My Bold Predictions for the 2015-16 NBA Season

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors

By Stefan Anderson

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, the countdown is finally over and the 2015-16 NBA season is here. Who’s going win it all? Who wins the MVP? Who stands out? I am here to give my Bold predictions for the 2015-16 season.

Golden State will not repeat: For the Warriors to repeat their success from last season would as easy as catching lightning in the bottle twice. Not to say that the Dubs won’t have a good season in 2015-16 campaign but I do not foresee the same luck they received last season. Golden State started the season winning their first 16 games, finishing 67-15 and only losing back to back once in the postseason. Crazy, when you really think how hard that will be to ditto. Doing so they would have to defeat one if not all the supreme teams in the West that includes the Spurs, Clippers and Thunder.

The next Draymond Green? Not skill wise but the in the context of a role player that makes a statement for his self. In the 2015 season, I have to put Washington’s Otto Porter and Indiana’s C.J. Miles in that category. With both of their rosters transitioning into faster pace offense, look for these two wings to transform off of the changes in offense and the increase of minutes.

MVP: For the MVP, I would like to see a player like Anthony Davis win the award, but the New Orleans star has yet to play an entire 82 games in a season. Therefore, with the additional talent surrounding him, Chris Paul will finally earn his first MVP award to solidify his legacy. My dark horse candidates will be Kevin Durant and Paul George, with both forwards coming back off grueling injuries and have a lot vengeance in their games.

Can LeBron continue to his reign? We ask this question each year and get the same results, so yes LeBron James will continue to be the best player in the NBA. Playing in nearly 100 games for the past four seasons, James has consistently played at the same level, averaging around 28/8/7 each season. With the bitter taste of losing his second consecutive finals, a hungry LeBron will be back this season, I expect him to be amongst that MVP conversation this year.

First Timers: Magic guard Victor Oladipo, Detroit Center Andre Drummond and LA Clipper Center DeAndre Jordan will all make their first all-star appearances this year. Jordan after signing his major contract this season will have to prove his worth. Oladipo rejoining the young core that Magic have kept together will burst into the teams true leader. Drummond will now be a priority with the departure of F/C Greg Monroe and Coach Stan Van Gundy’s 4 out and 1 in system he favors.

Defensive Player of Year: DeAndre Jordan believed he was snubbed out of last year’s DPOY award. In the 2015-16, DJ will claim the award at the season finale. Despite his free-throw woes, Jordan is still one of the best defenders in the league and will have another chance to prove his ability as an anchor as he did last season, when he lead the league in defensive win shares.

Most likely to beat Cleveland in the East: Many will say Chicago; I’ve got Miami being the team to dethrone King James and Co. The Heat will be able to counter Cleveland in all positions, with a lineup of Gorgan Dragic, Dwayne Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. They also have a deeper bench and that player who can take over and win games for you in Dwayne Wade, unlike the Bulls. This pick is safe as long the Heat roster can stay healthy.

Most likely to beat Golden State in the West: OKC? LA? Houston? I’m going with the Spurs. San Antonio, always seems to find way to stay in the mix, now they are even deeper with the additions of David West and Lamarcus Aldridge. You’ve seen Memphis size give some issues to Golden State in the 2nd round of the 2015 playoffs , but the Grizzlies struggle with perimeter shootingand the Spurs do not lack in that department. I think they can force Golden State to play their tempo and have solid post players that can give Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut problems in the paint.

Missing the party: Brooklyn, Boston, Dallas and Portland were all playoff teams last season, however, this season will not be attending the postseason this year. These teams did not improve their rosters and have some questions going into the 2015-16 year. Portland losing nearly their entire starting 5 except for Damian Lillard, will have to depend on the young guard to lead them to promise land. Brooklyn, if Brook Lopez cannot stay healthy will have too much of a load for Joe Johnson to carry. Boston, has a good team similar to Dallas will have fight the teams on the cusp and doesn’t possess the talent to do so.

Joining the party:  Entering the playoffs this season will be Miami, Indiana and possibly Charlotte from the Eastern conference. In the West, Oklahoma City, Minnesota and I have a strange feeling about Sacramento being good this season (*Warning: this might be a reach*).

Finals Prediction: San Antonio vs Cleveland, Spurs in 6.

Advertisements

Passing The Torch

usabball

By Stefan Anderson

Since the 2004 collapse in the Athens, the USA basketball committee has been persistent with comprising the best talent to represent the stars and stripes.  The 2016 Olympics in the Brazil is shortly coming up and the United States is faced with the same dilemma.

With seasoned vets like Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James and Chris Paul, once again at the head of the talent pool of over 30 players, that all want to star in the Olympics.  The question arises, should the same players be selected due to seniority and talent instead of giving the emerging talent of the NBA an opportunity to play?

I don’t believe so.

Although these players are far from their prime, the likes of Bryant, Paul, Anthony and James should not be selected for the 2016 Men’s National team. I believe that those players should give their opportunity to younger players that could benefit from the experience.

After playing in 3 consecutive Olympics James and Anthony should be excluded definitely and Paul and Bryant have played in the last two as well.

Many players have transformed following their Olympic experience.

  • After the 2000 Olympics- Vince Carter not only made his greatest highlight over (moment of silence) Frederic Weis, but posted his best statistical season averaging 27 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.9 apg and was a series away from heading to the NBA Finals.
  • The 2006 FIBA World Championship games, where the USA fell short and was awarded the bronze medal, a rising Carmelo Anthony was at the forefront for the USA, and went on to average a career high 28.9 ppg in 2006-07.
  • When the Redeem Team came together in 2008, Dwayne Wade played one of most pivotal roles as the team’s 6th Wade was struggling with concurrent injuries and failed to play on a full season, but following the Olympic experience played his most games during a season (79) and as well posting a staggering 30 ppg. Dwight Howard was also supplanted to the league’s premier post player and the only one the 2008 roster. Howard went on to secure his first DPOY award and led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals.
  • The 2010 FIBA World Championship was led by Kevin Durant, who helped the USA to win the gold medal. Durant’s play during the World Championship translated into the regular season as the Thunder begin to excel in the Western Conference and fell short of the Finals after their loss to eventual championship Dallas Mavericks.
  • Even more recent in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, where the leading MVP candidates James Harden and MVP Stephen Curry where made into household names and NBA superstars after their international play.

Not to say the elder statesmen don’t deserve their opportunity to play in their final Olympics, but why not let a young star get the opportunity to turn into the next Lebron James or Kobe Bryant. There are so many players amongst the pool who could benefit greatly from the experience, but will not be able to if these vets don’t find a way to pass the torch.

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.