What A Day? : 2015 NBA Trade Deadline

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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.

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2014 NBA Draft Recap

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By Stefan Anderson

The NBA Draft is where dreams come true for the young kid who slept with his ball at, woke up and put up shots first thing in the morning, studied their favorite players and made every move to make their dream a reality. This year’s draft was one for the ages as we seen some teams make their best move to build a championship team through draft picks a la San Antonio Spurs , some building for their future and other just to make a great roster to attract potential free agents.

Most teams maximized their efforts for each while other did not have a chance to do anything. I have come up with a few awards to highlight those who made great decisions for the future, the present along with those who missed out on opportunity.

The Jefferson Awards, if you remember the theme song “Moving on up ….” , is given to those who want to make their teams better to compete to that next tier of NBA teams and not just sleepers anymore.

  • Charlotte Hornets: After gaining the former name back, they are going back to the franchise past ways.  Establishing young talent and watching the pieces grow together and ultimately making their own way basketball rather than playing at the leagues pace. The Hornets added big man Noah Vonleh along with P.J. Hariston to holster their bench and continue to add depth to their young, hungry roster. Vonleh alongside Jefferson and Zeller give great depth and has a lot to learn from legend Patrick Ewing. Hariston, despite his issues at UNC and spending the year in the D-League, can flat out score and shoot the ball and gives a great spark off the bench and can spread the offense if chosen to start.
  • Phoenix Suns: The Suns appeared to become America’s underdog once again after a season that looked promising was cut short during the last weeks where their playoffs hope were taken away from the Grizzlies and Mavericks. The Suns have a great future ahead and have even more depth by adding T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis. Warren adds great scoring ability that has shown at NC State during the past seasons and give Jeff Hornaceck another piece to put in to his puzzle. Tyler Ennis is true point guard coming out of Syracuse and can help take the load of Gorgan Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.

The Mario Chalmers award. As you know Mario Chalmers failed to show up in this years finals is the reason why these teams were chosen for the award, they failed to show up during the draft.

  • Indiana Pacers: A team that looked as if they could potentially win the title this year, failed to even draft this year. After trading their only pick at 57, they failed to address that void at the point guard spot. George Hill is good player but cannot be a starting point guard on this current which needs a floor general.
  • Golden State Warriors: After not making the trade to try to acquire Kevin Love as reported earlier, the Warriors did not try take advantage of the draft either. Failing to address a big need in a big man that can stay healthy and remain a back as Jermaine O’Neal and Andrew Bogut are plagued by injuries.

The Underdog award. These players will play with a chip on their shoulders as they were overlooked by many different teams for what reasons, they want to know but are make those guys look crazy ultimately.

  • Julius Randle: After coming as top 5 prospect in his freshman year of college, Randle was poised to be a traditional post player with a NBA ready body. Randle help lead his Wildcats to the National Championship game and was overshadowed by many teams but has been put the right spot to be paired up the Black Mamba.
  • Shabazz Napier:  Lebron tweets “My favorite player in the draft! #Napier” then he is traded the Miami Heat, way to go Charlotte. Napier led his Huskies to the National Championship this past season and gives the Heat what they need at the PG. He is beyond hungry and if Lebron goes back to Miami will be interesting combination.

Apple award. Steve Jobs had planned to innovate the future and these teams are planning to make a big splash in the league maybe not this year but in years in the future.

  • Orlando Magic: They draft Gordon at #4 who looks to be the second coming of Blake Griffin then following up with a trade up Elfrid Payton at 10. Gordon, Oladipo and Payton can be a great trio that bring Orlando back to prominence in the near future.
  • Philadephia 76ers: The Sixers added Joel Embiid to pair alongside Nerlens Noel which could be a freighting front line for the future years to come. With MCW and their lottery pick for this upcoming season, the Sixers are going to force in the upcoming seasons.

The 2014 NBA Draft gave us a great deal of talent that we will be watching for the upcoming seasons and surely give the NBA a great promising future to add along to a star studded league. Should be interesting to see how all the talents pans out for their respective teams.

Dreams and Nightmares

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By Stefan Anderson

At a young age, my mother asked me “What do you want to be when you grow up”, I replied in my most innocent voice by replying “Ma, I want to be in the NBA”. She then replied with the most harsh reality a young child can get similar to finding out there is no Santa Claus, “Son, you’re never going to make it to the NBA “. I was crushed, but she was just preparing for the realistic approach of playing professional basketball was a hard task.

But what if you grew to become to a 7-foot tall, played in the McDonalds All American Game, became a star player at Big 12 school. You are on the brink reaching your childhood dream of becoming a NBA dream and then your dream is sold short. What do you do?

Isiah Austin is dealing with the worst defeat of his young life. Austin during his draft workouts for this years upcoming draft, he was diagnosed with Marfan’s syndrome. The genetic disorder puts Austin at risk to have his heart rupture if he continues his basketball career which ultimately puts his career to a end. Projected to be a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft, Austin was heading to pursue his lifetime dream now has to watch it on hold. Already suffering from being blind out of one eye, Isiah Austin has dealt with his fair share of adversity already.  But this might be all that one can handle and it has to be rough on the young athlete’s end.

With Austin and Joel Embiid now suffering injuries prior to the draft and harming the draft stock or ending their career respectively puts them in a category with Yao Ming, Greg Oden and Sam Bowie , just to name a few.  In today’s modern day NBA, it is starting to become rare to see 7 footers that can sustain the currents pace and have their bodies hold up for a long career. To see the once trend to go big in NBA , now go away and become extinct is amazing, but change it inevitable

Austin can still receive some compensation because of an insurance policy worth at least $1 million, which he took out prior to declaring for this year’s draft. The NBA also provided Austin with the bittersweet opportunity to sit in the green room in Thursday’s draft, but Austin will still sit in despair as he cannot hear his name being called by Commissioner Adam Silver.

It’s About That Time

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By Stefan Anderson

At the beginning of the 2013-2014 season, Carmelo Anthony had already let it be known to the public that he would be opting out at season end and testing the free agent market.  And Sunday, that became evident once again those who second guess that action. To test the waters is the right thing to do right?

Anthony is walking away from the opportunity to make an astounding $129 million over five years to sign back with the Knicks, if he decides to sign elsewhere. But sources are showing that Melo after bullying his way into New York is bound to leave the franchise in a frenzy that has been over the last 10-15 years.

But Anthony is not the only player with an early termination option (ETO), this upcoming off season. The Big 3, the model franchise of building a team through free agency, equaling out to 2 championships in 4 years to the finals. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, all have of the option of parting ways with each other or returning to make another run at more championships.  They are all leaving approximately 20 million on table to either take less to build a better supporting cast or go and make the money they were bound to make initially before teaming up.

Then there is the NBA Draft coming up on Thursday, with the arguably best draft class since 2003. Joel Embiid, the frontrunner for the number 1 overall draft pick has undergone surgery to repair a foot injury and now the question marks are surrounding him and whether his draft stock goes down or remains steady. Cleveland owns that #1 pick and has their eyes set to establishing winning ways with cap room and possibility of adding Kevin Love and/or the homecoming of LeBron James.

Speaking of Love, many teams are lining up and packaging up deals to bring in the double-double machine. Love has expressed his interest on being traded before his free agency year begins. Love is in the final year of his contract and wants to leave Minnesota to compete for a NBA championship.

With so many twists and turns, What will happen in the upcoming weeks?

My Prediction:

Carmelo leaves New York for Chicago and Chicago only because they offer the best opportunity to become a legend if he can lead the Bulls into glory land once again. If it doesn’t work out in Chicago, I do see Melo returning to New York to envision Phil Jackson master plan.

The Big 3 all opt and explore what options they can have, Wade ultimately retires after this final contract, Bosh earns a big contract and showcase his ability to become the all-star that he once was, and Lebron returns back to Cleveland under a new international system with Coach David Blatt, Kyrie Irving and possibly Kevin Love or the number 1 draft pick.

Cleveland tries to package up the ultimate deal for Love or drafts Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins because of their for a young athletic wing player that can take the scoring load off of Kyrie Irving.

Love either gets traded the 1 pick and sent to Cleveland or sent to Golden State that offers up the best packaged deal offering Thompson, Barnes and David Lee to bring in the superstar big man to pair him alongside Stephen Curry and new head coach Steve Kerr.

The Luck of Curse

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By Stefan Anderson

49 years with no Championship title the 3rd longest streak other than Ottawa and San Diego, Cleveland has seen its darkest days. With no NBA Title, no Super Bowl and a 1948 World Series title. Fans in the city of Cleveland still have nightmares of the Infamous Drive, Jordan’s jump shot over Craig Ehlo even more recently, LeBron James leaving. But there is hope with Johnny Football heading to the Browns and the Cavaliers earning the number one overall pick in this year’s draft, the second in 2 years and 3rd time in 4 years.

The decision now depends on what they do on the first pick in the star studded draft class of 2014.

The Cavaliers have spent their past 4 seasons searching for player(s) to replace the void once held by LeBron James. Pairing up Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson and of course Anthony Bennett with their last 4 lottery picks, the Cavaliers have yet to put together a winning season since the departure of King James. With 8 expiring contracts, the Cavs are looking to right ship and have their youth feel what postseason play feels like.

With a team option on current big Anderson Varejo, expiring contract of Spencer Hawes, the Cavs will be looking for a rim protector and can collect one with Joel Embiid. Embiid stock still remains high even after a back injury suffered late in the season.  The 7-footer has the skills set and can give the Cavs a rim protector along with offensive scoring in which he showcased at Kansas, averaging  11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in his freshman season.

Andrew Wiggins will still available and be put in the position he has been built for since entering his senior year of high school.  With tremendous amount of potential and athletic abilities that are out of this planet, Wiggins can be a great impact for player for the Cavaliers. Giving the Cavs, that proflic player they have been missing on the perimeter that plays both ways. Wiggins will add another Canadian player to that could bring a great foreign chemistry with Thompson, Wiggins, and Bennett.

There’s also Jabari Parker who can be a stretch 4 or great small forward depending on how his weight is this upcoming season. With reports that his weight has gone up since the past college it’s no questioning how in shape he is but there is no questioning Parker’s talent level. If Cleveland decides to select him with the 1st overall pick he can be another Coach K product that pans out very well, al a Kyrie Irving.  He would be a great fit as they Cavs will be looking for a swingman with Luol Deng (another one and done  Duke product) becoming a free agent this summer.

With so many options to choose from in this year’s upcoming draft, there is a big time superstar that is there can provide immediate help to the Cavaliers roster, Kevin Love. Love’s ability to crash the board without effort and ability to provide consistent scoring, in the paint or the perimeter, would be a great tandem for Kyrie Irving and propel their team to playoffs status.  But is Kevin Love worth risking your future for? Cleveland is a big city to most but how much better is it than Minnesota? Is he willing to resign and build his future there? Questions we don’t have the answers to.

What the Cavs do with their first pick shall be very interesting to say the least but hopefully it brings their team what is essential for success in a weak Eastern Conference. All of the talent can help their talent but only the draft will tell the real story. Who’s says losing your star can’t help you out for the future? Look at the way karma worked in Cleveland in way. Maybe the King can return to his crown next summer when he becomes a free agent. 

Heart of a City

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By Stefan Anderson

Seems like a redundant theme or trend for better terms, but Superstar or All-Star player leaves their small market in pursuit for a better team, richer lifestyle, more lucrative contract and fulfilling their dreams of becoming a NBA champion.  The latest player on the path to follow his personal endeavors is Superstar power forward Kevin Love. After a report given by Yahoo Sports on Sunday, Love intends to opt out of his final year of his player option and his name on the star studded free agent class of the summer of 2015.

There is no denying Love’s talent but I believe that he choice to share the news prior this year NBA draft and the season even begins put a lot of things in limbo, including his career. For example, what if Minnesota’s all or nothing attitude results in a trade to another small market team that is rebuilding to return prominence i.e. (Milwaukee Bucks who have a 25.0% percent chance of winning this year’s lottery) and you waste another year in your career and tarnish your market value from playing on a horrific roster.

With teams like Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns all on the prowl for the former UCLA standout, The Kevin Love Sweepstakes have begun.

Some of the teams in heavy discussion have been the Lakers and Celtics, who have seen their worst season in the years past, are now searching for the answer for their loyal fans are inquiring for Love’s availability. With Love being a California kid and Kobe on the waning years of his, it would seem fitting to pair the two for contention. With a possibility of obtaining a top-5 pick in years draft, pending on the bouncing of the balls, can put together the right offer to sway the superstar forward. Boston is presented with same kind of offer they have a great deal of expiring contracts along with the future draft picks obtained in their process of rebuilding. Boston has great deal with Minnesota dating back the KG trade with sent a boat load of draft picks that brought in players like Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and honorable mention to Johnny Flynn.

Whether Minnesota wants to deal and reports have shown that are now more open to moving their star after years of watching him win the fans of Minnesota. With the fear of losing their star player like a LeBron James for nothing and are still searching for a light since his departure to South Beach.  They have been put in a hot seat to figure out how they are going to maneuver this upcoming season and future’s ones.

Love’s optimism puts a lot of things in motion, Timberwolves Front Office, Teams that need that extra star to win and the endless possibilities to acquire the All Star.  This saga should be an interesting one to watch as the moments pass by and more deals get put on to the table.  By June 26, 2014, we should have an idea of where the All-Star should be headed Minnesota cannot afford to miss out on the talent presented in years draft. They are bound to lose Love during the offseason and cannot sway any big names to come to Minnesota other than Kris Humphries, so do make a deal that ultimately make their team better and plan for the future is the best option available.

Sweet Aint It ?

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By Stefan Anderson

Now that the first two rounds have been completed and some teams have seen their fate and some have seen their promise and steps closers as tonight’s Sweet 16 matchups begin. Since the beginning of this year tournament, there have been many storylines that we have paid attention to and will learn more about as time passes by.

Here are some to look at for the Sweet 16:

The Miller Brothers: At the beginning of the season we knew that this year’s Arizona team was going to special and most favorite for the National Championship, including myself. But no one expected the emergence of Dayton after knocking off Ohio State and then Syracuse become the nation’s Cinderella team. Dayton is on the brink of having a legendary run and with an amazing storyline of the Miller brothers, Archie and Sean.  The Miller Brother could face off their superior teams and make for the one of the best final four matchups in years.

Most Intriguing Matchup: 

Eastern Bracket: Virginia vs. Michigan State: The Cavaliers have rounded out their best seasons in the past twenty years, by playing great defense and continuing to outplay any opponent given to them. Michigan State has looked shaky at times this season due to injuries and chemistry but the Spartans turned it around and have been on track towards holding up the National Championship at the end of the tournament. Virginia intense defense and ability to turn on the “switch” versus the poised, veteran Michigan State team should be a interesting one and could determine who wins the National Championship.

The Kentucky Rivalry: In the Midwest Bracket, Calipari vs. Pitino, the young Wildcats versus the well-seasoned national champions Cardinals, should a great matchup to see. After beating the hottest team in the NCAA, Wichita State, they have to face the defending National Championship next. Kentucky after their highly publicized season are living up to the hype of their standout freshman have a chance to prove doubters wrong and make a lot of people mad if they knock off the defending champions. But the Cardinals haven’t lost the beat this season as they continue to tally up wins and play their high speed pace along with their annoying defense which can be a concern for the young Kentucky guards. If the Wildcats can deal with the non-stop full court press and the guard play of Russ Smith, they have a chance. This has the making of great matchup of who is the best in their state.

Upset Alert: After making it to the National Championship last year the Wolverines of Michigan are trying to repeat their success this year and have teams in their way and could be upset by Tennessee. Michigan led by a talented roster that features Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas and Glen Robinson III, are poised to make a big run, but I believe they will be the next powerhouse to be upset in this year’s tournament. The Volunteers play in rough SEC divison, where they finished 3rd despite taking their bumps and bruises against the Kentucky’s and Florida’s. The Vols play some of the stingiest D in the nation only allowing 61 points a game and should give a the Michigan a problem led by Jarnell Stokes who is cleaning the glass with 3 consecutive games in double digit rebounding. Watch out for the upset.

Draft Stock: My bold prediction in which many might stone me for but I believe that Julius Randle should be selected before Andrew Wiggins, if they both declare for the draft this season. My reasons are that Randle despite his teams struggles at time has always remained a outstanding prospect averaging 15 and 10 looking the most NBA ready other Jabari Parker and Doug McDermott. Out of all the outstanding freshman and great players this season, Randle still is in the tournament and plays a play on a talented team. After entering the tournament with 19 and 15 against Kansas State then returning the following game with 13, 10 and 6 versus a great Wichita State team, Randle has proved that he is beyond NBA ready. With the skill set of already polished big man in the league and the ability to handle the ball along with knock the 15 footer, there is no doubt that he should be a top -2 pick in this year’s draft.  

Although no has a perfect bracket and cannot qualify for the 1 billion dollars, Warren Buffett has put out there, thanks to Duke, there are still many chances for you to win your bracket challenges hopefully your bracket is still intact after those heartbreaking losses. Tune into some great basketball games during the Sweet 16 games, which will be interesting to say the least.