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Rowan’s Rankings | NBA Week 22

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After the All-Star break and trade deadline, the league has begun to take it’s final form. While teams that have retooled are ready to make their run, others that stayed put must deal with the consequences of their decisions.

 

  1. Golden State Warriors last week 1

The King stays the King. While the Warriors didn’t make a move at the deadline, the team will reportedly look to sign veteran Jose Calderon for the remainder of the season. Calderon can help eat some regular season minutes, but Steve Kerr should probably resist the urge to play him at the deadline.

 

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers last week 2

The Cavaliers continued their hot play with a blowout win against the Knicks, but fell to the Bulls short three starters. Luckily for them, reinforcements are coming. With the additions of Deron and Derrick Williams, as well as being the frontrunners to sign Andrew Bogut, the Cavs may soon possess one of the league’s deepest benches.

 

  1. Houston Rockets last week 6

Daryl Morey continued his brilliance at the deadline by turning Corey Brewer into Lou Williams and maneuvering his way into being a player on the buyout market. The Rockets have enough firepower to hang with the Warriors, the question now comes down to defense.

 

  1. San Antonio Spurs last week 3

The Spurs staying quiet at the deadline is a predictable move. The team likes to make its moves in the summer and then see how things go from there. An elite team on both ends of the floor, the Spurs continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

 

  1. Boston Celtics last week 5

Boston has lost two of its last three games, including a loss to a Kyle Lowry-less Raptors squad. Boston decided to hold on to all of their assets and not make a move of any sort to better their chances in the playoffs. For a team that balked on adding both Ibaka and George, they will now have to live with those consequences.

 

  1. Toronto Raptors last week 14

The Raptors have won three straight games, with two of those games coming without Lowry. The team has been incapable of surviving without Lowry on the floor in the past, so these recent wins show just how improved their roster is. The defensive versatility that Ibaka and Tucker bring will make this a very different team down the stretch.

 

  1. Washington Wizards last week 4

Washington is in the middle of a small slide after losing to the Sixers and Jazz. The All-Star break may not have been the best thing for one of the league’s hottest teams before the break.

 

  1. Utah Jazz last week 8

The Jazz have won three straight games and continue to hold off the L.A. Clippers for the fourth spot in the West. With the improved Rockets four and a half games up on the Jazz for third, it looks like Utah is bound to run into the Golden State buzzsaw earlier than they’d prefer.

 

  1. L.A. Clippers last week 9

The Clippers may have one of the best post All-Star additions in the league, as Chris Paul has returned to the lineup. While just 1-1 since his return, the Clippers should once again be a force in the West as long as they can stay healthy.

 

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder last week 12

While it’s come against inferior opponents, the Thunder have won three straight games and are closing in on the Memphis Grizzlies. Their stellar defense and MVP caliber play from Westbrook continues to help this roster overachieve.

 

  1. Memphis Grizzlies last week 7

The Grizzlies suffered two bad losses against the Pelicans and Pacers before bouncing back against the Nuggets. They didn’t do much at the deadline, but will hope that a healthy trio of Gasol, Conley, and Parsons will be enough to hold their place in the standings.

 

  1. Chicago Bulls last week 17

This ranking for the Bulls feels a little weird. The team clearly made a move to weaken their roster at the deadline, dealing Gibson and McDermott for Payne. But the team has also won four straight games. Will the Bulls continue to overachieve? Or will they fall back into the lottery?

 

  1. Atlanta Hawks last week 11

The Hawks elected to keep Paul Millsap at the deadline and are now in the midst of a three game losing streak. The Hawks have out-performed their expected win loss total for the year, despite mediocre play. A post All-Star regression to the mean may be occurring.

 

  1. Miami Heat last week 13

The Heat have won three straight games and are knocking on the door of a playoff spot. If the Heat somehow manage to get the eighth seed, Erik Spoelstra should be the frontrunner for coach of the year.

 

  1. Detroit Pistons last week 16

The Pistons also decided to keep their pieces beyond the deadline, but appear to be reacting well to the pressure put on them by seemingly their entire roster being shopped. Detroit defeated the Hornets and had a close loss to the Celtics. They’ll need to start winning in a hurry if they want to avoid another first round series against the Cavs.

 

  1. Indiana Pacers last week 10

Just 1-6 over their last seven games, the Pacers are in a full-on nosedive. They chose not to lower their asking price for Paul George at the trade deadline, but could risk his value decreasing next season with a looming free agency.

 

  1. Denver Nuggets last week 15

Speaking of Paul George, Denver apparently tried to bring him to the Mile High City. They failed to come up with a suitable offer, reportedly unwilling to part with Nikola Jokic or Jamal Murray. The team got a depressing consolation prize in what’s left of Roy Hibbert and have lost three of their last four. They’re still in playoff position, but with hungry Wolves and a potentially dangerous Pelicans squad, they’ll need to get back to their winning ways to hold onto it.

 

  1. Dallas Mavericks last week 19

I love the move to acquire Nerlens Noel for the Dallas Mavericks. Henceforth known as “The Bookstore”, Barnes and Noel gives the Mavs a nice young core to build around. They still have a long way to go, but acquiring a potential Tyson Chandler clone for peanuts was a great deal.

 

  1. Portland Trail Blazers last week 18

The Blazers didn’t make a move at the deadline and now they must try to salvage their season without any additional help. With three first round picks in the upcoming draft, they may be able to swing a move this summer. But as losers of four of their last five games, the immediate future doesn’t look too bright.

 

  1. New Orleans Pelicans last week not ranked

The Pelicans don’t really deserve to be on this ranking. But with the addition of Boogie Cousins, the team should have the firepower to make a run at a playoff spot. The experiment hasn’t gone well so far, as the Pelicans are 0-2 with Cousins and lost Omri Casspi to a broken thumb. With not much time left, it’s now or never for the Pelicans.

 

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.

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Year 15 | A Mini Documentary

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What’s to come for the man on top, and what got him here?

It’s Year 15 of a man’s career, but it’s also Year 15 of a legacy…

Created by Tristan Laughton | Twitter: @Ctrice

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Editorial

Something Out of Nothing

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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.

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Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers

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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.

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