Update: Stephen Curry is Too Good to be the Best

I stand corrected. I’m a big boy, I can accept my mistakes. Mr. Wardell must have read my post about him, as he has gone ham like a ham sammich lately. His team is 11-0 and he is front and center with 53-point and 40-point extravaganzas. I guess he is not too good to be the best. He is clearly the frontrunner for MVP AND the title of best player in the world.

Amid all of this, Draymond Green is quietly flirting with triple doubles on a nightly basis while Klay Thompson struggles with his shot and pre-old man back syndrome (which bothers me since Klay is on my fantasy team). Warriors game continue to grow in appeal, and I look forward to what Steph will show us next (I’ll put money on a 40-15 game).

When will the doubts end?

  
They won 67 games. They have the best offense and defense in the league. They won the West. They won the championship. They have the MVP. They recently beat a top team by 50. They’re 8-0 so far WITHOUT LAST YEAR’S RUNNER-UP FOR COACH OF THE YEAR ON THE BENCH. What more do you want from this team? 

Every time a new powerhouse of a team arrives on the horizon, there is some justified doubt towards them. This doubt is silenced by consistent achievement and success. Yet, the Warriors are held to a higher standard. Even after having one of the most dominant seasons in NBA history, the Warriors are ranked THIRD in Vegas for odds to win the Finals next year. Same with the NBA GM surgery. According to the general managers of the NBA, the Dubs only have a 17.9% chance of winning a ring this season. Really? These relentless competitors withstood and thrived in every test thrown out in front of them, blowing out teams on a nightly basis. Just because they’re healthy and deep, they have to be “lucky” champions. 

“Luck” is defined as “the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person’s life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities”. 

Source: dictionary.com

I still have trouble comprehending this argument as a legitimate reason why the Warriors brought it home this year. The Warriors got lucky for an entire season and postseason? Lady Luck is never so generous. Granted, there were injuries to some of the teams that the Dubs faced in the playoffs. I have two things to say to that:

1) I am a firm believer in health being a skill. If you have trained hard enough and taken care of your body, avoiding injury is just another talent. The Warriors were individually skilled enough to avoid any major injuries. Also, GSW had so many blowout wins that key players got lots of rest during the season.

2) The teams the Warriors faced were barely bruised:

Pelicans

Would Jrue Holiday have made an immense difference in a series where his team got sweeped with ease (with the exception of Game 3 being an NBA classic)? As skilled as Jrue is (and used to be), he wouldn’t have made an incredible impact in the series. 

Grizzlies

Mike Conley only missed one game of the series. That is all. 

Rockets

Patrick Beverley helped Houston by sitting out. In my opinon, Beverley’s good defense is canceled out by his horrendous offense. Jason Terry helped the team out more than Pat could have. And in terms of Dwight, he was out for the large part of the season. The Warriors did not get “lucky” since he was still limited in the series. 

Cavaliers

In my controversial opinon, the Cavs are better with Kyrie off the floor. Yes, Kyrie is extremely hard to guard on offense. However, who would have guarded Curry? And if they switched Shunpert on to Steph, who would guard Klay? Dellevedova was key in limiting Steph to a non-Finals MVP performance. Same with Love. Love could not have guarded Draymond or Iggy very well. Also, if Love was active, Thompson would have been unable to blossom as an offensive rebounding machine and energy guy. The Cavs put their best defensive foot forward, however they would have lost a lot of defense if their defensive superstars had joined in on the battle. 
Back to the “luck” argument, all of the teams that called out the Warriors for winning an easy championship have spoken out before their early season matchups with the Warriors. Let’s just say there wasn’t a whole lot of trash talk from those mouths following the game. All of these point guards that supposedly can guard Steph (cough Ty Lawson cough) still are helpless as the MVP dazzles and continues to put on a show this season. No one can guard him (refer to past post about Curry). Sorry bout it NBA. 

The Clippers, being the Dubs’ biggest rivals, had the most to say about the “lucky” championship of course. Their biggest complaint was that the playoff schedule for Golden State was easy. The Clippers had to endure a grueling 7-game grind with the Spurs in the first round. However, how did GSW get to avoid the Spurs? Oh yeah, they won 67 games and earned a easy first-round opponent. So stop complaining Doc Rivers and get past the second round (refer to Clippers post). 

The great thing about all of this is how the Warriors respond to it all. They love it. Relish it. The haters have fueled the Dubs to this point, and they’re not stopping now. Whether you accept them or continue to question them, they don’t care. They care about the events on the court. The sky is not the limit for this team, Saturn is more of an accurate height to reach. 82-win season is on the way this year, you heard it here first. 

Is LeBron Overrated?

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James reacts to a foul call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors on Monday, Jan. 11, 2010, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) ORG XMIT: OAS105

Oh LeBron. How I love you, and despise you, and respect you, and hate you, and fear you, and mostly loathe you. The King has rightfully earned his name through years of hard work, pain, defeat, and victory (except for last year) (#DubNation). However, how much of a King is he today after all of this wear and tear?

Look, I know LeBron is still the most dominant player on the planet until someone rightfully takes his crown (Anthony Davis cough cough), but I still raise my eyebrows when the NBA GM survey continues to pick him every year as the most likely candidate for MVP. The reasons for my suspicion are elaborated on below:

Age

30 Years Old 

Obviously 30 is not old age for an NBA player, especially when MJ had some of his best seasons around the age of 33. But, how well can LeBron’s game translate into his old age?

Jordan’s game was more based on skill compared to LeBron’s. Although I have noticed LeBron improving his post game, Jordan still had a more consistent jumper. LeBron is a better three point marksman, but no one came close to MJ in the mid-range game. For example, in the clutch tonight on Opening Night against the Bulls, LeBron had to resort to driving to the basket against two people and getting his ass sent back to Ohio. I cannot recall a Michael Jordan game winner where he drove to the basket. Yes I remember when LeBron hit a step-back jumper and sunk the Warrior’s hopes (twice). That is not my point however. This argument would be invalid if LeBron pulled up for a jumper tonight. But after tonight, I realized how LeBron has lost a step. He looks tired, and this observation was proven by the TNT commentator saying that “he is limited to 35 minutes or less a game this season”. How can the best player in the world only play 35 minutes? If the game is on the line, your best player is playing 45+ minutes. Following the Finals last year (where LeBron did play close to 48 minutes a game), one must question how much LeBron has left in the tank.

3-point shooting

Career 3-point shooting: 34.2%

It’s not too bad. It’s not good enough to rely on in your old age unfortunately. He’s a better 3 point shooter than MJ, but that’s not saying much. LeBron has been known to step up and hit threes when they matter, but defenses still rejoice when he pulls up for a triple because of his inconsistency. Also is it just me, or is his jumper slower than Kendrick Perkins running up and down the floor?

Selflessness 

Career Assists Per Game: 6.9

That number for a small forward is pretty damn impressive. It is unfortunate that such a great quality to have as a basketball player detracts from LeBron’s dominance. Critics have continued to hate on Bron Bron for being too unselfish, to the point where he passes up shots to his teammates with the game on the line. The “MVP” should take the shot in money time. Period. 

Verdict

Is our friend Mr. James overrated? In a sense yes. He is no longer the bona fide MVP winner in the NBA. He’s still an incredibly dominant and gifted player, but he’s not the outstanding top dog of the league, no matter how often he says otherwise in his interviews. “This is the best article in the world, simple as that”

Works Cited

ftw.usatoday.com 

http://espn.go.com/nba/player/stats/

The Disappearing Act of NBA Centers

For years, the game of basketball has been from the inside-out. The big man in the middle draws the defense, and either scores or kicks it out. Those years have come and gone. As we near the dawn of the new NBA season, another year of three point domination is upon us. And with it, the extraneous need for a true center grows.

Granted, a true dominant center (such as Marc Gasol) is effective enough to be a factor both on offense and defense. However, many centers today lack a consistent mid range jump shot or a three-point shot at all. Today’s game is all about spacing and ball movement. A player that is constrained to the paint is not spacing the floor all that well. Not to mention some horrendous free throw shooting (looking at you Dwight and DeAndre). With no serious consequences for the infamous “Hack-A-Shaq” strategy, any big man that is a poor free throw shooter can be a tremendous hinderance to his team.

Putting all of this aside, many centers also do not have any type of offensive game. There are few centers that are effective in the post, much less good enough to command a double team. The only centers today that are effective enough to be on the floor and not disrupt the offense are:

(note that power forwards are excluded from this)

Top Points Per Game Averages For Centers in 2014-2015

Marc Gasol (as aforementioned)- 17.4 PPG

DeMarcus Cousins- 24.1 PPG

Al Jefferson- 16.6 PPG

Nikola Vucevic- 19.3 PPG

Brook Lopez- 17.2 PPG

That’s it. From the top 40 scorers in the NBA last season, a mere 5 of them are centers. One could say that it is not a center’s duty to put up big numbers in the scoring column, however I beg to differ. That same person would argue that the game today only requires capable shooters to spread the floor. Well handsome stranger, how are those shooters going to be open if not for a big man that can collapse the defense with his array of offensive moves?

With the appeal of the long ball at an all-time high and continuing to grow, I believe the art of a true center will slowly fade away. Just look at some of the prospects of the NBA’s tomorrow. Thon Maker is a 7’1″ center who has Durant-like handles and a similar three-point shot. Does that sound wrong to anyone? Sure it would be nice for a player his size to be able to hit a spot-up splasher every once in a while. But cut all of that ball handling and get your butt on the low block. Wilt led the league in assists for a season, I’m sure he knew how to handle the rock. But did he? Of course not. Wilt knew he would dominate in the post, and so should Thon. We cannot let ourselves be blinded by the trey ball, we have to fall back in love with the dominant center who makes his teammates better. Even if he doesn’t show up too well on fantasy, he is vital to a team’s success.

Conclusion

I know it is hard to agree with me here since the Warriors just won the championship utilizing small ball and spacing. Nevertheless it is hard to disagree. Not every team has the Warriors’ uncommon ability to create offense in the manner that they do it in. For the rest of the league, look no further than a dominant center who can score in the post. Sim Bhullar, it is your time to shine.

0fac919e9893db739143125edc44022c_crop_north

The Curious Case of the Clippers

What’s wrong Los Angeles? Your aging superstar isn’t good enough for you? So you hopped on the bandwagon of a young team on the rise with multiple superstars? And they still can’t make the Western Conference Finals? That’s too bad. On a serious note, what’s wrong with the Clippers? They have two of the top-10 players in the league, one of the top centers in the game, and a more than capable supporting cast.  Last season’s defeat was understandable, considering the injury to Chris Paul, the fatigue after 7 games with the Spurs, and the greatness of James Harden. Each season, they acquire higher expectations due to their growing talent. But for the past couple of seasons, they have been unable to advance past the second round. Is it their overflow of top talent that is their demise? To be certain, let’s compare teams that have had two top-10 players in the modern and historic eras.

Historic Era

pippen_mj_1991

Jordan and Pippen 

Championships: 6

Possibly the most well-known and successful dynamic duo. Both of them excelled on offense and defense for their tenures on the Bulls. If this trend continued throughout the modern era, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. They complemented each other well. Pippen handling the rock, hitting Jordan in the post or off screens for midrange J’s (Jordan pun). The dynasty that they created is evident of their overwhelming success together. Both of them are swing men however, is this why the Clippers fail?

shaq-kobe-lob-trophy1

Shaq and Kobe

Championships: 3 

This example is less historic than I’d like to use, but the evolution of basketball has happened so quickly that the style of the early 2000’s may as well be the dinosaur days. This pair is similar to the Clipper’s star duo. A big man dominating the paint and commanding double teams. A quick, complete guard who can score at will. Although they butted heads off the court, their games on the court did not.  These two revitalized the dominance of the Lakers, and the presence of Shaq helped Kobe become the player he is today (well obviously not today today. Did you see that shot off the side of the backboard against the Jazz?).  Blake and CP3 should be quite successful in the near future if this trend continues.

Modern Era

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 20:  Dwyane Wade #3 and LeBron James #6 celebrate after defeating the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 to win Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

LeBron and Wade

Championships: 2

Ah. The duo that had a trio so powerful, powerful enough to win 8 championships.  Well, they fell a little short.  Nevertheless, they did appear in 4 straight finals and took the crown home twice. The joining of these two may have been the most anticipated super-team in NBA history. The expectations were through the roof. And their first failure in 2011 created chaos. Questioning LeBron. Wade’s health. Bosh not fulfilling his role. The birth of LeBron jokes (more of a benefit than a chaotic result). The Clippers, surprisingly, have not experienced this chaos (yet).  LeBron and Wade are both ball-handlers, allowing them to control the tempo of the game. The alley-oops they did draw comparisons to Blake and CP3, but the amount of rings on their fingers do not correlate with the Clipper’s stars.

Thunder1

Durant and Westbrook

Championships: 0

Possibly the duo that can be most effectively measured against Blake and CP3. Two players that have the complete offensive package.  The athleticism to lock down on defense. Ridiculous stat lines. However, no championships and only 1 Finals appearance between the four.  In terms of the Thunder, they have consistently made it to the Conference Finals every season. The only drop-off was last season, when Durant missed the large majority of the season with a foot injury.  Westbrook played out of his mind in Durant’s absence, with multiple streaks of triple doubles and 40-point games. If the Thunder have one season injury-free, they might have a championship banner in their near future.

Other Factors

We have to give the Clippers a break here. In their defense, the Western Conference is dominant as ever. With teams like the (revamped) Spurs, Warriors, Thunder, Rockets, and Grizzlies, the Clippers have their hands full. There is also the issue of spacing. Blake is working on extending his range, in hope to develop a decent catch-n-shoot 3.

Blake-Griffin-Hits-Backboard-Three-Pointer-Warriors-Reaction

I was at that game, and you better believe I was laughing with joy when that shot clanked the side of the backboard. If Blake can learn how to put the ball through the net from 3-point distance, he’ll be very hard to guard. Back to the issue of spacing, DeAndre Jordan holds back the Clippers significantly on offense. Aside from the constant comedy episodes of “Hack-a-Jordan”, DeAndre has absolutely no form of a jump shot. Not a close range one, nor a midrange one. If DeAndre had any kind of a midrange, the floor would open up for Paul and Blake. Furthermore, does fatigue play a part? Obviously the 82-game season of the NBA does a number on every player’s freshness, but what about the overuse of players? The Clippers have a very strong and deep roster on paper, yet it never seems to happen on the court. Jamal Crawford has been a consistent scorer and leader off the bench, but then who? Who else is going to contribute statiscally? It seemed that either Blake or DeAndre had to be on the floor at all times, and if Blake wasn’t in then Paul had to be in. This year their bench is better than ever with additions of players such as Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, and Josh Smith (another terrific free throw shooter), so we will wait and see how much they can give.

The Verdict

The Clippers do not have anything in particular that holds them back from winning a championship or advancing past the second round. Their pair of superstars complement each other perfectly and are both able to dominate the game. With a tough Western Conference, subpar bench, and the lack of spacing, it will be hard for the Clippers to separate themselves and break through to the promise land. It wouldn’t hurt to have more ball movement, as their top talent can often lead to isolation plays. Honestly, the only play that the Clippers consistently run is some form of a screen play for J.J. Reddick. With health, maturing, and a little bit of luck the Clippers could bring a ring home back to the wonderful world of spoiled Los Angeles.

Stephen Curry is Too Good to be the Best

The headline may have you very confused and now you are questioning my opinions and sanity. Hear me out however, I assure you that my argument will make clear and perfect sense.

Steph Curry is the best shooter ever. A world champion. And most important for this argument, the league’s MVP. Curry is so valuable to his team, that the amount of things he has to do is actually quite small.  His mere presence in the gym draws more defensive attention than anyone in the league.  His shooting ability matched with his ball handling forces coaches to make defensive game plans geared towards slowing him down.  But that’s the beautiful thing about Steph.  You can’t slow him down.  If you stop him from scoring by bringing a double team, he has the ability to make the best pass out of it, and has the teammates capable of making the extra pass to find the open man.  If you don’t double, you have to pray that he misses a jumper somehow, as he is impossible to contain 1v1.  Even when Steph doesn’t have a good shooting night, the fear he strikes in defenses continue throughout the game.  It is no surprise that the Warriors won 67 games with Curry.  It would have been a surprise if they were not as dominant as they were.  However, all of this leads to Steph’s demise.

  
Steph requires so much defensive attention that he rarely needs to take over the game.  Even when he does, defenses immediately put a stop to it by trapping him left and right.  Being the unselfish player that he is, Steph is not hesitant to make the right play for his team.  Steph cannot be the best player in the league because it is almost as if the rest of the league wants to prevent him from doing so.  The best player in the league, LeBron James (whose hairline is looking good for a 50-year old), can be contained 1v1 by forcing him into contested jumpers.  This strategy works on the majority of the top scorers in the league.  However, Curry is an exception.  His shot is too deadly and quick for defenders to contest it effectively.  The only answer for defending him is to bring extra defenders.  The best player in the league should be able to control the game by himself and not worry about defenders.  Steph will never have this luxury.  Even if the ridiculous amount of gravity that he has during a game could be a case for him being the best, the common eye would never base greatness off of that.  Don’t get me wrong here.  Steph is my favorite player in the league on my favorite team in the league.  He is the second best player in the league.  But the way that defenses have to play him limit him from becoming the best player in the league.  One could say that his inconsistency is what holds him back. And even as a diehard Warriors fan, I admit that Steph has some off days. However, he has always delivered in the clutch. If he hasn’t, how would he have won the championship? But Steph’s ability to make his teammates better will portray him as the best player on his team, but not in the league. It’s just who he is and his particular skill set. 

Carmelo Anthony: Overrated Superstar or Misunderstood?

“Superstar” is a bold term. A superstar is a player that can dominate and shape the game on both ends of the floor. Yet, this term is thrown around very loosely these days. With the age of offense and 3-point shooting upon us, the importance of both sides of the ball is sometimes forgotten.  This makes the case of Melo very complex.  Sure, he averages 25.2 points a game for his career, but to what extent does he dominate the game?

Defense

First let’s tackle the elephant in the room: Is Melo a superstar or a star? According to my interpretation of a superstar, Melo is a top star in the NBA who doesn’t meet the standards of a superstar. Let’s be honest, Anthony isn’t going to be remembered for his defense. It’s not completely horrible, it’s just not up to superstar standards.

I can hear all of you saying; “doesn’t that mean other ‘superstars’ like Stephen Curry aren’t true superstars either?”  To that I say that Curry’s average (and improving) defense is better than that of Anthony’s.  Also, Curry’s defensive ability isn’t required on a Warriors team that has the title of the best defensive group in the league.  Melo, on the other hand, is on a struggling Knicks squad.  Not to mention that Melo is not exactly standing out on defense amongst his scrubs for teammates.

Mavericks-Dirk-Nowitzki-Hits-Buzzer-Beater-to-Beat-NY-Knicks-2-25-2014

Granted, that is Dirk Nowitzki; a 7-footer who is undoubtedly the best shooting big man of all time.  That does not excuse Melo from failing to put a hand up.

Overall Impact 

Also, regarding the counterargument of Curry, Melo cannot control an offense in the way that a true superstar can.  Melo lacks the passing ability and vision necessary to effectively set up his teammates when he draws defensive attention.  Simple tasks for a superstar, such as passing out of double teams and letting the offense come to him, are skills that Melo does not consistently show.  It’s good to have a scorer’s mentality, but not if that is all you can think about during the course of a basketball game.

giphy

Mike Woodson’s expression sums it up.

Let me give you a quick statistical look at Carmelo’s playmaking ability:

Stephen Curry Career APG: 6.9

LeBron James Career APG: 6.9

James Harden Career APG: 4.4

Carmelo Anthony Career APG: 3.1

Melo simply can’t distribute the rock.

Conclusion

Is Melo mischaracterized? Yes, he is no longer up there at the top of the league.  He is no longer a superstar.  Why this is true could be due to age, lack of motivation, or quality of his team.  Whatever the case, Melo has to be recognized for what he is.  A scoring sensation that is limited to being a star, not a superstar.

Bolaños

Hello World

Greetings everybody.  I am a high school student, as you may have guessed, from the Bay Area.  Welcome to my blog where I will post mainly about basketball, but am not restricted from discussing any of the following: pop culture, politics, football, baseball, NASCAR (to make a mockery of), societal issues, and professional cricket (it’s all the rage these days).  At times my passion can appear to be criticism or ignorance, even if it is not intended to appear that way.  So if I throw out a LeBron joke here and there, you will know that it stems from passion (and a slight hatred to how talented Mr. James is).  Thank you for reading and I hope to have your hungry minds here in the future.

Bolaños