In this week’s Power Rankings, the top of the Eastern Conference takes a big blow. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors are batting .500 over their last ten games, while the Boston Celtics have lost two straight. Meanwhile, the West’s elite continue to keep it rolling.
1. Golden State Warriors
last week 1
The Warriors are currently first in the league in: offensive rating, defensive rating, field goal percentage, assist percentage, steals, blocks, point differential, three point percentage allowed, and field goal percentage allowed. They’re good.
2. San Antonio Spurs
last week 5
While they will be without Pau Gasol for the foreseeable future, we’re starting to reach a point where I don’t think the personnel even matters for Pop’s squad. Without Gasol and Parker, the Spurs went into Cleveland and got an impressive road win.
3. Utah Jazz
last week 7
The Jazz have won six straight games, starting with their home win over the Cavs. While the rest of the competition over the streak isn’t as impressive, the Jazz are finally staying healthy and moving up in the standings.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
last week 2
The Cavs week started with a no-show performance in Oakland and ended with an overtime heartbreaking loss against the Spurs. The Cavs are trying to get healthy once again as Kyrie Irving has dealt with a nagging hamstring injury and Kevin Love a sore back. But there’s no denying the fact that this team has lost it’s identity over the last few weeks.
5. Houston Rockets
last week 6
Things haven’t been smooth for the Rockets lately. They are 3-4 over their last seven games and have an embarrassing loss to the remnants of the Miami Heat. This seems to be the week where great teams struggle, but with the 24-point win against the Grizzlies, it’s possible that they’re turning around.
6. Atlanta Hawks
last week 10
The Hawks are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference at the moment. They are 8-2 over their last team games. They are closer to the second seed in the East than the fifth, and if Toronto and Boston keep struggling, the Hawks just might be able to overtake them.
7. Toronto Raptors
last week 4
Losers of three straight games, the Raptors have some soul searching ahead of them. Perhaps this is just a great reminder of how valuable Patrick Patterson is. But even with his absence, this team is too talented to lose to the Sixers and Suns.
8. L.A. Clippers
last week 3
The loss of Chris Paul once again puts the Clippers into a tailspin. They had won seven straight games, but now have back to back losses to the Timberwolves and Nuggets. Until the Clippers get one of their stars back, expect them to plummet down the standings and rankings.
9. Boston Celtics
last week 8
Just when you think the Celtics might be able to make a move up the standings and capitalize on a struggling Raptors and Cavaliers, they go out and lose to the Knicks and Blazers. The Celtics still can’t rebound and their defense is poor. Until they fix that, it’s hard to take them seriously.
10. Washington Wizards
last week 12
There aren’t many ways to lose that are more painful than a tip-in at the buzzer. Marcus Morris broke the hearts of the Wizards with a putback over his brother. Leading into that game, the Wizards had won four straight games and seven of their last eight. The Wizards have officially turned their season around.
11. Charlotte Hornets
last week 16
Remember when the Hornets were good? Well it looks like that might be a thing again. The Hornets have won three straight games including a 35-point win over the Toronto Raptors.
12. Memphis Grizzlies
last week 9
This ranking is mostly based on reputation. After an impressive stretch with wins over the Warriors, Jazz and Rockets, the Grizzlies followed that up with losses to the Bulls, Wizards, and Rockets.
13. Indiana Pacers
last week 14
While the Pacers have lost their last two games, they are 7-3 over their last ten. The loss to the Jazz was understandable, but the loss to the Lakers showed some of the inconsistency that has plagued this team all season. They’re on the right path, but some growing pains still exist.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder
last week 11
It was my suspicion that the Thunder would slip as their schedule got tougher, but they simply haven’t been playing good basketball. They lost to the Timberwolves, barely beat the Kings, then lost to the Clippers (who played most of the game without Chris Paul) and the Warriors. While Westbrook has the team playing better than the teams 8-15 in the West, they clearly are a tier below the first six seeds in the West.
15. Detroit Pistons
last week not ranked
Maybe Stan Van Gundy has finally gotten through to his team. Reggie Jackson appears to be finding his groove and the Pistons have won three straight games. That streak includes impressive wins over the red hot Hawks and Wizards. Detroit sits just a game back of the eighth seed, but they undoubtedly have their sights set higher than that. They know from experience what awaits the eight seed in the playoffs.
16. Chicago Bulls
last week 15
Jimmy Butler has been rewarded for his fantastic season with a starting spot for the East All-Star team. Chicago is a very poorly constructed team that has been willed to success by Butler in a very competitive Eastern Conference. He’s been a top three player in the conference this season and deserving of the individual accolades he’s receiving.
17. Denver Nuggets
last week 18
The Nuggets have won four of their last six games, but their loss to the Timberwolves was a frustrating setback. They still are a half game up on Portland for the West’s eighth seed, but it’s hard to feel great about any team in the race for the final playoff spot.
18. Philadelphia 76ers
last week not ranked
TRUST THE PROCESS! The Sixers are playing fantastic basketball as of late thanks to Joel Embiid. The team has won 6 of their last 8 games, with their only losses coming in games Embiid has sat for rest. I didn’t expect to be writing about the Sixers this year, but you cannot ignore the success they’ve had lately.
19. Portland Trail Blazers
last week 17
The Blazers got an impressive road win over the Celtics in the Evan Turner revenge game. But outside of that, the team has struggled considerably lately. The Blazers had lost four straight heading into Boston and seem to just hope they fall backwards into a playoff spot.
20. Milwaukee Bucks
last week 13
Not only have the Bucks lost five straight games, three of those losses came to far inferior teams. If the Bucks want to make playoffs, they simply cannot lose to the Sixers, Magic, and Heat. To make things worse, Jabari Parker was benched for locker room conduct. The magic of this season appears to be slipping away from Milwaukee.
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.
We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.
Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.
It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.
We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.
I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.
Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.
The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).
Stay tuned, because it’s not over.
Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers
Lonzo Ball is the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The new savior. The Big Baller Brand is now here to stay and LaVar Ball’s family’s future is set. But is that enough?
Lonzo Ball is a great kid and athlete who knows his talent will take him to another level. The major question mark that remains is whether or not he will take the Lakers there as well. He has the platform and skillset to do so, but with that comes the added pressure from the city and league to basically become part of the next version of Kobe and Shaq. It’s too strainful for a young kid—a rookie—to achieve.
Magic Johnson, the recently named President of Basketball of Operations for the Lakers, is taking an aggressive approach to get this team back into playoff contention his first year in. One of his first moves was sending D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick. Brook Lopez is definitely an upgrade at center, but has a couple of years already under his belt.
Lopez will provide a much needed veteran presence with a great IQ for the game at his position. The only downfall is that a couple of years under his belt doesn’t really transfer to great experience, but simply wasted miles on his body. He isn’t as quick as he used to be and doesn’t even rank in the top 10 centers in the league. In fact, Bleacher Report had him last season at exactly 15 out of the top 30 centers in the NBA. While he is has improved by adding the three-point range to his arsenal, there is no doubt that he is nearly past his prime, and although he can still contribute on a nightly basis, who knows how much and what effect it will have with Lonzo Ball running the point.
Ball has great court vision that has been often compared to that of LeBron James. Combined with his passing skills, he is a true PG with tremendous upside in the backcourt. With that being said, he will only reach a certain extent. His full potential is years from being maximized and people are buying into it early on. In fact, the pressure for him to lift a sub .500 team to the playoffs for the first time in five years is daunting.
These are Lonzo Ball’s stats during his rookie—and only—year at UCLA:
- 14.6 Points
- 7.6 Assists
- 6.0 Rebounds
- 1.8 Steals
- 0.8 Blocks
- 55.1 FG%
- 41.2 3P%
He did a tremendous job maintaining that statline and even added a triple-double in the NBA Summer League, earning him the Summer League MVP.
Don’t get me wrong, Ball seems ready for the challenge and is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent mirroring that of Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but he is not an All-Star or MVP—at least, not yet. These way-too-early predictions that he is the Lakers’ new savior are farfetched. He has yet to face the elite NBA offensive threats and superstars that have been at it for 10-plus years. Defensively speaking he will not be able to keep up. Not in his first year. He still needs NBA experience and a more rounded roster to be able to reach the playoffs.
He is off to a good start, but being named NBA Summer League MVP doesn’t necessarily mean a spectacular season is coming as some think it does. Especially if you consider the previous Summer League MVP winners.
|2012||Damian Lillard (co-MVPs)||PG||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Josh Selby (co-MVPs)||PG||Memphis Grizzlies|
|2013||Jonas Valančiūnas||C||Toronto Raptors|
|2014||Glen Rice Jr.||SG||Washington Wizards|
|2015||Kyle Anderson||SF||San Antonio Spurs|
|2016||Tyus Jones||PG||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|2017||Lonzo Ball||PG||Los Angeles Lakers|
With the exceptions of Damian Lillard in 2012 and Jonas Valanciunas in 2013, the past five Summer League MVP winners have gone on to produce very mediocre NBA careers. All I’m saying is, don’t read too much into NBA Summer League. It’s the pre-preseason that no one really watches or cares about.
The NBA season is nearing—exactly a month away—and my somewhat harsh criticism of Lonzo Ball isn’t too cruel. I am just not ready to jump on the Ball bandwagon following LaVar’s prophecies of his son being the Lakers prodigal son. He won’t be. Again, at least not yet. He needs to earn his spot and the transition will surprise him his first year in. It will hit him hard, but, despite my concerns, eventually Lonzo Ball will become a future NBA All-Star and a daring NBA point guard.
Not yet though, and until then all we can do is prepare for his official NBA debut. Until then, we can enjoy and bask in his newly released rap single paying tribute to his little brother LaMelo Ball.
If the NBA doesn’t end up being his calling in life, at least he has a back up career in mind.
Carmelo Anthony has been traded away from the New York Knickerbockers to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
You probably knew this before you laid eyes on these words.
It honestly doesn’t matter much who the Thunder traded away for “Melo” and who the Knicks received, because they weren’t anywhere near Melo’s overall value. But, it matters that Melo himself is gone and away from New York City, and for all his accolades, he honestly had a major part to play in his exodus.
New York has agreed to a deal to send Carmelo Anthony to OKC for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a draft pick, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 23, 2017
Melo altogether is a player that both outplayed and underplayed his own potential. No one that saw him at Oak Hill Academy as a high schooler could for-sure say that he’d be a superstar, and everyone that saw him at Syracuse University might say he was a can’t-miss by then.
And he didn’t miss on most of what he’s teased, he’s delivered in a lot of ways; but, the reason why he didn’t work out in New York was because he was selfish to a fault in the key places that required compromise.
Do you remember how he got to Kings County in the first place? He forced a trade to the Knicks from his then-Denver Nuggets, a team that was teasing with talent abundant, but not unlike today, stuck in the mighty Western Conference. With title contenders like the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers at that time of the NBA, the 2010–2011 season, the Nuggets just weren’t going to make the noise they wanted to make. Melo was a free agent-to-be at the completion of that season, and it was likely that he’d leave. His time with the Nuggets, a very successful time, had run its course. The change was coming, and he was catalyst to the change he wanted to see in his world. Nothing wrong with that.
The problem was that Melo didn’t want to wait for New York. He wanted New York then and there, and it didn’t matter how it was going to happen.
It didn’t matter that the Knicks weren’t in a position to compete for a title during that season, something he long wanted to bring to New York upon his eventual arrival.
It didn’t matter that the Knicks would have to gut their team’s best assets in a trade for the Brooklyn-born, Baltimore-raised native. It didn’t matter that if he waited until the season was over, he could be playing with a young and promising Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov (a revelation upon his arrival to the States from Russia), amongst others.
It didn’t matter that the Knicks would have to sacrifice draft picks for him, instead of keeping them upon signing later.
It didn’t matter to Melo.
And so, when he arrived in New York, in early 2011, he received the adulation and praise of a prodigal son. Sure, the team lost some valuable talent and depth, but surely Melo would will the Knicks into wild success — just like he did in Denver, right?
And sure enough, after he rebuked the Linsanity of 2012 when Jeremy Lin became an overnight NBA superstar and balked at the prospect of Lin’s resigning, he gained some success.
The 2012–2013 season saw Melo as the closest thing to being an MVP candidate that anyone had ever seen from him as a professional in an 82-game season, but not before being totally indifferent to former head coach Mike D’Antoni’s wishes for him to play more at power forward to stretch the offensive side of the ball for the Knicks and the defenses of the opposing league teams. D’Antoni quit before the end of the 2011–2012 season, because of Melo’s loathsome resistance to D’Antoni and the coach’s embrace of Lin.
A big aspect of Melo’s failure to bring glory to Manhattan was his resistance to doing what has made him a legend in USA Basketball. Having won multiple gold medals as a stretch-four shooter, that he refused to embrace that positioning as an NBA pro limited the ability of his teams to win.
As a four, Melo, who had gained grown-man weight from natural maturity and strength and conditioning, didn’t have to be the cavity in his team’s defense as he struggled as a man-to-man defender. Moving from his formerly-natural small forward slot could allow him to defend more ably and allow someone more fleet of foot to stop the dominant wings that Melo often matched up against. Becoming something different and better in a new place would’ve allowed him the opportunity to be greater than anyone had known him to be in an NBA uniform.
But, he refused and rebuked such a change.
And one last thing: Injuries and front office politics aside, Melo was loyal to the Knicks organization through and through. But, he had a choice to go.
So, to recap, Melo forced a trade to New York that gutted the talent of the roster, and then he refused to change to a position that would behoove him and the team in the journey to championship gain.
Well, he also had a chance to leave for greener pastures and become a Chicago Bull, where he could experience more success with a front office committed to his development and surrounding talent. He didn’t want to do that, and that’s fair. New York was home, but if he was going to win in New York, seeing as to how being the way that he’d always been wasn’t helping — that is shoot-first, ask questions and defend later — why return to The Big Apple if you aren’t going to change?
He saw what being a score-only wing was giving his teams — it gave his teams very little success for the vast majority of 14 years. Sure, his Nuggets and Knicks made the playoffs (not so much New York) much of the time, but he said he wasn’t playing for that.
In the end, Melo and the Knicks not working out could be seen before he even became a Knick, when Melo stomped his way out of Denver to play immediately for New York when it would’ve behooved him to stay put for two more months.
Championship or bust, they say.
He couldn’t really compromise too well for the chip, it appears.
In the end, Carmelo Anthony — despite years of league-leading jersey sales, runway appearances, and bright lights on the New York City streets with LaLa — was a big, fat, shining, New York bust.
An Ode to the 2007-2008 Warriors
USA VS EVERYBODY | The Break | Episode 17
February Fouls | The Break | Episode 18
February Fouls | The Break | Episode 16
Hardwood Battles | The Break | Episode 15
Christmas Day Showdowns | The Break | Episode 10
Western Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 1
Eastern Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 2
NBA & More Mailbag with Josh Howe — TWT 102
Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview with Keith Parish — TWT 101
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