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Rowan’s Rankings | NBA Week 7

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  1. Golden State Warriors last week 2

While the Clippers and Cavaliers took a nose dive this week, things were far more stable for the Warriors. The double overtime loss to the Rockets put an end to their winning streak, but the team has been on a roll. The Warriors are first in offensive efficiency and ninth in defensive efficiency. While the competition tries to work things out, they are clearly the best team at the moment.

  1. San Antonio Spurs

    last week 3

The Spurs were not immune to the day of the upsets. November 29th marked the second time in league history that every team on the schedule lost to the team with the worse record. Aside from the loss to Orlando, the Spurs have managed to keep on rolling.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

    last week 1

I wrestled with whether or not to put the Clippers over the Cavaliers, but the Clippers have looked shaky lately and the Cavs were falling from higher. LeBron James is averaging almost seven turnovers a game over their losing streak and that lack of focus has seeped into the defensive effort of the team. As James said, “the honeymoon stage is over.”

  1. Toronto Raptors

    last week 6

The Toronto Raptors have won six straight games, albeit against weaker competition. DeMarre Carroll, Patrick Patterson and the rest of the role players have finally joined the show and the Raptors look like the team many predicted them to be.

  1. L.A Clippers

    last week 4

The Clippers have lost 4 of their last 6 and outside of their statement win over the Cavaliers, haven’t looked sharp as of late. Blowing a 15-point lead to the Pacers a week after losing to them without Paul George is not an encouraging sign for a team with high hopes.

  1. Houston Rockets

    last week 8

The Rockets came away with a double overtime win against the Warriors, then followed it up with an impressive road win the following night in Denver. The Rockets appear poised to surprise some people with a strong regular season.

  1. Boston Celtics

    last week 9

The Celtics have been taking care of some of the league’s have-nots recently. With wins over the Sixers, Kings, and Heat. Although their losses to the Pistons and Spurs show this team still has a ways to go before they are a legitimate force in the league.

  1. Chicago Bulls

    last week 5

The Bulls enjoyed a Cavs win sandwich between two slices of bad losses. Their losses to the Lakers and Mavericks were as discouraging as their win against the Cavs was encouraging. Everybody has their eyes on the Bulls to see whether or not their strong start is for real.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

    last week 7

The Conley-less Grizzlies lost to the Raptors, but followed that up with wins against the Magic and Lakers. Every win without Conley must be cherished, as the team will need to battle to remain in playoff position without their team leader.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder

    last week 14

The Thunder have breezed through a soft portion of their schedule, recording five straight wins in the process. In related news, Russell Westbrook has five straight triple-doubles.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

    last week not ranked

The Bucks are the largest climber on this list. After a week of inconsistent play, the Bucks leaped up the standings with four straight wins. While two came against the Nets, they manhandled the Cavaliers at home and Giannis Antetokounmpo is showing that the wait for him to obtain star status appears to be over.

  1. Charlotte Hornets

    last week 10

The Hornets have faltered recently, going .500 over the past week. Their loss to the Timberwolves should be extra disappointing, when the Hornets have made their mark as an experienced, well-prepared team that should handle younger opposition. But the play of Kemba Walker makes them a threat every single night.

  1. Utah Jazz

    last week 12

The Jazz have won five of their last six games, with the streak broken up by a one-point loss to the Miami Heat. The team is clearly different with George Hill in the lineup, although a sprained toe has kept him out of their last two contests.

  1. New York Knicks

    last week 15

The Knicks swept the home-and-home against the Timberwolves and handled the Kings at The Garden. It might not sound like much, but these are the type of weeks they need to make the playoffs.

  1. Indiana Pacers

    last week not ranked

The Pacers appear to be hitting their stride, beating the Clippers at home without Paul George, then on the road with their superstar. They did suffer a blowout loss to the Blazers without George, but things appear to be turning around in Indiana.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers

    last week 18

Wins over the Pacers and Heat have the Blazers on the right side of .500 once again. Unless this team figures out defense or hits a hot streak, expect them to continue to dance with mediocrity.

  1. Detroit Pistons

    last week not ranked

Their loss to the Magic put an end to their three-game winning streak, but Detroit has won five of the last seven and are adjusting well to life without Reggie Jackson. Once he returns, we will be able to properly evaluate this team.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers

    last week 16

Without D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young, things are falling apart for the Lakers. They’ve gone 3-7 over their last 10 games and it seems unlikely that they can dig themselves out of a major hole, even when they do become healthy. The future is bright in L.A., but they may need to go through a little more pain along the way.

  1. Atlanta Hawks

    last week 11

The Hawks are in a tailspin. Owners of a league-worst six game losing streak and a 1-9 record over the last 10, the Hawks look like one of the league’s worst at the moment. To make matters  worse, Paul Millsap has been out the last three games with a sore hip.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

    last week 19

The team is on a two game losing streak, courtesy of the Clippers and Thunder. But the Pelicans have been .500 over their last ten games and should remain competitive as long as Holiday and Davis are in the lineup.

 

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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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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Content

MELO-dy Cool

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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.

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