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Rowan’s Rankings | NBA Week 24

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For people that like to read too much into regular season games, March has provided plenty of fuel for overreacting. With the Warriors, Cavs, Celtics, and Raptors struggling, it has left much up in the air when it comes to the seeding in each conference.


  1. San Antonio Spurs last week 1

It’s been a tough week for the Spurs. Kawhi Leonard was put in the concussion protocol, while LaMarcus Aldridge was declared out indefinitely with a heart arrhythmia. After dropping a game to the Thunder, the Spurs bounced back in “The Rest Bowl” against the Warriors. With Aldridge out, if the Spurs can still get the top seed in the West, it may swing the MVP race into Leonard’s favor.

  1. Houston Rockets last week 4

A signature win over the Cleveland Cavaliers helped the Rockets get over their early week losses to the Spurs and Jazz. James Harden continues to build a convincing MVP case for himself.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers last week 2

Continuity has been missing for the Cavaliers. Between integrating Deron and Derrick Williams, a recovering J.R. Smith and dealing with Kyle Korver and Kevin Love being out of the lineup, the team has struggled. In the meantime, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have continued to shoulder a massive load for the wine and gold.

  1. Golden State Warriors last week 3

It was expected that the Warriors would struggle to some extent with Kevin Durant out, however the shooting slumps of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson occurring at the same time has exacerbated the issue. They haven’t been as bad as their recent play, but they are currently facing a level of adversity that they haven’t seen throughout Steve Kerr’s tenure.

  1. Washington Wizards last week 6

The Wizards have rode a five-game winning streak to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. While only the tiebreaker separates them from the Celtics, the Wizards are showing a level of resilience and consistency that’s been missing in recent years.

  1. Utah Jazz last week 8

A four-game winning streak for the Jazz came to a halt after running into Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. However, the strong play the Jazz have shown recently has helped keep the L.A. Clippers at bay.

  1. L.A. Clippers last week 9

Like the Jazz, the Clippers are also 4-1 in their last five games. It turns out the team is really good when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are healthy. Who knew?

  1. Boston Celtics last week 5

The Celtics got quality wins against the Warriors and Bulls, but are just 2-3 over their last five. Their slide has caused them to relinquish the second seed in the East.

  1. Toronto Raptors last week 7

While the defensive additions have helped the Raptors tread water, the absence of Kyle Lowry has started to catch up to the team’s offense. With a 2-4 record over their last six games, it seems unlikely the Toronto will be able to catch the Wizards or Celtics.

  1. Detroit Pistons last week 10

I feel somewhat vindicated putting the Pistons in this spot last week. Detroit is 5-2 over their last seven and got a quality win over the Cavaliers. The Pistons are in a good position in a tight race for the sixth seed in the East.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks last week 19

The play of Khris Middleton has helped the Bucks excel during the absence of Jabari Parker. The Bucks have won six straight games and are currently in position to make the playoffs.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder last week 14

The Thunder bounced back from their four-game losing streak with wins over the Spurs and the Jazz. Russell Westbrook has shown no sign of slowing down lately, and is helping drag the Thunder up the standings.

  1. Miami Heat last week 16

The Heat swept a home-and-home against the Cavaliers, and got wins over the Raptors and Hornets. It appears like this late season surge from the Heat is legitimate.

  1. Dallas Mavericks last week 12

The red hot Mavericks suffered a setback with their loss to the Phoenix Suns. It was a surprising letdown for a team that’s won six of their last seven. Dallas’ hot play has them within striking range of the playoffs.

  1. Atlanta Hawks last week 17

The Hawks were able to pull out of their nose dive with three straight wins, highlighted by wins over the Raptors and Grizzlies.

  1. Indiana Pacers last week 15

The Pacers have alternated between wins and losses over their last ten games. For a team that’s shown inconsistency all season, at least they’ve developed a pattern for their inconsistency.

  1. Denver Nuggets last week 18

With Nikola Jokic back in the lineup, the Nuggets are 2-0 including a blowout win over the Celtics. As Jokic goes, so do the Nuggets as they try to hold on to their playoff spot.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers last week 20

The Blazers have been red hot lately since acquiring Jusuf Nurkic, winning five of their last six games. Portland has always had the talent to make playoffs, but with Nurkic they may have the interior needed to push the Nuggets for a playoff spot.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves last week not ranked

The Timberwolves achieved impressive wins over both the Clippers and the Warriors. Their remaining schedule is tough, but the team is doing everything they can to keep their playoff hopes alive.

  1. Chicago Bulls last week 13

The wheels on the bus have fallen off. The success of the Bulls hasn’t seemed sustainable all year, and with the departures of Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, the team is on a full on nosedive.

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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