5 Reasons Why – Part 2: NBA All-Star weekend is crumbling

asg21. Frequent disappointments 

In my opinion, the number one reason the NBA All-Star weekend has been struggling lately is due to the disappointments, on all levels. Players don’t try, favorites rarely win, dunks don’t live up to the hype, and shooters seem to never show up. While hype can (and is) usually built through social media and TV networks leading up to the event, we rarely see any predictions or stars follow through and amaze us.

2. Lack of effort

As mentioned briefly above, lack of effort is a major problem during All-Star weekend. Hardly do you see players giving their best effort or even remotely trying to win any competition. For instance, I was watching today during the Skills Challenge (essentially a dribbling/passing/shooting course for guards) and I would say 90% of the players were jogging around, hardly giving any effort. One player in particular, Reggie Jackson of the OKC Thunder, was moving a shade over walking speed while doing the course, and all I could think was “C’MON MAN!” While this is technically a midway break from the season for most players, it would be nice to see them go full speed, especially for events that last 30 or so seconds…

3. Lack of participation

This is another big issue. The key events that have generally been exciting and superstar filled (dunk contest/3pt shootout) are now being performed by marginally known players and hardly any superstars. While I will give the 3pt shootout a break, since it usually does have the games top shooters (except Kyle Korver this year…), I can make no such excuse for the dunk contest. Rewind a decade or so and you had the likes of Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Jason Richardson, Steve Francis, etc., performing and enjoying this event while also displaying genuine creativity and athleticism. Then look at today, a bunch of mediocre dunkers performing ok dunks with the occasional get-off-your-seat slam.

4. Lack of personalities 

This is another issue that I didn’t really notice until this past year, we really don’t have many great personalities. While LeBron James, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul bring some personality, the rest of the upcoming stars are very mild mannered. When you take a look at say, Kevin Durant and Paul George, you see some great players with personalities, but both just have a “chill” attitude. Neither of them will be seen pulling off entertainment stunts such as this gem from Shaq a few years back.

5. Injuries

This is the inevitable. Players are bound to get hurt. Year after year we move closer to All-Star weekend and 2-3 key players have to miss out, with this year being Kobe Bryant and (potentially) Dwayne Wade. While injuries are not an avoidable reason like some of the points mentioned above, they definitely add to the dullness of the weekend. Although, in all fairness, I should say that in some cases we do get to see young stars and snubs get their chance to rightfully perform (i.e. Anthony Davis).

Midway Point: NBA Playoff Predictions

ImageSo here we are. One week away from the NBA All-Star weekend and midway point to the season, and the playoff picture is still a mess in both conferences. While the top seeds seem to be set and surely not moving, the rest of the field is wide open. In the East, spots 3-10 are separated by only six games, and in the West, spots 2-8 are separated by a mere seven. Along with this, we still have the trade deadline coming up and multiple key players coming back from injuries. So trying to predict the final playoff picture would seem like an absurdity at this point, right? Well, yes. But I’m bored so what the hell. Using this awesome strength of schedule graphic from Ed Kupfer and taking into consideration injuries and history, here is my final playoff picture.

Eastern Conference

Current (2/10):  1. Indiana 2. Miami 3. Toronto 4. Atlanta 5. Washington 6. Chicago 7. Brooklyn 8. Charlotte

Prediction: 1. Indiana 2. Miami 3. Toronto 4. Brooklyn 5. Washington 6. Atlanta 7. Chicago 8. New York

Notes: Indiana has the 3rd easiest SOS going forward and Toronto has the easiest, justifying those predictions. I feel the Knicks will make a surge as Melo fights to keep them relevant and I think the Nets will also gain momentum as their team continues to build chemistry and J Kidd gains more experience.

Western Conference

Current (2/10): 1. OKC 2. San Antonio 3. Portland 4. Clippers 5. Houston 6. Phoenix 7. Dallas 8. Golden State

Prediction: 1. OKC 2. San Antonio 3. Clippers 4. Houston 5. Portland 6. Golden State 7. Memphis 8. Phoenix

Notes: OKC and the Spurs seem to be set to claim the top two spots (OKC w/ the SOS edge and Westbrook coming back). Portland has a brutal schedule coming up and I feel as though they won’t be able to sustain this type of play going forward especially with their stars getting so many minutes (3 starters in top 22 of minutes per game). My surge team in the West is the Grizzles. With their experience and semi-easy schedule going forward, they shouldn’t have trouble sneaking into one of the last couple of seeds (they would be a dangerous 7 seed…). Lastly, I hope Phoenix can make the playoffs, and I think they will. I love the way Goran Dragic (my biggest All-Star snub) is playing right now and this team is really gelling.

So there it is. Some awesome potential match-ups in this years playoffs. I would love to see the 3-6 Clippers/Warriors high scoring, probably seven game, draw come true along with the potential Melo takes on the Pacers match-up. What do you guys think? Leave some comments below and let me know how you think this years playoffs will unfold!

Kevin Durant vs. Dirk Nowitzki: An Interesting Comparison

nba_g_kddirk_576As I sat in my fairly nice, but ridiculously overpriced, college apartment yesterday with a sub-par homemade coffee in one hand and some Oreos in the other (my typical breakfast, don’t judge), a thought rolled through my mind; how similar are Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant? While my in-the-moment inclination, largely due to the current media hype, was that Durant is the greatest player to ever play basketball, I decided to explore this comparison and what I got was a very interesting comparison.

Check out the numbers:

Shooting:

Durant: 47.8% FG, 37.8% 3PT, 88.3% FT – – – 18.9 FGA, 4.2 3PA

Dirk: 47.5% FG, 38.2% 3PT, 87.8% FT – – – 16.7 FGA, 3.2 3PA

Scoring:

Durant: 27 PPG, High PPG: 30.1 (besides this season), Most point in a game: 52

Dirk:  22.6 PPG, High PPG: 26.6, Most point in a game: 53

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Someone…? Anyone…?: A statistical look at how bad the Timberwolves bench actual is.

In case you’re behind this NBA season, let me bring you up to speed on a few things.

First: The Indiana Pacers are good, really good.

Second: The Heat, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, and Rockets are all doing pretty much as expected.

Third: The 76ers, while “tanking”, are leading the Atlantic Division.

Last (pun intended): The Minnesota Timberwolves bench might be one of the worst of all time… Yes, of all time.

Without going into much of the detail, let me just tell you that Timberwolves fans (myself included) have a hard time cheering for, let alone watching, this dismal unit they call our “bench”. Through nine games of the 2013-14 season, this Timberwolves team (while playing really well and looking like a contender) have established a pattern that makes every fan cringe and leads to many mini-heart attacks come games end.

Here’s how it goes: build a lead, bench comes in, lose lead. Build a lead, bench comes in, lose lead. And so on, and so fourth, until finally the starters come in and either build a big enough lead to where bench play is irrelevant, make a late game run and win the game, or just flat out lose.

Anyways…I’ll cut to the chase. Here are the unbelievably embarrassing numbers that sum up your Minnesota Timberwolves 2013-14 second unit.

Minnesota Timberwolves bench (2013-14): Ranking in parenthesis.

Defensive Efficiency: -21.3 (Last)

Efficiency: 20.1 (Last)

FT Percentage: 63.9% (23rd)

3-pt Percentage: 17.8% (Last)

FG Percentage: 35.6% (Last)

Reb: 11.4 (24th)

PPG: 19.6 (Last)

Ast: 5.3 (25th)

Yeah… I wasn’t exaggerating. While this is a small sample size (8 games), and we are missing some key pieces (Budinger, Turiaf), being last in five categories is still pretty pathetic. And since this is so fun, I’ve decided to throw in one more category below to really boost our spirits!!

Bench Defensive Efficiency Ratings in November (since 1998):

1. Portland Trailblazers (2012-13): -25.6

2. Vancouver Grizzles (1999-00): -21.4

3. Minnesota Timberwolves (2013-14): -21.3

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (2012-13): -20.6

5. New York Knicks (2008-09): -19.9

So there you have it. So far, third worst defensive bench in the last fifteen years. Let’s just hope this doesn’t continue (we do have roughly three weeks of November left..)

Back to Back?

bosh hahaWith a 94-91 win over the Chicago Bulls on May 15th, everyone was feeling deja vu setting in. The Heat had won 50 of their last 55, swept the Bucks, nearly swept the Bulls, and were rolling once again. Even with their recent grueling seven game series with the Pacers (which they won), its hard not to see this Miami Heat team repeating. They have the best player on the court every night, an incredible supporting cast, and just seem to be unbeatable in a best of seven series. But will they repeat?

After the jump, I go into detail on why the Heat will win the NBA finals, and why the Heat won’t win the NBA finals. There are plenty of reasons for both and a case can be made either way, but if you really want my prediction, I say Spurs in 7, Duncan MVP.

P.S. I’m hoping for an incredible series, Stern, so don’t let me down….I’ll surely be watching the foul/flop count…

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NBA Playoffs Poll

NBA Preview: Heat vs Pacers

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game One Tonight marks game two between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, and it should be great. In case you missed it, game one might have been one of the best games of the playoffs so far, if not thee best. You had it all. Close game throughout, scuffles, huge shots, buzzer beaters, overtime, and even a game winner to cap off a great night of basketball. But what will happen in game two? Today I look to provide a little insight into what we might see going into game two and the potential outcomes it could produce. But in case you missed it, here are the two huge plays that essentially sum up game one:

Paul George Game Tying 3 Pointer

LeBron Game Winner

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