Why the Playoff Field Should Fear the Houston Rockets

Why the Playoff Field Should Fear the Houston Rockets

The only thing that should scare the Western Conference more than the Rockets 31-point blowout of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the series opener is the way in which they won that game. Possessing arguably the best offense in the NBA, the Houston Rockets averaged just over 115 points per game, a total nearly 10 points per night higher than their total from last season. The way in which the Rockets won over 50 games this year through their unique ability to run away with a game with a barrage of three pointers was well documented and has kept the rest of the contenders in the West on their heels. However, nothing should scare the rest of the playoff teams more than the idea that the Rockets shot poorly for the majority of game one, turned the ball over, and still blew the Thunder out enough to give Bobby Brown some playing time. Now, if you only watched the fourth quarter which consisted of James Harden hitting three pointers at will with a smile on his face, stop reading. Sure, Harden had 37 points and Eric Gordon eventually got hot. As usual, both of these guys helped the Rockets out greatly. However, their shooting was nowhere near the reason the Rockets won this game in the fashion that they did. In game one, the Rockets beat the Thunder at Thunder-basketball. Oklahoma City came into the game as the leagues top team in both rebounds and points in the paint. The Rockets walked into game one as arguably the best three point shooting team this league has ever seen. The...
LaVar Ball Adds to the Pressure That Lonzo Is Bound to Face

LaVar Ball Adds to the Pressure That Lonzo Is Bound to Face

The insurmountable pressure on a first round draft pick begins to build up long before we even remotely have an idea of what the draft order will look like in late June. From the college basketball preseason through March Madness and beyond, basketball analysts spend much of their time determining where each collegiate star will end up falling in the upcoming draft. While guys like Maryland’s Melo Trimble go through the season undecided on their future, big name college stars such as Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball treat the season as a resume builder for NBA franchises. This isn’t to say that every college basketball star is only focused on their future, because many of these guys pour their heart and soul into trying to win a national championship. The point I’m trying to make is that elite college basketball players are exposed to loads of unnecessary publicity for people of their age. The last thing these young guys need is more pressure added on by their own actions…or family members. The way Lonzo Ball carried the 2016-2017 UCLA Bruins did not go unnoticed. While Jimmer Fredette’s ability to score at will for BYU during his premier year and Willie Cauley-Steins defensive presence in the paint for Kentucky two years ago helped carry their teams, there wasn’t an area of the game where Lonzo Ball didn’t succeed. With Chris Paul-like vision, Curry-like scoring abilities, and a defensive presence that allotted him almost two steals per night, Ball proved to be the backbone of this Bruin’s squad. As I stated earlier, a season-long performance like this most certainly would not...
It’s Time We Put This Issue to Rest

It’s Time We Put This Issue to Rest

As much as it would have bothered me to show up to the highly priced Cavs vs. Rockets game last week only to realize that LeBron and Kyrie decided to take the second night of a back-to-back off, I would have at least respected the idea. However, if I pay $400 to go watch two NBA powerhouses face off with the playoffs around the corner, you’re damn right I’m going to be pissed off if I have to watch the 65-year-old Richard Jefferson-led Cavs get run out of the building. Fortunately for me, this wasn’t the case. But what about the guy with a low-income job who saves up some extra spending money throughout the year so he can buy tickets to watch LeBron James make his once a season appearance against his favorite team? Would we still be talking about this if teams at least had the courtesy to rest their stars at home where they play 40+ times a year? Jordan never needed to rest. When’s the last time James Harden took a night off for the Rockets? At the very least, rest these guys at home rather than on the road. On the same day that LeBron came out and defended the idea of resting star players, James Harden let the media know that he just wants to play and he’ll rest “when [he’s] done”. Now, while I could sit here and pick apart the star players in the NBA for showing up on the box score as “DNP-Rest,” this problem lies with in the NBA’s lack of punitive decisions and it’s unfixable scheduling issue. Unfortunately, there...
Assessing the NBA Trade Deadline

Assessing the NBA Trade Deadline

  If you read my last article, you probably learned that this year’s deadline was more predictable than usual. Charles Barkley could have called some of these deals…okay maybe not, but still. While most owners and general managers spent the last 24 hours of the deadline on the phone with other executives around the league, Mark Cuban spent his time engaging in Twitter wars with Bleacher Report and Trump supporters. The Warriors would have most likely been more involved in the sweepstakes for wingmen on the trade block if Durant’s injury had happened before the deadline, but the bright side is that this gives them yet another year to use a knee injury as an excuse for not beating Cleveland in the finals. Oh and did I mention the Knicks suck? There was much hype about a possible blockbuster deal involving Jimmy Butler or Paul George, but the biggest name dealt was Demarcus Cousins. Apparently, the Pistons offered the Kings Drummond for Cousins but Vlade Divac determined it would be very un-Sacramento Kings-like to improve the roster, so they settled for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and that other guy who’ll be in the D-League by mid-March. Nevertheless, here are my winners and losers of this year’s deadline. Winners Houston Rockets What the Rockets got in Lou Williams might be less of an impressive feat than what they gave up for him. Corey Brewer hasn’t hit a shot since Game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals in 2015 and the Rockets appear to be getting a pick in the late 20’s in this upcoming draft. Aside from the Rockets taking...
Six Things That Could Happen Before the Trade Deadline

Six Things That Could Happen Before the Trade Deadline

From the Phil-fiasco in New York to the demise of a promising and talented roster in Chicago, this season has been full of surprises. Spoiler alert: don’t expect the days leading up to the trade deadline to be any different. Teams like the Celtics and the Rockets appear to be a move or two away from becoming the powerhouse of their respective conference, while the influx of big men in Philadelphia will most likely lead to one of their first-round frontcourt guys packing their bags. LeBron, a front office executive, coach and small forward for the Cavaliers, will most likely get what he wants in the form of a veteran point guard, and it appears that Phil Jackson is willing to trade Carmelo Anthony for a Kobe Bryant bobble-head at this point. Here are six scenarios that I believe would make sense to happen before the February 23rd trade deadline. While none of the following are guaranteed, it is all very possible.   One of the 76ers Young Centers Will Be Traded …and it won’t be Nerlens Noel or Joel Embiid. I find the recent Jahlil Okafor trade rumors to ring true. In a day and age where the amount strong backcourt players seem to outweigh the big men in this league, young guys like Okafor have some serious value. It’s borderline ridiculous for the 76ers to hold onto three young centers, especially with their sub-par guard play. While the Sixers could go for the immediate fix and trade for a guy like Brandon Knight who seems to be on his way out of Phoenix, look for Jahlil Okafor...
Anything Else, Your Highness?

Anything Else, Your Highness?

“We need a (expletive) playmaker,” said the so-called “king”.  Do you think that when the Chicago Bulls dropped 5 of 8 games in January of 1993 Michael Jordan took it upon himself to publicly proclaim that the champions of ‘92 needed to revamp their roster if they planned on defending their crown? No. Jordan actually came out recently and praised Russell Westbrook for his loyalty to the Thunder. Subtle shots fired? Most likely. LeBron has been to the last 6 NBA finals, but when was the last time he did it without another 19 ppg scorer on the roster? That would be in 2007 against the Spurs in the only 4-0 NBA finals in the last decade. Unfortunately for basketball fans, LeBron’s recent words cannot better describe what the NBA has come to. I understand that it’s a business. Players typically care for two things when it comes to signing with a team: winning and money. An athlete’s legacy in every sport is becoming more and more defined by the amount of rings they earned during their playing career. This isn’t to say we don’t look at guys like Allen Iverson and Patrick Ewing as two of the best to ever step on the court, but current players know that when its all said and done, the amount of times they’ve held up that Larry O’Brien trophy will partly define the ultimate “success” of their time in the league. There is a fine line between a player’s desire to chase a ring and the claims LeBron has made this year. If you’re Anthony Davis in your prime, playing basketball...