Connect with us

Featured Content

Rowan’s Ranking | NBA Week 17

Published

on

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.

From the heart of continent, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Justin is a life-long hoops head with a love of the team from Northeast Ohio. He’s written for Fear the Sword as well as Hoops Habit. And he’s never blown a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. "It's kind of boring when you take open shots." - J.R. Smith. Checkout Justin’s weekly NBA Power Play called Rowan’s Rankings.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured Content

Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers

Published

on

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.

Year Nat. Player Pos. Team
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.

Continue Reading

Content

MELO-dy Cool

Published

on

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.

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.

Continue Reading

Featured Content

Reloaded Raptors Banking on Young Guns

Published

on

Masai Ujiri is a smart guy.

No matter which conference your team is in, you’re either stuck with the issue of figuring out how to combat/wait out the Warriors, or you’re stuck with the issue of figuring out how to combat/wait out LeBron James. For Ujiri’s Raptors, the latter is the elephant in the room. So when the offseason came, the club had some decisions to make that would indicate the direction of the franchise’s future, both immediate and long-term.

Ujiri and Toronto GM Bobby Webster were somehow able to re-sign Kyle Lowry for a three-year deal instead of the five years that Lowry desired, and then managed the same with Serge Ibaka. This effectively put the Raptors on a three-year timeline until the next big shift in the franchise. For these upcoming three years, the Raps will stay competitive with their tried-and-tested core, and they will simultaneously cultivate young talent around their stars.

It’s a great formula. LeBron is going to be 33 years old this December, and by the time Lowry and Ibaka’s contracts are up, he will be entering the twilight stage of his career. Suddenly, the East could be wide open again. Ujiri knows it, and he wants to be ready for it.

But what about the present? The Raptors lost a couple of their veteran role players this summer in the re-signing of their core, including Patrick Patterson (an advanced analytics darling), and P.J. Tucker (a terrific perimeter defender). The team also traded away DeMarre Carroll—who was never able to return to his Atlanta peak—to Brooklyn in order to shed his contract, as well as Cory Joseph to Indiana, who snagged them sharpshooter C.J. Miles—swiftly signed to a three-year deal, no less—as a return.

These changes have left the Raps with a squad that, outside of the starting lineup, is quite young. None of their bench players have played more than three seasons in the NBA, and their total average age is about 23 years old. A number of them have yet to see significant minutes, with Norman Powell, Delon Wright, Pascal Siakam, and newcomer K.J. McDaniels being the exceptions.

The regular season is a marathon, not a sprint, and the keys to racking up wins in order to put yourself in a good position come playoff time are chemistry and consistency à la the Spurs. If the Raptors are to continue their regular season success of the last few years, then they’ll need their young guns to step into formerly veteran roles and rise to the challenge.

Thankfully, a few of them already seem prepared to break out and have impactful seasons. Both Powell and Wright gave the team some fantastic minutes last year, especially in the playoffs. Norm in particular was a standout, putting the league on notice with his athleticism and tough defensive play. He was part of the best lineup the Raptors had in the postseason (a +5.3), and the team’s offensive rating shot up from 101.7 to 107.9 when he was on the floor compared to when he wasn’t.

In the first round against the Bucks, Powell went for 55/91/92 per cent shooting, averaging 12.4 points per game and torching his opponents. He was a key cog in helping the Raptors win that series and fully earned Dwane Casey’s trust, which is not an easy thing to do for a young player.

Wright didn’t get quite as much time to shine with CoJo being the primary backup point guard, but when he was on the floor he scrapped defensively and showed in flashes that he was able to run the team. His length and effort have been the two most noticeable qualities when watching him so far, and his nose-to-the-grindstone mentality is one that Casey must love.

Siakam is another high-energy guy, and good for a few minutes a game, although playing him for a substantial amount of time isn’t a great idea since he’s undersized and a below-average rebounder. Jakob Poeltl should get more run, and like Wright—though less frequently—he showed instances of strong play, both on the boards and around the basket.

Perhaps the two most interesting youngsters are the newcomers: Raptors 2017 draft pick OG Anunoby and K.J. McDaniels. Anunoby has been touted as an excellent defender, a grinder, and he already has an NBA body that should allow him to guard multiple positions on the floor. Unfortunately, he’s recovering from an ACL tear and therefore it’s possible he doesn’t even play this season. Still, this is the kind of player you get excited for as a fan and as a coach—he’ll likely be impactful right away, at least in one aspect.

As for McDaniels, he’s spent time bouncing around the league during his three seasons. He’s already played for Philadelphia, Houston, and Brooklyn, and has never had a chance to get comfortable. He’s another player with defensive potential—he’s got some pretty sweet block highlights—but has yet to find any sort of consistent shooting. If he can’t show Toronto something this season, he may be on the move again.

And finally, as we ask every year, is this the season when Bruno Caboclo breaks loose and starts going Brazilian Kevin Durant on the rest of the league? My answer: Unlikely. It may be hard to believe, but Bruno is still one of the youngest guys on the team at 21 years old. His time in the D-League—now the G League—can only be good for him, but his scoring dropped off significantly last season compared to the year prior, when he was putting up double-figure numbers almost every game. There’s still a lot of time left for Bruno to prove himself, and as such it’s tough to imagine that time being this season.

It’s difficult—though intriguing—trying to judge a group of players who don’t have an extensive NBA resume as of yet (I feel for you, Philly fans). Even if one has seen a player be productive in spurts, it’s impossible to know whether or not they’ll be capable of handling a bigger role long-term without actually seeing it. For the Raptors in particular, Powell is probably the only young player that the team has a good grasp on.

So let the experiment begin. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

And remember: It’s all part of the three-year plan.

Continue Reading

Featured Content

Featured Content1 week ago

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...

Content4 weeks ago

MELO-dy Cool

Carmelo Anthony has been traded away from the New York Knickerbockers to the Oklahoma City Thunder. You probably knew this...

Featured Content1 month ago

Reloaded Raptors Banking on Young Guns

Masai Ujiri is a smart guy. No matter which conference your team is in, you’re either stuck with the issue...

Featured Content1 month ago

Jamal Murray: Maestro in the Making

It’s been four years since the Denver Nuggets have made the NBA playoffs. The last time the Nuggets were playing...

Articles1 month ago

Nikos Galis: The Greatest Greek To Ever Do It

When you grow up Greek, you get the entire culture instilled into your veins. From the stubbornness that flows with...

Featured Content2 months ago

Fantasy Tips from a Man Who Played One Year and Lost

Let me set the scene for you: A cutthroat, 10-team head-to-head league with a zero dollar buy-in, and a few...

Featured Content2 months ago

Talking LA Clippers with Tom West — TWT 99

Hey there, and welcome to another episode of Timeout with Ti. Last time out on episode 98, I (Ti Windisch)...

Featured Content2 months ago

G-League Expansion Draft Breakdown with Chris Reichert — TWT 98

Hey there, and welcome to another episode of the Timeout with Ti podcast. On episode 97, I (Ti Windisch) sat...

Featured Content2 months ago

The Various Paths of the “Other Antetokounmpos”

Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s crazy to think in four NBA seasons, the raw prospect from Greece blistered into the game’s most...

Featured Content2 months ago

The Basketball Gods are in the Details: An Analysis of the Cavaliers/Celtics Trade

It has been a relatively quiet August, even for an NBA offseason. That all changed last night, when it was...