The NBA Draft Lottery has passed and rumours have begun to fly. Who will go first overall? Who will slip? Who's received first round promises? Will a team trade their pick?
I guess you can call it another day in the NBA. However, this time around there's no clear cut favourite for first overall pick. Also, sadly there's no franchise changer in the draft. There's no LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Derrick Rose.
Most teams will go in and select a player who best fits their roster. Not because the player has the most talent, but that's just the best option for the team at that very moment. Most teams are just waiting for next years draft which will be as good, if not better than that of 2003. For now, it's time to see what each team in the lottery should do with their pick.
Forewarning, I have nothing against this years draft class, but there will be a lot of mentioning of next year. Cleveland Cavaliers
Another first round pick and another talented player will join an already young team that is on the raise. This is the Cavaliers second first overall pick in the past three drafts. They selected Kyrie Irving back in the 2011 draft and the Cavaliers were off to a bright start after the departure of James. Tristan Thompson was also selected the same year as Irving and the following year came Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller.
This years pick is still up in the air. Before the lottery the Cavaliers were rumoured to be interested in taking a small forward, but after winning the lottery rumours flew around that the first overall pick could be dealt. The Cavaliers may have no interest in selecting a player from this years draft class and could be looking to win another high pick for the talented class of 2014.
Who knows what will happen from now to then, so the best solution for the Cavaliers is to go with the best player at small forward.; who would be Otto Porter out of Georgetown. But if the Cavaliers do keep the pick, it may just be Nerlens Noel from Kentucky going first overall. Noel is dealing with an ACL injury and could give Cleveland a good chance at a good pick next year if Noel misses the season due to the injury. Noel could also be the end of Anderson Varejao in Cleveland and push Zeller to the back up big man role. It's up in the air for Cleveland and will be right down to the last second. Orlando Magic
The Magic are a team that doesn't care about the poor depth in this years draft class. They know their team is in a rebuilding phase and any draft pick/young player is helpful to the future success of the their team. The Magic could go for any player this year knowing that next season will be another tough year in which will leave them with another chance at the first overall pick for 2014. So this year, just like last year and what will happen next year, the Magic should go for the best player, with the best upside available.
Rumours have swirled that the Magic are interested in Porter (mentioned above), Trey Burke, who made a name for himself during March Madness with Michigan and Ben McLemore, out of Kansas.
If the Magic end up deciding between Burke and McLemore, the one who isn't picked may end up falling in the draft.
May I also mention that the second overall pick usually ends up as a bust. Here are the last 5 second overall picks; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Derrick Williams, Evan Turner, Hasheem Thabeet, Michael Beasley. Washington Wizards
Washington is in a win-now situation. It seems they've been rebuilding forever, as they drafted John Wall three years ago. The times now for the Wizards, there's no need to be like Minnesota or Sacramento, teams that have been rebuilding for what seems to be forever now. With Wall and Bradley Beal already heading the back court the Wizards need to look at other areas of where they need improvement.
If Porter falls past the top two picks, rumours have the Wizards going in that direction. If Porter doesn't, it may be time for the Wizards to find a big man they can team up with Wall for a solid pick and roll combo. Anthony Bennett may not be considered a big man, but he could be the Wizards next best choice, as he can play the power forward also. Charlotte Bobcats
It's time the Bobcats got something right. They drafted Kemba Walker, who hasn't lived up to his full potential early in his career and last years second overall pick as mentioned above Michael Kidd-Gilchrist struggled in his rookie season.
It may be time for the Bobcats to select a big man, but they may just draft a partner for Walker in the back court. Victor Oladipo out of Indiana has slowly become most General Managers favourite player at pre-draft workouts. Oladipo has impressed on and off the court. This may just be the pick for the Bobcats and it may be who Michael Jordan wants. Phoenix Suns
It's early and unclear which direction the Suns will go this year. Just like most teams that are early in the stage of rebuilding the Suns may just be waiting for 2014. Their biggest eye opener maybe Bennett. Someone who can play the small forward and power forward, but the bigger question is if the Suns are the team for Bennett.
It's for sure that Porter will be taken by one of the above teams, but Burke and/or McLemore will still be available. With no set in stone piece yet on the roster, the Suns could go in any direction. And that direction may just be Burke. As much Bennett is the guy they want, Burke just may fit right in. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have their power forward of the future in Anthony Davis, they have solid point guards and if their bright future doesn't convince Eric Gordon to stay than it's sad for him. The Pelicans can easily move on.
Gordon is a panic situation for the Pelicans, so drafting a replacement shouldn't be the plan. The best route to go could be to find the front court partner to Davis and Alex Len from Maryland could be that guy. Davis is a great player defensively and the offense will come along, but Len will be a great present for the team in the post offensively. Davis and Len give the Pelicans a bright future and a dominant future. Sacramento Kings
This is the team that could end the slip of McLemore or Burke. If either of those two do end up falling past the top six teams, the Kings could pick them right up. However, already having Isiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans on the Kings eliminates the need for point guards and shooting guards in Sacramento. Unless the rumours of trading Evans pick up again. The Kings also have interest in point guard CJ McCollum out of Lehigh, but his upside doesn't top McLemore or Burke.
Sacramento is a team that is full of surprises. Therefore they could go in a different direction than the three guards mentioned above. The Kings also have the option to find a solid front court piece alongside DeMarcus Cousins. A guy like Cody Zeller out of Indiana could be that grit player that's needed beside Cousins. Together they both can cover up each others mistakes and Zeller is someone who can step up in games were Cousins gets ejected or is suspended. Jokes aside...
It'll be interesting to see which way the Kings go, but the player they choose may just fall in their laps during draft night. It'll be one of the moments where teams pass on a certain player and the Kings are right there to sweep up the miss from others. Detroit Pistons
This is the part of the draft where players not mentioned in the draft so far will be mentioned. Guys such as Shabazz Muhammad, Kelly Olynk, Rudy Gobert, Michael Carter-Williams and who knows who else.
It's tough to see the Pistons going after a big man with already a young front court of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. That cancels out Olynk, Gobert and other big men. And Brandon Knight already handles the ball, so forget McCollum and Carter-Williams.
That only leaves Muhammad, unless players slip any further. Muhammad has a lot of proving to do to NBA front office after lying about his age. It shouldn't be to difficult for the former Bruin. If he can showcase great skills, it'll be tough for the Pistons to pass on someone who could quietly be the underdog of the draft class.
It certainly would be a surprise to see the T'Wolves take another point guard in this years draft. Or would it? McCollum may just be their best choice here. McCollum will be a great addition to the team as a shooter and it's tough to see any wing player being better than McCollum.
Minnesota already has Kevin Love and his sidekick Nikola Pekovic as their future front court. McCollum won't hurt the team like other players can. He's the safe bet and probably will still be on the board.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers missed the playoffs, but their season became successful with the unexpected rookie season from Damien Lillard. He and LaMarcus Aldrige give the Blazers a nice start to a rebuild, or retool? Whatever it is, Portland just needs to add some nice pieces and missing the playoffs for another lottery pick next year doesn't hurt this team.
It'll be interesting to see if they look for another big man to play alongside Aldridge with J.J. Hickson becoming a free agent and Meyers Leonard still needing some growing time. They could also build some depth behind Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum.
It'll be interesting to see where the Blazers go. Nothing really is a mistake for them. If guys such as Len, Olynyk, or Zeller are still available their all great pick ups. So are Bennett and Muhammad. There's a good chance one of the five will be there when the Blazers pick, but if not there's still some interesting big men available and small forward Dario Saric from Croatia is a solid pick up for anyone.
Ahhhh... The 76ers have a lot of holes, so anything could be good for them. Carter-Williams may still be on the board leaving them an option for a back up to Jrue Holiday. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a guard out of Georgia should get a solid look. And so should big men Olynyk, Gobert and Mason Plumlee.
This is probably where the draft becomes questionable. Who knows which players pan out and which don't. This is arguably where the lack of depth begins.
Oklahoma City Thunder
No doubt the Thunder hope Olynyk is still available at this point. He's probably their biggest target. The Thunder being the only playoff team in the lottery after receiving Toronto's first round pick in the James Harden trade, are just looking to add depth. Olynyk is the pick here, but Gobert, Plumlee and another center out of Pittsburgh, Steven Adams will get a look.
Caldwell-Pope, Jamaal Franklin and Dennis Schroeder (sources say he's received a first round promise from a team) have all got a chance to being picked here. However, the Thunder did acquire Jeremy Lamb, so their chances decrease.
The big men depth is already huge in Utah, so this is where Caldwell-Pope, Franklin, Schroeder and Carter-Williams all get a chance to be selected in the lottery. But Utah's probably in favour of Saric, the small forward from Croatia.
This pick will be traded and I've done enough listing of players. We all know who's available at this point. Here's a list of teams that could make a move for this pick: Toronto, Orlando, Charlotte and New Orleans. Those are just lottery teams. Minus Toronto who doesn't have a single pick this year.
What are sports without bandwagons? The fans that have been with the Miami Heat since 2003, but only knew about Dwayne Wade after Lebron James joined the team in 2010. The LeBron fans that had no idea who he was till get got drafted by Cleveland, but have been his number one fan since his St. Vincent-St. Mary days. Don't worry there's those Kobe Bryant fans that don't even know he was drafted by Charlotte. The Hornets not Bobcats.
It's the everyday life of sports. Fans will come up with some big excuse to how they are a fan of a team or athlete, but will have no idea if their excuse is right or wrong.
Miami is probably the most hated team in sports. Mostly because James, Wade and Chris Bosh all joined forces together, but also because many NBA fans are tired of hearing from the 'fake' Miami fans. But does Miami have the most fake fans, or even better, most bandwagoners?
The city of Miami is a huge basketball city of sorts. That city is arguably up there with Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago as a big market. The Heat had a fan base way before Wade was drafted. They had a solid foundation back when Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning were playing for them. It only got better in Miami with the draft pick of Wade, which was followed by a Shaquille O'Neal acquisition.
The Heat won the NBA Championship in 2006 with Wade and Shaq. Even in that year the Heat had a loyal fan base.
Yes the Heat fan base grew with the acquisition of LeBron, but there are many NBA fans out there that just follow one player. Look at the New York Knicks. How many fans of the Knicks say they're only fans of Carmelo Anthony and before were Denver Nugget fans. For the Heat it's the same. LeBron had his fans in Cleveland and when he hit free agency they were ready to follow him to whatever city.
Still, no doubt the Heat have many bandwagoners, but back to my question of do they have the most? Probably not. Now your thinking to yourself about which team could be more liked than the Heat. And no it's not the Lakers.
The answer to the question is simple. You just need to think about which team has had a huge growth in fans in the past two weeks. The simple answer is the Golden State Warriors.
There's no denial that the Warriors have had a great fan base in Golden State for awhile now. The Warriors have been top ten in attendance six of the past eight seasons. The other two seasons they finished 11th (2010) and 14th (2007). In 2005 they finished 22nd in attendance when they finished 14 games under .500.
However, outside of Golden State the fan base has continued to grow, but no one speaks one word of it. The Heat fans continue to get chirped by other so called NBA fans, but those same fans don't realize that all of a sudden Stephen Curry is the most liked player in the league.
How many people knew Wilt Chamberlain played for the Warriors? And how many know who Tom Meschery, Alvin Attles, Rick Barry and Nate Thurmond are? They all have their numbers retired by Golden State.
Not many people can remember the core roster of the Warriors back when Baron Davis was the star. You know back when Andris Biedrins was the next big thing and Mike Dunleavy was the big thing. You know the two years Derek Fisher spent with the Warriors. This was also the early stages of Mickael Pietrus, Jason Richardson and Troy Murphy.
When Monta Ellis got drafted the Warriors had Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, C.J. Watson, Marco Belinell. Oh and Chris Webber spent his last season with Golden State.
Wonder how many Warriors 'fans' are know thinking to themselves, “I did not know that”.
No body talked about the Warriors in '09-'10 when Curry was a rookie, because heck they missed the playoffs and again missed the playoffs in the next season and last year too.
Along with missing last seasons playoffs everyone thought Curry's career was over. He only appeared in 26 games and it looked as if he was going to battle injuries all his career.
Along with last season nobody wanted anything to do with Nate Robinson, who now is having a career season/playoff with the Chicago Bulls. Nobody knew Klay Thompson existed even though his rookie numbers were better than current rookie Harrison Barnes. Also, David Lee was never mentioned last season, but this year he's an all-star and plays through an injury everyone wants to talk about him.
It's weird how one year can change NBA fans. It's almost as if everyone is either a Heat fan or a Warriors fan now. But the fact is the Warriors are the more likeable team. Not because LeBron took his talents to south beach, but because the Warriors didn't do what the Heat did.
The Heat got three all-stars together and continued to add solid roster players, but that's not fair. However, the Warriors blow multiple seasons, get great draft picks to draft solid players, but that's fair.
Both Miami and Golden State have great fans within their respective cities, but the fact is the Heat don't have the most fake fans, they have the most haters. The Warriors have the least amount of haters and the most fake fans. But again no one really cares to notice, because the Warriors didn't build their roster the way the Heat did. For some reason signing free agents is wrong and blowing seasons for draft picks is right.
It'll be interesting to see what happens if the Warriors meet the Heat in the finals.
2012-2013: 24-58 (13th in the Eastern Conference)
Payroll from past season: $69,322,190
Payroll entering off-season: $32,594,120
Upcoming Free Agents: Luke Walton, Daniel Gibson, C.J. Miles (team option), Omri Casspi (restricted free agent), Wayne Ellington (restricted free agent), Luke Harangody, Jeremy Pargo, Kelenna Azubuike, Shaun Lingston, Josh Selby, Kevin Jones, Samardo Samuels, Micheal Eric, Donald Sloan, Chris Quinn
Draft Picks: Two first round draft picks (15.6 % chance at first overall pick + pick via Lakers). Also two second round picks (1 via Magic).
It was a rough year to say the least for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A team that is full of bright future talent finished below expectation as they finished 34 games under .500. Cleveland never began the season on a good note, as they started the season 4-12 and finished on a six game losing streak.
The team had a set plan of building through the draft and so far have done a great job. A roster built around one of the NBA's top up and coming point guards Kyrie Iriving, who in his second season averaged 22.5 points per game along with 5.9 assists. Irving drafted in 2011 along with forward Tristan Thompson were the starting point for Cleveland after LeBron James left for Miami.
Cleveland also welcomed 2012 draft picks Dion Waiters (4th overall pick) and Tyler Zeller (17th overall pick) to the young core that has begun to grow fast as a team. Waiters ended his rookie season averaging 14.7 points per game in just under 30 minutes. Zeller began the season on the bench, but an early season injury to Anderson Varejao allowed Zeller to become a started. He finished the season with averages of 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Thompson, the starting power forward on the team finished with 11.7 points and 9.4 rebounds.
Injuries did affect the Cavaliers as Varejao only appeared in 25 games, Irving missed 23 games, Waiters was out for 21 games, and C.J. Miles appeared in 65 games.
Injuries weren't the only issue on the team. As the season went on reports began to surface that Irving and now former head coach Byron Scott weren't on the same page. It was reported that Irving was not a huge fan of Scott and due to these issues along with the many losses Scott was dismissed of his head coaching duties.
Multiple teams are without head coaches as the season concluded, but the Cavaliers were the first to find a replacement. Cleveland brought back Mike Brown who was fired after the departure of James and later was let go of his coaching job in Los Angeles by the Lakers. This will be Brown's second stint with the Cavaliers. Brown spent five seasons with Cleveland and had a record of 272-138. He took the team to the NBA finals in 2007, were they got swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
For Brown and the Cavaliers they're set up for a top three pick in a weak draft class were they could find another solid asset to help them grow. They already have depth in the front court with Varejao, Thompson, Zeller and Marreese Speights. They also have Waiters, Miles (if option is picked up), and Alonzo Gee at the wing positions.
Cleveland is probably the most happiest with this years draft class. They already have a solid three headed monster in Irving, Waiters and Thompson, so now they just need to fill voids. They have the options of Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, and Otto Porter at the wing positions.
However, the best set up for the Cavaliers could be to find a back up point guard to Iriving in the draft. They have the options of Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams when their pick comes up. That is if the lottery allows them to stay in the top five.
The Cavaliers biggest asset in the off-season is their center who was injured for a majority of the season and was also on the trade block before he went down. Multiple teams have shown interest in Varejao ever since Cleveland picked up Thompson, Zeller and now Speights. It's clear that with a jammed front court Varejao is the first to go.
Varejao currently has one year left on his contract with just over $9 million. He also has a team option for the 2014-2015 season. It's unclear how much Cleveland can get for Varejao with him missing most of the past season, but he will get a lot of attention from teams that miss out on free agent Dwight Howard.
Aside from the draft and the Cavaliers biggest trade asset if the team wants to take a stride towards the playoffs after a disappointing season they must go out and find veteran players to surround their young players. More then half their payroll will be cleared once free agency hits, so they have enough to add a couple pieces to help blend their roster.
With so much potential on this team, it's now just missing experience. Brown as the coach can help the young players grow, but veteran's will help the team stay as one.
Let's end this one with a little speculation...
If Cleveland doesn't spend much money this summer it could only mean one thing: they are setting up an offer to pursue LeBron back to Cleveland if he opts out of his contract with Miami after the '13-'14 season.
Again, all speculation.
2012-2013: 21-61 (14th in the Eastern Conference)
Payroll for past season: $58,122,566
Payroll entering off-season: $40,420,327
Upcoming Free Agents: Ben Gordon (Player option), DeSagana Diop, Josh McRoberts, Gerald Henderson (restricted free agent), Reggie Williams, Byron Mullens (restricted free agent), Cory Higgins, Jeff Adrien, Jannero Pargo
Draft Picks: One first round draft pick (11.9% chance at first overall pick)
This season has been nothing but a norm for the Bobcats. Another tough year with lots of young players looking to grow. Plus the team had a new coach in Mike Dunlap (now fired). Everyone learning on the fly trying to get a rebuilding team set to become a contending team. The Bobcats have yet to make the playoffs in their short history.
It seems whatever the team tries nothing really works. They get great draft picks, but the players don't turn out to be who they thought to be. The Bobcats will get another high pick this year, but again may not get anything special out of it with a weak draft class.
This season the Bobcats hoped 2011 9th overall pick Kemba Walker would have a better year than that of his rookie season. Walker saw close to a 6 point increase in his scoring average and also averaged 5.7 assists in the 2012-'13 season, he only averaged 4.4 the previous season. Walker even saw an increase in playing time as the team hoped the point guard out of Connecticut would improve his game.
The team signed Ramon Sessions last summer as a back up to Walker and an option if Walker didn't do better from the previous season. Sessions had a great campaign with the Lakers the year before and continued on a roll with the Bobcats. Sessions season ended with a sprained MCL. Other veterans such as Ben Gordon and Josh McRoberts gave the Bobcats a solid season as well. However, Gordon was somewhat inconsistent throughout the year.
Other then Walker, there were eye's on another 2011 pick, in Bismack Biyombo. The forward was drafted internationally by the Kings who then shipped the big man to the Bobcats. Biyombo didn't see an increase in his offensive game, but played 17 more games than his rookie season and received more minutes. He averaged 7.3 rebounds this year and 1.8 blocks (same as last season).
Other players to watch were 2012 draft picks Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (second overall), and Jeffery Taylor. Kidd-Gilchrist struggled in his rookie season, just like every second overall pick does and Taylor surprised many with some decent minutes throughout the season.
The Bobcats will most likely land the second overall pick again in the 2013 draft. Hopefully for them this time the player will have a strong rookie season. Usually second overall picks struggle in their rookie seasons and maybe longer in their career. Examples of; Kidd-Gilchrist, Derrick Williams, Evan Turner, Hasheem Thabeet and Michael Beasley.
The Bobcats are hopeful to just find a player that will be an asset to the team long-term just like most teams will throughout the draft. They'll most likely look to draft a big man to fill the depth at that part of the roster.
The Bobcats will also need to make sure they get contracts signed by Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens. Both are restricted free agents. Henderson has been a solid wing player for the Bobcats and is someone that they can't let slip away, because he continues to grow every year. For Mullens, he had a break out year with the Bobcats this season, so the team will need him back.
Nothing positive really goes on for the Bobcats when it comes to free agency. So the first step before the draft will be to find the right guy to coach this roster and be able to build a solid system throughout the organization.
If the team can find the right coach and draft a solid player, it'll be a successful season. Other then those two topics, the Bobcats will need their young players to work hard over the off-season and comeback for a stronger season. If they can, they have to work to sign some veteran free agents who can help this team grow and become successful.
Toronto fans are different. Yes, they haven't seen a winning team in a long time, but neither have multiple other cities. The difference between Toronto and those other cities is loyalty. Toronto is loyal to the point of showing up to games for high attendances, but if a team has a bad game (or stretch of bad games) fans begin to chant for other teams.
The Raptors lose, we hear "Go Leafs Go". The Leafs lose, we hear "Let's Go Blue Jays". Blue Jays lose, we again hear "Go Leafs Go".
I get fans want a winner, but you can't go booing because you don't get what you want. Every team goes through a bad stretch. Toronto fans leave me to wonder what will happen Monday night when NHL playoff hockey returns to the city as Leafs and the Boston Bruins play game three of their series. A series tied at one a piece.
Before anything fans need to remember the Leafs were never expected to make the playoffs this season and for sure weren't expected to win the Stanley Cup. However, let's worry about the Cup finals later.
For now Toronto should enjoy that playoff hockey is back. If the team wins in a blowout, enjoy it, embrace it, just don't let it go way over your head. We don't need a riot outside of the Air Canada Centre. We aren't Vancouver (shots fired).
And enjoy a close game.
But here's the tricky thing. With the playoffs back here in the heart of Ontario (shots fired again), the Maple Leafs will feel a lot of pressure with the home ice advantage. They know Toronto fans are tough to please, especially when it comes to hockey. So how will Toronto fans handle themselves if this game three slips away from them, or the Bruins are blowing the home team out?
Well that would be a perfect time for Toronto to regain respect across North America. We've got the attention of being classless when it comes to our crowds at home games. It's time we handle a defeat with class. If we get blown out forget chanting “Let's Go Blue Jays”. It's not even worth it how the Jays are playing.
Don't go booing your goalie, because he's given you two great games. The first game was not his felt and he didn't get any credit for game two. James Reimer been great, forget booing him for one bad game.
And don't bother booing the other players. They pulled out a game in Boston, which no one expected. So let's go out there. Welcome playoff hockey back. And get some respect from the media and other cities. It's time to show that Toronto fans and teams are united as one and we stick together no matter how bad of a stretch.
But that all being said, who said the Leafs are going to lose tonight?
2012-2013: Season: 20-62 (15th in the Eastern Conference)
Payroll for past season: $87,365,418
Payroll for entering off-season: $75,354,321
Upcoming Free Agents: Hedo Turkoglu (Player option), Ben Udrih, Hakim Warrick (Team option), Christian Eyenga, Justin Harper, DeQuan Jones
Draft Picks: One first round pick (25% chance of first overall selection) & one second round pick (via Golden State)
Orlando traded away their franchise player, brought in a new coach, didn't have a high draft pick last year and struggled throughout the past season. However, the Magic were able to witness some good basketball from unexpected young talent in their 20-win season.
Hedo Turkoglu, one of the Magic's many veteran players was injured for a large portion of the season, only appearing in eleven games. Other injuries the Magic experienced were to other veteran players. Glen Davis' season ended after 34 games when he fractured his foot. Al Harrington only featured his skills in ten games, Aaron Affalo missed 18 games and Jameer Nelson missed 16 games. All these injuries put more pressure on the young players to perform.
Maurice Harkless, the 15th pick in the 2012 draft showed improvement throughout the year and looked to be a long-term asset for the Magic. Over the final 30 games of the season Harkless averaged 13.4 points per game and saw a drastic increase in his minutes. The 19th pick in the 2012 draft, Andrew Nicholson also gave the Magic a solid season. Finishing the season with averages of 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds. Nicholson had multiple stretches throughout the season that showed he can be a productive big man in the NBA.
A great surprise for the Magic was Nikola Vucevic, who the team acquired in the Dwight Howard trade along with Harkless. Vucevic showed he could be a solid figure in the middle for the Magic. In 77 games Vucevic averaged 13.1 points and 11.9 rebounds.
In a mid-season trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Magic also acquired second year player Tobias Harris. For Harris he saw close to a 25 minute jump in his minutes after the trade. He went from averaging 4.9 points and 2 rebound with the Bucks to an impressive 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds with the Magic.
The Magic's off-season is going to be focused around their 2013 pick. They will enter the draft lottery with the highest chance in the league at the first overall pick, but sadly this years draft class is a weak one. On a positive note the Magic will have multiple players to chose from that could help them long-term, but not so much become a franchise player.
The Magic probably won't make any runs at top free agents, or even veteran free agent players. With Orlando's payroll already high, the Magic will need to do their best to acquire young talent that will help them for the future. Even if that means trading away veteran players currently on the roster.
Orlando has the highest payroll out of all the teams that missed the playoffs and they finished dead last in the league. The re-build will continue in Orlando and another dreadful season may be ahead.
Ever since the Kobe Bryant injury that ended his season and eventually the Los Angeles Lakers playoff run, the question of how many minutes is to many for a star player has risen. It's seems that more the minutes the star plays the higher the injury risk, and an even higher risk of the team losing the game or a poor shooting performance from the star player.
Before Kobe tore his left achillies the Lakers star was playing unbelievably high minutes. Understandably so, it wasn't the Lakers fault. Bryant insisted on playing more and more. He just wouldn't bench himself. In the final seven games Bryant averaged just under 46 minutes. That's seven more minutes than his season average. And remember Bryant went down with just over three minutes left against the Warriors when he hurt himself.
The high minutes didn't result to injury for everyone who played above average minutes, but it did hurt most teams when it came down to the final minutes of the game. The star would be to tired to overcome a close game, and make a star play.
Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks averaged 37 minutes through the season and it won't shock anyone that his minutes would go up during playoff time. However, there was a difference between minutes in wins and losses for Anthony. In the first three games the Knicks won Anthony averaged just over 39 minutes. Only in game one (40:42) did he play over 40 minutes in those first three games. He also shot 46% from the field during those first three games.
When the losses came around, Anthony's minutes jumped. He averaged just a bit over 45 minutes in game four and five. Game four was an overtime game, but Anthony's shooting percentage was still low. He shot 31% from the field in the losses. In game six, Melo's poor shooting performance continued at 30%, but his minutes were cut to just under 40 minutes that game and the Knicks closed out the series with an 88-80 win. But how much did the minutes from game four and five affect Anthony's shooting in game six is a question we'll never really know the answer to.
We can talk about how Paul Pierce played under 40 minutes in the Boston Celtics first two losses versus the Knicks, but Pierce isn't in his prime anymore. However, Pierce's lowest field goal percentage came in the Celtics game five win (32%), the game after he just played his highest minute total at under 50 minutes. Same goes for Pierce's teammate Jeff Green, who's lowest field goal percentage came in game two (27%) and the game before he played over 45 minutes.
But we can then look at Green's performance in game five when he had a field goal percentage of 63% after playing over 48 minutes in game four. However, Green only took eight shots in his 63% performance.
This isn't the case for every player though. Kevin Durant has been averaging just under 43 minutes throughout his teams first round series and he's got a very respectable 49% field goal percentage. But yet again LeBron James is shooting 63% in the playoffs with just an average of 37 minutes.
For Indiana's Paul George his shooting percentage is at 55% when playing under 40 minutes, and he's at a 28 percentage in games he plays over 40 minutes.
Everyone's probably getting the point. High minutes don't often result into injury, but losses and poor performance begin to pile up. It's obvious coaches need to cut their teams rotations in the playoffs, but at the same time they need to find away to save their stars for more important minutes. Especially when comes down later in the road and the team reaches the NBA Championship.
For now the trend will probably continue, but if the Knicks look at the numbers of Anthony from games one, two, three, and six, they could eventually find a trend for themselves that could help them avoid games four and five throughout the playoffs.
Phil Jackson and the Toronto Raptors... Stop reading now if you laughed after reading that.
No one has ever thought that Jackson would ever consider a job with the Raptors. Even when rumours began to swirl that Jackson would be interested in a front office role with an NBA team. The role he would be looking for is similar to that of Pat Riley with the Miami Heat.
It’s still hard to believe Jackson would ever consider the Raptors. However, with the hire of Tim Leiweke as the new CEO of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, the idea of Jackson in Toronto has become very much real. MLSE, the owners of the Raptors, along with the Maple Leafs in the NHL, the Marlies in the AHL, and FC in the MLS, made this hire with complete confidence that Leiweke was the guy to turn Toronto’s sports fortunes around.
The Raptors have had a tough time getting not just one city, but a whole nation behind the team. The last time the Raptors truly meant something in their 18 year existence was back when Vince Carter took the team to the second round way back in 2001. That was the last, and only time the Raptors got to the second round.
Toronto’s fans usually continue to support their sports teams through rough times, even though there’s lots of whining. The Raptors attendance this past season was 13th in the NBA, even with a 34-48 record.
With the addition of Leiweke, the Raptors will get more attention from ownership than ever before. They also may get more attention in the NBA as Leiweke is a very well-known figure in the NBA world. He’s also known to have a great relationship with Jackson.
The Raptors current General Manager, Bryan Colangelo saw his contract come to an end as another disappointing season finished up. Colangelo does have an option on his contract that ownership can pick up, and allow him to run the Raptors for one more season. All signs pointed to the Raptors being content with Colangelo, and picking up that option.
When Lieweke was hired, he himself said that he doesn’t know much about Colangelo, so he won’t be a major contributor in the decision of bring him back or not. However, Lieweke did say he would ask around to get more information on Colangelo to get his fair share of thoughts in when ownership decide to make the decision on the Raptors General Manager spot.
It was thought to be that Colangelo would have already had his option picked up by now, but the Jackson rumours may have changed things. Before Lieweke joined, the Raptors probably thought they had no shot at the future hall of famer in Jackson. But once you hire someone who has connection with Jackson, and you know Jackson is thinking about a return to the NBA, you got to take a shot.
Rumours now have it that Jackson would listen to the Raptors if they called. Lieweke would probably lead the way on trying to hire Jackson and with a good friendship with not just Jackson, but also Jackson’s fiancée Jeanie Buss, Lieweke may just be able to convince Jackson to come to Toronto.
Lieweke knows he himself cannot change the Raptors poor faith, so he needs the right man making the basketball moves. The Raptors may work long and hard on their offer to Jackson, but if they come up short don’t be surprised if Lieweke has another guy in mind to replace Colangelo, and make the Raptors a winning team.
For now, keep your ears open on Jackson to Toronto news, because the right offer could make a huge splash in the basketball world.
It’s time for Toronto Maple Leaf fans to stop crying about the past, start living in the present, and looking into the future. Well, obviously fans won’t get over the fact of how long it has been since the Leafs won the Stanley Cup, but fans need to enjoy that their team is finally back in the playoffs.
Fans didn’t get their wish of facing the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, but facing the Boston Bruins will be a fun series. As much as people think the Bruins are the favourites to win the series, being an underdog is not that bad. Just ask the Los Angeles Kings.
The Leafs lost three of four games in the short season to the Bruins. One of the losses came in a shootout, which won’t happen in the playoffs as there are no shootouts. Boston scored ten goals versus the Leafs, and Toronto was only able to put seven in the back of Boston’s net. Surprisingly none of Boston’s wins over the Leafs were blow outs. Other than the shootout win, Boston won 1-0 and 4-2 (one of the four goals being an open net goal).
Probably the x-factor of this series will be Phil Kessel. The former Bruin has struggled against his old team throughout his career. With Tyler Bozak playing through an injury, Kessel will need to work harder to be a goal scorer, and not get intimidated by the Bruins big defensemen Zdeno Chara. This season against the Bruins, Kessel had zero points, and was a negative four.
Throughout his career versus the Bruins, Kessel has nine points in 22 games. Three of his nine points were goals. He’s also a negative 22 throughout his career against Boston. As a Bruin, Kessel played 19 games versus the Leafs and tallied 12 points (8 goals), and was a plus 11.
Toronto finished sixth in goals per game at 3.02. That’s 0.35 better than the Bruins this season. Defensively Boston only allowed 2.21 goals against, putting them as the third best team in the NHL. Which also makes them 0.39 better than the Leafs. Toronto finished the season with a percentage of 18.7 on the powerplay, and the Bruins were at 14.8. Toronto was also better on the penalty kill at 87.9%, but Boston was right behind at 87.1.
The last three times the Leafs made the playoffs, the Bruins did not get past the first round. As much as that stat means nothing, it’s somewhat interesting.
No one should close the door on the Leafs just yet. Just because Toronto’s struggle against the Bruins for recent years has been well documented, this past season clearly showed the Toronto can battle. This series could come down to who can perform better when the series comes to Toronto. The atmosphere in the Air Canada Center will be crazy as fans finally get to see a team in the playoffs. Sorry to the Argonauts and Raptors. But it’s still unclear which team can handle the energy of playoff hockey in Toronto better.
Again, if Phil Kessel can be Phil Kessel against the Bruins, the Leafs could pull away with a first round upset. And again all eyes will be on Kessel once the series begins.
East Playoff Prediction:
Pittsburgh Penguins in 5 over New York Islanders
Ottawa Senators in 7 over Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers in 6 over Washington Capitals
Toronto Maple Leafs in 7 over the Boston Bruins
West Playoff Predictions
Chicago Blackhawks in 4 over Minnesota Wild
Detroit Red Wings in 6 over Anaheim Ducks
San Jose Sharks in 6 over Vancouver Canucks
Los Angeles Kings in 7 over St. Louis Blues
Stanley Cup Finals
New York Rangers versus Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks in 6
It was a busy day in the basketball world today. There was some sad news for some people around the NBA, but also great news for not just basketball, but sports as a whole. There also was the regular news around the NBA that we hear more often than not, but nonetheless it was a good day to be someone who follows the NBA.
Seattle fails, but continues to fight
It’s a rough day to be a basketball fan in Seattle, but a great day for the city of Sacramento. The NBA Relocation Committee has voted not to allow the Kings to move to Seattle. A bidding war has gone on for quite a while, and a few months ago a Seattle team looked like a for sure go, but surprisingly Sacramento continued to match Seattle’s offer to purchase the Kings.
The NBA committee consisted of 12 owners, who were: Clay Bennett (Oklahoma City), James Dolan (New York), Wyc Grousbeck (Boston), Peter Holt (San Antonio), Herb Simon (Indiana), Larry Tanenbaum (Toronto), Glen Taylor (Minnesota), Ted Leonsis (Washington), Micky Arison (Miami), Jeanie Buss (Lakers), Robert Sarver (Phoenix), and Greg Miller (Utah).
All owners will vote in the week of May 13th to make the decision official, and anything’s possible from now to then, but expect the vote then to fall the same way the vote did on Monday afternoon.
For Sacramento, in no way did they deserve to lose the Kings, because we know what the basketball team means to that city when they have a winner. However, Sacramento’s attendance this past season ranked last in the NBA at 13,749. It’s fair enough to say that Sacramento still deserves a team, and worked greatly to make sure they didn’t lose to the Seattle ownership bidding for the Kings. The city of Sacramento will have to give a lot of credit to Mayor Kevin Johnson, who put in a lot of work to keep the team in Sacramento.
Seattle got the bad end of the stick, but everyone around the NBA agrees that this city deserves a team, and no doubt will receive one in the future. It just wasn’t meant to be this time around. Seattle had a great fan base before their original team moved to Oklahoma City. Since that relocation it’s just been a wait and see for Seattle for when they do get another chance at a team. Unfortunately, it wasn’t this time around.
One city was going to lose out, but neither deserves to be without a team.
Jason Collins opens the door for all male athletes
It was a great day for not just basketball, but for multiple sports. And not just great for sports, but for the human race as a whole. To this date no athlete has ever been able to open up to being gay. However, today NBA player Jason Collins opened up to the whole world as the first male athlete to be gay in a team sport in North America.
Collins isn't a big name outside of basketball, and a regular fan may have trouble knowing who Collins is too. The 7-foot center was drafted out of Stanford by the Houston Rockets. The first round pick in 2001 never played a game for Houston, but spent six and a half seasons with New Jersey as a Net, and then spent half a season in Memphis, and a saw time with Minnesota also. Collins recently spent three years with Atlanta, and this previous season started off with Boston, and was later traded to Washington.
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” Collins announced early Monday afternoon. Collins got lots of love around the NBA from fellow players, coaches, and executives. He is respected by everyone, and is known to be a great guy in the locker room. Heck, Boston never wanted to trade Collins to Washington, but it was the only way they could get the deal done.
Collins announcement opens the door for many gay athletes who have been afraid to go professional due to their life choice, or for future athletes who turn out to be gay. Collins is a free agent on July 1st, and it is unsure if any team will make the move to sign the center. A survey of 14 General Managers conducted by ESPN showed that six of those General Managers believe Collins will receive a contract to play next season. However, the other eight had some doubt on if Collins would get another chance to play. But for those eight GMs nothing had to do with Collins sexual orientation, but mostly with his age, and playing ability.
The 34-year old has been an end of the bench player most of his career, but with a weak draft class upcoming it opens the door for Collins to stick around the NBA. But for now, Collins will always be accepted in the NBA, no matter gay or straight. It’s just the fact that he’s getting old, and playing ability has taken a hit.
Collins will no matter what go down as a hero for most athletes. His opening up has received respect from many people in the NBA, and out. This is a major step in the development of sports in North America, and everyone can thank Collins.
Howard drama begins again
Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the NBA playoffs Sunday night by the San Antonio Spurs, and it didn’t end well. The Lakers faced multiple injuries to their starting lineup throughout the season, and never really gained chemistry. Howard’s season ended with a second technical foul in the third quarter against the Spurs in game 4, were the Lakers got swept.
Last season with the Orlando Magic, Howard was around a lot of drama, created by him, of where the Magic would trade him. Now, after a rough season with his new team, Howard enters free agency surrounded by questions. The biggest question is if Howard will handle himself better this time around.
Howard hasn’t been very clear so far of if he will stay with the Lakers, and him being ejected in game 4 doesn’t help his case of showing he wants to be a Laker. Teams such as, the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and Boston Celtics are all options for Howard.
Sources around the league say Howard doesn’t want to play under current Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni, so the Lakers may need to make another coaching change to convince Howard to stay. But either way, it will be a great summer with more Howard drama.