Tag Archives: NBA

Should Steph Curry Really Be The MVP?

Wednesday night, the Warriors will look to make history against the Memphis Grizzlies. With a win, they will become the first team to ever win 73 games in a season, surpassing the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ 72 wins led by Michael Jordan. This is by far the biggest story of the regular season this year, but I’d like to focus on something else. The reigning MVP, Steph Curry, is likely to repeat his status as most valuable player this season, becoming the tenth player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards. While the decision may be close to unanimous, I think there’s someone else more suited for this year’s most prestigious seasonal award.

Steph Curry has a league leading 29.9 points per game, a full point per game higher than the second best in the league. He’s also tied with three other players for most steals per game with 2.1. Curry cracks the top ten in the NBA in assists per game as well. So with numbers like these why wouldn’t Steph win his second MVP award? It’s because there’s another Western Conference point guard that is more deserving of the privilege. That’s right, not only do I not think Steph Curry was the best player in the NBA this year, I don’t even think he was the best at his position.

Russell Westbrook is more deserving to win the MVP with the season he’s had than anyone else in the NBA. Westbrook averaged 23.5 PPG, which is impressive when you look at the fact that his teammate, Kevin Durant, averaged 28.2 PPG, the third most in the league. Even with a teammate putting up the bulk of the team’s scoring, Westbrook still finds a way to score the ninth most points in the league. Westbrook also averages 7.8 rebounds per game, which makes him the only guard in the NBA to crack the top 50 in the NBA in rebounding. Curry averages only 5.5 rebounds. But that’s not all. Westbrook is second in assists per game, averaging double digits with 10.4 ASP. Curry averages 6.7 assists, which doesn’t even lead his team. When it comes to steals, Westbrook only trails by 0.1 per game, placing him just behind Steph and the three other league leaders in that category.

There’s no denying Steph Curry’s greatness. I believe he was well deserving of the MVP award last season, and there is certainly a case for him this season. With that being said, I just think Westbrook is a much more well-rounded player. He is in the top ten for scoring, assists, and steals, while grabbing the most boards out of any guard in the league. Not only that, he is also a triple-double machine. He has 18 triple-doubles on the year, tying him for the most in NBA history in a single season. He shares that feat with Magic Johnson, and any time you can be in the same category as Magic, you are doing something pretty special.

Westbrook’s athleticism is far superior to Curry’s as well. Though that doesn’t necessarily tell the story of an MVP, it’s hard not to notice. Pound for pound, Westbrook is on the same level as LeBron James when it comes to being a freak athlete. His combination of size in speed makes him a nightmare for defenders in the half court offense and the fast break. His ability to grab a rebound and take it coast to coast for a monster dunk is unlike any point guard I’ve ever seen. Though it probably shouldn’t be a factor, that kind of excitement could get some votes from basketball writers for the MVP award.

That’s not to say Curry isn’t an exciting player to watch. In fact, most people will argue he’s the most exciting player in the NBA right now. His ability to hit a three from 35 feet out is the best in NBA history. He can shoot off the dribble and with a hand in his face, and at times it seems like nothing the opposing team does is enough to stop him. But you also need to look at the teams they play for. Steph is playing for possibly the best team in NBA history. Klay Thompson is one of the best shooters in the NBA and Draymond Green has emerged as a superstar this season. They also have depth not only in their starting five, but also on the bench. Last year’s Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, is a bench player for Golden State. Again, the former Finals MVP comes off the bench for Golden State.

But I know what you’re thinking. Russell Westbrook plays with Kevin Durant, a former NBA MVP. Well that’s what I feel makes Westbrook even more impressive. He isn’t the go-to scoring option for the Thunder, but yet he still finds a way to score over 23 points per game. And he’s still able to dish out more than ten dimes a game, while putting up rebound numbers unheard of for point guards since the Magic days. And after Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t have nearly as much depth as the Warriors. Their next leading scorer after Durant and Westbrook is Serge Ibaka, who scores 12.6 PPG. This is down from his previous three seasons, while his rebound and block totals are also down for the once promising big man. The Thunder are nowhere near a bad team, sitting at third in the Western Conference with a record of 55-26, but they just don’t have the overall talent that the Golden State Warriors do.

As I mentioned before, Westbrook is the complete package of size and speed. This makes him more of a threat to opposing offenses than most point guards. He can keep opposing point guards in front of him that like to drive to the rim, while also having the speed to get out and contest shooting point guards. Curry on the other hand, does not have these abilities. He is much weaker than the average NBA player, and while he is quick, when it comes to shear speed, he is not as fast as other point guards around the league. As the old saying goes, defense wins championships, and Westbrook has a much better defensive game than Curry. Sure, Curry has emerged as the most popular player in the NBA, but writers should not think like fans do. They need to be more objective and look at who truly was the most valuable player in the NBA after taking all aspects of the game into account. After doing just that, I think Westbrook needs to be given more consideration for MVP than he has been.

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Celtics Looking For Their Best Playoff Matchup

I know we’re all still on a high after Friday night’s game. And why wouldn’t we be? The Boston Celtics ended the Golden State Warriors 54 game home winning streak in dramatic fashion, winning 109-106. The Celtics did what they needed to do on their west coast trip, going 3-2, ending with the big win against the Warriors and defeating a Kobe Bryant lead Lakers team one last time, while clinching a spot in the playoffs. With five games left, the Celtics sit at the four seed in the East, but we could easily see them go into playoffs as good as the three seed, but as bad as the seven seed. That makes these last five games crucial for the Celtics.

Both Atlanta and Boston are 45-32 on the season, but Atlanta holds the 3 seed due to head-to-head matchups. Sitting behind the Celtics are the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets in the six and seven seeds respectively, with records of 44-32, just .5 games back of the C’s. You can see that these middle seeds in the East are in a log jam and anyone could end up playing each other in the first round.

As it stands, the Celtics would match up with Miami in the first round of the playoffs; a matchup Celtics fans and Miami “fans” are used to seeing, but with a whole new look now that LeBron James is back in Cleveland. But even with age, Dwayne Wade is still a dangerous player. At 34 years of age and twelve years of NBA experience under his belt, D. Wade is still averaging 19.2 points per game this season. Along with the veteran Wade, the Heat have the 26 year old big man, Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside averages a double-double with 14.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. He’s also a nightmare for opposing offenses on the inside, as he averages a league leading 3.7 blocks per game. Whiteside could do damage against the Celtics since the C’s don’t have a true low post big man. Their closest thing to one for the Celtics would be Jared Sullinger, but at 6’9”, he would be at a significant disadvantage against the 7’0” Hassan Whiteside. Honestly, I’d rather see the Celtics play someone else in the first round other than the Heat.

So who would I rather see the Celtics play in the playoffs? Out of the potential teams they could play, I think the Hornets are a good matchup for the C’s. If the Celtics can claim the 3 seed from the Hawks, and the Hornets stay where they are in the rankings, this will be the matchup we would see. Their best player is Kemba Walker, who is able to put up points no matter who he plays, averaging 21.1 ppg. After Walker, Nicolas Batum is the Hornets next leading scorer. Batum can shoot the three ball and at 6’8”, can work down low and from beyond the arc. However, I see Jae Crowder as a good matchup to limit Batum’s offensive production. Charlotte’s biggest inside presence is former Celtic, Al Jefferson, who never really lived up to his potential in the NBA and is now on a downward trend in his career. Though he can still be a threat inside, I don’t think Jefferson has the ability to take over an entire game, let alone an entire seven game series. I could see the Celtics beating the Hornets in 5 games if they get that matchup.

The Pacers and Hawks are the two other potential matchups for the C’s. I wouldn’t want to see the Hawks in the first round because they have so many different players that can beat you and play tremendous team basketball. They also have recent playoff success, making it to the Eastern Conference finals in 2015. I’d also be weary of the Pacers due to Paul George. Star power can be huge for a team in the playoffs. When a team needs a boost, it is crucial for them to be able to look to a player that can take over a game, and the Pacers have that player. It’s also good to see a Celtics team that has that player for the first time in a while, as it’s looking like Isaiah Thomas can fill that role. Truthfully, I think the Celtics can win the first round no matter who they play, but I’d like to see the easiest route to the next round.

 

 

Can Anyone Dethrone the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference?

LeBron James is currently in a spot that he is used to being in. That spot being at the top of the Eastern Conference. With James and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers owning the 1 seed in the East since his return to Cleveland last season it begs the question; can anyone beat LeBron and the Cavs in the Eastern Conference?

The easy answer to this question, and what the “expert” analysts would say, (looking at you ESPN) is “no.” Teams with LeBron James have made the NBA Finals each of the last five years (2011-2014 with the Heat and last season with Cleveland). So why wouldn’t this years Cavaliers team be the beasts of the East once again? Well let’s look at the team currently sitting just two games out of the lead for the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors. Toronto has been a team on the rise for a few seasons now. They won 48 and 49 games in the past two seasons respectively, but came up short in the first round of the playoffs both times. Just a couple weeks after the All-Star break, this years Raptors team already has 40 wins on the season. As the standings sit as they are right now, this would land them the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. This years Pacers team has been streaky. If led by Paul George, they can catch fire at the right time, causing a potential upset and a third straight first round exit for the Raptors. But let me tell you why I don’t think that will happen…

This years Raptors team has its best roster since the Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady days of the early 2000s. DeMar DeRozan has emerged as a legitimate star in the NBA this season. He averages a little over 23 points per game and along with the other All-Star Raptor, Kyle Lowry, this team has a solid backcourt. Lowry averages 21.6 points a game with 6.4 assists and a league leading 2.2 steals per game. Along with their two stars they have a big man in Jonas Valanciunas who can protect the rim and put up some decent offensive numbers. They also acquired DeMarre Carroll this season. Carroll was a huge piece of last years’ Atlanta Hawks team that went all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the Cavs in four games. The thing all of these players have in common is their ability to play defense. The Raptors are top 5 in the NBA in points per game allowed letting up just 97.8 PPG. And along with the four players listed above, they have a player in Bismack Biyombo who can protect the paint and who averages 8 rebounds per game while only playing an average of about 22 minutes.

Let’s go back to the Cavs real quick. Sure the Raptors have defense, but how can you stop an offense with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love? These are three player who average 24.9, 19, and 15.9 points per game respectively. And along with these three super stars, they also have big man Tristan Thompson who has emerged as an elite rim protector and rebounder in the NBA. Also, I know I said the defense of Toronto is good, but the Cavaliers let up an even better average of 97.2 points per game to their opponents, placing them third in the NBA. So you may ask, how can the Raptors possibly beat the Cavaliers in a seven game series? The answer is matchups. I LOVE the way the raptors matchup against the Cavs. Let’s go through the lineups, shall we?

We first have the matchup of Kyle Lowry guarding Kyrie Irving. Lowry can be a lockdown perimeter defender and has a knack for taking the ball away on defense. Let’s then look at Kevin Love. As a stretch big man the Raptors are going to need someone who can guard him on the block and behind the three-point line. Though not great defending on the block, Toronto’s Luis Scola should be able to keep Love at bay beyond the arc while getting help down low from his guards and complimentary big men.

Ok, so we know that the Raptors can guard Irving and Love; the Cavs should be no problem then, right? Oh yeah, I forgot about one other guy. LeBron James. Now in his twelfth year in the league I think we’ve all learned you can’t stop the guy completely. But you can slow him down and the Raptors may just have the perfect arsenal to do just that. With an elite defender and above average sized guard in DeMar DeRozan, Toronto has a body that can match up well against the freak athlete that is LeBron. And when DeRozan needs a break, DeMarre Carroll is another guy who is stronger than a lot of guys in the NBA and may be able to slow James down just a little bit. When you take all this into account, if the Raptors and Cavaliers meet in the Eastern Conference Finals then maybe, just maybe, the Toronto Raptors will represent the East in the 2016 NBA Finals.