With the season coming to a close most teams are ramping up the intensity to close out the season with a bang, prior to post season play. This is especially the case for both the Toronto Raptors and the Chicago Bulls. They are both fighting for the 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference which is crucial for play off positioning. Fighting for the 3rd position in the Eastern Conference is crucial as the team in the 3rd spot will have to play a series with the Wizards where the 4th position will have to battle out a 7 game series with the Nets.
No disrespect to the Wizards, but right not the Nets is a far better team overall and will be far tougher in a series. Whether you win or lose against the Nets it will take a lot out of a team to even get past the Nets. There is no doubt that this is running through the heads of both coaches and players from both the Raptors and Bulls. As it stands Chicago will need an extra win in their last 6 games in relation to the Raptors.
Both the Bulls and Raptors have another 6 games before the end of the season and as it looks now the Raptors have an easier stretch than the Bulls. As the hardest team the Raptors will be facing is the Knicks and with their past few performance being far from NBA standard Raptors should cruise right on through. The Bulls however still have to play against the Wizards, Timberwolves and Bobcats among other teams.
With the Raptors on fire winning 2 of their last 3 games against the Heat, Rockets, and Pacers. I have no doubt that the Raptors will close it out in style and take the 3rd position in the Eastern Conference. However as the Bulls are still the better team when it comes to the final teams they will have to close out the season against it is very possible that they win all 6 forcing Toronto to follow suit or else face placing in 4th.
Who do you think will finish in 3rd position in the Eastern Conference? Who do you believe will win the Eastern Conference Finals and which team do you support? Join in the conversation and let me know in the comments section below.
The ever so talented Miami All-Star, LeBron James, was quoted saying “I wish we didn’t have a salary cap…”. James was referring to the 10 year contract that was penned by the Detroit Tigers Slugger Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera signed a 10-year deal for $292 million sparking questions from several NBA players.
LeBron continued saying “The best players in each sport should be rewarded…”, “It would be nice to sign a 10-year contract for $300 million. I would do it. I would do it for sure.” James’ statement sparked outrage amongst commentators and fellow sportsman as James very publicly displayed his discontent with his wealth and riches.
Trey Burke has broken a finger on his shooting hand while playing a preseason game against the Clippers. The rookie out of Michigan broke his finger, on his shooting hand, during the latter half of the first quarter where the initial play of the possession was shut down and the ball was passed to Trey with 12 seconds on the shot clock. Forced to make a quick play, with the shot clock running down, Trey drives right and breaks his finger on the aggressive wrap around pass around Chris Paul.
He is off to surgery and it’s said that he will miss 8-12 weeks of the regular season with the Utah Jazz. Trey was set to be the starting point guard for the franchise and give that extra boost of energy that the team so desperately needed.
With Trey out for the start of regular season the Jazz may opt to trade or stick with their current roster. Both options have their merits and their downfalls, however news on whether the Jazz will trade for another point guard is not yet released. What do you think will happen to the Jazz? Do you think Trey still has a shot at the Rookie of the Year?
After such a long break from competitive basketball everyone knew that Derrick would be a little rusty and would need a few games to get into his groove. Being preseason he will be getting fewer minutes then when the regular season kicks off. There is so much buzz around Derrick’s return to the court and play for the Bulls. The anticipation is well deserved as the 2010-2011 MVP returns to a fan base that have been lacking the All-Star energy that Derrick Rose brings every time he steps onto the court.
It is a little to early to comment on Derricks future performance in this coming 2013-2014 season, but from what we have seen so far it is looking good. He is still not back to his former self but will surely adjust over the preseason, and will kick off the season hard for sure. Many are speculating that he will bring the Bulls to the Finals. The Chicago fans almost expect it from Derrick after his long break from the league to recover from injury. I believe that this is a large weight to carry for Derrick, and that hopefully the pressure will spur him on to continue to adjust and become an overall better basketballer than he was in previous years. Another super star meltdown in the latter stages of the playoffs is never pretty.
Now when looking at his past two games his stats are reasonable, but definitely not worthy of MVP contention by any stretch of the imagination. To compete or defeat Miami in the Conference Finals will be tough for Chicago as the Heat are better than ever. Derrick scored 24.1 points and 7.4 assists per 36 minutes in his MVP year and in the 2011-2012 season, prior to his ACL injury he was scoring 22.2 points and 8.1 assists per 36 minutes. Comparing this to his first few games of the preseason, where he stands at, 21.5 points and 5.0 assists per 36 minutes he hasn’t done to bad at all. As all returning point guards Derrick was a little sloppy on the passing and shooting, leading to many turnover and lost buckets.
Derrick has said in reports that he has been tirelessly practising throughout his off-year both conditioning himself for the rigorous season to come and to make sure his ball handling and shooting skills are up to par. He has said that he has also increased his vertical by 5 inches now allegedly being about to get 42 inches off the ground, making many defenders weary of the return of Derrick. He seems to still have his explosiveness and trademark speed and has lead Chicago to both their wins so far this 2013 preseason.
I really think that Derrick will return to his former glory and will help Chicago reach the Conference Finals this coming season. It may still be a stretch to say that Derrick will return and get another MVP title, but I have no doubt he will compete with LeBron for the title and help push the NBA to further heights.
There are a few players that would compete for the most underpaid New York Knick. The two candidates that stood out to me were Pablo Prigioni and Metta World Peace. I will give a quick break down on each player individually, then decide who I believe to be the most underpaid Knick.
Many may be scratching their heads at why I thought Pablo may be underpaid, and that is because of many reasons. He is averaging some great numbers and able to fill the stat sheets very well. Pablo traditionally plays the point, but with Mike Woodson he may have more play time if he decides to play a double point offence where Pablo may get significant minutes in the 2 spot.
Pablo averages 7.8 points, 6.7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals per 36 minutes. This is not super star or star level, but it is more than respectable for a player of his calibre. He is very selective with his shooting and as a result managed to get a .40 3P%, .46 FG% and a .88 FT% At 1.5 million a year the Knicks were happy with the re-signing of Prigioni. Know that Prigioni has only played in the NBA and with the Knicks for only a year. As he adapts to both the league and the Knicks I believe his assists will rise. Definitely a good decision to keep Prigioni on for another 3 years.
I am sure Metta World Peace needs no introduction and has proven to be a phenomenal player with his time spent at the Lakers Organisation. He averaged 12.4 points, 5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game, all while playing a little over 30 minutes a game. I believe being with the Knicks Metta will be able to put up similar stats, but I have a suspicion that he will average 15+ points per game. He chose New York as he wants to be home, and being with a team he wants to play with will definitely bring out the best basketball he can deliver.
In this coming season there is no doubt that Metta World Peace is the most underpaid Knick in the team. This is partially to do with the fact that Metta seems to want to play in New York and was willing to have a significant salary cut, coming from the Lakers.
There has to be an honorable mention that goes out to Jason Kidd for his oncourt presence throughout his career and for the year he played with the Knicks. However seeing as he has moved to management and has recently retired from the NBA and is no longer a Knick. He was unable to compete for the most underpaid Knick.
When talking about the greatest Centers that are currently playing in the NBA it is hard to go past Dwight Howard. Dwight has received a lot of hate and discrimination from the LA community for leaving and his sub par effort with the Lakers this past year. Many say he had great potential, and that he is currently the best center in the league. It is true he did mention that he is willing to play in the PF position next to Omer Asik this coming 2013-2014 season with the Houston Rockets. However nothing is confirmed yet. He does have the athleticism to compete with the Power Forwards in the NBA, but undoubtedly his true position is Center and the whole PF, Center debate is for another time.
Dwight is still very raw, and full of potential. It is an unfair statement to say that “potential has a shelf life” and Dwight will no longer be able to improve as a player. His health may be a concern, but when Dwight is healthy his athleticism is phenomenal to say the least. As long as he has this, he has potential. He needs to work in the post and on his free throws. Defensively I would say Dwight is solid however its ugly to watch his offence in the post. His strength allows him to pull through and still finish hard at the rim, giving him one of the highest FG% compared to other Centers in the league.
The only way to say whether or not Dwight is a great Center or the greatest Center currently playing in the NBA is to compare him to other greats. There are many great Centers in the league and I have to say there are no dominant Center that stands out from the league like there has been in the past.
Defensively you have the likes of Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler and KG. However it wouldn’t be right not to mention Dwight in the mix. Defensively Marc Gasol is currently the best Center, however Dwight overall is significantly better as a Center as he is able to put up points and work the glass far better than Marc Gasol.
When it comes to offense I believe Dwight is the best Center. Looking throughout his career, he doesn’t need to improve on his record merely leave behind his injuries and the Lakers and just be the dominant Center he was and we know he can be. Getting 20 points, 13-14 rebounds, 2-3 blocks per game. He will need to perform in this coming season to show that he is truely the best Center in the league. Moving to LA was not the best for Dwight and was just a hurdle in his career.
I wouldn’t say Dwight is the greatest Center playing in the NBA at the moment, but he is a great Center that will continue to improve with the guidance of Kevin McHale and Hakeem as mentors. I am sure when he gets back into the groove and fills up the stat sheets with the numbers he has shown in the past, he will be capable of regaining the “Best Center” in the NBA title back no problem. While saying that, none of the current Centers in the league stand out enough to be the outright best Center in the NBA at the moment.