The Unspoken Threat in the East

The Unspoken Threat in the East

The Charlotte Hornets have taken the NBA and Eastern Conference by storm (or should I say, by swarm), winning 6 of their first 9. This has been Head Coach’s Steve Clifford 4th year with the team. Last year, the Hornets came back from a poor 33-49 performance in 2014-15, and won 48 games, finishing 6th in the Eastern Conference. The Hornets were badly bit by the injury bug. That they even got to 48 wins was an impressive performance, as key starters Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson (who left Charlotte for Indiana via free agency this offseason) missed a total of 139 games. That’s not even mentioning how many injuries this team had in totality – 35 reported injuries for 11 players. The past few years, the Hornets have built this team on the strength of quickly moving the ball, spacing the floor, and keeping possession of the ball. Steve Clifford has instilled a simple yet effective offensive system. By spreading the floor with pick ‘n rolls along with quick decision making on the perimeter, it has opened up the floor for the shooters on Charlotte. The Hornets rank 1st in turnovers allowed (10.5), 6th in assists per game (25.3) and 7th in three point attempts (29.9) and makes (10.4), they have taken advantage of more possessions efficiently by not turning over the ball and choosing to shoot long range shots. 5 players on the Hornets average 3 or more three point attempts per game, and collectively have a three point percentage of 36.3. Compared to each of the 30 team’s average three point percentage, 36.3 is tied with the...
Utah Jazz – Unheralded Force in the West

Utah Jazz – Unheralded Force in the West

The Utah Jazz are considered by many to be one of the most irrelevant teams in the National Basketball Association. Quin Snyder, third year coach for the Jazz, had only improved his team’s overall record by 2 wins last year, finishing with an 40-42 record. A very young team Quin Snyder was given to in 2014-15, and he’s worked with pieces he’s had, only to be mediocre. In fact, last year the Jazz had only three players above the age of 27. Their average player’s age was 24, tied with the Milwaukee Bucks as the youngest team in the league. Snyder’s fiery personality when coaching almost mirrored the young Jazz roster. His unique ability to see the game of basketball in a traditional way and shift lineups effectively gives him an edge over many of the high paced offenses that modern NBA coaches employ. This summer the Jazz silently overhauled their roster. They drafted Kentucky’s power forward Trey Lyles (Editor’s note: last summer) with a late lottery pick to replace Enes Kanter’s post presence lost to Oklahoma City. They traded for George Hill from Indiana to be their starting point guard. They traded for Boris Diaw, longtime point forward, to be a pivotal player off the bench for Utah. They signed longtime veteran Joe Johnson, who brings a great outside shooting threat (.372 career 3 point shooter) on a team who needed the extra depth and scoring. Those 3 veterans are 30, 34, and 35 years old respectively, bringing the Jazz’s average age to 26 years old. Still young, but consequently age 26 is a prime year for success...
Blake Griffin – The Key to the Clippers Success

Blake Griffin – The Key to the Clippers Success

After finishing 4th in the Western Conference with a 53-29 record in the Western Conference this year, and losing in the first round to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Clippers are running out of of options. Practically bringing back the same exact first team as they had last year, the Clippers haven’t revamped all that much. They added some bench pieces like Brandon Bass, Marreese Speights, and Raymond Felton, but overall their outlook as a team hasn’t changed. Chris Paul is 31 years old, and isn’t getting any younger. He’s consistently put up close to 20 points per game and 10 assists his entire career. His game isn’t changing. J.J. Redick is one of the league’s most underrated two guards – his ability to hit the three is huge next to a point guard like CP3. Last year alone he had an other worldly and NBA leading 47.5% three point percentage. His defensive and ability to put the ball on the floor isn’t going to improve. Luc Richard Mbah A Moute and Paul Pierce are both middling options at small forward in this NBA, with a combined age of 69. DeAndre Jordan, one of the league’s most ferocious center, isn’t suddenly become a threat from mid-range. Or better yet, hitting free throws at a 70% + rate. The Clippers have excellent depth – their second team of Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, and Marreese Speights may be the best in the league. What’s holding them back from getting a second or third team in the Western Conference? What’s holding them back from getting deep into the...
2016-17 NBA MVP Predictions

2016-17 NBA MVP Predictions

Every year, the NBA crowns one player with its most individual prestigious award. The Most Valuable Player. An award for the player who means most to a team that finishes in the top of their respective conference. The past two years, Stephen Curry has captured the award in style, last year unanimously. However, this year it will be a challenge for him to reach the top of the mountain for that MVP three peat. This year especially, there are a host of talents that could win this award. Here are my Top 5 picks for that award. 5. Stephen Curry  The past two years alone, Stephen Curry of the Warriors has etched his spot into NBA history. Considered by many to be the greatest shooter of all time, his ability to handle the ball with ease and suddenly pulling up and making almost half of his 3 pointers, makes him one of the most polarizing players of this generation. It wasn’t until the 2014-15 season where Stephen Curry and the Warriors hit a turning point. Steph put up a stat line of 23.8 points per game and 7.7 assists. More impressively, he had those numbers at an efficiency unmatched. A 3 point percentage of .443, a true shooting percentage of .638, and a player efficiency rating of 28.0, all which were league highs. In this season, Curry averaged 32.6 minutes per game with a usage percentage of 28.9, the highest marks of his career. Golden State went to the Finals and then won in 6 to an injury depleted Cavalier’s roster. Going into the 2015-16 season, Curry averaged 34.2...
Kobe Bryant. Two Polarizing Words Of This Generation

Kobe Bryant. Two Polarizing Words Of This Generation

Kobe Bryant. Two of the most polarizing words of this generation in sports. Why do you ask? Here’s a list. It’s pretty well known, even still remarkable. 18 time All Star. 11 Time All NBA First Team. 9 All NBA defensive teams. Back to back NBA Finals MVP. 5 Time NBA champion. 2 time scoring champion. 3rd All Time in points scored. All during a 20 year reign with the same franchise… The Los Angeles Lakers. (Pause; Kobe wasn’t drafted by the Lakers. The Charlotte Hornets drafted Bryant with the 13th pick of the 1996 NBA Draft for Vlade Divac. He is currently the vice president of basketball operations for the Sacramento Kings.) The Black Mamba’s legacy is something talked over and over about. After Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant was the NBA’s poster boy. By playing for one of the NBA’s most popular franchises in the city of Los Angeles, Kobe was able to mold himself into not only a star on the basketball floor but off. Professional athletes don’t become household names overnight. Kobe Bryant’s stardom and fame has led his name to be synonymous with the game of basketball. From his deadly fade away to his reverse layups, children of the earlier 21st century have molded their entire games to Kobe Bryant. Anywhere in the United States, one can find a young man who owns a number 24 or even a number 8 Kobe Bryant jersey shooting around on their neighbors’ basketball hoop. The legend that is Kobe Bryant continues to live on. But, what if Kobe Bryant isn’t nearly the greatest shooting guard (behind Michael Jordan)...