Sunday, March 27, 2016

Inside The Play: Top 5 Underrated Players

Today is the first anniversary of NBA Inside The Play Nation, and today, we will make our case for some of the most controversial topics in NBA. For this post, we will discuss who are the most underrated players in NBA history.

Aaron Jaros:
5. Bob Cousy: Shooting wasn't really his thing. There was no 3-point line back then. What he loved, was layups. It didn't matter if he got them, or a teammate got them, he would do whatever shot or pass was nessessary to get them. Imagine the passing ability of Ricky Rubio and John Wall's combined with the finishing ability of Monte Ellis and the success of Michael Jordan. While there was less competition, he still was able to win a lot. He was a team player. Not only could he finish, but he was also a good FT shooter. But I never hear him as being the best assisters ever. The only names I here are John Stockton, just because he had a long lengthy career. And John Stockton, Pistol Pete, Jason Williams were great, but they were no Bob Cousy when it came to passing. He was also a pretty good defensive player and was highly respected for it. He was able to lead the league in assists 8 seasons. And while Cousy's numbers aren't really impressive, the game was played at such a slower pace due to the shot clock was just invented after Cousy has been in the league for a few years. But what people don't know is that Cousy was the league MVP one year and a 2-time All-Star MVP. Yet Bob Cousy is never talked about as a great. I never hear people talk about him.

4. George Gervin: Julius Erving is idolized for his dunks and his ability to finish around the hoop. Why isn't George Gervin? He was better than finishing around the basket than Erving was. The only real big advantage Julius Erving had over George Gervin was dunking, but Gervin could still dunk. He was still a great player. Throughout his career, he was able to average over 30 PPG twice and he lead the league in scoring 3 times. He was also a pretty good defensive player though not that great. He is 16th on the all-time scoring list for the NBA/ABA while only playing 14 seasons. He had the record of 33 points in a quarter, which was recently broken by Klay Thompson when he had 37. However, there was no 3-point line when George set it. It wasn't like George Gervin was the best player ever, but he doesn't get the recognition he deserves.

3. Willis Reed: This guy is so underrated. While he only played 10 seasons, he did some amazing things in those 10 seasons. Reed was able to average a great 18.7 PPG over his career with also 12.9 RPG. He was a walking double-double. One game, Reed was able to get 53 points. That just shows you that he was a great scorer. However, the thing about Willis Reed that is forgotten is his great defensive ablility. In the 1970 finals, he held a supreme scorer, Wilt Chamberlain to 19 PPG in the first 4 games, while Reed averaged 32. When he was injured and came back in game 7, he held Wilt to just 4 points when Reed guarded him, even though Reed was suffering from injury. Reed was a supreme defender and is very underrated from his offensive and defensive standpoint. Not to mention he was never seem as a great rebounder even though he averaged over 14 RPG multiple times. In the playoffs, Reed could just take over on the offensive end. He is a real underrated player.

2. Moses Malone: Did you know, Moses Malone is 7th on the NBA/ABA all-time scoring list? Did you know he has scored more than both Shaq, Hakeem, and Tim Duncan while also averaging 12.3 RPG through his entire career? Did you know he was NBA MVP 3 times, and finals MVP once when he won a ring? Did you know he was NBA All-Defensive twice and All-NBA 8 times while being selected to 12 all-star games? Did you know he is 2nd in FTs made, 1st in Offensive Rebounds, and 3rd in total rebounds You probably didn't.

1.Alex English: When I see LeBron James play, I think about Alex English sometimes. Alex English could finish around the rim. It didn't matter if it was a fadeaway or a floater. He would make it, through contact, around the rim. While he didn't have the explosiveness of LeBron, he made more craftiness and a better finishing ability. What really resembles them is their ability to pass the ball and the ability to rebound the ball at a great rate at the Small Forward position. He was also very proficient from the FT line. And Alex English is never talked about now, despite averaging 21.5 PPG and 24.4 PPG in the playoffs. Now, he is underrated, but Alex was very underrated in the time period that he played as well. When he lead the league in PPG (28.4) and helped the Nuggets secure a great playoff position, he only managed to get 2nd All-NBA team behind under-performing Julius Erving, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird who all had not even as impressive of a season compared to English. Those guys weren't even in the top 5 PPG leaders that season. That is how underrated English was and how underrated he still is today.

Inside The Play: Lakers VS Celtics

Today is the first anniversary of NBA Inside The Play Nation, and today, we will make our case for some of the most controversial topics in NBA. For this post, we will discuss who which organization is the better one throughout their history.
Magic Bird Lipofsky.jpg
By Steve Lipofsky -, CC BY 3.0,
Aaron Jaros:
I have to go with the Celtics. Now, I'm not a Celtics fan or anything, but my Grandma liked the Celtics. What I heard was coming from a person that wasn't a really big Celtics fan that didn't attend games regularly. She tells me how amazing Larry Bird was, how great of a shot-blocker Bill Russell was, and how she was at the game where John Havlicek had his last game in Boston. And let me tell you, I can't even imagine what the atmosphere was like at that game! You can watch the video footage of it on Youtube, but if you weren't at the game, you really don't know what it was like to be there. And my grandma had a chance to be at that game, she knew what it was like at that game. She knew what it was like to watch these great players in John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and Kevin McHale. These guys were great! And from what I've watched and heard from my Grandma, the Celtics were the team to watch.
The Lakers are a great organization, don't get me wrong. They have had Kobe, Magic, Shaq, Kareem, Jerry West, and more. That is tough to beat. Now the way I see it is that if you were going to have a game, the team will need great players. The Celtics have a variety of different players. Bob Cousy, probably one of the most underrated players in NBA history, he was able to finish at the rim and pass like Pistol Pete, except, he wasn't the ball-hog the Pete was. He lead the league in assists, 8 years in a row. That is what you really want from your point guard. John Havlicek and Larry Bird were also really great passers. To me, I think you are better off having Cousy at point guard than Magic. 

Then you look at the defensive side, you have KG, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Bill Russell. Bill Russell and Kevin Garnett were in both one of our picks for the all-time defensive teams. With these guys, nothing will get in the paint and I have a hard time believing Shaq and Kareem would have a lot of success in the paint. 

What else does this Celtics team have? Something that the Lakers team really doesn't have; 3-point shooting. Imagine the shooting of Larry Bird combined with Paul Pierce, John Havlicek, and Ray Allen, who is considered to be the best shooter ever by some people. 

Rebounding; Dave Cowens, Kevin Garnett, Bill Russell, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale got it. They are some of the best rebounders ever. Bill Russell was amazing on the boards, he could grab anything. Dave Cowens averaged 14 RPG over his career! Kevin Garnett is the all-time leader in defensive rebounds! Robert Parish is second in Celtics all-time rebounds and Kevin McHale was an underrated rebounder. 

And in the 4th quarter when the game is on the line, how do you stop this team. Larry Bird is the most clutch person ever to play besides Reggie Miller and Paul Pierce is just as clutch. When the game is on the line, you can't count on those two.

So as you can see, the Celtics got a lot going for them in pretty much every category. While the Lakers have tons of offensive players, all of the other categories are lacking for them since pretty much all of their players are scorers. While they have Kobe on defense, Shaq on the boards, and Magic with his passing, it's nothing compared to what the Celtics have. Not to mention that the Lakers really don't have any 3-point shooters. My Grandma tells me stories about the Celtics, and even though they were really great back then, they have consistently had more and more great players such as KG, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce throughout their history. And one more thing, this isn't even counting what Len Bias could've been...

Inside The Play: Top 5 Slam Dunk Contests

Today is the first anniversary of NBA Inside The Play Nation, and today, we will make our case for some of the most controversial topics in NBA. For this post, we will talk about the Top 5 Slam Dunk Contests in NBA history.

Aaron Jaros: Honestly, this was hard to pick the best dunk contests out of history. So many people have revolutionized the dunk contest and I had to take that into consideration. So here are my top 5 dunk contests in NBA History.

5. 2015: The reason why I picked this one is mainly because the Dunk contests sucked before this one. Zach LaVine and Victor Oladipo came out with a great entrance and had some great dunks. Zach LaVine's "Space Jam dunk" was amazing and revived the dunk competition. While he didn't have much competition, Victor Oladipo was still spectacular with his 540 dunk. This dunk contest brought back the thrill that dunk competition once had.

4. 1988: This was a great dunk competition. Emphasis on the competition because these guys wanted to win. Michael Jordan vs Dominique Wilkins. These guy had the competitive spirit to put on such a great show for the city of Chicago. While Dominique's dunks were furious, Jordan ended it with his most famous dunk, his double-clutch free-throw line dunk.

3. 2000: Of course this had to be on everyone's Top 5 Slam Dunk contests. Vince Carter did some crazy dunks that will be remembered forever. However, many people forget how amazing Steve Francis was in teh dunk contest for a guy his size that couldn't palm the ball and was only 6'2". He definitely put on a show even though it was overshadowed from Vince Carter's and T-Mac's dunks. However, this dunk contest was lit. Everyone thought the dunk contest was done, and then Vince Carter came out and brought it back.

2. 2016: To me, this is the revival of the competition between the dunkers. I think that stars are going to want to come out and participate again. Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon did some crazy dunks that have never been done before. Aaron Gordon had his spectacular "Air Chair" dunk that left us all in awe while LaVine had his crazy free-throw line dunks. While it had so much controversy, everyone was left in awe. I remember after it was over, I was almost sad, wanting more rounds out of it. It was just to short. I didn't want it to end. Zach LaVine's gracefulness mixed with Aaron Gordon's flash made me think of MJ vs Dominique, except it was more entertaining!

1. 1986: This is my favorite slam dunk contest out of all of them. The reason I love this one so much is because I can watch all of the dunks from this competition without wanting to skip them. From Gerald Wilkins to Dominique Wilkins. From Spud Webb to Terrance Stansbury, every dunk was amazing. The best part was watching Dominique and Spud Webb go at it though. The little guy put on a show and so did Dominique. But Spud stole the crowd with his size and his amazing ability to jump. All of the dunk in that contest were amazing, especially when they came from Spud. He was the first little guy under 6' to be able to perform like that in a slam dunk contest.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Inside The Play: All-Time Defensive Team

Today is the first anniversary of NBA Inside The Play Nation, and today, we will make our case for some of the most controversial topics in NBA. For this post, we (Aaron Jaros and Akshay Patel) will discuss what 5 players deserves to be on the All-Time Defensive Team. 

Aaron Jaros:
PG: Gary Payton: The reasoning behind choosing GP is because for many years, the Seattle Supersonics had one of the best defenses in the league and it really at started with Payton. Payton is 4th on the all time list in steals. Guys like John Stockton got tons of steals, but never were able to be lock down defenders like Gary Payton was. When playing against Payton, John Stockton rarely made it to 20 point, and even under 10 points a few times. Believe it or not, John Stockton only averaged 14 points against Gary Payton. And the Playoffs were even worse as Payton held him to only 12 PPG. But guess who was 17 PPG in the playoffs and the regular season against Stockton, Gary Payton. Obviously this wasn't the best matchup to watch because both played lockdown defense, but Gary Payton was the better defensive player.

SG: Michael Jordan: The Chicago Bulls legend, Michael Jordan did a lot of things that amazed a lot of people. One of those things happened to be being a lockdown defender. It is argued that Kobe is a better defender, however, I have a hard time believing that.While Kobe was an excellent defender, MJ didn't lead a Chicago Bulls team to 6 rings with just defense. Michael was so quick that Chicago was able to trap players with there other defenders as well. And to be surrounded by other great defenders, that is where Michael thrived. Phil Jackson loved to have Michael playing great team defense with everyone. He isn't only 3rd in all-time steals but he was such a great team defender.

SF: Scottie Pippen: Everybody knows that Scottie Pippen is one of the best defensive players of all time. In fact, he might just be the best. Like I said about Jordan, Scottie was a great team defender, but he could play 1v1 defense as well. He is also 6th on the all-time steals list and he averaged nearly a block and 2 steals per game. Scottie Pippen is one of the all time great defensive players so he deserves to be on this list.

PF: Kevin Garnett: Now this is where it gets a little controversial. This is a guy who hasn't averaged even over a block per game. However, blocks can be very overrated. While blocking players and getting steals does give recognition of a great defensive player, too many can note that those stats are what you go for instead of making the right defensive play. KG averaged 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals over his career, which are still really great numbers. But KG was known for his team defense, and he has lead the league in defensive rating twice, and more time than not, he kept his defensive rating under 100. KG affected his team so much defensively in a way that can't be shown through stats. Coaches like Flip Saunders and Doc Rivers always spoke really highly of Garnett for his talent on defense being more great than his talent on offense, and that means a lot.

C: Hakeem Olajuwon: This big guy is well known for his shot blocking. Many people might not realize just how great his hands were though. While he averaged 3.1 blocks over his career, he also averaged 1.7 steals as well. While he wasn't that smart with his blocks at the beginning of his career, as he averaged over 4 fouls per game, he smartened up to drop his fouls per game way down. This made Hakeem more smart as a defensive player as he still averaged a great amount of block and steals, he just cut the fouls down to where he was a better defensive player. He became such a good team defender that he lead the league in defensive rating for 5 straight years. He is 8th on the all-time steals list and 1st on the all-time blocks list. Hakeem should just be the MVP on this team.

Akshay Patel:
PG: Gary Payton: There isn't much of a case for anybody other than Gary Payton. His career was based solely on hand checking. He was simply the best at it. He was an irritant and a guy you would love on your team but hate going up against. He is the only Point Guard to win the Defensive Player of the Year award and is ranked fourth all time in steals at 2445. He also has 9 All-Star nods on his resume. He is the reason many of the rules(such as hand checking) have changed through the years.

SG: Michael Jordan: Jordan is simply the greatest player to step onto the court. He had this unique mentality where he wanted to not only beat you, but make you understand who he is. His offense outshines his defense but he was a fantastic defender. He has been selected to the All-NBA Defensive team nine times and is third on the all time steals list with 2514. Reggie Miller shared a story stating a game where Michael Jordan had 2 points in the first half and ended up with 42 while Reggie ended up with 11. Goes to show not to mess with the one and only, Michael Jordan.

SF: Scottie Pippen: Here is another guy people usually overlook when it comes to the greatest defenders of all time. When you are having a conversation at the barbershop, Pippen's name doesn't get nearly as much recognition as deserved. It is quite obvious that he was a fantastic all around player but he was outstanding when it came to the not so famous end of basketball. He ranks sixth all time in career steals with 2307 steals and has a total of 10 Defensive team selections.

PF: Dennis Rodman: Let me start by saying this is not the Rodman from the Bulls squad rather the Rodman from the Bad Boys in Detroit. He doesn't make this list because he had flashy numbers or because he won tons of awards. He makes this list because of pure hustle. He proves to be that perfect model for young kids. If you try your hardest, you can achieve great success. He was not bigger than anybody on the court. He was just a hard worker. In today's game, you can call guys like Kawhi hard workers on the defensive end and Rodman is probably Kawhi times 10 when it comes to hustle. The guy was just amazing to watch.

C: Bill Russell: While I wasn't  alive to watch him play basketball, from the footage I have seen and from the things I've heard about this man make me think he is the greatest defensive Center of all time. This position was definitely the hardest to select because there were guys like Hakeem and Big Ben who did fantastic in their careers. I have seen those guys play but I haven't heard so much praise about defense for anybody as I have heard about Bill Russell. It is known that he would have averaged around 8 blocks a game if league kept count. I want that on my team over anything else.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Washington Wizards VS Detroit Pistons (March 14)

I was watching the Wizards and Clippers game last night, so I decided to do something I haven't done in a while, a game breakdown. However, there will be tons of these once the playoffs start.

Now the first thing I want to get out of the way, is that the crowd in D.C., are horrible. So, if anybody goes to Wizards games, you need to step it up, that simple, because the atmosphere is horrible in that arena. Gortat threw down an alley-oop dunk and I heard barely anything from the crowd. The bench was cheering more than the crowd was. So step it up D.C., or else Washington could end up moving to the other Washington.

Now that I have that off my chest, let's get to the game, because the Wizards haven't played like this in a while. One thing I want to point out is that Markieff Morris is playing really well with this Wizards team. He had 3 assists and let me tell you something, they all were really great assists. He took great shots and looked really good in the offense. Morris looked so good last night and I'm very happy for his play.

I also want to point out just how great the Wizards defense was last night. The Wizards defensive rating was at a great number of 82.1. They also caused the Pistons to turn it over 20 times. But what really sent the Pistons home was them controlling the rebounding battle against the Pistons know that the Pistons are 4th in rebounding percentage.

The Wizards really contained everyone, but offensively, they were amazing as they had 34 assists, something that not many teams besides the Warriors have done this season. They moved the ball so well and it started with John Wall getting 12 of the assists. For some reason, the Pistons weren't able to defend Wall in the pick and roll and when they did, Wall would kick it out to a shooter and they would get a wide open shot. The Wizards limited their turnovers to only 10 in that game which is really good. 62 of the their points came from inside the paint. The Wizards just seemed unstoppable last night. Also, Nene provided great minutes off the bench, not letting the Pistons get any momentum as he ended with 20 points on the night. He will be a key player for the Wizards for the rest of this season.

A big reason why this Pistons' team lost was because they didn't get up enough shots. They got only 79 shots up compared to the Wizards' 90. That could have been 22 points alone if they had gotten as much shots up as the Wizards. The Pistons also didn't shoot well from the 3-point line or inside the paint. However, they shot really well from mid-range, but didn't put up enough mid-range shots. Take a look at the chart below provided by .

So as you can see, their shooting was pretty bad and they kept settling for outside 3-pointer, which wasn't working. You can't take 23 three pointer if only 3 of them fall and expect to win the game.

Anyways, the Wizards are a big threat if they move into the playoffs as we have seen in this game. They can surely move up into a seed and nobody is going to want to play this team knowing their past 2 years of success in the playoffs, even thought they had lower than the 4th seed both of those last two years. The Wizards could cause a lot of damage if they play like they did last night.

Friday, March 11, 2016

There Is Nothing Wrong With The Cleveland Cavaliers

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA - LeBron James, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Lately in the news I've been hearing that the Cavs are struggling since the all-star break. However, compared to the rest of the league, this is simply not true. I tried to look for reasons why the Cavs are losing, adn I could not find many.

If you look at the Cavs record since the all-star break,it is 7th. You may look at that, and think that it is very bad. The Cavs lost to the Pistons where they just didn't play their best, Kyrie was the only one really playing great. The loss to the Toronto was just the Cavs playing a really good Raptors team. The game they lost to the Wizards, the team didn't have LeBron James. And the loss to the Grizzlies wasn't that bad as you would think it is. While the Grizzlies have had a lot of injuries of late, they still have managed to get the 8th best record since the all-star break. Not to mention, the only blowout loss, was the one where they didn't have LeBron.

Their offense and defense doesn't seem to be the problem as they have the 4th best net rating since the all-star break in the league and they have the 3rd best rebounding percentage. Their effective and true shooting percentages are both top 5 since the break, so it isn't them missing shots either. So if it wasn't anything the Cavs were doing wrong, it must be the opponent.

There was nothing special with the Cavs' opponents shooting percentages at all since the break, in fact, they aren't that high. I looked at 2nd chance, fastbreak points, points off turnovers, and points in the paint for the Cavs opponents since the break and I saw nothing, in fact the Cavs actually did very good in limiting these categories. So really, couldn't find anything wrong with the Cavaliers.

I then decided to check their clutch stats and how the team did when the game had a differential of 5 points or less in the last 5 minutes of the 4th. The Cavs game up quite a bit of possessions and lost 2 games in the clutch because their opponents FG% was so high. 48%. 9th worst in the league. The only other teams above .500 that were worse were the Detroit Pistons who only lost 1 game in the clutch and the Thunder who are actually struggling. It should be noted that the Thunder lost all 5 of their games in the clutch since the all-star break.

So is there really anything wrong with the Cavs? They lost a couple of close games and 1 without LeBron James. They just need to play a little better defense down the stretch. I wouldn't say that this team is struggling like the Thunder are though. The Cavs are fine. They are playing good defense and are playing good offense as well and they are still a title contender.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Should The 3-Point Line Be Moved Back?

Last Friday, Dallas Mavericks owner gave reporters his thoughts on moving the 3-point line back. Cuban told reporters:
"It's getting too close, guys are shooting a foot behind it anyways. ... That's something we should look at. It's worth looking at."
Of course for Cuban, this is bad timing on this statement noting that Stephen Curry has become probably the most popular player in the league and 3-point shooting has become something that fans want to see. However, Cuban explained that this wouldn't be to hurt 3-point shooters it would be to help other players who aren't 3-point shooters. He told the media:
"I don't think the number of shots would decline, but I think it would reward skill and open up the court some more. So guys would still take [3-point] shots if it's seven inches back or whatever, but at the same time, it opens up the court for more drives, more midrange game. I think it'd open it up more so guys with different skill sets could play. It would open up play for more drives. Guys with midrange games would be rewarded and that would stay in the game. There would be more diversity of offensive action in the game."
While Cuban has a point, he doesn't seem to understand that the mid-range game is just fine. Since, the 2011-12 season, mid-range shot attempts have been fairly similar. Not to mention the mid-range game is still used by many of the league's stars including, Carmelo Anthony, John Wall, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Dirk Nowitzki. And besides that, it doesn't matter where you put the 3-point line, the teams are already spacing the floor more because of guys like Stephen Curry and it is opening things up. Teams can create that without moving the line back and the Warriors have proven that. Also, moving back the line would create problems such as the corner shot. How would you move that back? Would you move it back? Not to mention, an NBA 3-pointer is hard enough to hit. It is 23ft. 9in. It would take away from the stretch 4 position such as Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins, and Ryan Anderson's game.

Teams such as the Spurs and the Grizzlies have proven you can win without the 3-point shot. The Timberwolves have big men Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns that constantly use the mid-range shot to force defenders out on them. Marc Gasol uses Mid-range all of the time. And lightning quick John Wall uses mid-range to not allow players to sag off of him and protect the basket. However, Mark Cuban is missing the fact that players are having to be guarded different. By having defenses more perimeter orientated, they are having to pressure at the 3-point line more, making the inside of the paint so much more open. Big men are having to come out from underneath the basket to get out on shooters making it acutally easier for players to get to the rim. I acutally think that moving the line back could actually counter what Cuban says it will cause.

Of course, this wouldn't affect Stephen Curry, it would acutally cause the players such as DeMarcus Cousins not have as much skill. Stephen Curry already broke his own record of 3-pointers made in a season (again) and if you move the line back, it will actually cause Curry to have an even bigger advantage against a lot of players such as John Wall and Chris Paul.

So as you can see, Mark Cuban's logic doesn't make much sense to me. While I see what he is trying to get at by moving the line back, it seems like so much a hassle for something that really wouldn't change much and would probably be changed back in later years. If you want to see the whole article with all of Mark Cuban's quotes, you can check it out here. As always, hope you all loved the breakdown and I'll be hoping to give you guys more here at NBA Inside The Play Nation!