What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Thursday, November 27, 2014

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Wizards vs. Cavaliers, November 26th


+LeBron James  (29 points, 10 rebounds) led the +Cleveland Cavaliers  to a 113-87 win over the +Washington WizardsVisit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Warriors vs. Magic, November 26th


+Stephen Curry scored 28 points and grabbed five rebounds as the +Golden State Warriors  dropped the +Orlando Magic in Orlando. Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Nets vs. 76ers, November 26th


Joe Johnson scored 21 points as the +Brooklyn Nets  held off the +Philadelphia 76ers 99-91. Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents The Starters – November 26th


The guys give you tips on how to school that family member who knows nothing about sports, bring you the “Top 10 Blocks” of the season, and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas answers questions on "The Hot Seat." Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Bucks vs. Timberwolves, November 26th


Larry Sanders scores 15 points, grabs seven rebounds and adds five blocks to help the +Milwaukee Bucks  to a 103-86 victory over the +Minnesota TimberwolvesVisit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Jazz vs. Thunder, November 26th


Reggie Jackson (22 points, 8 assists) led the +Oklahoma City Thunder to a 97-82 victory over the +Utah JazzVisit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Pacers vs. Spurs, November 26th


+Manu Ginobli scored 28 points in the +San Antonio Spurs  106-100 win over the +Indiana PacersVisit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Nuggets vs. Suns, November 26th


Gerald Green scored 24 points in the +Phoenix Suns' 120-112 win over the +Denver NuggetsVisit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Grizzlies vs. Lakers, November 26th


+Marc Gasol (19 points, 11 rebounds) led the +Memphis Grizzlies  to a 99-93 victory over the +Los Angeles Lakers.  Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Kings vs. Rockets, November 26th


+James Harden scored 26 points and added 8 assists as the +Houston Rockets  dethroned the +Sacramento Kings 102-89. Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Clippers vs. Pistons, November 26th


+Chris Paul scored 23 points and dished out seven assists in the +Los Angeles Clippers  104-98 win over the +Detroit PistonsVisit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Raptors vs Hawks, November 26th


+Demar Derozan scored 27 points and Lou Williams added 22 as the +Toronto Raptors  beat the +Atlanta Hawks  126-115. Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Knicks vs. Mavericks, November 26th


The +Dallas Mavericks dropped +New York Knicks in overtime on Wednesday, 109-102. Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents NBA Recap: Trail Blazers vs. Hornets, November 26th


+LaMarcus Aldridge scores nine points and grabs 14 rebounds as the +Portland Trail Blazers  beat the +Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte. Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents Wiggins and Parker Facing Off for First Time


+Jabari Parker and +Andrew Wiggins, the two top picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, faced one another for the first time in the regular season. Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH Presents Dirk Scoring Season High in OT Win


+Dirk Nowitzki  had a season-high 30 points for the +Dallas Mavericks in Wednesday's win. Visit nba.com/video for more highlights and always keep up with all 30+NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog HoopsAlso, please be kind enough to share this post by simply clicking the Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest buttons below.  It would be greatly appreciated; Thanks!

SDH's 2014/2015 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 11. Golden State Warriors


Overall Win/Loss Record :  51-31  second place Pacific Division

2014/2015 Projection: 48-34, second place Pacific Division, seventh place Western Conference


Projected 2014/2015 Finish
11



Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored:  104.3 (10th)
  • Points Allowed: 99.5 (10th)
  • Team FG%: .462  (9th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .436 (4th)
  • Team FT%: .753 (19th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .380 (4th)
  • Rebounds per game: 45.3 (5th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 43.3 (20th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.9 (27th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.5 (11th)

Returning Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): Stephen Curry (24.0)
  • Rebounds per game: Andrew Bogut (10.0)
  • Minutes per game:  Stephen Curry (36.5)
  • Assists per game:  Stephen Curry (8.5)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  Andrew Bogut (.627)
  • Free Throw Percentage:  Stephen Curry (.890)
  • Three Point FG Percentage:  Stephen Curry (.424)
  • Steals per game:  Stephen Curry (1.6)
  • Blocked Shots per game:   Andrew Bogut (1.8)
Projected Opening Day Starters Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact:



Key Reserves Rank Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact::
After years of futility, Warriors fans can now celebrate that their team will no longer be a perennial cellar dweller in the NBA after two straight playoff appearances as well as its first 50+ win season in twenty years.  Unlike most Warrior teams who would simply make the playoffs once in a blue moon, this one looks as it is here to stay thanks to a solid and competent front office which is completely in sync with the coaching staff and the players on the court--something that the team has not had in eons.  For the first time in its history, Golden State finally has built a winning culture based on the continual pursuit of excellence where simply just making the playoffs and losing in the first round--something that the organization would have been satisfied with just a few years ago.  What the Warriors organization want now is a championship and even though it enjoyed one of its best winning stretches in its history, that was simply not enough in their eyes, especially since they following such an excellent regular season run with a first round elimination by the +Los Angeles Clippers. That is why they parted ways with the previous coach, Mark Jackson, the man who had actually brought the Warriors to where they are in the first place replacing him with rookie head coach Steve Kerr because sticking with Jackson would have meant remaining at the status quot.

Unfortunately, despite their best intentions, simply changing the coaching staff is simply not enough for this Golden State team to take the next level earning that elusive championship dream and Kerr might just find himself in the same situation as Jackson.  The problem with the Warriors is that save for their dynamic back court duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, there is virtually nothing else on that roster that can maintain a consistent presence on the court long enough for it to reach its potential.  Come playoff time last season, Golden State had already lost two of their starters, Andrew Bogut and David Lee, to season ending injuries thus making them completely unavailable for the entire post season thus leaving the team severely shorthanded upon its arrival in the post season.  When they are on the court together, no one can argue that both Lee and Bogut make one of the league's most imposing front courts with Bogut's ability to crash the boards, block shot and protect the rim while Lee balance them out with his effective and efficient scoring in the paint; however over the past couple season that has not been the case.  Neither have been able to play a full season, let alone be ready to carry themselves and their team through to the playoffs and with them being owed nearly 40$ million for the next three years, the Warriors are essentially stuck with them unless they can find a sucker to take at least one of them of their hands.

Add both Lee's and Bogut's contracts to that of the Curry's (30$ million over the next three years) and the fellow "spalsh brother"  Klay Thompson's 70$ million extension that will begin next season and will last for the next four years, the Warriors are pretty much capped out.  Even with the salary cap looking to encroach to nearly 80$ million next season thanks to the NBA's next new television deal, Golden State will basically have its hands tied for the next two or three years. Curry's, Klays, Bogie's, and Lee's contracts will take up approximately 60$ million of the Warriors' cap space for the next three years which is not too bad since in theory; however, add the nearly 13$ million the Warrior's invested this season and the approximate 27$ to 30$ for the next two in an underwhelming Andre Iguodola, that pushes the cap number to about 73$ million.  Last, but certainly not the least, let us not forget the recently signed Shaun Livingston, whose comeback season with the +Brooklyn Nets earned him a three year deal at around 6$ million per year, the Warriors have essentially locked themselves to 79$ million of salary essentially tying its hands for the next three years for players that are either not reliable enough to play through a season without being struck with a season ending injury, or simply is vastly overrated to be deserving of the money they got signed to.

Andre Iguodala can be considered as the perfect example of a player who has had both the perception of his value as well as his ego over inflated for his entire career and despite all his accolades has failed to live up to them each and every time.  After an amazing four year stint where he produced a amazing 18 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and two steals per game, Iguodala's offensive production dropped significantly to 14 points and has consistently dropped for the next three years.  Unfortunately, despite his significant statistical drops, he still carries the undeserved moniker of an "All Star" and major impact player as well as the huge price tag that comes with the recognition even though he has not played up to that level in four years.  In his Warriors' debut, Andre got paid an All Star's salary of 12$ million, but on the court, he produced a measly nine points, five rebounds and five assists per game in 32 minutes of playing time thus making him potentially one of the biggest free agent blunders in NBA history.  What is worse about this situation is that he is still on the hook for another 36 million for three year and if last season was a sign of what to expect, then Iguodala will look to become the most expensive role player to ever play in the league.

Iguodala's presence has not hurt the Warriors' flexibility for the next two or three years, but it also has hampered the development of Harrison Barnes, who followed a promising rookie season with a less than stellar sophomore appearance as he come off the bench in favor for Iguodala.  It will be interesting to see what Golden State does once Barnes becomes eligible for a contract extension since they have essentially reached the limit on their salary cap and once they sign Barnes the will likely reach the luxury tax threshold and will be forced to pay twice for every dollar paid over the cap.  As for Lee, even though his contract expires at the end of next season, that has not garnered enough interest of any teams to facilitate a trade and with him being a regular on the injured list, the Warriors' depth in the front court is severely hampered as there is virtually no one that has shown capable to cover for him once he returns to wearing street clothes come mid season.  The only real option for the Warriors once Lee falls is an undersized Draymond Green who prides himself on his supposed versatility, yet neither has the size to matchup with the league other bigs or the speed and athleticism to play at the small forward.  The other option is an enigmatic Mareese Speights who has the size, skills and talent to take on any opposing big man in the league; however, neither his coaches, teammates or fans know what type of player will arrive come opening tip off as his ability to play at a consistent level game in and game out has been severly questioned.

Shaun Livingston was brought in to strengthen what can be considered as a rather weak second unit and will probably be a great asset with his size, athleticism and abilities as he can be inserted in either guard position as well as the small forward spot; however, he is no way a game changing player.  At best he will provide solid backup minutes behind Stephen Curry at the point guard position, plus may be also inserted alongside the Splash Brothers allowing both Curry and Klay to play off the ball instead of having to facilitate the offense themselves.  Altogether, as a team, the Warriors are a little to be desired with its roster that consists of dead weight contracts, less than spectacular bench, and very shallow front court depth leaving both Curry and Klay to be the sole consistent offensive producers.  If either one or both of them fall to injury during the season, then the team will be in plenty of trouble as there is virtually no one else who has the ability to pick up the slack on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor; plus, with their rather dire salary cap situation, the situation will not be changing anytime soon--or at least the next three or four years.  Fortunately for the Warriors, their new head coach has experience when it comes to teams that boast two superstar players followed by a hodgepodge of average role players to support them; in fact, he has played for such a team.

As a member of the 1996-98 +Chicago Bulls Championship team, Steve Kerr essentially came off the bench as the team's resident three point shooter playing off the greatness and riding on the coattails of +Michael Jordan and +Scottie Pippen.  So in terms of organizing an offense, he can probably utilize the same Triangle Offense in which his former coach and current mentor, Phil Jackson, using both Curry and Klay as the team's two key focal points on offense and have the rest of the team ride off their greatness.  He will certain not have implementing the strong defensive discipline which is often associated with team's that Jackson coached since his predecessor, Mark Jackson already set that mentality in stone; plus, being one of the top teams in the league in turnovers committed last season, Kerr's squad seems smart and disciplined enough to execute the Triangle to perfection.  The only problem he has, as with the case of his experience as a player, was the fact that if either  Jordan or Pippen were to fall to injury, then the Bulls would have not been capable of making the post season, let alone the championship dynasty it has ascended to at the end of the 20th century.  Plus, Steve Kerr has another problem which may lead him to same result that caused the departure of his predecessor and that is even though he has two superstar caliber players in Thompson and Curry, there is no way that they can ever hold a candle to two of the greatest players to have ever played the game in Jordan and Pippen.

So overall the Warriors still have the ability to remain as one of the top tier Western Conference teams falling shortly behind as such powerhouses as the +San Antonio Spurs+Los Angeles Clippers, +Portland Trail Blazers and +Oklahoma City Thunder; however, they are in no ways able to surpass any of these teams thus remaining as first round fodder for not only this seasons, but those that follow.  Golden State simply does not have the size nor roster depth to overcome any one of these teams in a seven game playoff series and those are most likely the teams the Warriors will have to go through in order to have a chance to reach its first NBA Finals since 1975.  They simply are not good enough with just Curry and Klay leading the charge, and with the way the salary cap situation looks for Golden State, it seems as if that situation will not change anytime soon.  That's  not a very good omen as two or three years from now, both Curry and Klay's contracts will expire making them unrestricted free agent and the Warriors will be hard pressed trying to convince those two to return to a team that has gone nowhere fast.  Short of a natural disaster such an earthquake swallowing up the entire Bay Area during a Warriors home game, expect much of the same with the Warrior being among the top five finishers in the West only to see them get eliminated for either the first or second rounds of the playoffs.                      

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SDH's 2014/2015 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 12. Dallas Mavericks


Overall Win/Loss Record:  49-33,  fourth place Southwest Division

2014/2015 Projection: 46-36, fourth place Southwest Division, eighth place Western Conference


Projected 2014/2015 Finish
12


Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored: 104.8 (8th)
  • Points Allowed: 102.4 (20th)
  • Team FG%: .474 (4th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .464 (22nd)
  • Team FT%: .795 (3rd)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .384 (2nd)
  • Rebounds per game: 40.9 (26th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.8 (16th)
  • Turnovers per game: 13.2 (5th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.4 (5th)

Returning Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): Dirk Nowitzki (21.7)
  • Rebounds per game:  Dirk Nowitzki (6.2)
  • Minutes per game: Monta Ellis (36.9)
  • Assists per game:  Monta Ellis (5.7)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Brandon Wright (.677)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Dirk Nowitzki (.900)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Dirk Nowitzki (.398)
  • Steals per game: Monta Ellis (1.7)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Brandon Wright (1.0)
Projected Opening Day Starters Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact:



Key Reserves Rank Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact:

  1. Brandon Wright (F)
  2. Jameer Nelson (G)
  3. Devin Harris (G)
  4. Richard Jefferson (G/F)
  5. Al Farouq Aminu (G/F)
After a 2013 season that saw them finish at just .500 and missing the playoffs, many saw this as a sign of the one time +NBA powerhouse otherwise known as the Dallas Mavericks have finally fallen and was heading into a long and painful rebuilding process.  That outlook immediately changed once the Mavericks returned to the playoffs the following season and even gave their interstate rival, the +San Antonio Spurs quite a scare taking them to all seven games before being eliminated by San Antonio.  Once the off season approached, the Mavs' front office continued to show their fans as well as the rest of the basketball worlds that this team was not ready to call it quits just yet as it plans to remain in the Western Conference playoff picture for a long time.  They started by snatching one of the summer's most touted free agents in Chandler Parsons, as his former team, the +Houston Rockets allowed him to leave as a restricted free agent not even bothering to try to match Dallas' offer sheet.  In addition, the Mavericks also re-signed their veteran franchise player for over the last 16 years in Dirk Nowitzki to a four year 32$ million extension, while at the same time brought back a familiar face in Tyson Chandler, who aided the Mavericks in their championship run in 2011 sending Jose Calderon, +Samuel Dalembert, last year's first round pick Shane Larkin, and two second round draft picks to the +New York Knicks in exchange.

To replace Calderon's veteran leadership at the starting point guard spot and his three point shooting, Dallas took along Raymond Felton in the Chandler trade--a move that many may considered a severe downgrade after his less than stellar performances over the last couple of seasons.  Nonetheless, if Felton failed to make the grade at starting point guard and continued what seems to be a downward slide in his careers, the Mavericks made sure to initiate a backup plan by signing another veteran point guard in Jameer Nelson, known best for his ten year tenure with the +Orlando Magic, along with retaining Devin Harris from last season thus giving the team a three point guard rotation that has a combined 29 years of NBA experience. Dallas then continued to add more veteran experience and depth on its roster by signing 34 year old swing man Richard Jefferson, who boasts a 13 year career that consisted of nine playoff appearances with two of them in the NBA Finals.  They even may have gotten a nice steal in the free agent market as they manged to pick up young and athletic swing man Al Farouq Aminu, who had spent the previous three years as the starting small forward of the +New Orleans Pelicans, for a rather inexpensive fee of less than 1$ million dollars.  Altogether with the signing of who many believe to be a future hall of famer in Chandler Parsons as well as the return of fan favorite and notable All Star himself, Tyson Chandler, the Mavericks look to have one of the deepest and most experienced rosters in the league and no doubt will certainly continue to make noise in the Western Conference.    

Unfortunately for the Dallas Mavericks the noise that they will make will turn out to be quite mute as the Western Conference is already teeming with talent; plus, the Mavs have the poor fortune to also belong in the most difficult division where four of the teams made the playoffs last season. One of them was the +NBA Champion +San Antonio Spurs, and coming into this season, there are essentially six spots essentially taken with Dallas essentially on the outside looking in; plus with just two spots available, there is less margin for error, especially with team that are coming up in the league.  Last season, Dallas had to deal with just the +Memphis Grizzlies and +Phoenix Suns to clinch the final playoff spot, but now they will have to not only them but also two up and coming teams that have looked to make significant upgrades in the +Sacramento Kings and +New Orleans Pelicans. Add the +Los Angeles Lakers into that equation and that makes six teams altogether vying for two playoff spots where the most likely result will be a quick first round exit and very little if nothing else to show for all that effort to get to the post season.  Even at full strength, the best the Mavs can do is probably return to the seventh or eighth place in the West, unless something were to occur that would dramatically change the face of the Western Conference.

First of all, for Dallas to even have a remote chance of claiming a top four seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, either one or two of the six already enshrined playoffs spots were suddenly up for grabs which can be considered as a near impossibility.  The only chance of such a thing to even conceivably occurs is if the +Oklahoma City Thunder, who will already start the season without last season's reigning MVP +Kevin Durant, lose its second best player, +Russell Westbrook to a gruesome injury forcing him to miss opening tip off as well; however the odds of the occurring range from slim to none. It is not as if the Mavericks do not have talented players or solid depth in their roster to make a strong playoff run; however, the problem for the Mavs is that fact that they are five other teams that are basically at par with the Mavs and have just as much opportunity and ability to surpass Dallas just as well as Dallas' ability to overtake them.  They certainly did not help themselves by letting go of Calderon, a veteran point guard capable of both setting up up teammates as well as playing off the ball thanks to his three point field goal accuracy; plus, in the case of Tyson Chandler, he was coming off an injury plagued season with the Knicks and at 32 years old, he may not be the same player that helped Dallas win that NBA title in 2011.  If anything, one can argue that the Mavericks are no better off than they were last season when they had to claw and scrape just to get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.     

Secondly, for Dallas to remain in playoff contention, it will certainly have to improved its overall team effort on the defensive end as it allowed more than 102 points per game and more than .460 shooting from its opponents last season which ranked near bottom in the league.  The Mavericks, despite the team's size were not much of a factor on the boards as well as they ranked near the bottom of the league in rebounds per game while at the same time allowed their opponents to out rebound them by a +2 margin.  Neither Dirk Nowitzki or Chandler Parsons will provide much help on the boards as they produced a combined 11.7 rebounds per game last season, which will leave most of the rebounding along with rim protection duties to Tyson Chandler who has seen much of if his abilities and athleticism erode with each passing year.  Once he subsequently falls to injury, the Mavericks will have no one else capable of picking up the slack as the team will be coming into the regular season with mostly perimeter oriented players who are either too old to contribute more in the paint and on the boards, such as Nowitzki, or one whose game is simply not attuned to that style of play as Parsons.  Although he has shown plenty of promise over the last couple of seasons, it is doubtful that Brandon Wright, the team's first front court option to come off the bench, is even capable enough to handle the physical trials of increased responsibility in the center position due to his rather slim 210 pound build.

Overall, Mavs fans will certainly enjoy watching their team this season as it will certainly be able score in the high 100 making for more fun and fast paced basketball; however, there is no way that their Mavericks being more than a middle of the pack team capable, at best, of only making it to the first round of the playoffs and nothing more.  In spite of the acquisitions of big time scoring talent such as Monta Ellis and Chander Parsons, the fate of the Mavericks still rest on the aging and weary shoulders of Dirk Nowitzki and unless Dallas finds an inside presence capable enough of taking some of the weight off his shoulders, then its is possible that the Mavs' future will most likely sink or swim in a 36 player heading towards the twilight of his career.  Nonetheless, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will not concede the apparent fact this his teams is on the verge of decline choosing instead to continue pushing in until the entire foundation collapses upon itself.  He has been absolutely adamant about his team not following the example of the +Philadelphia 76ers or +Minnesota Timberwolves tanking his team in order to acquire high draft picks because he wants to maintain the same winning culture that it has had for more than a decade.  Unfortunately for Dallas, due to age and the misfortune of being in the NBA's most stringent conference, it simply no longer has the goods to be the championship contender it once was and if they continue on this current path, the Mavs' by no choice of their own, will find their grip finally slipping and thus falling to the bottom with a devastating crash.       

Monday, November 24, 2014

SDH's 2014/2015 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 13. Washington Wizards


Overall Win/Loss Record:  44-38,  second place Southeast Division

2014/2015 Projection: 45-37, second place  Southeast Division, fifth place Eastern Conference

Preseason Rank
13



Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored: 100.7 (16th)
  • Points Allowed: 99.4 (9th)
  • Team FG%: .459 (10th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .458 (18th)
  • Team FT%: .731 (25th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .380 (5th)
  • Rebounds per game: 42.2 (20th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.2 (11th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.1 (16th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.4 (4th)

Returning Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): John Wall (19.3)
  • Rebounds per game:  Marcin Gortat (9.5)
  • Minutes per game: John Wall (36.3)
  • Assists per game:  John Wall (8.8)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Marcin Gortat (.542)
  • Free Throw Percentage:   Drew Gooden (.890)
  • Three Point FG Percentage:  Andre Miller (.667)
  • Steals per game: John Wall (1.8)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Marcin Gortat (1.5)
Projected Opening Day Starters Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact:

Key Reserves Rank Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact:

  1. Martell Webster (G/F)
  2. Kris Humphries (F/C)
  3. DeJaun Blair (F/C)
  4. Andre Miller (G)
  5. Otto Porter Jr. (F)


Basketball and the Nation's Capital are often associated with such words as "frustration," "despair,"  or just sheer "apathy;" however, that has all changed as for the first time in what can be considered an eternity, basketball fans residing the the DC Metropolitan Area, finally have something to be excited for.  After an amazing 44 win season that saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in six years, the Wizards also shocked not only the NBA and their fans, but also themselves when they managed to handily defeated a more experienced +Chicago Bulls team in the first round, but also took the +Indiana Pacers to six games before getting eliminated in the second.  Once the off season had arrived the Wizards continued to cast their spell in the Summer League with a rather impressive finish along with the emergence of little used rooks Otto Porter Jr. and Glen Rice Jr while at the same time two of the team's stars showcased their talents on the world stage.  Unfortunately, both John Wall and his back court sidekick, +Bradley Beal, did not make the cut on the USA Men's Basketball Team that won the +2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup this past summer; however, it made many not only those around the league, but the entire basketball world that the Washington Wizards are a team to be taken notice of. What was once a team that had often been treated as either an after thought or just completely ignored whatsoever has become one the league's premier teams and that is quite an impressive rise considering that the Wizards had won just 29 games the season prior; nonetheless, with the rash of off season moves coupled along with the summer showcases, last season's playoff appearance looks to be the first of many for this young and hungry squad.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that the tide has finally turned for this once down and out team that consistent found itself among the league's cellar dwellers, there are still those that remian greatly skeptical and they have every right to do so.  After all, the Wizards had experienced a similar type of renaissance about nine years ago when the team led by a young up and coming star named +Gilbert Arenas shocked the world ironically beating the Bulls in the first round only to be beaten by a +Miami HEAT team that would later win the NBA title.  This team also looked as if it was heading on up an upward swing, but then severely fell short of expectations spending the next four years floundering in mediocrity before it subsequently crashed and burned leading to another messy rebuild situation.  The player Wizards fans had so much faith in hope became an absolute embarrassment when Gilbert Arenas signed what seemed to be a well deserved six year 120$ million extension only to spend that time often injured and scrutinized for his poor off the court choices.  Now Arenas stands as possibly the biggest black eye of an organization that had suffered so much humiliation and ridicule which has led many to remain cautiously optimistic or even completely pessimistic of the Washington Wizards having any chance of being more than a mediocre team which will fall sooner of later: however, there are signs that this current incarnation of the Wizards will not fall in the same traps as its dubious predecessor.

For starters, unlike the previous incarnation, this Washington Wizards team does not have a group of self entitled Pre-Madonnas who were never held accountable by their coach or had any real sense of discipline or purpose.  This current Washington team, however, can be seen as the complete opposite as much of the players on its roster had been cast aside by their previous teams and thus had huge chips on their shoulders to prove those who had doubted them wrong.  That was certainly the case for big men Marcin Gortat and Nene who even the most loyal Wizards fan would have considered as castaways as both were written off as not only over paid and over rated, but past their primes.  Yet these two rejects managed to become on of the league's best starting front court tandems with Gortat bouncing back from a rather lackluster performance with the +Phoenix Suns where missed 21 games to playing 81 games in Washington and posted his second best season in his career.  At the same time, Nene was all but considered a washout when he had been shipped out of Denver as the Nuggets favored a younger and supposedly more talented player with far more upside in +Javale McGee; however that gamble would blow up in Denver'd face as McGee would fall severely short of their expectation while the older, wiser and more experienced Nene would resurrect his once flailing career as he helped lead the Wizards to the post season.

Both Gortat and Nene reflect the overall attitude of the Wizards teams as a group of overlooked and underestimated players who have felt slighted for much of their tenures in the league and are now not only looking for redemption, but even more so, revenge.  In fact, browse through the entire entire Wizards roster and you will find that each player has been either slighted, betrayed, ridiculed, disgraced or humiliated over the course of their careers.  At one time, newcomer Kris Humphries was on the verge of being an up and coming young player after posting two consecutive career seasons, earning a fat two year 24$ million extension, an was on the verge of marrying one of the most beautiful and sought after women in her time; however, within a year all that came crashing down around him.  His marriage proved to be nothing but a sham as it dissolved almost right after the lavish ceremony that had taken place prior and he followed his career best season of 13.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game with a career worst the following year leading him to be carted away to the lowly +Boston Celtics as a salary dump. Although he did bounce back somewhat well in Boston posing as a rather strong reserve role averaging a rather impressive 8.4 points and five boards in just under twenty minutes per game, those past scars have yet to heal as he sees his onetime love remarried with a new family and a supposed happy fairy tale life while both his professional and personal lives remain in ruins.    

Along with Humphries, let us not forget poor Drew Gooden who at one time had the label of future franchise player after being drafted fourth overall in the 2002 NBA Draft; however, after twelve long years of suffering one indignity after another and bouncing around nine teams, his name has been associated with such titles as "draft day bust," and "waste of potential."  Last season, Gooden was a key piece in Washington's playoff run as he came off the bench to contribute eight points per game while shooting a career high .531 from the field and .412 from beyond the arc and he will certainly look to continue his role as a solid veteran presence in the second unit this season.  Last season, Paul Pierce was brought in by the +Brooklyn Nets to be a part of their super team who planned to challenge the Heat for the Eastern Conference crown; however, that did not come to pass as Brooklyn would come out of the gates sluggish and Pierce look as if it looked as if it were his time to finally retire. Now Pierce will have his chance to prove that he still has plenty of basketball left in his advanced age as he looks to show the world that his breakdown last season was more of an anomaly than a sign of things to come.  Along with Pierce, Humphries and Gooden, the Wizards have last season's third overall pick in the NBA Draft who had an injury plagued rookie season and will be considered along with his fellow rookies as one of the worst draft classes  in NBA History in Otto Porter Jr as well as of host of other malcontents that have very huge chips weighing on their soldiers.

Two players who also reflects the team sentiments of being completely disregarded are John Wall and Bradley Beal, who had been cut from Team USA's FIBA World Cup roster in favor of a gimpy +Derrick Rose who did not end up playing that well during the tournament and +Kyle Korver, which can be considered the biggest insult of them all.  The selection of Rose was no doubt a political move as he was certainly a higher profile player than either Wall or Beal and his presence would have brought with it an increase of Team USA merchandise; however, to be left of the roster for a 33 year old one trick pony who shoots threes and nothing else must be considered an even greater insult for such talent and athletic players such as Beal and Wall.  For his part, Wall is still trying to cleanse himself of the stigma of playing alongside and being associated with that Arenas led team that had brought so much shame on the franchise and despite his best efforts, has yet to show that he deserves the same recognition and acclaim as Rose, +Chris Paul, +Russell Westbrook+Rajon Rondo and the rest of the NBA's point guard elite.  Unfortunately one member of that Washington team will not be joining them as +Trevor Ariza, who also silenced his doubters with a breakout season after struggling the last three seasons, decided not to march alongside the his teammates instead choosing to sign with the +Houston Rockets.  Ariza will certainly be looking for vengeance as well, but this time against his former team as his demands for a lucrative extension were snubbed by the front office as they were probably concerned that Ariza's big season was just a one time thing considering he was entering a contract year.

Nonetheless, the Wizards will return with even more drive and hungrier than last season as they will not be coming in  their usual underdog status, but with high expectations and a huge bull's eye on their backs.  They will be entering a much wide open Eastern Conference than previous years where anyone, even themselves, have  the chance and opportunity to take the crown as five of the East's top teams are essentially at par with one another.  Everyone has essentially given the Eastern Conference crown to the +Cleveland Cavaliers due to the return of the city's prodigal son +LeBron James as well the off season trade acquisition of one of the league's top big men in +Kevin Love; however, even with its iron clad lineup of James, Love and +Kyrie Irving, the Cavs still seem somewhat vulnerable due to their rather old second unit and lack of size in the paint.  Unlike Cleveland, the +Chicago Bulls, as well the other top tier teams in the East, Washington has the wealth of size, talent  and depth in the front court that most NBA teams crave mixed together with one of the league's best back court duo in Wall and Beal along with some the best three point shooters in the NBA.  Although they are currently expected to finish around fourth or fifth in the conference, it will not be surprising to see the Wizards possibly finish in the top three as they certainly have the tools to not take on anyone in the league, but also go very far as well come the post season.

There is only one thing that Washington Wizards coach, Randy Wittman--who himself has his own demons to exorcise after his less than stellar coaching debut with the +Minnesota Timberwolves --has to watch out for and that is to ensure that the collective anger and lust for vengeance remains focused on their foes and does not spill out into the roster.  Washington has a bevy of talented and experienced players looking to distribute long awaited retribution to those who had slighted them in the past, but there are only so many minutes to go around.  As long as Wittman keeps his hungry squad focused on the task at hand while maintaining the team's new found devotion to to play hard on the defensive end, then Washington will certainly pick up where they left off and possibly become an unlikely champion contender down the road.  A couple of years from now, +Kevin Durant,who is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, will be expired thus making him an unrestricted free agent and if the Wizards continues on its upward swing, he too might just consider making another "homecoming" similar to what his nemesis, Lebron, had done; however, that is just whimsical speculation at this moment.  What is important is the here and now, and right now the present as well as the future look very bright for not only the Wizards, but professional basketball in the National's Capital whose fans will finally have the chance to be optimistic and hopeful for a change.