2015 NBA Draft: Winners and Losers

draft 2015 nba

By Stefan Anderson

The 2015 NBA Draft was the most promising draft in the past few years with the talent that was presented throughout the college basketball ranks. Most would agree that the talent would overflow and teams would have the opportunity to grab some great players to help them compete or build their franchise for the future. Let’s take a look at some the Winners and Losers of the 2015 NBA Draft.

Winners:

Miami Heat: The Heat won the rights to the National Champs all around swing-man Justice Winslow, who will become a great two-way player in the NBA. Winslow comes to South Beach during a critical time period, where they are on the cusp of constructing a great starting lineup with Dragic, Wade, Winslow, Bosh and Whiteside. Look out Eastern Conference; if Wade can stay healthy you are looking a potential frontrunner.

Houston Rockets: Following their Western Conference Finals appearance, Clutch City added some proven prospects acquiring Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell to add to their bench .Harrell and Dekker come into Houston when two of the Rockets key reserves, Josh Smith and Corey Brewer, are in limbo with Free Agency. Great picks to go with tested, mature players to add along the talent the Rockets already possess.

Minnesota Timberwolves: The T-Wolves cashed in again gaining more young prospects like Tyus Jones and number one overall pick, Karl Anthony-Towns. Towns is on a path to leading the new trail of big men that will overtake the game’s small ball fad, and will get tutoring from one the past era’s top big man Kevin Garnett. Jones, the Apple Valley, MN product gets to play for hometown team and bolster the bench and provide another floor general with the frequent injuries of Ricky Rubio. Minnesota has added two more prospects to strengthen their roster in order to add another star or build one of the budding franchises in the NBA.

Losers:

Philadelphia 76ers: Sam Hinkie believes in the picking the best players on the board and he did so with drafting Duke’s Jahlil Okafor with the third overall pick. Other than that the Philadelphia’s management acquired more big men, wasting 5 out of their 6 picks on post players and drafting one guard ,J.P Tokoto, who is a project and has to work on his outside game prior to his NBA debut. With all the post players who is going distribute to these big men or knock down open threes when the double teams arrive? The 76ers have failed to help out their roster by passing on outside shooting and guard play.

Boston Celtics: Boston has made a return following the Big 3 regime, and after three stressful seasons, the Celtics are receiving their fruits of their labor. In a context, that should be good but Boston has failed to use their many draft pieces to arrange a better pick or even acquire a star or some kind of leader that can take the talented group to the next level.  The Celtics have used their picks this season to acquire more guards a position where they already stocked up with Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Isiah Thomas. They did acquire a great shooter in R.J. Hunter, but ultimately added to a position where they don’t lack on their roster.

Denver Nuggets: Another team with many assets and a great draft pick also failed to acquire a great player to help their cast of good players in the Mile High City, the Nuggets. Denver drafted the gifted Emmanuel Mudiay, who will be a great talent, but that leaves their current point guard Ty Lawson on the outside looking in. The Nuggets could then at that point attempt to move Lawson or other jewels to acquire another talented player to play alongside Mudiay and the Nuggets roster.

Defying The Odds

warriors finals

By Stefan Anderson

The Golden State Warriors have completed the storybook nostalgic season with their 105 – 97 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday evening. The Warriors completed the route to exceeding the doubter’s expectations that were set prior the season’s tip-off.

Defying the odds, would have to be the mantra for the Dubs and a true testament to the 2015 season.

An undersized, hardly scouted point guard, who transformed into the league’s shining star, and not to mention the Most Valuable Player, ended up leading a team into the promise land.

But it wasn’t just Stephen Curry but it was a group of unpredictable players that combined to make the league’s best team.

It was Curry’s running mate, Klay Thompson, who was used to replace to the franchise’s once prized possession in Monta Ellis. The untapped potential in Harrison Barnes that sometimes was a head scratcher and the DPOY candidate who speculators couldn’t imagine as a starting forward in NBA.

But not only the young talent that starred but it was a redemption story for many of the veteran’s on Golden State’s team.

Starting with the former #1 overall pick, who found himself settling into a role player/defensive anchor. Then witnessing the bench star a former All-Stars, Olympic Gold Medalist, and 6th Man of the Year in Barbosa, Lee and Iguodala, who all had to scratch for minutes at different parts of the season. And then there is a guy who seen his once promising career, who witnessed his career  come crashing down in a matter of seconds, finding himself a role player amongst a championship roster.

You put all of those intangibles into a rookie head coach, who was a part of the Bulls dynasty and even won a championship under the tutelage of Spurs as well. Steve Kerr, who never had coaching experience, but was under management in tenure with the Phoenix Suns, that helped bring the NBA a form of basketball that would revolutionize the game forever.

Although the Suns were a great site to see and great team for many years of the past decade, their style of play was always stigmatized due to the fact, they didn’t have enough of “this” or enough of “that”. But in his first year, Kerr was able to use the style of his play that was used in desert and revive it in the Bay Area.

Throughout the season, the naysayers would criticize the league’s best team often proclaiming “they couldn’t win a championship playing small ball”, but Kerr and the Warriors were on a rampage to start to start the season and continue prove all those who questioned wrong as they continued tally up win after win after win.

To quote the great Kevin Garnett “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE” and with the right amount of talent and chemistry, the best teams always find a way to complete the season with the Larry O’Brien trophy.  The Warriors proved that one player cannot win a championship its self, and that it takes a great supporting cast to make it happen. On the nights where Curry was unable to explode, there were games where others like Green, Barnes and Iguodala were able to make their impact and that’s what great teams do.

A huge amount of respect is due to “the best basketball player on the planet”, LeBron James, on what he was able to accomplish on the Finals in his homecoming to Cleveland.

Despite the injuries and inefficiency of his teammates, James was able to shoulder the load and carry Cleveland to compete for every contest.  35, 8 and 13 are astronomical numbers for any player gathering the minutes James did and just makes his trip to Miami look even more valid.

Although, Curry was on the prowl of becoming the league next shining star, The King still remains supreme as the off season is set to begin and he has the option of becoming a free agent and will have the league at his heels once again.

With The Title on The Line

bron curry

By Stefan Anderson

Injuries, crowd silencing performances, legendary stat lines, and breakout games have all been a part of the rollercoaster of we call the 2015 NBA Finals and in a crucial game 5 the outcome will make the series even more remarkable.

Some question that reign over the heads as prepare for Game 5:

First will be whether MVP Stephen Curry searches for a way out of his shooting slump.  Curry shot well under his postseason average from the field as well as from behind the arc. Curry is shooting 39 percent from three and 42 percent from the field but he has yet to have a breakout game that we have the MVP provided previously. With the title on the line in Game 5, is the moment too big for Curry or will he rise to the occasion?

Who is going to be the supporting role for Lebron James? “The Chosen One” as we know him has been an unbelievable series posting 35 ppg, 8 apg, and 12 rpg throughout the 2015 NBA Finals. James has logged a staggering 183 minutes in the four games while performing while performing on such a high level is impressive but will become strenuous to sustain if he cannot receive support from other Cavaliers.  We seen the impact the front court players like Mozgov and Thompson but what happened to the backcourt players like J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and James Jones, we seen how impactful the 20 point performance was from Matthew Dellavedova.  Who will help shoulder the load on James and make the Cavs propel themselves to a championship ?

How will David Blatt respond to Steve Kerr’s small lineup? Will we see Blatt downsize or depend on his veteran’s similar to Kerr?  I do believe that Blatt will find a way to downsize but for not for long because they cannot go without the size of Mozgov and Thompson unlike Bogut who took the Warriors away from their style of high pace, motion offense which the 7-footer made stagnant.  The Cavs have players like Miller, Perkins and Shawn Marion who all have championship experience. If Blatt were to use any of his veteran role players, I would like to see Shawn Marion, because Marion could bring the perfect size and speed for Cleveland if they do choose to downsize and play small ball with the Warriors. Marion may not possess the same offensive skill he once showcased in Dallas or in Phoenix but can definitely give positive minutes similar to his Suns teammate Leandro Barbosa who has been +18 in his brief appearances this series.

Since 1985, 11 NBA Finals have been tied up at 2-2. The winner of Game 5 went on to win the series in seven of those 11 games. With those stats I will give the edge to the Warriors in tonight’s game which will force a wild game 6 back in the Q, where James and Co. will prevail and force a wild game 7 in which he will be awarded an legendary 3rd championship in an impressive 5 years.

“Signed a concerned but confident Cavs fan”

kyrie

By Jazmine August

With about 24 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Game 1 in the 2015 NBA Finals, Lebron had the ball in his hand and a chance to win Game 1 on the road. Instead, James misses a fade away 3 and everything else went downhill from there. In overtime, Kyrie Irving fractures his knee cap and is out for the rest of the Finals. Easily, the most devastating news I heard all week. The idea of Lebron losing his fourth Finals was a pill I just couldn’t imagine stomaching.

After the news broke Friday evening that Kyrie would miss the rest of the Finals, I found myself stressed and depressed. Sitting at the dining room table with my two girlfriends who don’t even know who Kyrie Irving is, I knew I needed to speak with someone just as knowledgable if not more knowledgable than myself. So I called my “LB” Stef, (whom I affectionately call Kips) looking for some sort of silver lining. With fear and anguish in my heart I asked “Do you think it’s really over?”. He replied “Nah, It’s not over”. I was overcome with joy, I found someone who belonged to the 10% of the nation who believes King James can actually pull this off. We ended up speaking for nearly an hour, as we went over stats, matchups, upsides and downsides and our ultimate prediction. After many minutes of deliberation, Stef says (while laughing might I add) “The Warriors really might win in like 6 or 7 but its 50/50”. So much for consultation.

After we got off the phone, I was able to analyze the chances and the odds of the Cleveland Cavaliers really pulling this one out. I started to think there are actually a couple advantages the entire sports world is seeming to overlook. For one, we have the BEST player on the planet. Secondly we have the most experienced Finals participant in our generation. Lebron has lost enough ways on this stage to know how to win against a team who has never played in the Finals. Thirdly, the Cavs aren’t the only ones with a “not as difficult as it could have been “road to the Finals. As good as the Western Conference is the Warriors got a break when OKC lost KD and didn’t make the Finals as they could have easily been out in the first round. Golden State also got a break when the Grizzlies had a less than healthy Mike Conley and lost Tony Allen in a pivotal Game 4. The biggest break of them all might’ve been not having to face a Clippers team whom they lost to in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

Not to take anything away from an amazing season by Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors but they are beatable. Their biggest advantage over Cleveland is undoubtedly their depth and ability to score fast. After days of pyscho-analysis(emphasis on Psycho), I’ve come to the conclusion that the odds of winning are definitely not in Cleveland’s favor but the experience, savvy and sheer talent of Lebron James will catapult this team to victory. It may take an extra game but we WILL defeat the Warriors. A text from Stef, with stats of Lebron with and without Kyrie on the floor helped soothe my worry but the best message I received from a fellow sports analyst in the most confident whisper was “It’s still Cavs in 6”. Let the games begin.

-Signed
Concerned but Confident Cavs fan

2015 NBA Finals Preview

finals preview

By Jazmine August and Stefan Anderson

After weeks of exciting playoff basketball and a disappointing conference finals (one sweep and a gentleman’s sweep) The Finals have finally arrived.Four time league MVP and two time NBA champion Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers will face off against this year’s league MVP Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Lets play another game of 5 on 5 as we go full court for the 2015 NBA Finals.

1. Who will get the bulk of the time guarding LBJ? Barnes or Green? How effective can it be?

JA: In a recent interview Lebron James said that he was unguardable and so was his opponent Stephen Curry. I have to agree with the King, it doesn’t really matter what defender you put on him he will still get his points especially in the paint. However, I believe that the Warriors will put Draymond Green, who was arguably the best defender in the league this year on Lebron for the bulk of these Finals. In spite of his great defense, Draymond Green like any other defender in league cannot stop King James.

SA: Draymond Green makes more sense logically, because of his size, Green lacks the size to contest James but possesses size to bang with Lebron. I do not believe that Green will be able to contain Lebron James for many games but cause some havoc until he gets into the inevitable foul trouble you face guarding Lebron. I anticipate Steve Kerr to throw many looks at LBJ, that includes some of Igoudala, Green, Barnes and possibly some Livingston.
2. Who will be the X-Factor for each team?

JA:The X-Factor for the Cleveland Cavaliers will certainly be Kyrie Irving. When healthy, Kyrie can arguably be the best player on the floor with his quickness, agility, and ability to finish at the rim. Not to mention Kyrie is pretty efficient from 3 point land and 20 to 25 feet from the rim. If Kyrie can be at 80% health and produce at almost near his regular season level he; along with Lebron James and role players Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith can propel Cleveland to victory.

On the other side of the ball, Klay Thompson will be the Warriors X-Factor. His numbers have been down this post-season even prior to the concussion he endured in Game 5 of the Rockets series. Although, he has been cleared to play in Game 1 of the Finals, its still uncertain of how he will produce. If Klay gets going along with the MVP, the Warriors are pretty hard to beat.
SA: For the Cavs I believe J.R. Smith, his ability to get hot will give Cleveland the chance it needs to succeed to its first final win. Whether Irving or other supporting cast shows up will not be highlighted if Smith can overshadow that averaging 13.5 and shooting nearly 40 percent from 3.  If the Warriors want to need to win they will have to get an consistent offensive effort from Harrison Barnes, if Barnes can give enough of an output to make Lebron step out and guard instead hawking the passing lanes, will ease up driving lanes and keep their free flowing efficient motion offensive going. Both players have undeniable talent but fail to be consistent I believe who ever scores more for their respective teams will help put together the W’s needed.
3.Can the Warriors win if Klay Thompson continues to struggle?
JA: Yes they can. The Warriors team goes 8 to 9 players deep. Even if Klay struggles the Warriors still have an All-Star player in Andre Igoudala and skilled bench players in Livingston and Barbosa. This is the Warriors biggest advantage in this series, I don’t believe Klay’s play will break the Warriors.

SA: No, I believe if Klay does not show up during the Finals that GS will have long series, that will end quicker than they expect. A no-show for Klay helps to keep Iman Shumpert on Curry all night and the helps Kyrie Irving to conserve more energy to wear Curry out on the defensive end. Thompson has to return a splash brother and not just the guy who play with the MVP.

4. Key matchup you’re looking forward too?
JA: A key matchups that I’m looking forward to is at the four/five position with Tristan Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut and Timofey Mozgov. Although, I predict Green will guard Lebron James for the majority of the NBA Finals, the times when Barnes guards Lebron Green will battle Thompson for those rebounds in the post. I’m also excited to see Mozgov get the best of Andre Bogus(Stephen A. Voice), I mean Bogut.

SA: The matchups will be even across the board including Curry versus Irving, will be tantalizing. But as seen in the past when a star play begins to take off against Cleveland, Lebron James then guards their best player. We have seen James clamp down on guards like Derrick Rose and Tony Parker during crucial minutes but I would like to James guard the MVP Curry to see how effective Chef Curry can be with the NBA’s best two player guard him.

5. How effective is GS “small ball” going to be against the Cavs ?

JA: I don’t believe it will be very effective against this Cavs team as they can play small ball as well. If anything, this will play to Cleveland’s advantage.

SA: Yes but no, if GS plans to go small against Cleveland it could take away the rebounding prowess of Thompson and Mozgov, but it will expose a clear advantage for Cleveland, the driving ability of Lebron James. With no true rim protector against King James is a recipe for disaster.

Predictions:

JA: It’s hard to call this series prior to Game 1 because there are so many unknowns on both sides. Will Klay Thompson produce? What will the Cavs get from Kyrie Irving? But what we do know is that the Cavaliers have a 2x Finals MVP who’s playing in his 5th consecutive Finals and has seen just about everything when it comes to this stage and I think he will be the reason the Cavs win a hard fought series against the Warriors. Cavs in 6. Let the coronation begin.

SA: The depth of Golden State could be huge for them including the return of Marreesse Speights who bring a physical aspect to the Warriors that can help against Cleveland’s silent weapon Tristan Thompson. But ultimately, the Warriors still hold no clear cut answer for the league’s best talent, Lebron James who will propel to his third championship in a stunning five years. Cleveland in 6 or 7.