Friday, 4 April 2014

Kevin Durant and LeBron James: The Battle For MVP

The MVP is officially on.

It’s a showdown between the reigning 3-time MVP Lebron James and 3 time-scoring champ Kevin Durant. Throughout the ups-and-downs of this season, one thing is clear. It’s definitely a two man race. Other contenders like Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Paul George just haven’t been able to raise their game to compete with the talent that Durant and James provide.

                                                 So… who should get the MVP?

There are so many factors that ultimately decide who takes home the trophy at the end of the year. The most important of which are individual statistics and team success. Also, consistency is another key factor, as being able to play at a high level throughout the season is incredibly important. All of these factors will helps the voters decide who gets the MVP award.

Individual Stats:

At the time of this writing, Kevin Durant has scored 25 or more points in 39 consecutive games. He’s trailing Michael Jordan’s record of 40 straight games. Durant has carried the Thunder this year, with Westbrook out to injury. Without Russ, Durant has seen improvements all across the boards, with increases in points, assists, FG’s, and True Shooting Percentage. Durant has also managed to accumulate an astounding PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 30.5, 1.5 points higher than Lebron’s. In the month of January, Durant had five 50-point games, including a career high 54 points against the Golden State Warriors. He also exploded for 51 points and the game-winner against the Toronto Raptors. Such Jordan-esque play of late could be attributed to Durant saying, “I’m tired of being second, I want to win”.

                Lebron James is Lebron James. He will always be Lebron James. But, will that be enough to win the MVP? Over the past three seasons with Miami, Lebron has average roughly 27 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. Those are numbers that we have come to expect from Lebron. It’s almost as if he has created a golden standard for NBA statlines. In this three season time frame, he has led the Heat to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, along with back-to back championships. But this season has been a little different for the Heat. They are currently in the 2nd seed, trailing Indiana by three games. Dwayne Wade has had trouble dealing with his re-occuring knee injuries, transferring more of the load to Lebron. Has he handled it well? Without Dwayne Wade, the Heat have meddled around .500 this season, giving reason to believe that fatigue could be wearing on Lebron. With free-agency around the corner for Lebron and Bosh, the Heat had better hope for better play from the supporting cast.

ROUND ONE goes to Kevin Durant.

Team Success:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

The Thunder are trailing the Spurs (who they just snapped their 19 game winning streak) for the first stop in the Western Conference. Kevin Durant has stepped up his game amidst injuries throughout the season to both Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Although, this has not helped their road record, which currently stands at 23-12. The Thunder have to step up their production away from home, although they do have a home record of 32-7. The Thunder have thrived against the poorly competitive Eastern Conference, and have a 33-13 record against the West. With the level of competition, it shows that the Thunder is clearly one of the best teams in the league.

Miami Heat: 

The Miami Heat are currently atop of the Eastern Conference, and have a very good chance of finishing first in the East, if they can hold on. The Pacers are having an untimely slump, ranking last in fast-break points in the last eighteen games. The Heat have elected to rest key players down the stretch, including Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen.  This will allow the Heat to play with an added element of energy during the playoffs, while giving additional minutes to the bench guys during the home stretch of the season.  The Heat are 30-6 at home, but are a meager 22-16 on the road. As well, they have a record of 32-14 against the Eastern conference, which is certainly not the best.

ROUND TWO goes to Durant. 

Game over. 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Rudy Gay Traded to the Sacramento Kings

Year after year, time after time, Toronto Raptor fans have been let down. New reports from Yahoo Sports have signaled the unfortunate doomsday for the Raps. The blockbuster trade, which will reportedly send Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray in exchange for the Kings' John Salmons, Vasquez and Patterson, signals a turning point for both franchises.

Toronto has been trying to turn it around the past couple of years with numerous acquisitions in Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields, Steve Novak and Tyler Hansbrough in an attempt to change the culture for this highly disappointing Raptor franchise. The Kings, on the other hand, are looking to build with young, up-and-coming players in DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore, and the recently acquired Derrick Williams already in tow. This Rudy Gay trade sends them into the playoff mix although there are still questions to be asked about team chemistry and how Gay and Cousins will mesh on the court. For the Raptors, this trade does not come as a surprise with Gay's lackluster play as of late and the urgency to clear Gay's $19 million that he is due next season. One could say that with recent change in management for the Raps, with the hiring of former Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, that the franchise in headed into the wrong direction and it remains to be seen how this trade will affect the team.

As of right now, much is uncertain. The Rudy-less Raptors will play the Lakers later on tonight, with Kobe Bryant making his return from his Achilles injury. Stay tuned for more details and news...

On second thought, this may be the reason why he was traded.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Toronto to Host 2016 NBA All-Star Game

            Yes that's right. The All-Star game is coming north of the border. It's been a while since we've had some interesting news this off-season, so this comes with both great surprise and delight.  Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports that multiple sources have told the Toronto Sun that a deal to have the All-Star game in Toronto is on the horizon. An official announcement is expected shortly (possibly this week) and further details are expected. Coincidentally, the All-Star game to-be will align with the 20th Anniversary of none other than the Toronto Raptors. 

            Having the All-Star game in Toronto would be an excellent way of celebrating the Raptor's 20th anniversary, as this would be the first ever All-Star game hosted in Canada. The Raptors have not been very successful since their humble start in 1995, as part of the expansion draft with the Vancouver Grizzlies. Although, the Raptors have had their share in the spotlight, thanks to multiple outstanding performances by Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, and Tracy McGrady, among others. I mean, who could forget Vince's incredible showing at the 2000 Dunk Contest? All-Star weekends, with all their fun festivities and competitions and media attention, continue to draw in fans by the masses, year by year. With all it's multiculturalism, basketball has really found a home in Toronto. And what a better way to reward the fans, with a 3 day basketball fiesta!

Oh and just in case you've forgotten, here are some highlights from the 2000 NBA Dunk Contest..

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Derrick Rose = Best Player in the League?

In an interview courtesy of CNN International, Derrick Rose gave us answers to our most frequently asked questions about his injury, his return, and much more.

Apparently, Derrick Rose thinks he's the best player in the league. I don't know if it's just me, but I wouldn't put my money on a player just coming from an ACL tear, to be the best player in the league. Rose hasn't even played an NBA game since, so as far as the "best player in the league" claims go, he still has to prove himself on the court.

Fans around the world are now saying that the Bulls are now possible Eastern Conference contenders now that they have a healthy Rose back. Well, I'm not exactly sure that's correct. The Bulls played great last season without Derrick, posting a 45-37 record for the fifth seed in the East, a few spots behind Brooklyn, Indiana and New York. As we've seen in Denver over the past few seasons, a team doesn't always have to have a superstar in order to be successful. And that's where the problem is. We just don't know how the Bulls are going to adapt to having Rose back. There could be chemistry problems, and the players (notably Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler) who helped fill the gaping hole in the team after Rose's injury, would have the ball in their hands a lot less, with Rose back. Because remember, even before the injury, Derrick Rose was a scoring point guard, without a pass-first mentality.

So comment in the section below and let us know what you think. Is Derrick Rose the best player in the league. Are the Bulls Eastern Conference contenders with him back?

Stay tuned for more.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Cavaliers officially sign Andrew Bynum for $24 Million

In the post-Lebron era, the Cavaliers are doing an excellent job rebuilding their team, and recruiting young talent. Thanks to their unprecedented 'luck' (conspiracy theory?) in the past 3 drafts, the Cavs have been able to build a nucleus of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. Now, with their recent first overall pick in the 2013 Draft in Anthony Bennett, things are looking exceedingly bright for Cleveland. Now, with the signing off Andrew Bynum, the Cavs are looking to hopefully add some frontcourt action into the mix.

Bynum, who was sidelined this entire past season with the 76ers because of injuries to both of his knees, will now have to prove that he can still play with the elite talent that he competed with before the injuries. The 2 year, $24 million contract was finalized on Friday, at the team's suburban training facility. Bynum is only guaranteed $6 million this year, although he could earn an additional $6 million by achieving performance incentives. Cleveland also has a $12 million team option for Bynum's second season.

By signing Bynum, the Cavs really have nothing to lose. If things go awry, the Cavaliers will still have Tyler Zeller, Anderson Varejao, and Tristan Thompson as fail-safes. Plus, I truly believe Bynum will return determined to play harder and improve his game, after all the criticism he's received over the past year and a half. I also believe that having a true big man in the middle will benefit the Cavaliers offense as a whole, allowing them to play more pick and roll sets, as well as some inside-out action. Lastly, Bynum will give the Cavaliers more depth in the frontcourt, an advantage they could use against teams like the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and the 76ers, teams the Cavs would need to outplay in order to make the playoffs next year.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Can the New Look Nets Win it All?

"Today, the basketball gods smiled on the Nets," team owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement.

It's official. The Brooklyn Nets have finally made the jump from Eastern Conference stragglers to Eastern Conference contenders. With the blockbuster trade that would send Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to the Nets in exchange for Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, and a bunch of future first and second round picks going to the Celtics being approved and finalized, the 2013-2014 Brooklyn Nets roster looks like it could contend for a championship next spring.

A starting line-up of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez would give the other elite teams around the league a force to reckon with. With Jason Terry coming off the bench, along with Shaun Livingston, Andrei Kirilenko, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche, the Nets will have considerable depth at almost every position, an advantage they could use against teams like the NY Knicks, the Bulls and the Clippers out West. The increase of veteran talent on this roster will also help Jason Kidd, who will start his first season as the head coach of the Nets, after retiring earlier this year. 

But, these new high profile additions will send the Brooklyn Nets approximately $29,519,400 above the luxury tax threshold, which will result in roughly $82,957,437.25 in estimated luxury taxes for billionaire owner, Mikhail Prohkorov (not that he seems to care).

 As to whether the Nets will be able win it all next season, they would have to go through the Miami Heat in order to get to the Finals, a daunting task that would result in a playoff series that hypothetically, could go either way. And let's say the Nets do somehow make it to the Finals. A match-up against either the Spurs or the Thunder (the two teams mostly likely to make it to the Finals in the West), would provide yet another daunting challenge. As I've said before in other articles, it's very hard to predict what'll happen in the NBA, there's just too much uncertainty. For all we know, the team could start off on the wrong foot, and not make the playoffs altogether. And we've seen with the last year's Lakers that what looks great on paper doesn't necessarily transfer into playoff success.