New Day

By Stefan Anderson

Trends like most things are temporary similar to the majority of things that the world has to offer and change is the inevitable. But in the National Basketball Association, change is something most are not used to, but the 2015 Free Agency period has brought a new aspect to the league.

Subsequently, after the Warriors claimed the 2015 NBA title, it killed the theme of each team putting together a group of superstars whether it be two, three maybe even four, to propel their franchises to next level. But it exemplified that you will need to create a core of good players and not just a couple of great ones and a lot below average or mediocre ones to surround them with.

The precedent that we have seen of past champions, a la the San Antonio Spurs, keep a good team together you will sustain a great record.  And for the majority of the free agent class of 2015, has remained loyal to their respective teams and continue to figure with the current roster and try to fill in spots that were vacant in the prior.

We’ve seen the likes of Jimmy Butler, Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, Paul Millsap and Kawhi Leonard all remain with prior teams and not just chase the money and max contract but are chasing the highest achievement in the NBA, the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The free agency period has shown that players who steadily work on this game and are making something out of the career despite their past struggles. Draymond Green, Damarre Carroll, and Kris Middleton, all received great contracts due to their improvements and what their upside could be based on their performance and work ethic.

Along with the underdogs earning their pay the underdog teams are now gaining the big players and taking them away from major markets like LA or NYC, where players at point had fantasies of playing in the bright lights of the big cities. The biggest example of that is where C/PF Greg Monroe decided to take his talents to Milwaukee, to join a young budding roster that could make a great splash with his addition, and deciding to decline to join the Lakers or the Knicks. We could also see Lamarcus Aldrige do the same forego playing a huge market and play in the small one like Phoenix or San Antonio.

We have seen teams like Portland, a small market team who would normally fret of losing a star like Aldridge, now figuring out to how to maneuver without him and have gathered many young prospects to join along their young superstar Damian Lillard in order to restore hope on their future and not dwell on their past.

I like the direction the league is pointing towards. Once known for being a me, me, me league in now making the transformation into becoming a  we, we, we league instead of having a superstar, having a great team. I believe this makes for more entertaining basketball and makes for a more competitive league, overall. I am looking forward to the new changes and trends are always fun and make each time period fun, let’s just enjoy this one.

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.

Looking Ahead

futureBy Stefan Anderson

The 2014-2015 NBA Season is coming to abrupt ending, and 16 teams are gearing up for the postseason but there are other teams looking to expand on their progression this off-season. Like we have seen in teams like the Thunder, Wizards and Raptors, these are teams are on cusp of becoming the next franchises to make noise in the association. Let’s take a look at the budding talent arising for the upcoming season.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have already made the biggest step into the future this season, hence their social media tag #OwnTheFuture and at the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference the skies are the limit.  The wisdom of Jason Kidd was best suited for this young roster who accepts the knowledge of Kidd unlike the mature Nets did last season.  With glue guys like Zaza Pachulia, Jared Dudley and Khris Middleton, Milwaukee has the right mix of players to go alongside their young talent of Michael Carter Williams, Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Not to mention how good they can become when their top draft pick, Jabari Parker returns. With the great cast of characters, the Bucks will continue to remain amongst the best as they long as they keep the same team together.

Orlando Magic: The Magic have stayed at the bottom of the NBA’s totem pole since the departure of Dwight Howard, but after their years remaining at the bottom it appears that success will be in the near future for the Magic. It will all start after the Magic find the appropriate leader to propel them to the next level from the bench. On the floor, it is looking very promising with steady improvements of Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic, but the ceiling for Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon is what makes its scary for the league. Orlando will be in the lottery once again and could put together a great team filled with young talent that can fight its way to the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Minnesota Timberwolves: After trading away their former All-Star Kevin Love, the T-Wolves found their answer with the acquisition of Andrew Wiggins.  Wiggins has shown that he is in fact the next great shooting guard the league has to look out for. Minnesota brought back their former leader in Kevin Garnett to be a mentor for the young talents like Ricky Rubio, Adrien Payne, Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad who have all shown the great improvements this season will all be needed for the Wolves to make that next step. Pending their upcoming lottery draft pick, Minnesota will have a good amount of talent to attempt to steal one of the bottom seeds in the West.

Utah Jazz: The Jazz have been able to assemble talent through the draft because of their inability to gather talent through Free Agency. The Jazz have found a gem in Rudy Gobert, the center who gives Utah a prominent rim protector an makes life easier defensively. But their major issue is offensively where they lack with players like Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward, great players but  do not possess consistency to give that offense output needed on a nightly basis. If those two along with whoever they acquire in the offseason can boost their offense, the Jazz will be back in the mix for the first time in years.

Fighting For That 8th Spot

8th spotBy Stefan Anderson

The NBA Playoffs are less than ten games away and teams are still fighting for the remaining spots left for postseason, and it makes everything a little more interesting. Let’s take a look at the race for the eighth and final spot in.

In the Western Conference, Oklahoma City appears to have a grip on the final spot with a current three game lead over New Orleans. The Thunder should be able to hold on with the superior play of Russell Westbrook, who has no plans on slowing down anytime soon, especially with the loss of Kevin Durant for the remainder of the season.

But in the East, on the other hand has a real jigsaw, with a game and a half separating four teams; Brooklyn, Charlotte, Indiana and the current 8-seed Boston. With 8 games remaining these four teams will have no choice but to leave everything on the floor.

The road will not be easier for any of the teams as each one of these teams face 5 playoff teams in their remaining 8 games.

However, Charlotte has the best the opportunity to control their own destiny as they have an head to head with Indiana on April 3rd, and face higher seeds like Toronto and Atlanta who can look to rest their starters to gear up for the postseason.

Indiana, despite last night loss to Brooklyn still has a stretch where they have to face Boston, Charlotte, Miami followed by the Knicks and the Pistons. If the Pacers could find a way to take 3 or more wins could play a big part to conquer the 8th seed.

Brooklyn has the toughest schedule out of the four teams where they have the Knicks but then have a gauntlet of games Toronto, Atlanta twice, Portland, Washington, Milwaukee, Chicago and concluding the season versus Orlando.

Boston has the driver seat currently and has to find a way to win games against similar opponents as they see the same teams Cleveland, Toronto and Milwaukee for 6 of their final 8 and not to mention the head to head with Indiana.

It won’t be easy feat for easy for any of the teams as they fight their way to have the luxury of facing the overwhelming, steady attacking Atlanta Hawks, but that’s what the NBA is no nights off.

Race To MVP

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By Jazmine August

Is it safe to say Lebron James for MVP? Call me a prisoner of the moment but the Cavaliers Thursday night win against the league’s best Golden State Warriors was beyond impressive; mostly because of the King. Lebron scored 42 points and 5 assists on 15 of 25 shots, not to mention 11 rebounds. He has made his stake in this MVP race very clear.

While some may have written James off as just a runner up in the race; Lebron seemed to have been on cruise control from the start of the season to the All Star break. Has the King returned to reclaim his crown?

Despite Thursday’s loss to Cleveland, Stephen Curry has been playing pretty much lights out since the beginning of the season. Leading his team to the leagues best record 44-11 with his unguardable jumper, crafty moves and ball handling skills, Stephen Curry has been nothing short of sensational. For these reasons he is still the front runner in the MVP race; “Chef Curry” is averaging 23 points, 4 assist and 6 rebounds.

Let’s not forget about the bearded one. James Harden. Averaging 27 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists; he has gone from 6th man of the year to one of the NBA’s premiere players. Sitting comfortably at third place in the Western conference; James Harden is having a MVP caliber season.

In the same breath as you say James Harden you have to say the name of his former teammate Russell Westbrook. In the month of February, Russell Westbrook is averaging nearly a triple double. Westbrook’s season statistics are mirroring the likes of Oscar Robertson, Lebron James and Michael Jordan. Russ is averaging 26 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

Last but certainly not least, Anthony Davis may be the most underrated MVP candidate ever. Although most Pelican games are not nationally televised, Davis has been quietly averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds and has the league best player efficiency rating of 31.2. This year’s MVP race is clearly a tossup. A valid case can be made for each player.

Let the race begin.

Who’s Your MVP ?

MVP

By Stefan Anderson

Past the halfway mark of the NBA season and the argument continues who will take home the league’s MVP. The topic of the discussion has been on Stephen Curry and James Harden due their consistency to perform on a high level.  But as of recent, Russell Westbrook has put together some performances to add himself to MVP race as well.

With all three stars going for the prize, the question remains who will be the 2014-2015 NBA MVP?

Let’s take a brief look at the candidate’s stats for this season:

Player               G GS   MP  FG  FGA  FG%  3P 3PA  3P%  2P  2PA  2P%  FT FTA  FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV  PF  PTS
Stephen Curry       53 53 33.2 8.2 17.1 .483 3.2 7.9 .404 5.0  9.1 .553 4.1 4.5 .904 0.7 3.9 4.6 7.9 2.2 0.2 3.0 2.0 23.8
James Harden        57 57 36.5 8.1 18.1 .450 2.7 7.0 .385 5.4 11.1 .491 8.2 9.5 .866 0.9 4.9 5.8 6.9 1.9 0.8 4.0 2.6 27.2
Russell Westbrook   43 43 32.6 8.8 20.2 .437 1.0 3.4 .291 7.8 16.8 .467 7.3 8.7 .839 1.8 4.7 6.5 8.0 2.0 0.1 3.8 2.6 25.9

There is no doubt in my mind that Stephen Curry will walk away with the trophy this summer, as the award is only his to lose. Leading Golden State to the league’s best record at 44-10, while averaging career highs in each category makes his resume look better than the other candidates.

However if I were to place my vote, I would give my vote to James Harden.

Harden who leads the NBA in scoring with 27.3 ppg, is a force to reckon with and has carried the Rockets all season as they remain the 3rd seed in the competitive Western Conference.

The self-proclaimed best all-around player provided for a less talented team than both the Thunder and Warriors.

Curry has the advantage of having arguably the NBA’s deadliest shooter in Klay Thompson, Most Improved Player candidate Draymond Green, Andre Iguodola, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and plethora of talent on that Golden State bench.

As for Westbrook, he would be placed in the same category as LeBron James, where your play remains superior but the amount of games missed due to injury removes your name out of the discussion. While having the reigning MVP, Kevin Durant as your running mate, along with an assortment of talent acquired through trades, OKC has a better roster than the Rockets.

The Rockets have no other play that can consistently score 20 points night in and night out, while still managing to average nearly six boards and six assists. In my opinion, that is what makes a player the Most Valuable Player of the NBA, someone who their team cannot play without and is the reason why your team remains successful.

What A Day? : 2015 NBA Trade Deadline

trade deadline

By Stefan Anderson

The 2015 NBA Trade Deadline was an eventful day as many teams made the necessary changes for a late push, some positioned themselves for the NBA Draft, while others did not panic and not trade at all. Let’s discuss the Winners and Losers of the 2015 Trade Deadline.

Winners:

Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder trade disgruntled guard Reggie Jackson and replaced him with Kevin Durant’s University of Texas teammate D.J. Augustin. Along with Augustin, the Thunder were able to address two of their biggest fears outside shooting and post scoring by adding Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, and Steve Novak. OKC has put together a second unit that can help them produce points when Westbrook and Durant are not in the game and look to make that late playoff push with the roster additions.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have overachieved this season with their team play under the leadership of Coach of the Year candidate Jason Kidd. While holding on to a 6th in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks made some changes to help their roster, replacing center Larry Sanders with Miles Plumlee, who brings a needed rim protector since Sanders departure.  Also trading their rising star in Brandon Knight for two Jason Kidd-esque point guards in Tyler Ennis and Michael Carter Williams, the Bucks look to shock the world if they can uphold their success.

Philadelphia 76ers: Despite trading for Javal McGee, a known headache to say the least, acquiring picks has been the best thing for the 76ers to secure the future. The 76ers add 2015 first-round pick (lottery protected) from Thunder and a 2015 first-round pick from Lakers to add to their roster of picks they already own, will be interested to see what happens in the draft.

The Losers:

Denver Nuggets: With an apparent rebuild to come in the near future, the Nuggets did not make any necessary moves to help their future. They were able to dump the hefty contract of McGee but gave away a 1st round to do so. With many expiring contracts, the Nuggets could watch their roster fall apart this off season.

Boston Celtics: Although they added Isiah Thomas, they add another guard to their overstocked position. With so many draft picks it gives the Celtics more to discuss with all the draft picks and expiring contracts they already possess. Boston has yet to add a player or players with draft picks and are stuck trying to find pieces through a bunch of draft picks and their makeshift roster.

Brooklyn Nets: The Nets traded away a great mentor in Kevin Garnett and added some length and defense with Thaddeus Young but failed to help shape their future. The Nets look to stick with roster despite the play of their aging and fragile stars, holding on to the large contracts of Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez.

Kudos to the Pistons and T-Wolves, bringing back pivotal pieces of their franchise, to help tutor and lead their respective teams with adding Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince.

Who’s in your Top 5 ?

point guardBy Stefan Anderson and Jazmine August

Point guards  of present day NBA are not only averaging 9 to 10 assists but have been able to put up 20 to 23 points a night. Some may say that these new age point guards are hybrid two-guards, who have a shoot first mentality. One of the NBA’s hottest topics has been the new “golden age “of floor generals and most importantly who is the best of the class ?

We took the discussion up here at The Starting Point and rated our Top 5 Point Guards in the NBA.

Jazmine’s Top 5 PG’s 

#1 Stephen Curry

It is no surprise that one Stephen Curry is at the top of my list of point guards in the NBA, Steph can easily be one of the top 5 all around players in the league; he’s just that great. His shooting ability and efficiency makes him by far the best shooter in the league and is in contention to be the best shooter ever. Steph is averaging 23 points and 8 assist and shooting 92% from the free throw line. He is not only excelling at passing but he can pull up from thirty as Stephen A. Smith would eloquently put it. These qualities have made the claim that he is the best point guard in the league very easy. Stephen Curry beat out Lebron James for the most NBA All-Star Votes, with over 1.5 million votes. As the run-away leader in the MVP race, Stephen Curry game has improved tremendously over the last three years. Aside from playing alongside players like Andrew Bogut and veteran player Andre Igoudala, Curry is a part of a unique fraternity; “The Splash Brothers”. When you pair him with stud Klay Thompson ,who together form “The Splash Brothers”, he is simply unstoppable. Not to mention, his team has the best record in the league, 36-6; they also play in the super-competitive western conference. Do I see the NBA Finals in their future?

#2 John Wall

The Washington Wizards have emerged as title contenders this season and in large that is due to its starting PG John Wall. This season Wall is averaging 17 points and 10 assist and shooting just about 50% from the field. Wall’s speed, agility and athleticism have propelled him to elite status among his counter parts. Not only has his mid-range game improved but his basketball IQ has done the same. When Wall was drafted first overall into the league in 2010, he only knew one gear and that was full-steam towards the basket. Wall now knows how to slow the game down and play at multiple paces. Wall broke Wizards record for most consecutive 12 assist games earlier this season. Wall amazes fans night in and night out with his crafty moves to the basket and agile passes to the likes of Nene and Paul Pierce. It doesn’t hurt that he has, rising-star guard Bradley Beal in the back court with him.

#3 Kyrie Irving

Starting point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers and playing alongside the best player in the world in Lebron James, Kyrie’s star still isn’t dimmed. Averaging 20 points, 5 assist. and shooting about 50 percent from the field, Kyrie is best known for his incomparable ball handling skills. When soaring past defenders, he appears to have the basketball on a string and still manages to finish at the rim. Arguably, the best finisher in the game, Kyrie has found some of the most creative and athletic ways to get past post-players that tower over his 6’3 stature. He has help lead his team to a quiet 5 game winning streak ,after struggling a bit in the start of the season. The Cavs have improved to a 25-20 record and are over .500 in a conference where the top 3 spots are pretty much up for grabs. Kyrie has improved his 3 point shooting; causing opposing teams to not only fear his passes but his lethal top of the key shots. It’s safe to say that Kyrie has a bright future ahead of him.

#4 Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard has emerged as one the most electrifying players in the NBA and in a conference ,where each night he’s facing some of the world’s toughest defensive players; his team still comes out victorious. After being named Rookie of the year in 2013, Lillard went on to lead his team to its first playoff victory in 14 years against the Houston Rockets in 2014. Lillard’s sharp passes, lethal jump-shots and rhythmic moves to the rim allows his teammates to flourish. What sets Lillard apart is his innate killer instinct and the fact that he doesn’t shy away from the moment. Although, Lillard was snubbed from the NBA All-Star starting roster, he is averaging 22 points, 6 assist, and a free throw percentage of 86%. Lillard has proved himself to be not only an excellent point guard but a closer and he’s only in his 3rd season in the league.

#5 Chris Paul

CP3; standing at just 6 feet tall and in his 10th season is still averaging 17 points and 10 assist. A true floor general and “Young OG”; he is known in the league for his defensive tenacity and his ability to lead his team at crucial points in the game. He has been named to the All-Defensive 1st or 2nd team six of the last seven years. Not only is he able to get in the paint and finish at the rim, he can defend just about any other point guard in the league. Chris Paul plays like a true, traditional point guard, reminiscent of a John Stockton or Gary Payton of the 1990s; this is his best gift and curse. In a hybrid-guard driven league, Chris Paul’s inability to put up as many points as today’s point guards has landed him at 5th on my list.

Stefan Top 5 PG’s:

# 1 Damian Lillard:

Lillard has become one of the biggest stars since entering the league two seasons ago. Leading the NBA in 4th quarter points, the Portland Trailblazers floor general, leadership skills and killer instinct is the reason I selected him over Curry. Distributing while taking over the scoring load (22 PPG and 6 APG) ,makes the Oakland Native a tough match-up for any point guard. With his potential propelling game to game, he soon will be one of the most notable stars in the league

#2 Stephen Curry:

To believe that he was not offered any scholarships to play Division I basketball and made it to the league as a walk-on, is remarkable. Curry has moved into the elite class of NBA players and can be hoisting up the MVP trophy at the end of this season. Curry possesses everything you want in your starting PG, great play-making skills with an unbelievable jump shot, and improved defense (leads NBA with 2.1 SPG). But I have not seen the clutch gene or a true killer instinct come out of Curry as of yet.

# 3 Rajon Rondo:

Mr.Triple Double; Rondo’s game is reminiscent of past guards and something every team needs. Rondo has a knack to make a play whether it’s on offense or defense.The former Celtic guard has not advanced his offensive game which makes him a liability in most cases but Rondo still gives you the qualities of a  traditional pass first guard.

#4 Russell Westbrook:

One of the most feared players in the NBA; Westbrook has the size of the two-guard and the athleticism of a wing player which makes his style of play unbearable for most guards in the NBA. The UCLA’s ill-advised play are his gift and curse and is one of the reasons why Westbrook is not at the top of totem pole for the point guards on this list. If Westbrook cleans up his game and becomes less turnover prone he will definitely be on top.

#5 Micheal Conley:

Many question whether to mention Conley in the top tier PG’s of the NBA. Well, Micheal Conley has my vote. To lead a great Memphis team, year after year while averaging nearly 18 points and 6 assist, and improving his stats playing in the tough Western conference. Conley doesn’t have the athletic capabilities of most of the guards on this list but definitely has a classic feel about him. He is often overlooked by many for what he does not have but not looked at for what he does bring to the court.

Never The Right Time To Say Goodbye

byeBy Stefan Anderson

Two different stories but with the same parallels, Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning, two of our generations greatest athletes finding themselves at the ends of their run and can’t figure out a way to end their career on the right note.

Bryant, now in the final two years of his contract, has accomplished the accolades that he wanted to pursue except for that 6 championships to put himself on the same plateau on the GOAT, Michael Jordan. Following nearly seasons missed due to injury, Kobe now has to attempt to reach his dreams with all the odds against him.

Now playing on a Lakers team that at best compete for the 8th seed for the upcoming finds himself chasing the dream of going out on top. Not to put the blame on Bryant but after a receiving the contract he received, but Kobe could of took a selfless role like a Dirk Nowitzki, who took a pay cut for this team to bring a big free agent to help his team compete.

Now the Black Mamba has to stick out the remainder of contract chasing the dream of going out on top.

Manning , on the other hand has seen brighter days after sitting out for a season due to a near career ending neck injury, has seen the best regular seasons during his 3 year run in Denver. While remaining one of the most feared quarterbacks in the NFL, the Tennessee product has yet to bring his team over the hump. Denver on the other has brought a tremendous amount of talent on both ends of the field to provide the former MVP with all talent needed.

The results haven’t panned out in the way they need them too.

Bryant now 36, and Manning who is 38, are playing to finish their career with the proper story book ending to a illustrious careers on both ends but their competitive drive is what makes great is a gift and curse.

Both known to be the hardest workers in their respective sports but neither have paved the way or made another player around them to become better. How many quarterbacks under Manning have seen a starting position after playing behind him? How many guards or players have seen stardom or a career blossom after playing under Bryant? And while the discussion is there, both Bryant and Manning are known to be clutch performers but how many championship winning plays have either of them made?

That is beside the point, Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning have extended their careers further then they needed to go and now face the reality to see their careers end in the way they don’t want them to.

Its cliché, but there is never a perfect ending to anything.

Birds Flying High

hawks

By Stefan Anderson

Following their postseason trip where they battled the #1 seed Indiana Pacers, into 7 games, the world was not on notice of how the Hawks could be build off of their success of the past, including myself. Well the Hawks are taking the league by stand again and could continue to be a force to reckon with.

The Hawks have managed to string together their last 22 of 24 games and doing it in a fashionable form. Knocking off the top tier of NBA teams in route to gaining the Eastern Conference’s best record, wins like at Cleveland, Dallas, Portland, Houston and LA, also conquering the top teams in the East, Washington and Chicago.

Atlanta has been on a tear as of late, which is surprising to most but makes sense to those who understand their style of play. With one All-Star in Pau Millsap, the Hawks do not rely on a superstar play to lead them they do it collectively.

With all five starters of Atlanta averaging double digits, they all remain second in the league with 25.4 assists per game. Under the guidance of Mike Budenholzer, a longtime assistant of Greg Popovich, the Hawks resemble the modern day Spurs, with playing great team ball and stingy defense, 4th in team defense, to win games but also providing a faster pace unlike San Antonio.

There is an old cliché that states that players play when under a contract year, with the Hawks having new ownership rumors floating around some might speculate that would be what is inspiring their latest stretch.

Whether that is true or not, Atlanta is have put together a formula to make that next step this season and I can see them knocking off a team that would have an upper advantage against them in the postseason.