pick in the 9th round.  Afflalo had himself a good season with the lowly Orlando Magic team. He has continued to be more of a scorer every season.  Not much can be said here about Afflalo.  I am just trying to establish consistent players on my roster so they can used as potential trading piece. For now, although Afflalo won't be asked to bear much of the scoring load now that he is on a better team, will be an efficient player.


Round 10:
Like I, just before, I'm looking to pick up potential trading pieces. This is where the freakish talent of Giannis Antetokounmpo comes in.  There are some expectations for Giannis this year. The new head coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, Coach Jason Kidd, wants to slowly bring Giannis along as a primary ball distributor for the Bucks. This should allow for more playing time for Giannis and the opportunity to grow. Having played in the FIBA tournament this summer, I anticipate Giannis will be ready for the season and continue to play his Nicolas Batum - Scottie Pippen modeled game.


Round 11:

My goal towards picking up freakish talent and/or probable good trading pieces continue with this pick of Gorqui Dieng.  It's easy to say now that I thought Dieng would be a player in the NBA. But I did.  I was convinced when I saw him in perhaps one of the best NCAA championship games in recent years, Louisville vs. Michigan (2013).  Dieng really started to create a buzz in the 2nd half of the season, last year, by posting some big numbers in scoring, rebounding and defensive stats. That kind of productivity was comparable to that of Andre Drummond. With a young Timber wolves team, Dieng should get an opportunity to play more often.  I know that fantasy league play are about statistics, but Dieng does have the potential to play for a long time. He can shoot from the top of the key, play good defensive and shows to be a smart player. This is why I am I'm all in on Dieng with my 12th pick.


Round 12:
John Henson was my sleeper pick last season.  This year my sleeper pick is Omer Asik.  How easy it is to forget Asik after a year where he was surely at times pretending to injured. Asik was a revelation when he left Chicago to go to Houston as part of "phase 1" of Daryl Morley's experiment.  Asik was a statistical machine when he joined the Rockets. Now having joined the Pelicans, I will now use a quote from Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons.  "Block Party!!".  What a great acquisition for New Orleans.  They instantly become a top front court duo having picked up Asik. I expect Asik to rejuvenate his young career and continue to be the monster he once was with the Rockets.


Round 13:

Do I need to explain any reason for why I selected a 13th pick?  If so, my answer is simply chance. Tim Hardaway Jr. proved to be a nice player.  I don't doubt that he may end up being one of my waiver options, but if he does step up in the ever so "cursed" sophomore season, I would put his ceiling as a 15ppg scorer and 40% 3 point shooter.
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<![CDATA[The 2014 NBA draft- The forgotten attribute: Leadership]]>Fri, 04 Apr 2014 07:53:19 GMThttp://theinsightblog.weebly.com/commentary/the-2014-nba-draft-the-forgotten-attribute-leadership
A lot has been projected about this years up coming draft. Before the NCAA season began many had raved about the possibility of this year's draft ranking as the best class since 2003, largely in part of the expected "one and done" talent expected to enter. I, like others, became intrigued and made the effort to catch what ever games that showcased these crop of players. Some of the hype is evident, as seen over the course of the regular season. Where individual and team success was seen, most of these players bowed out earlier in the NCAA tournament than probably anticipated. 
Much of what has resulted in the tournament is based on experience. If there is any case to be made about a game changing star in college, such Carmelo Anthony or Derrick Rose, the results show that it remains to be seen. We are into the weekend of the Final four. Out of the teams with players anticipated to enter in this years' draft, according to the mock drafts, Kentucky (4), UConn (1) and Florida (1) remain. A good number of players that garnered much of the attention had exhibited lackluster display in the tournament. I don't use the term lackluster for the sake that their respected teams were ousted, but based on how they lost. The lack of leadership, where it counted the most, was not seen with these players. The draft is based on talent and potential for the most part. If scouts are to really figure out if they have a potential bust on their hands, they should place higher value on the attribute of leadership. It was leadership that was the foundation base that propelled these players to become high school prospects. It's that same leadership drive that encouraged these players to put in that extra work to become prospected talents. Some players demonstrated a little more influence compared to some others and it was perhaps served as a reason as to why those players that had better tournament success.

The games played in March are on another level, that is without question. But this is the time where players are to take that next step. I may not be giving some of these players a fair shake. Some didn't have a strong or experienced team cast. Team chemistry aside, we can take a look at recent players who demonstrated good team leadership at the collegiate level and have transitioned that to the NBA to develop into good players:

a) Carmelo Anthony - Syracuse (2003 NCAA champion)
b) Joakim Noah - Florida (2006 and 2007 NCAA champion)
c) Derrick Rose - Memphis (2008 NCAA finalist)
d) Stephen Curry - Davidson (2008 Elite Eight)

There are surely more to add to the list, but these are some examples of players who accepted the challenge of the NCAA tournament given the attention they attracted. They were leaders on their respected collegiate teams and remain demonstrating those qualities as professional players. The basis of potential is something possible, but not yet actual. Drafting the best talent for certain should never change. But given how some things panned out in this tournament, which I found somewhat disappointing, the focus on leadership as a key attribute to quantify should be greatly factored in to diffuse and avoid drafting just on potential, but someone who can actually reach their potential by being a leading example.
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<![CDATA[The lottery bound teams - The "celladwella" class]]>Sat, 29 Mar 2014 09:34:31 GMThttp://theinsightblog.weebly.com/commentary/the-lottery-bound-teams-the-celladwella-class A lot goes on in the world of sports within the month of March, in particular the world of basketball. The March Madness tourney is near complete, and March is the last full month of scheduled games. By this time it has become clear which teams have to think about their off-season plans. Those front office's surely have been thinking about the off-season months prior. Let's take a look at some of these teams and try to make light of some of the positives:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

The Bucks currently own the league's worst record. Unlike some of the other struggling teams, the Bucks fate was established well early in the season. As hard as it may appear, there are some positives with the roster. To start, the Bucks have some young players with good length from the 1 to 5 positions, in Nate Wolters, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, John Henson, Larry Sanders, all capable of becoming good defenders and under the age of 25. 

Brandon Knight  has improved each month this season, showing restored confidence and making good use of his playing time averaging some career highs (17ppg, 5ast, 4reb, 1stl). Similar offensive strides has been seen with Khris Middleton, having led the team in scoring some nights this season (12ppg, 4reb, 1stl). ï»¿Two players that most people weren't aware of, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nate Wolters, are showing to be good selections for the Bucks this year. Giannis' potential is unknown, but very intriguing. If developed properly, Giannis could be in the conversation with Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis, as the most versatile players flirting with the 7 foot mark who are able to run the floor well and have uncanny offensive ability. Coming off the bench for most of the season, Wolters has shown capable of playing in this league. Wolters has good height for a PG, at 6'4", in addition to being a great ball handler, passer, and good defender. Question marks do remain with Henson and Sanders, given their history of injury problem during the course of a season. Each have shown signs of being good shot blocker, averaging around 2 blks per game each. Both are offensively limited at this point of their careers and lack in size as post players. With time they should improve.

As a young core, the Bucks have the foundation of forming a good defensive team because of their length. They surely can use additional offensive components on the roster. OJ Mayo and Ersan Ilyasova are not the answers. If the Bucks continue to find gems, like they have in recent drafts, they can make a climb in the lowly Eastern Conference within time.

Not much was expected from Philadelphia this season. The teams plan to rebuild was always out in the open. The primary reason for the teams lack of success is lack of roster depth. It would have been interesting to see how the team could retain all of their core players in Michael Carter-Williams, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, Tony Wroten and Nerlens Noel. The front office had another idea in mind. Turner and Hawes have since been traded, and perhaps with good reason as their speed and athleticism probably wouldn't fit well with what the 76ers are presumably trying to form. The Sixers are on the cusp of developing a team with length that can defend. Having Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young and Nerlens Noel certainly improves those chances.

The Sixers possess a number of draft picks.  This give them flexibility to draft or trade away picks for players. The Sixers are in need a SG and PF. Young currently is positioned at the PF position, but his height and talent may be better suited for the SF position. He is not a stretch 4, if that is what is expected from of him. MCW is currently on his way on becoming the Rookie of the Year with averages of 17ppg, 6reb and 5ast. Noel has yet to debut in the NBA to even be assessed, and it may not yet be determined what position he'll play, PF or C.  Tony Wroten has come on to find a place in Philly a scorer coming off the bench, something surely the 76ers can use as they continue to look ahead to the future.

The Orlando Magic as of today appears to have been the winners of that huge trade surrounding Dwight Howard. Out of that deal they acquired Arron Afflalo and Nikola Vucevic. Both Afflalo and Vucevic have continued where they left off last year, being the teams most consistent players. Last season the Magic acquired Tobias Harris in a trade from Milwaukee, who had made quite the buzz in the 2nd half of the last season. Since returning from his high ankle sprain, he is slowly returning back to form. Other bright spots on the roster this year have been Maurice Harkless, Victor Oladipo, and Kyle O'Quinn. The team is still young and has to think about the future at their PG position. As reliable as Jameer Nelson has been for Orlando, it is time that the Magic look for a new floor general in the off-season. The team looks to have set position players at the SG, SF, PF and C positions, and can afford to be flexible with the roster positioning. Orlando simply lacks experience  and a possess a lackluster bench.  The team does boast some talent but currently more so on the defensive end. This was not meant to be a turnaround year for the Magic, but you can see that the foundation beginning to turn the corner.

I believe that the Celtics have reason to be excited about the near future. GM Danny Ainge has been deliberate in each of his dealings, indicating that his focus is on rebuilding. Much like the Sixers, the Celtics have an arsenal of draft picks for the next few years. That aside, for a franchise in rebuilding mode the positive energy remains, lead by a well respected young coach in Brad Stevens

It remains that Rajon Rondo is not going to being dealt anywhere in the near future. Why should he? His departure would prove detrimental during this phase, and a floor leader is not easy to find. Jeff Green is having his first real season as a starter since his days with OKC, where he probably had his best season, statistically. Green appears to make highlight plays more often than consistent play. He may have felt he needed to carry the load due to Rondo's absence, but Celtics fans hope that he reaches the potential that prompted Ainge to receive him in the Kendrick Perkins trade. The Celtics look to have two promising shooting big men in Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, a rarity to have. The team is still without a true shooting guard, as is the case with most teams. The contracts of Kris Humphries (12 million - 1 year remaining) and Gerald Wallace (10 million - 3 years remaining) that the Celtics acquired from the Nets may cause a momentary set back, but will surely be of little concern. Ainge going forward will continue to exercise the flexibility that the organization has to better this team.



WESTERN CONFERENCE

The Utah Jazz certainly have been planning for their future over the last 2 seasons now. Going into this season without retaining the services from either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap, not much was expected from this team. Although having one of the worst records in the league this year, they are fortunate to have a good young core that could blossom into something special with time. PG Trey Burke missed the early part of the season due to injury, but has shown signs that he is capable of being a gritty team leader. PG/SG Alec Burks has been given more playing time this year and has not wasted that opportunity, providing scoring off the bench. 

Until the departure of Jefferson and Millsap, the Jazz arguably had the deepest frontcourt roster in the league. This brings me to Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. These two don't quite possess the offensive talents of Jefferson or Millsap, but they are two big(ger) bodies. Both are still young and raw in talant. Favors is more the imposing force of the two, including being a solid rebounder and defender. It will be interesting how, or if, the two will co-exist in the future for long, as they both aren't scoring threats. 

The X-factor here is Gordon HaywardHayward is the team's best player and one of the most well rounded players in the league. If he is not scoring, he is finding the open man for the assist, grabbing rebounds, getting in the passing lanes for steals, or comes in from the weak side for a block. With Burks progression as a SG, and Hayward and the Jazz not having come to terms on a contract extension during the off season, it will be interesting if they will come to an agreement or try to acquire something for Hayward.

Who would have thought that we'd find the Los Angeles Lakers among the league's worst teams. Especially in the "Kobe" era. There were a number of factors that led to this, but it's still odd to see. The Lakers are in a pretty interesting situation. They currently have 4 players with guaranteed contracts into the 2014-2015 season in Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall. With that said, the Lakers future is unknown which also makes things exciting for them as well. 

Right now everyone on the team is auditioning for the league in hopes of a future contract. Players, not named Ramon Sessions and Dwight Howard have made their way to the Lakers to have their best season(s). Rather than choosing to stay, most of these players decide to sign elsewhere and haven't had the same success. The Lakers have been bad, and fair share of the blame can be put on Coach Mike D'Antoni's system. On the positive side, this system allows guys to play free on the offensive end. A number of guys have taken advantage to showcase why they should be considered in returning next season (Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Nick Young and Kent Bazemore).

The starting SG, and possibly the PG position, are known for next season. Meeks has shown the league that he is a proven scorer, with flashes of explosiveness to the basket. For the most part Meeks should be considered to re-sign next year, but the question is will Meeks want to stay in a reserve role or accept an offer elsewhere. Sure the Lakers have both Nash and Marshall next year, but will they could end up being the 1st and 2nd options or the 2nd and 3rd? Basically Kobe is the only absolute starter going into the next season. Lakers will have some flexibility and suitors wanting to join and remain on the team. Kobe has publicly called out the front office to insist that they make some moves to help restore the winning ways that has been synonymous with the Lakers culture. Now the question is what will they do.  ï»¿

The Kings have been in this position before. It has begun to feel that the good days of Sacramento basketball was so long ago. Poor coach selections and management has led to the stagnant progression of this team. There is new life in Sacramento now, with new management, new ownership, and an enthusiastic fan base giving this franchise as much hope as any to turn things around. 

The Kings managed to establish a decent core in DeMarcus Cousins, Isiah Thomas, and Rudy Gay. Cousins is having his best season to date, and perhaps is debatable that he should have been an all-star this year. Point blank, this team can only go as far as Cousins take them. Thomas has shown to be the best last draft selection (60th overall in 2011) in professional sports so far. All Thomas ever wanted was a chance to prove he belongs, as he's said before. He has taken full advantage of that opportunity having earned the starting PG spot. Part of the teams growth ties in with Rudy Gay. Most are aware of his monster contract that the Kings decided to take on in hopes that they can work out an agreement with Gay, as he can opt out of the final year of his contract. Despite the media focus, Gay is easily a top 5 SF in the league, and has further proven this since joining the Kings. Unfortunately each players personal statistical attributes have not translated to wins since the trade.


Presuming that the Kings will come to terms with both Thomas and Gay into next season, the Kings will continue to add more to their roster. There is uncertainty with some players on the current roster as to their true potential (Derrick Williams, Carl Landry) and untapped potential (Ben McLemore,Ray McCallum). With what management has done in the short term, it will be interesting what they will continue to do. 
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<![CDATA[NBA trade deadline - Under the radar moves]]>Sun, 23 Feb 2014 22:04:29 GMThttp://theinsightblog.weebly.com/commentary/nba-trade-deadline-under-the-radar-movesWe're into our first full calendar week after the trade deadline. As usual, no trades occurred in this years' trading deadline that seemingly "rocked the boat". Nonetheless there are questions and things left to be discussed about the trades that occurred, and the participating teams. I'll recap some of the deals done at the deadline that could have a positive effect for the respected teams this season. The trades that may have gone under the radar:
1)  Brooklyn Trades Jason Terry and Reggie Evans to Sacramento for Marcus Thornton

This trade is somewhat intriguing. Brooklyn and Sacramento did this trade for individual reasons. The Brooklyn Nets still have their sights set for the playoffs, while Sacramento are making financial laden moves and molding their roster into something for their next season. How funny that seems given some of the moves they made earlier this season season (Cousins' 4 year extension, Inheriting Rudy Gay's remaining two years - US$37.2-million contract). Brooklyn acquiring Marcus Thornton is another gamble they are willing to take on. By now its been made clear that the Nets aren't afraid to spend. The 26 year old Thornton can be a nice addition, and upgrade, to the Nets bench that doesn't really boast scorers. It was just a short time ago where Thornton began to make a name for himself in New Orleans, and then with Sacramento. This trade can only be a positive for Thornton, playing with a team in need of his scoring prowess at the shooting guard position that will be in the spotlight, something Thornton does not shy away from. Thornton was only finding himself lost on a guard heavy Sacramento roster that already relies on DeMarcus Cousins and Isiah Thomas as their primary options. The addition of Rudy Gay only complicated that.

What this trade does for Sacramento is provide them with some veteran leadership, provided there won't be talks about a Jason Terry buyout. It's expected that Terry won't be getting much minutes in Sacramento. What Terry can do is be a mentor to the slough of young players on the team, having already won a championship. What I like about this deal is receiving Reggie Evans, who will be paired up at times with DeMarcus Cousins. This does add to another offensively weak frontcourt pairing, but an imposing one. Evans, at his best, ranks among the leagues best rebounders, a solid screener, and hustle players. This young Sacramento team could use a character guy like Evans, who could also become a fan favorite in Sacramento. 
2) Golden State Trades Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks to Lakers for Steve Blake

Here we have another trade that could have an impact on the respected teams.  The Golden State Warriors were clearly not content with what they were getting out of Jordan Crawford, whom they received in a deal with Boston a few weeks prior. Golden State may not be able to replace the perfect piece they once had, in Jarrett Jack, but they did find themselves a consistent guard. The well traveled Steve Blake is now called to the helm to be the back up PG and contributor for a weak Warrior bench. Coming out from the University of Maryland, Blake took the backseat to the former Terrapin star, Juan Dixon. Dixon is currently serving as an assistant with the Maryland Terrapins, meanwhile Blake has continued to hone his craft as a point guard in this league capable of playing respectable defensive. The Warriors may get glimpses of scoring from Blake, but it is not to be often expected. What the Warriors do get is a player that brings the same level of professionalism to the team as Jack did. Now with the acquisition of Blake, Crawford can move to his more comfortable position as a shooting guard off the bench. This deal does strengthen the Warriors bench as well trim the fat, in Bazemore and Brooks. 

The Lakers season fair enough to say is done. The team only have 3 players under contract for the next season, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre. The Lakers will have much to think about over the off season. Acquiring Bazemore and Brooks can be seen as a 2nd half season audition. Any of the players on the Lakers should think of every game as an audition, themselves. With Kobe continuing to rehab and not returning any time soon, the (back up) shooting guard spot is up for grabs. MarShon Brooks had a good rookie campaign while with the New Jersey Nets (12 pts, 3.5rebs, 2 ast, 29mpg). The restructure of the Nets roster, with the move to Brooklyn, crippled Brooks' growth within the franchise. With the interchangeable backcourt pairings the Golden State Warriors can deploy, and heavy minutes Curry and Thompson tend to play, Brooks wasn't seeing any court time soon.

This trade also means the end to the Kent Bazemore sideline show in Golden State. Well, not technically, but its not going to be seen on a regular basis in the Oakland. Bazemore's role on the Warriors was primarily as a defensive stopper. Bazemore, like Marshon Brooks, has shown signs of promise. Bazemore, particularly in this past years' summer league where he led the squad to the league championship. It will be interesting what Bazemore can do on both ends of the floor on a team that have nothing to lose with every game they have remaining this season. D'Antoni's system can only benefit them both to showcase their offensive skills, as they will be encouraged to score. Bazemore may have the upper hand given his history as a good defensive player and steadiness within an organization for his own development.
3) The 3-Team Deal Between the Washington Wizards, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers

This trade involved sending 2nd round picks to Philly and the swapping of players in Jan Vesely to Denver, Eric Maynor to Philly and Andre Miller to Washington. The key component in this trade is Miller to the Wizards. Miller is back in the East again, a conference where he has had his most success. This was perhaps the one trade that was rumored which happened. The addition of Miller bodes well to the Wizards scrappy bench. Even at 37, Miller can still be a factor. We've seen this before. Washington was facing the same issue Golden State had been hampered with, by not having someone to help remove some of the ball handling responsibilities from their star point guard. Miller is still capable of starting for the team if needed. Miller will likely be brought along slowly, but may see around 20 mins per game down the stretch of the season. His veteran presence and guile will help get the team going offensively simply by the way he can get his teammates involved.
4) Charlotte Trades Sessions and Adrien to Milwaukee for Neal and Ridnour

Let me start off by saying that the Charlotte Bobcats are for real. They have finally found themselves a coach, in Steve Clifford, that looks to have his players buying into his system. The Bobcats currently hold a slightly under .500 record, which is currently good enough in the Eastern Conference. The Bobcats have maintained their competitive edge throughout the season, keeping games close against the top tier teams, not to mention some victories (i.e.: Clippers, Mavericks). They keep within reach of wins because of their defense, which is top 5 in the league. The problem they have is their offensive is among the worst in the league. The Bobcats may have traded the best player in this deal, in Ramon Sessions, but he didn't seem to fit with that roster. Good for Session that he will be rejoining the Milwaukee Bucks for his 2nd stint, where he will just audition for another contract. What the Bobcats managed to get out of this deal are more options in their rotation. Luke Ridnour has shown to be a steady guard capable of playing both backcourt positions. Ridnour will be able to contribute right from the jump and can have some big games. Gary Neal has yet to prove himself reliable, off the bench, since leaving the Spurs. Going from the winning culture in San Antonio to the dysfunction in Milwaukee is enough to effect one's play. With Neal now on a squad thirsting to reach the playoffs for the first time since the beginning of the Michael Jordan era, he will be asked to provide the scoring punch he provided with the Spurs. 
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