Welcome to the Future

By Aynom

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We’ve seen some NBA GMs blatantly attempting to tank by letting their star players leave through trades and free agency. The Jazz, Celtics, Bucks, Hawks, and 76ers are  examples of teams letting go of star players. All in the hopes of landing a player in the 2014 draft that can carry their team for the next decade. Hardcore basketball fans have heard of Andrew Wiggins of the Kansas Jayhawks. Wiggins is only the 2nd player ever to be named a preseason All-American honors as a freshman (Harrison Barnes was the first). Wiggins is a super athletic wing who many consider to be the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft.  Due to the obvious tanking by some teams, fan-base are making slogans like  “riggin’ for Wiggins”  Unfortunately, there are multiple tanking teams but only 1 Andrew Wiggins.

But he isn’t the only player that can change the fortunes of a franchise. In fact, Wiggins wasn’t even considered the best prospect for this class initially. He was expected to graduate high school in 2014 and enter the 2015 draft, but ended up reclassifying so he can graduate in 2013 and play college basketball this season.

The original top prospect of 2013 was a forward from Chicago named Jabari Parker.  He was dubbed by Sports Illustrated as “the best high school basketball player since Lebron James.”

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Parker played for Chicago powerhouse Simeon Career Academy (same school to produce Derrick Rose, Benji Wilson and others that would play in the NBA). Simeon has had a long tradition of not letting freshmen play on the varsity team no matter how talented. But for Parker they made an exception and he became the first freshman ever to start for the varsity squad. During his 4 year career he was named freshman of the year, sophomore of the year, junior of the year, and national player of the year. He was a 3 time state time champion, and won 2 gold medals in FIBA Americas U16 & U17 championship.

Parker is a highly skilled player. He can play multiple position and has a versatile game. Like Lebron, he is an excellent passer, and has a reputation for making his teammates better. He posses excellent footwork and is very patient. He plays like he’s been receiving NBA caliber coaching his whole life. He is very polished, dangerous scorer. The main knock on him is his athleticism but his critics might need to reconsider that after this amazing dunk he had during a scrimmage. A foot injury during his senior season also caused some weight gain which affected his athleticism last year.

He seems to be in better shape in his first (and probably last) season with Duke. Coach K will get the best out of this talented player. The Blue Devils’ style of play and roster also compliments Parker very well. Parker scored an efficient 22 points in 23 minutes in his season debut against Davidson. Next, he’ll face Kansas and fellow freshman phenom, Andrew Wiggins. They both have tremendous respect for each other and this won’t be the first time they’ve faced off and it sure won’t be the last. Wiggins has the elite athleticism to get defenders into foul trouble quickly but if Parker can perform well, he’ll have a chance to show GMs why they might need to reconsider the order of their draft board. Some fans might trade one stupid slogan for another. They might go from “Riggin for Wiggins”  to “Plunging for Parker” (or “Jeopardize for Jabari”). Wiggins and Parker are developing a rivalry and will forever be linked, especially if they’re drafted 1st and 2nd in the draft. I look forward to watching them go head to head and hope that we can get a rematch in March.

Scary thing is that these aren’t the only prospects expected to enter this upcoming draft with NBA superstar potential . Keep an eye out for other players like Julius Randle of Kentucky and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State who some also consider to have a shot of getting drafted 1st or 2nd overall (or at the very worst top 5).

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Basketball Nerds Rejoice! New “Super Stats” are here!

By AynomsportvuThis hasn’t been huge news but the NBA has been experimenting with a new technology called SportVU. SportVU is the newest way for GMs, scouts, coaches, and everyone else to analyze and track player performance.

Heres how it works. 6 cameras are installed in the catwalks of every NBA arena. The cameras record the movements of the player 25 times per second. Computer software then collects and interprets the data. According to the NBA you can track things like the speed of players on the court, how much they ran, how many times they touched the ball, how the centers impact FG % in the paint, how often you pass, and so much more.

This new technology will really help some teams and their scouting departments. As long as they know how to use and interpret the data. For teams that don’t rely on advanced data to analyze players could put themselves at a disadvantage.

But it won’t just be a tool for the NBA executives. This will be a big tool for the media and bloggers like myself. This data will make awards like defensive player of the year much easier to determine. We won’t just be limited to simple stats like steals & blocks.

These new  “super-stats” are already available on the NBA stats page.

The Wait is Over Wizards

By Amman Affa

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To say the least it’s been a long time since we have had something to root for other then a lottery pick in DC. The Washington Wizards future finally looks bright; the days of 10-20 game-losing streaks to start the season may finally be behind us.  As a Wizards fan I have seen the worst of the worst in these last few years. From signing Arenas to a max deal while still injured, to having Arenas repay us by trying to kill a teammate in the Locker room… literallyImage.  Gilbert Arenas was not the sole reason for our quick transformation from a playoff team to the worst team in the NBA, but his impact or lack thereof started the downward spiral.

Although the gun incident was a freighting time as a Wizards fan, nothing was worse than knowing the three stooges were left to take over the team. What’s embarrassing is that we all know exactly who I’m referring to, Nick Young aka Swaggy P Image, Andre Blatch aka “Mr.VIP” Imageand last but definitely not least Javelle Mcgee aka Mr. GoaltendImage. If these are not the worst three players to ever build your team around then… actually there is no room for comparison, they are the worst three of all time. These three are literally the polar opposites of the Miami Heat’s big three.  I honestly tried to look for an Andre Blatch picture in his Wizards jersey but I could only find photos of him in various DC nightclubs (no surprise there). Javelle McGee is a 7 ft. center who plays defense like a WNBA player and has the basketball IQ of a freshman high school player, and Nick Young has more swag then talent, yet he would show flashes of brilliance and fool us all into thinking one day he would get it together. The person responsible for the circus formally known as the Washington Wizards was the GM Ernie Grunfeld. Although ever since Ted Leonsis took ownership of the team ( and turned the heat up on Ernie), Grunfeld has been a new man.

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Since 2010 we have had four straight top 10 lottery picks. Besides the self-proclaimed Blake Griffin of the Czech Republic, Jan Vesely, all of the selections have played well and are expected to have bright futures.  We are now led by a potential All star caliber point guard who is arguably the most explosive guard in the league. John Wall was entrusted with being the leader and center of the team this summer when he signed a max contract comparable to super stars such as James Harden and Kevin Durant.  If John Wall does not play like a top 5-point guard in the league, then we are all doomed, we expect him to lead us to the playoffs on a yearly basis.  Coming off a very impressive pre season Bradley Beal is expected to take on the major portion of the Wizards scoring needs.  As the number 2 pick last year Beal is only going to get better, as he has been adding more to his game and has an increased amount of confidence.  Finally we have the 2013 selection, Otto Porter. The Wizards decided to play it safe with this selection and fulfill a long-term need at the small forward slot. Otto Porter is not the flashiest or most athletic player, but he makes up for it in IQ and leadership.  If Otto Porter can be a lockdown defender and average 12-15 a game, he would be well worth his number 3 draft choice. Ernie has been making many acquisitions such as obtaining Al Harrington and trading an injured Okafor for a healthy Gortat. In order to get the Wizards into the playoffs (and for Ernie to keep his job), these trades and draft picks will have to play to their full potential.  The wait is over Wizards, playoffs or bust.

NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

10/26/13 by Aynom

LeBron James, Paul George

In my opinion, there are 4 types of teams in the east. Playoff locks, likely playoff contenders, unlikely playoff contenders, and teams that are/should be tanking. In this post, I will categorize the teams in the East.

Playoff locks

Miami Heat: Lebron James. No explanation needed.

Chicago Bulls: They were good without Rose, they’ll be even better with the former MVP returning.

Indiana Pacers: Paul George and Roy Hibbert are getting better every year. They will continue to be in the picture for the near future.

Brooklyn Nets: Let me remind you of their starting lineup: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez. Everyone of these players have been to an allstar game during their career.

New York Knicks: Theres always a good chance you’ll make the playoff when you have an elite scorer like Carmelo Anthony. They didn’t make a major splash in the offseason, although they did acquire former 1st overall pick, Andrea Bargnani.

Likely playoff contenders

Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving has quickly become one of the best point guards in the league. If he stays healthy this year they should be a playoff team. This team has been building through the draft and this year they added 1st overall pick, Anthony Bennett from UNLV but they also used free agency to acquire center Andrew Bynum. This is a young team who is finally ready to take the next step. My concern with this team is injuries. Kyrie Irving seems to get hurt every year. Bynum does too and still hasn’t been cleared to play in a game. Also, both Anthony Bennett and Anderson Varejao  had surgery this year.

Washington Wizards: John Wall took a huge step forward with his play in the second half of this past season. If Wall, and last year’s 3rd overall pick, Bradley Beal continue to develop this could be a formidable backcourt for the foreseeable future. They also will be a better team with the addition of Marcin Gortat.  If this team can stay healthy, I don’t see why they wouldn’t make the playoffs.

Detroit Pistons: Joe Dumars decided to make some big changes in the final year of his contract. He brought in Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith to team up with that talented frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. They also drafted shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who was the SEC player of the year. I’m concerned because a lot of players on this team have a reputation of being inconsistent. They also have Josh Smith playing as a small forward which isn’t his natural position. I also wonder if there could be team chemistry issues since there were a lot of changes in the offseason.

Unlikely playoff contenders (some of these teams could be tanking by the allstar break)

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks decided let Brandon Jennings and Monte Ellis leave in free agency. They will be building their team around power forward Larry Sanders from VCU. Sanders emerged into one of the better defensive big men in the league last year but was overshadowed by others since he’s on a bad team in a small market. The Bucks added Caron Butler, OJ Mayo, Gary Neal, and Brandon Knight in the offseason. I think they’ll be better then last year but I don’t know if thats good enough to make it to the playoffs.

Boston Celtics: I had a hard time with categorizing this team. Rondo isn’t rushing his return from ACL surgery. But if he does return before the allstar break I think this team can contend for one of the final playoff spots. They aren’t a young team full of no names like other tanking teams. They still have Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass, and Avery Bradley among other young players with potential, like rookie Kelly Olynyk. I also expect Jared Sullinger to be a contributor if his back injuries are behind him (pun intended).

Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker made big improvements in his sophomore campaign. I would expect him to continue to take leaps in his 3rd year in the league. Historically, point guards tend to reach a new level in their game during their 3rd year. D.Rose got his mvp his 3rd year, and CP3 emerged into a superstar his 3rd year as well. I’m not saying Walker will turn into Rose or Paul this year but I feel that he’ll take a big step forward and gain a lot of credibility around the league this year. Unfortunately, this team still has a long way to go. There is still a lack of developed talent and skill on this team. The frontcourt improved with the addition of Cody Zeller via the draft, and Al Jefferson via free agency They will make this team better but the Bobcats need more pieces to be taken seriously. I will continue to think that its unlikely they make the playoffs………. unless Michael Kidd-Gilcrest turns into a beast this season (which I don’t see happening).

Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks decided to finally part ways with Josh Smith after a season of trade speculation. Some Hawks fans felt that Smith held them back with inconsistent play, and poor decision making. Al Horford will have to try to carry this team but he has some help. The team added Paul Millsap and Elton Brand. Lou Williams will also be returning from an ACL injury that sidelined him for most of last season. If Jeff Teague can handle a bigger scoring role in the offense the Hawks could be a team to watch out for but again, it’s unlikely.

Wake me up when its the NBA draft lottery

Toronto Raptors: Rudy Gay is good but he isn’t good enough to carry this team to the playoffs. DeMar DeRozan is a good player but never turned into the star that Raptors fans had expected. They have some nice pieces on this team but they aren’t good enough to consistently contend with the teams mentioned above.

Philadelphia 76ers: They already decided to shut down Nerlens Noel for the season since he’s still recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in college. They also had to trade their allstar, Jrue Holiday, to acquire Noel. 76ers’ fans can atleast look forward to watching their other building block, rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams.

Orlando Magic: They have some nice young talent led by 2nd overall pick, Victor Oladipo, but there are a few years away from being taken seriously around the league.