Thursday, December 29, 2016

Is Damian Lillard Hurting The Blazers?

Damian Lillard.jpg
By nikk_la - Flickr: K26A0442, CC BY 2.0, Link
In a recent interview with New York Magazine, George Karl shared his thoughts on the performance from the Trailblazers this season saying, "I was watching the Portland Trailblazers play, and I was trying to figure out, What the hell is wrong with this team? My conclusion is that Damian Lillard is getting too much attention." 

When asked to elaborate on that thought George Karl went on to say, "Who controls the team? The coach and the point guard. And that team is not working. I think their coach, Terry Stotts, is a great coach. So I’m going to say the problem is Lillard. They were a together, connected, committed team last year. This year they’re not. What changed?"

That's right George Karl, what changed? They lost Chris Kaman but gained talents in Festus Ezeli (who is injured) and Evan Turner. So what changed? How can nearly the same team from last year take such a big drop off. 

Is it Damian Lillard? If we take a look at his numbers this year, he is averaging 27 PPG (he averaged 25.1 last season), 4.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.7 turnovers. If we look at his turnovers, they've dropped from last season (3.2) however his assists have also dropped from last season (6.2) so this doesn't really mean much. It just means he is passing less right? Wrong, thanks to's provided stats, it shows that Damian Lillard is has about 1.5 passes per game more this season than last season. It's very, very minimal, but it shows that he is still passing but getting less assists and turnovers. To top all of this off, Lillard is scoring more while taking less shots per game. So why are they losing? 

The reason why... His teammates. This season, 4 players on the Blazers shoot under 36% when receiving a pass from Damian Lillard. 5 players on the Blazers shoot under 40% from the field in general. Last season, only 3 players shot under 40% and those 3 players only combined for a total of 81 games played. And to top that off, in the minimal amount of games that these players played in, they didn't even average over 10 minutes per game. But this season, Noah Vonleh, Meyers Leonard, and Al-Farouq Aminu are all shooting under 40% and they all are huge parts in this offense. And when given passes from Lillard, Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner both shoot below 36%. 

If we look at the team's rebounding, you'd see that the Trailblazers are 25th in rebounding. First off, you can tell they truely miss Chris Kaman as they are waiting for Festus Ezeli to recover. Their bigs aren't that great. Second, they aren't making shots, and to me, that falls on 1 person, the coach. Something has changed. Now, I love Terry Stotts, he is an amazing coach, but something needs to change with the offense. You can't have all of these players shooting that poorly. It's clearly changed from last season. Ed Davis isn't even shooting nearly as well from last season, it's bad. Sure while Lillard and McCollum might be shooting better, but the rest of the team sure isn't. You can't win games with 1 or two people shooting really well. Something in the offense has to change, and, oh yeah, they really need to rebound better.

But hang on here, George Karl was completely wrong. Damian Lillard has been more efficient and has has less turnovers while scoring more and while passing the ball even more than last season. This man isn't the reason and is really going unnoticed for how hard he is working. It's not translating to many wins, but it sure should be. If anything, Terry Stotts needs to make adjustments which is ironic considering Karl's quote saying, "I think their coach, Terry Stotts, is a great coach. So I’m going to say the problem is Lillard". I love Terry Stotts but he needs to make adjustments, and for George Karl, it's best if he just keeps his mouth shut. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Wizards Winning Troubles

This season, the Washington Wizards clearly have some problems. They involve winning. They are now 3-9 and it seems as though as if some of the players are getting fed up with it. But why? How could this team, with playoff expectations coming into this season perform so bad. Well, let's take a look.

The suspect here is the bench, since Gortat and Beal have both spoke up on how the bench needs to step up. Gortat said that Washington's bench is, "one of the worst benches in the league right now". This happens to be true. Their bench players have been worse than their starters. But the starters are supposed to be more productive than the bench. That's why they start. However, not like this.

The Wizards starting 5 has been productive offensively as they are 6th in PPG and they are top 11 in defensive rating. The bench on the other hand is 29th in PPG and the WORST in defensive rating in the league. Clearly a difference, right?

So where is this all coming from? Enter, Trey Burke. Trey Burke was drafted as the 9th pick in the 2013 draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. At the time, the Wolves had a surplus of point guards consisting of guys like Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, and Alexey Shved. The Wolves ended up trading Trey Burke to the Jazz for the 14th and 21st picks in the draft (Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng). When Trey Burke arrived, he was the Jazz's new starting point guard and thought to be one of the leading candidates for the rookie of the year award. In 2013, Trey Burke would average 12.8 PPG through both the first and second season playing. However, guys like Rodney Hood and Dante Exum were starting to arise taking minutes away from Burke. Exum was a threat to Burke's starting role as Exum had an amazing defensive game as did Hood. However, before the 2015-16 season started, Exum would go down with an injury, which was thought to have solidified a starting spot for point guard Trey Burke. Wrong. Trey Burke didn't start in one single game in the 2015-16 season. Instead, Raul Neto and guard Shelvin Mack would get the role, and for one sole purpose: defense. Quinn Snyder was so upset with Burke's defense that he eventually didn't even play him. Shelvin Mack and Raul Neto weren't that great offensively, but they could do 2 things: Pass and play defense.

When Burke was traded to the Wizards, it looked like he could be a very solid backup to John Wall. They let Ramon Sessions walk over to the Hornets thinking that Burke was going to be their new backup. However, Burke hasn't been good for this team at all. The Wizards are at their worst when Burke is on the court and are at their best when he is off. Simply he hasn't been cutting it. Mostly at the defensive end. Ramon Sessions was probably one of the best backup point guards to have. Now they have a guy who isn't able to run an offense or play defense. To top that off, they lost Nene and others. There used to be a say where the Wizards had Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker on their bench, but those days are gone.

So what can the Wizards do? They need a change. They must trade for someone. And they need a guy that can help them. Rudy Gay might be a good fit. Maybe DeMarcus Cousins, but how would that turn out. But at the least, they need to do what the Jazz did. Find a guard, any guard, that can run their offense on the bench. Bring Will Bynum back! I loved this guy! If there is anyone who can play good off the bench it's Will Bynum. But they desperately need a good bench point guard, because when John Wall heads to the bench, it's been chaos.

Monday, November 14, 2016

5 Statistics You'd Be Surprised By

Kyle Lowry (17283761882).jpg
By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA - Kyle Lowry, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
TJ Warren: 20 PPG
He is currently 27th in the league in scoring, and is ahead of guys like Chris Paul. Last Season, T.J. Warren averaged just 11 points per game. He is now averaging 20, even with the rise of Devin Booker and the return of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight with injuries. What's even more impressive is the fact that he's getting most of his points from inside the 3-point line. Warren might just be this year's Most Improved Player.

Andrew Wiggins: 54.8% from 3-point range
He currently leads the league in 3-point percentage. Surprisingly, last season, Wiggins shot just 30% from three. Now obviously, this is very unlikely to stay above 50% but Wiggins has clearly improve from 3 since last year. And these aren't just spot-up 3 pointers. Wiggins has been hitting them off the dribble. However, this is just yet another addition to Andrew Wiggins amazing offensive game.

Steven Adams: 95.5% from the Free Throw Line
Last season, Steven Adams shot just 58.2% from the line. This year, he looks so much better. He's currently 21-22 from the free throw line and is 5th in the league in Free Throw percentage. While he probably won't be shooting 95% by the end of the year, he has clearly improved a lot and it must of been a point of emphasis for him this off-season. See DeAndre, that's how you do it.

Harrison Barnes: 58 Points off of Isolation
Barnes has surprised people with his scoring so far. How has he done it though. Surprisingly, most of it has been done in isolation. He is second in the league in points off the isolation and the only player who has more is Westbrook with 60. While Westbrook has 2 more points, he's been way less efficient. Barnes is shooting nearly 60% in isolation while Westbrook is just shooting 43% in isolation. See folks, Harrison Barnes can lead a team!

Kyle Lowry: 38.7 Minutes Per Game
This season, Lowry is number 1 in minutes per game. He averages more minutes than DeRozan who has been playing amazing. Lowry has shot the ball horribly to start the season, and hasn't been playing that good at all. Not to mention, he has a great backup point guard in Corey Joseph. Despite that, Dwayne Casey has played Lowry more than any player in the league for whatever reason.  


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Top Games Of The Week 11/7-11/13

Wednesday November 9th
Rockets @ Spurs 9:30 PM ET
This is an important game for the Rockets for us to get a glimpse of how well they do against the elite teams of the West, and may also help us see where they will rank in the West.

Thursday November 10th
Bulls @ Heat 8:00 PM ET
There will be lots of emotions from the Heat fans, the organization as a whole, and especially Dwyane Wade. Wade left the Miami Heat in the summer to join his hometown Bulls after 13 years and 3 Championships with the Miami Heat, and as we have seen with some games where stars face their former teams, the crowd does not react very well. But I don't think we'll see that from the Heat fans, I think we will see cheering and clapping instead. Not only the emotions, what about the actual game itself. The Heat can put a stance on their Playoff chances with a win against a very good East team.

Friday November 11th
Knicks @ Celtics 7:30 PM ET
Both these teams are unhappy with their start to the season, so both teams will eagerly be seeking a win. The Knicks can make a big statement with a win against a projected Top Four team of the East, and show they are Playoff bound. Not only that but this is one of the greatest rivalries of All-Time, so there will be much higher intensity from both sides. Also this is a divisional game, which only makes it better.

Clippers @ Thunder 8:30 PM ET
The Thunder beat the Clippers last week in a very close game, and proved how good of a team they really are. Now is time for the Clippers to get revenge of their loss to the Thunder. Also this will be an entertaining game watching two of the best Point Guards play each, so it should be an entertaining game.

Saturday November 12th
Celtics @ Pacers 7:00 PM ET
These two are expected to be the two teams running for 3rd seed in the East. But both teams aren't starting off as they expected and are looking to improve how they play. This game will give us a good look at how the Top Four in the East will be placed, and should be a very good game.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pelicans VS Grizzlies: Davis Drops The Ball

After the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Anthony Davis was frustrated. Mainly at his teammates. Davis told reporters: "We had too many mental breakdowns," Davis said. "We're not talking out there and so, therefore, we have mental breakdowns that gave them easy layups at the basket and open shots." Davis ended by saying, "It's definitely frustrating. We can't get a win, it's frustrating, Whatever we need to do, we need to do it fast."
"Whatever we need to do, we need to do it fast."
Well, Davis called out his teammates and they responded, the very next game. They played a huge role in bringing the game into overtime where they'd eventually lose. Anthony Davis though? He was non-existent. After criticizing his teammates for poor play, he came out the next game completely dropping the ball. His teammates did their part, but he clearly didn't do his. He was 3-13 on the night. He had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 5 turnovers! You can see Davis's shot chart below.
Anthony Davis - Shot Chart-
 As you can see, Anthony Davis didn't play too well. He only took 4 of his 13 sots in the paint. Only 4! He was settling for far too many jumpshots and when you add the 5 turnovers in there, it just makes matters worse. Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies made it tough on him, real tough. We've seen them do it to Karl-Anthony Towns twice this season, and now they've done it to Davis.

Defensively, Davis wasn't that great. He wasn't paying that much attention. He had the 3rd worst defensive rating on his team. His teammates were much more active. In overtime is where it fell apart though. Davis clearly wasn't engaged defensively and wasn't trying whatsoever. One possession in OT he left Marc Gasol wide open for a 3 pointer, and gave no effort defensively. This would ultimately lead to the loss in OT. While Davis was clearly a problem, the Pelicans refused to sub him out in OT.

Davis dropped the ball for his team. They did everything he wanted them to do, and he didn't show up. He had 1 point in overtime. Davis didn't come to play. The Grizzlies really got to him.

Now, on to the section where I talk about how much I love the Memphis Grizzlies this season. David Fizdale is amazing. The Grizzlies couldn't have hired a better head coach (other than re-hiring Dave Joerger). He's getting his team to play amazing defense. Not only that, but he's made almost every player on that team a 3-point threat. They are now so tough to guard. Take the Grit and Grind, and give them a 3-point shot, that's what you got.

There are 3 main things in basketball you have to pay attention to. Offense, Defense, and rebounding. While the Grizzlies didn't play great offensively, they did sure did play great in the other categories. The Grizzlies had 52 rebounds on the night.

Defensively, this team was amazing. The team had 12 steals on the night. JaMychal Green had 4 blocks on the night. They were everywhere and they were making Davis's life tough. He wasn't allowed to get a touch in the paint, and that's how they played him all night. This Grizzlies team drew 4 charges in the game. 4 CHARGES! Do you know how tough it is to draw a charge in the NBA? It's tough! And they drew 4! The Memphis Grizzlies won this game by sheer hustle and amazing defense. I am amazed at how great this team played defensively in this game.

Hats off to the Memphis Grizzlies. They won that game, and they clearly didn't want to lose. However, I'm very disappointed in Davis. His teammates were amazing, but he was a -23 in the game. That was worse than any of his teammates. You can't criticize your teammates and then go out and do the things you criticized them on. Hopefully Davis learned from this and can get back to the level he was playing at.

Top Performances from November 2nd

P1000216 by Matthew Addie is licensed under CC by 2.0

Yesterday there were some really good performances and I will rank them based off statistics, if they won, and who was defending them
1. DeMar DeRozan 40 Points 5 Rebounds 5 Assists 2 Steals 1 TO  14-23 (61%) (Win 113-103) 
2. Russell Westbrook 35 Points 6 Rebounds 5 Assists 3 Steals 10 TO's 14-30 (47%) (Win 85-83)
3. James Harden 30 Points 6 Rebounds 15 Assists 2 Steals 3 TO's 9-16 (56%) (Win 118-99)
4. John Wall 33 Points 5 Rebounds 11 Assists 3 Steals 9 TO's 13-19 (68%) (Loss 113-103)
5. Brook Lopez 34 Points 11 Rebounds 1 Assist 1 Block 2 TO's 12-21 (57%) (Win 101-109)
6. D'Angelo Russell 23 Points 4 Rebounds 8 Assists 3 Blocks 4 TO's 9-19 (47%) (Win 123-116)
7. Chris Paul 15 Points 11 Rebounds 9 Assists 6 Steals 5 TO's 5-11 (45%) (Loss 85-83)
8. Amir Johnson 23 Points 6 Rebounds 3 Assists 2 Blocks 3 Steals 0 TO's 9-11 (82%) (Win 100-107) 
9. Dwight Howard 31 Points 11 Rebounds 0 Assists 2 Steals 2 TO's 12-16 (75%) (Loss 123-116)
10. TJ Warren 27 Points 7 Rebounds 0 Assists 2 Steals 0 TO's 11-22 (50%) (Win 115-118)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

NBA Power Rankings Week 1

NBA Power Rankings
With Willy J

    Believe it or not it has been a full week of NBA Games so I'm going to make my Power Rankings as of the first week of the NBA. Although I used records to determine this, I did not use it to completely decide it. I also used how many points they scored and allowed per game, and also their point differential.

  1. Chicago Bulls (3-0)
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-0)
  3. Los Angeles Clippers (3-0)
  4. San Antonio Spurs (4-1)
  5. Atlanta Hawks (3-0)
  6. Detroit Pistons (3-1)
  7. Golden State Warriors (3-1)
  8. Toronto Raptors (2-1)
  9. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-0)
  10. Charlotte Hornets (2-1)
  11. Boston Celtics (2-1)
  12. Houston Rockets (2-2)
  13. Miami Heat (2-2)
  14. Indiana Pacers (2-2)
  15. Portland Trail Blazers (2-2)
  16. Utah Jazz (2-2)
  17. Milwaukee Bucks (2-2)
  18. Memphis Grizzlies (2-2)
  19. Sacramento Kings (2-3)
  20. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-2)
  21. Denver Nuggets (1-2)
  22. New York Knicks (1-2)
  23. Brooklyn Nets (1-3)
  24. Los Angeles Lakers (1-3)
  25. Orlando Magic (1-3)
  26. Dallas Mavericks (0-3)
  27. New Orleans Pelicans (0-4)
  28. Phoenix Suns (0-4)
  29. Washington Wizards (0-2)
  30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-3)