Monday, October 31, 2016

Top NBA Games Of The Week 10/31-11/6

With Willy J

November 1st

Rockets @ Cavaliers 6:00 PM ET
This game is very important James Harden and the Rockets to test them on how good this team really is facing one of the Top Teams in the League. 

November 2nd

Bulls @ Celtics 8:00 PM ET
This is an important game for both teams. The Celtics look to seek revenge and prove they are still one of the dominant teams in the East. While if the Bulls win this game they will put a huge boost on their Playoff chances, already beating two of the Elite Eastern Teams

Thunder @ Clippers 10:30 PM ET
This game is chance for the Oklahoma City Thunder to prove that they are prepared to face the challenging West Teams without Kevin Durant, since this the Thunder's first legitimate challenge this season

November 3rd

Celtics @ Cavaliers 8:00 PM ET
This is a game vital for Boston to prove that they can put up a fight against the reigning NBA and Eastern Conference Champs. While the Cavaliers can show that they still are the Best in the East

Thunder @ Warriors 10:30 PM ET
Who doesn't want to see this game. Kevin Durant going against his former team,
 Russell Westbrook, who has become a whole other beast, going against his former teammate. Not only that but the Thunder were defeated by the Warriors in the Playoffs. You can already feel the tension and excitement!

November 4th
Hawks @ Wizards 7:00 PM ET
Both of these teams are going to be in the race for playoff spots can prove how they play against the other teams running for the Playoffs

Knicks @ Bulls 8:00 PM ET
Another exciting game. We can expect a big rivalry from these teams that was formed in the 90's come back to life again. Both teams made a big trade this summer sending former MVP Derrick Rose to the Knicks so Derrick Rose will play against his former Home Crowd. Not only that, but both teams are being viewed as the bottom Playoff teams so we can expect these two teams to be fighting for Playoff Spots

November 5th
Bulls @ Pacers 7:00 PM ET
Both teams played a few nights ago and Chicago blew them out. Indiana can prove here that they are still Top Four in the East. Not only that but they can prove that they are still best in the Division. While if Chicago wins and beats Boston, we can definitely view them as one of the Top Teams in the East

Clippers @ Spurs 8:30 PM ET
This game will tell us a lot about how the Western Conference will set up. These two teams are going to be the teams fighting for 2nd in the West and hope to beat the Warriors in the Playoffs, so this game will give us an idea of who is Top 2 in the West

This week as we can see will prove a lot of things about a lot of teams and how they will fare out in their Conferences

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Harrison Barnes Is Going To Be A Star Player

By Matthew Addie -, CC BY 2.0,
This summer, the Dallas Mavericks signed Harrison Barnes after most of the big name players were taken. Many people have said that Harrison Barnes is overpaid and cannot lead a team or be a big name player. In this article, we see whether this is true or not.

While only 2 games have been played in this regular season, Harrison Barnes has looked solid, averaging 25 PPG, 7 RPG, and only 1.5 Turnovers per game in these 2 contests. Compare that to his career average of just a little over 10 PPG, and it looks pretty impressive. Barnes has also managed to shoot 56.8% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line in these games.

While these numbers are solid, this has been two games, which both happen to be losses, and have no reason to justify that he could lead a team, right? Well, let's take a look at the Rockets vs Mavericks game. Barnes had 31 points in this 8 point loss. James Harden had 26. And while Barnes did struggle defensively on Ariza, he still managed to have a great night while having the most points out of anyone in that game.

Take a look at the game vs the Pacers and it tells a whole different story. Barnes was outscored by Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, J.J. Barea, Paul George, Myles Turner, and Jeff Teague. However, Barnes did hit the shot to put the game into overtime. While he was good, he certainly wasn't great. This proves that Barnes's game was just a really good game for him right, he can't possibly do this on a regular basis right?

Well, let's take a look at how Barnes is scoring these points. Interestingly enough, Barnes has gone into Isolation about 14% of the time in these two games. While he obviously hasn't taken that many shots in isolation, he is 4th in points in isolation so far. He's only behind Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, and Damian Lillard. Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving however, have played 3 games, while Barnes has only played 2. And you may think Barnes has gone into isolation, but he can't possibly be making the shots. WRONG! Barnes has been 6 for 6 in isolation so far which means he's been perfect in isolation situations. Of course as the season continues, this will change, but he's obviously been great in iso so far. In fact, he's been better than Kawhi in isolation in not only efficiency, but he's scored more often than Kawhi in iso as well. While he's been better just catching and shooting, Barnes has shown that he can still shoot over 50% no matter how many dribbles he takes.

Harrison Barnes has also been able to shoot no matter how close the defender is to him. When a defender has been within 2-4 ft of Barnes he's hit 46.7% of his shots, and it only increases from there.

Now I know what you're thinking, Barnes has played 2 games this season, 2 games! You can't take two game to prove a point. But this isn't Barnes being left wide open to score his career high, this is him taking the ball and wanting to score. And while it's only been 2 games, he's doing it very efficiency and more than lots of NBA stars. Not to mention, Barnes is 24 years old. He still has room to grow. If he can hit isolation shots in 2 games, can't he do it in more, and if he's only 24 can't he only get better at them. It may be 2 games, but Harrison Barnes is looking like a promising player. He's been around guys like Klay, Steph, and Iggy. He knows how to improve and get to that level. And so far, it looks like Barnes is on the right track.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

How The New Players On The Warriors Have To Change

Kevin durant 2014.jpg
By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA - Kevin Durant, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

A team doesn't just win 73 games by being amazing players. They win because of their offense and defense. They win by doing what works. But when new players come in, things can change. Here's how guys like Kevin Durant and Zaza Pachulia must adapt to the Warriors offense.

Last year, the Warriors lead the league in points coming off an off-ball screen with 1139 points that season. The Thunder on the other had were 17th with only 411 of their points coming off of off-ball screens. Durant is going to have to get used to always coming off of screens. It's not about just getting open, it's about getting in  the best position to score right off of the screen. The Warriors are always moving, and Steve Kerr wants to cut down in isolation this year. KD needs to be moving all the time. In fact, the Warriors also lead the league in points off of cuts with 1225 points. OKC had 892. To get these wide open looks, isn't a talent thing, it's a movement thing. The whole team gets points by players cutting, something that KD has to get used to.

Zaza has to get used to playing more high post. The Dallas Mavericks last year had an offense that really revolved around the low post. The Warriors were at the bottom in those terms. Andrew Bogut and the other bigs for the Warriors started up top behind the three point line, made a pass, then would go to set a screen for someone to come back up to the top, cut, set a ball screen and then roll. There was very little posting up for the big men in that offense. Zaza isn't going to be able to camp out in the paint this year. He's going to be moving and moving. He will also have to learn how to work the high post like Bogut was able to. Bogut did a lot of work in the high post hitting cutters and doing hand offs. Players would curl off him and he would hand off the ball for wide open layups. The Warriors loved to keep the paint open for baseline cutters so Zaza's going to have to learn how to play outside the paint.

The Warriors' most deadly lineup last year was their small ball lineup. The reason why this lineup was so successful was because of cutting and passing. KD is going to have to learn that it isn't about getting off good shots, it's about getting off the best shot possible. Draymond's ability to move at the 5 made it tough for the big to help on guys like Curry and Thompson, but get back onto Draymond. This made it easier for guys to cut and get to the rim. It also made it so the baseline was open a lot. They'd have most of the offense working behind the 3 point line which would make it easy for cutters to come in baseline. There was very little isolation in this lineup and lots of passing and cutting, something that KD isn't that used to. The bigs are his friends, they are going to get him open, and he's going to have to help them by moving and hitting them while they are moving.

It's not just the new players that have to adapt though. Curry is going to have to realize he can't go into isolation as much. But KD is on a totally new team with a totally different offense, and him and Zaza have some changes to make.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Washington Wizards: Stability

Bradley Beal Austin Rivers.jpg
By Keith Allison - Flickr: Bradley Beal, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
The Washington Wizards had a very disappointing season last year. This was due to injuries and locker room problems. They would have amazing games, like the game when they destroyed the Cavs but they just had some really really bad games. Another reason why the Wizards had a tough time was probably because of Coach Randy Whitman's want to play small. This took Nene Hilario out of the starting lineup and it didn't really lead to good results. Nene was a great veteran leader who brought tons of energy to the starting lineup. Kris Humphris really wasn't the best suited to start. Nene was top 5 on the Wizards in offensive rating and top 3 in defensive. On the other hand, Kris was 14th on the team for offensive rating and 15th in defensive rating! How did he start over Nene?! No clue.

Okay, now that we see the reasoning for the Wizards problems, we can now take a look at how they've been sort of solved. First, Bradley Beal was given a max contract. Now, people are complaining that Beal didn't deserve this because of injuries. First off, there is plenty of money to go around. Second, if the Wizards lose Beal, what does this do? It would probably send the Wizards back into the lottery. This not only puts the team back to a losing record, but this sends a bad message to John Wall about the direction of the team and could very well send John Wall packing. The signing of Bradley Beal wasn't just to keep Beal happy but to also keep John Wall happy.

Next, Bradley Beal and John Wall put aside their differences. Beal and Wall both acknowledged that they aren't too fond of each other at times and seem to both want to be the star of the team. However, in an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic, Beal said, "It’s tough because we’re both alphas. It’s always tough when you have two guys who firmly believe in themselves, who will bet on themselves against anybody else, who want to be that guy. We both can be that guy. Sometimes I think we both lose sight of the fact that we need each other. I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in without John. John wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in without me, without the rest of the team. It goes hand-in-hand so it’s kind of a pride thing. We got to (hash) out our pride, figure out what our goals are individually, help each other achieve those goals, figure out what our team goal is, where do we see ourselves five years from now, 10 years from now and go from there." As you can see, Beal wants to play with Wall because he knows he NEEDS to. Hopefully they resolved this issue this summer.

The firing of Randy Whitman lead to the hiring of Scott Brooks. I think Scott Brooks is going to love working with John Wall. He is going to help Wall lead the team like he never has. Combine that with John Wall's amazing passing ability and his defense and you got the next best up and rising point guard in the league. You know he'll love Markieff. Hopefully he can adapt to using screens like the Warriors run in their offense and use that for Bradley Beal and use a lot of pick and roll with John Wall and Marcin Gortat. Kelly Oubre told my mind on sports, "I feel like everyone's bought in (on Scott Brooks' coaching)".

The Wizards also have made some great off-season moves besides the signing of Bradley Beal. Grabbing Trey Burke was huge knowing that they traded almost nothing for him. Burke has proved that he is a very efficient bench scorer in just the little amount of preseason games he has played with the Wizards. And while they did lose Raymond Sessions, who just happens to be one of my favorite players in the league, it is alright since they do have John Wall starting at the point guard slot and Trey Burke won't be asked to run the team. The Wizards also signed Ian Mahinmi who is a great guy to put in defensively. He is a great back up to Gortat and if they want to go big they can put him in for Markieff. They still have bench scorer Marcus Thornton who will bring very efficient scoring to the team off the bench.

The player I'm most interested to see this season off the Wizards bench is Kelly Oubre. He has looked so amazing in the preseason and could even take that starting role from Otto Porter. He is lengthy player and a crafty finisher. He's got a good shot and resemble Kevin Durant in some ways. I think Oubre will be amazing this season and could be a great Most Improved candidate. Oubre might just develop into something special this season.

As you can see, the Wizards look like they have fixed some major problems this season. While this doesn't fix injuries or anything, if they catch a break, they could get back into the second round of the playoffs once again.