Is Lonzo Ball a Big Baller?

Lonzo Ball is the most coveted rookie ever to be drafted since LeBron James not just because of his father Lavar, but because of the fact that he is playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most accomplished teams in the history of the NBA. Ball has had huge expectations since his days at UCLA, thanks to his father. He said Lonzo would bring UCLA a championship. That dream ended in the Round of 16 of March Madness due to De’Aaron Fox’s 39-point outburst. He said that Lonzo would be drafted by the Lakers, which happened as we all know. Then there are some things that we have to wait and see before we can say they are true, such as if he is better than Stephen Curry, and that he will take the Lakers to the playoffs this year. Here is what I think about the potential of Lonzo Ball, and his shoe game.

Lonzo’s Potential

Lonzo Ball is the most gifted passer I have ever seen since Steve Nash. Much like Nash, Ball is a pass-first team player who is willing to sacrifice his scoring to set up others for easier scoring opportunities. While he was at UCLA, he averaged 7.6 assists per game, which broke UCLA records for assists in a season, and also propelled him into the top spot in the nation’s assist leaders. At UCLA, Lonzo averaged 14.6 points per game, which led his team. So far in the Summer League, he is averaging 16.4 points per game, and 9.2 assists per game, showing his innate ability to be a scorer and a distributor. While the scoring numbers may be slightly inflated due to the fact that he is playing against players fighting for a spot on an NBA roster, his ability to create opportunities for those same players on his team speaks volumes to his ability as a team leader. Lonzo already has proven that he is a Big Baller, but now he has also shown his potential to lead a team, be selfless, create scoring opportunities for himself, and be a good on and off-ball defender. He has the potential to be as good as Magic Johnson by the end of his career, as well as an NBA champion. Also, expect the #2 banner to up in Staples Center by the time Lonzo’s career is all set and done (as said by Magic Johnson).

Lonzo’s Shoe Game

Lavar Ball not only has put tremendous pressure on Lonzo to be one of the greatest players ever, but he has also started a shoe line under his family company’s name, Big Baller Brand. Shortly after Lonzo and UCLA were knocked out of the March Madness Tournament, Lavar tried to get Lonzo a shoe deal with either Nike, Adidas, or Under Armour. All three of the brands said no, which led to him creating the shoe line under the Big Baller Brand name. The ZO2 was unveiled, but to make Lonzo’s shoe stand out from the competition, Lavar priced it at $495. When interviewed about it, he said ‘if you can’t afford the shoes, you’re not a Big Baller.” In his first two Summer League games, Lonzo wore his Big Baller Brand shoes, but in his two latest games, he has worn the Nike Kobe AD, Adidas Harden 1 Lifestyle, and Under Armour Curry 4 (they were given to him by Curry). Lonzo said in an interview from TNT’s David Aldridge “when you’re a big baller, you can wear whatever you want,” showing the fact that he is still looking for a deal from the big companies, and by wearing their shoes is using this as a tactic to get the shoe deal. Lavar Ball told ESPN that since Lonzo is independent, “[he] is not forced to wear any brand as long as it’s okay with the NBA.” I think this is a great strategy and sooner than later, Lonzo will land himself a shoe deal with one of the major shoe brands.

 

Sources:

 

What the Finals Loss Means to the Legacy and Future of LeBron James

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Golden State Warriors in 5 games in the NBA Finals, proving me wrong about the buildup of the Golden State Warriors team. However, one thing that has not and will not change for me is my opinion towards the legacy of LeBron James. LeBron played his heart out, averaging a triple-double in the NBA Finals (33.6 points per game, 12 rebounds, 10 assists), becoming the first player to average a triple-double in the NBA Finals. LeBron has 3 wins and 5 losses in NBA Finals, but his legacy is still as steady as Michael Jordan’s. Jordan went 6-0 in the NBA Finals, but was 6-7 getting there. LeBron is 8-4. What’s better, getting to the Finals, or just getting to the playoffs? Yeah, getting to the Finals, even if you lose. LeBron is the one who has made himself and others so good that he is guaranteed to make it to the Finals, just ask any team in the Eastern Conference. This year, his Cavs were outplayed by a much more superior Warriors team in the Finals. Sure, LeBron had All-Stars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but Golden State has 2 MVPs (Steph Curry and Kevin Durant), 3 of the greatest 3-point shooters ever (Steph, KD, and Klay Thompson), a Defensive Player of the Year candidate (Draymond Green), and a Finals MVP (Andre Iguodala), just to beat LeBron and Cleveland. To me, that just proves how much talent is needed to beat a perfectly assembled LeBron James team. Now, let us take a look at the legacy of James, and his future.

LeBron’s Legacy

LeBron James, as we mentioned, is 3-5 in Finals, but let us look at the wins and losses more closely. In 2007, LeBron James single-handedly took his Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. LeBron, who was 22 at the time, was on the rise of being the ‘best player on the planet’, was playing stellar, but the San Antonio Spurs were too much in the NBA Finals, as he got swept. Then again, when you are only 22, your 2nd best player is named Jamario Moon (who was pretty bad, actually), and you are playing 3 Future Hall-of-Famers, expect to be swept. In 2011, when he became a member of the Miami Heat, he disappeared, not playing like himself, not wanting the ball, losing in 6 games. In 2012 and 2013, he became the ‘best player on the planet’, winning back-to-back championships over the OKC Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. 2014, in the rematch against the Spurs, the Spurs got their revenge. 2015, in LeBron’s return to the Cavs, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love both got injured, and LeBron fought his way on his own to take the Warriors to 6 games, but needed help to win. 2016 and 2017 were split with Golden State, with a 7-game thriller (Warriors blew a 3-1 lead), and losing in 5 games this year. Overall, you cannot blame him for the losses to Golden State. This year, he played his heart out and got beat by a superior team, and in 2015, he did the same, but didn’t have his star counterparts. LeBron really is 3-3 (in terms of wins and losses responsible for in NBA Finals), but the fact that he has gotten there with more success than Jordan (not to mention that LeBron has always gotten past the first round, whereas Jordan has been swept in the first round), speaks volumes to his ability to lead a team to success.

LeBron’s Future

LeBron James won’t be getting much more talent for this Cavs team anytime soon without trading Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, or Tristan Thompson. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are options, but just Kevin Love for them isn’t enough. I think he should play it out next year, get to the Finals, maybe acquire better role players, and then test free agency in 2018.

LeBron fulfilled his lifelong promise of bringing a championship to Cleveland in 2016, so he has every right to leave the Cavs (again). Reports from Bleacher Report and CBS Sports say that James has considered going to Los Angeles, as he has a house there, and is looking to pursue ventures outside of basketball, and Hollywood is the best place to do it. He has been linked to LA for quite a few years now, dating back to 2007. Kobe Bryant decided to ask for a trade from LA, letting his ego get in the way as he wanted to win desperately. The trade never happened, but it put into perspective for the rest of James’ career that LA would be a possible place to go. If he is to leave, he is to go to either the Lakers or the Clippers. Both teams have great opportunity to beat the Warriors with James. The Lakers can get Paul George or Jimmy Butler (they should be able to get one of the two this year), they can draft Lonzo Ball who has huge superstar potential, and they can trade D’Angelo Russell or Jordan Clarkson for another superstar (of George and Butler, whichever one they do not get). LeBron could even build his dream superteam of his best friends Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, and get them to play with him in LA. This would allow him to have a young team with veteran leadership around him, and allow him beat Golden State. Since LeBron can beat the Eastern Conference with his eyes closed, he can win many more championships.

With the Clippers, if they keep Chris Paul and Blake Griffin this year, they will have their Big 3 with them and DeAndre Jordan. Then they can lure James in, who has a great relationship with Paul, acquire another guy like Carmelo or Wade, and then get more role players, and LeBron can have a team that can beat Golden State, and win championships. Either way, he will have more success down the road going to LA than in Cleveland, so it makes sense that he leaves (sources say he wants to and will leave in 2018). Who knows, maybe LeBron will have more rings than Jordan after all, and become the GOAT.

Sources of Info:

 

The THRILLogy Continues: Cavaliers-Warriors Part III

On June 4, 2015, the Golden State Warriors played the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, with the Warriors looking to put a storybook ending to their odds-defying season. On June 16, 2015, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers played Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals, with the Warriors winning the game and the NBA Finals that year. June 2, 2016, they met for the 2nd consecutive Finals. This one came down to 7 games, with Cleveland winning their first NBA Finals ever, and bringing the city of Cleveland their first championship in a professional sport in 52 years. On June 1, 2017, they will meet again for the 3rd straight year, the first time in NBA history that the same two teams have played each other three consecutive years. Here is some history of the last 2 NBA Finals, and my prediction for who wins it this year:

The History of the THRILLogy

2015: The Golden State Warriors had a league-best 67-15 record, while the Cleveland Cavaliers returned to the playoffs with a 53-29 record in LeBron James’s first year back with the team since leaving for the Miami Heat in 2010. The teams split their season series 1 game apiece, and had an easy path to the NBA Finals. The Warriors won the Finals in 6 games despite LeBron nearly averaging a triple-double in large part due to the fact that Cleveland’s second star, Kyrie Irving, injured his knee in overtime in Game 1, making the Warriors job on defense easy, having one less guy to worry about, since Kevin Love had gotten injured earlier in the playoffs (both would be out for the rest of the playoffs). This win showed the versatility of the Warriors, as league-MVP Stephen Curry had a rough series, but guys like Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Andre Iguodala stepped up (Iggy was the Finals MVP). This also showed that LeBron James, as inhuman as he played that series (averaging 35.8 points per game, 13.3 rebounds per game, and 8.8 assists per game), could not lead the team alone, and if the Cavs were healthy, they could win again if they made it back.

2016: Golden State played even better in the regular season, finishing with a 73-9 record, the best regular season record ever (most wins in a regular season). Stephen Curry averaged 30.1 points per game, 6.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game on his way to winning back-to-back MVPs, and becoming the first player ever to win the league MVP unanimously. LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin Love combined to score an average of 61 points per game to lead their team. Both teams strolled through their conferences, and met again in the Finals. As we know, Golden State blew a 3-1 lead, and the rest is history.

This Year

Cleveland and Golden State started off well, and the Warriors continued it, as they got Kevin Durant in free agency on July 4th. Cleveland ended the season after the All-Star Break with a losing record, and people began to doubt them. The Warriors went 12-0 on their way to the Finals, and Cleveland went 12-1. Now, they meet again and are much better teams. This is the toughest test of LeBron James’ career, but with him on the team, LeBron can easily make this a series. James will outplay Durant, Kyrie will outplay Curry, Tristan Thompson will outplay Zaza Pachulia, and Kevin Love will outplay Draymond Green. So it comes down to Klay Thompson vs. JR Smith, and the benches. The Cavaliers bench has a lot more versatility than the Warriors bench, by acquiring Kyle Korver and Deron Williams in February, and on the Warriors side Klay has been very erratic. Last year, the Cavaliers left guys like Harrison Barnes open on shots to be able to play other guys on defense. This year, that guy will be Klay, as he is only shooting 36%. In the end, LeBron outplaying Durant is the biggest part of the reason that I believe Cleveland will repeat. Cleveland in 7. LeBron is the MVP, possibly the GOAT, and KD goes from potential all-time great to a guy who is a superstar with no credentials who made a weak move to leave the OKC Thunder to go to Golden State, the team that prevented him from going to the NBA Finals last year.

 

Western Conference Finals: Can Anyone Beat Golden State?

The Golden State Warriors have been nothing short of golden this year, but my hatred towards the team and towards all its players not named Steph Curry, JaVale McGee, or Kevin Durant, lives on. Golden State has gone 8-0 so far to start the playoffs, and play a blue-collared juggernaut team in the San Antonio Spurs, who are coming off back-to-back 6 game series. Here is what I believe will happen in order for the Spurs to be able to beat Golden State, and why it may or may not happen.

How San Antonio Can Beat Golden State

Start Jonathan Simmons to Limit Steph Curry

The Spurs started Jonathan Simmons in Game 6 of their last series against the Rockets to limit James Harden. Simmons did just that, and also added 18 points in 31 minutes of play. Simmons is a 6’6” rookie out of Houston who can score, defend, and handle the ball, and last year, he paid $150 to just to try out for the D-League. Now, he is starting in the NBA Playoffs, and against a team with so much offensive firepower like Golden State, that should only continue. Steph Curry, however, has been shooting just under 47% these playoffs, and has been a matchup nightmare these playoffs, as he is averaging 3 turnovers a game, compared to Harden averaging 5.4, so Simmons will have his hands full.

Note: James Harden went 1-5 and had 6 turnovers when guarded by Simmons in Games 5 and 6. 

Keep The Warriors Fans Out of the Game

Oracle Arena, the home of the Warriors, is one of the loudest stadiums in the entire NBA, and probably the hardest to play in. San Antonio, led by head coach Greg Popovich, figured out a way to move the ball against the Rockets in the last series to keep the crowd out of the game. The Warriors, however, have been playing great defense this season, limiting the ball movement of teams and forcing players into bad shots. The Spurs run a lot of pick-and-roll, off-the-ball movement to free guys up, but Golden State has been limiting that all season. San Antonio will have to get players open quickly, not use up too much shot clock, and get quick baskets.

Kawhi Leonard Has to be Fresh and Healthy

The biggest advantage the Warriors will have is that they can attack Kawhi Leonard all they want knowing he won’t be as healthy as he normally is, meaning Kevin Durant could get some very easy baskets off of him. The key will be to have Coach Popovich utilize the bench well enough to the point where Kawhi can get his rest, and the Warriors don’t explode and go on a game-clinching scoring outburst like they are capable of. Leonard has been everything the Spurs could’ve hoped for in these playoffs, averaging 27.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, and 4.7 apg. The teamwork will be key if the Spurs want to have any chance of winning the series. The only problem for the Spurs is that Kawhi isn’t unstoppable like LeBron James, especially when he isn’t healthy.

The Verdict

Many people who know me know that since the season started, I said the Spurs would beat Golden State in the Western Conference Finals, but after weighing in the stats, the wins and losses, the things I said the Spurs will have to do in order to win, and everything in between, I had to ask myself some important questions. Will the Spurs get swept? No. Can they win the series? Yes, and the reasons above prove how and why they can win, but the only problem is that Golden State knows how to win, even when Steph is limited, when the fans are out of the fame, and the opposing teams’ best player is on fire. If the Spurs win, it has to go to 7 games, but this series will be over in 6, with Golden State winning in 6.

Stats from:

http://stats.nba.com/leaders

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/05/jonathan-simmons-spurs-nba-playoffs-starter-kawhi-leonard-150-pay-d-league-tryout-story-rockets-game-6

 

Who Should Win NBA MVP 2016-17: BEASTBrook, or The Beard?

It has been clear since July 4th, 2016 that Russell Westbrook was going to do something no one else had ever done in the NBA before. That was the day that Kevin Durant, his best friend and teammate, betrayed him, the team, and the city, for the team that prevented them from going to the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors. This season, the team entered as a possible lottery-draft-pick team, but Westbrook’s record-breaking season has propelled his team into the playoffs, which includes becoming the Triple-Double King. James Harden, on the other hand, has been waiting since last April, as his team failed to make the playoffs as an underwhelming yet star-studded team last year. Harden took it upon himself to be a team-first player and drive his team to the playoffs. Along the way, he has had career high numbers in points, rebounds, and assists. So, who should win the MVP?

Who Will Win and Why?

Westbrook has just been incredible to say the least, and has turned a team that should be in the bottom five in the NBA into a playoff team. While his team may be worse than Harden’s, and the fact that they may not get through the first round, this is an individual award. The numbers do not lie with Westbrook. He has 42 triple-doubles, a record that has been broken after 55 years. He’s averaging 31.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG, and 10.4 APG in just 34.4 minutes on average per game. He has career-high free throw percentages, attempts, and makes (84.5%, 10.5 attempts per game, 8.9 makes per game). He is the only player in NBA history to average 40-12-11 in a 3-game span. He is the only player in NBA history to record at least 100 points, 30 boards, and 30 assists in the first 3 games of the regular season. He is the only player in NBA history to have a triple-double and have a perfect shooting game (field goals and free throws). He is the only player in NBA history with five straight 30-point triple-doubles in a season. He has the record for most points with a triple double in a game with 57. Lastly, he is the second player ever to average a triple-double in a season since Oscar Robertson 55 years back.

Harden doesn’t have any number to compare. Harden is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists (29.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 11.2 APG). He has led the team to a top-10 offense in NBA history. He helps his team lead the game in time of possessions with his ability to draw the defense to himself. He assists on 27 points per game, and scores 29 points per game, as he and Isaiah Thomas are going to be the first players to do so. He also has led his team to an NBA record for 3-pointers attempted, and made. In terms of defense, Harden has been better, but he doesn’t really play much defense besides contesting shots, as he contests around 4 more shots than Westbrook. However, Harden has set an NBA record for most turnovers in a season (he broke his own record from last year), and even though his team is more effective, Harden’s Rockets are only 2.7 points better per 100 possessions with Harden on the court, whereas Westbrook’s Thunder are 13.1 points better per 100 possessions with Westbrook on the floor.

Now, after Westbrook broke the record for most triple-doubles in a season, Harden made an interesting comment about MVP. He said “I thought winning is what this is all about,” signifying and pleading his case for MVP. However, while his team is 8 wins better than Westbrook’s Thunder, his comment is incorrect. If it was really ‘all about winning’, then we should be talking about Kevin Durant and Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, or Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics. However, the MVP is the Most Valuable Player award, not most Most Winning Player award. In the end, I believe that Russell Westbrook will win the NBA MVP over James Harden, as Harden really hasn’t done enough as an individual to be great and help his team out.

Harden and Westbrook are meeting in the first round of the NBA playoffs, but I do not believe that the result will determine the outcome of the MVP race at all. Westbrook will play his heart out in the playoffs and dazzle us just like in the regular season (and yes, his triple-doubles will continue). Harden needs to get a 100-point triple-double to win MVP in my opinion, because he is too far behind Westbrook to make his case. Even a 100-point game could be too little, too late, but the Harden vs. Westbrook matchup will be entertaining for sure.

Resources:

All stats and data from FiveThirtyEight, ESPN, Wikipedia, CBS Sports, Slam Online, and the Washington Post.

 

2016 NBA Finals Game 6: All or Nothing? Or Everything?

The NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors looks like they have become interesting again, as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 41 points each in their win to force a Game 6 back in Cleveland. However, the scuffle between Warriors PF Draymond Green and Cleveland superstar LeBron James in Game 4 might’ve just ruined the series for Golden State, as the Cavs are clawing back.

Tonight: Game 6

Tonight, very simple. Draymond Green will lose the game single-handedly for the Warriors. He is the reason Cleveland has all the momentum on their side to force a Game 7 back in Oakland, and he will be afraid. Every time he has the ball, the fans will be booing him, and anytime he is the primary defender, people are probably going to be chanting ‘Kick LeBron,” just so he can get ejected and lose his mind. I think the tactic from Cavs fans could work, because LeBron and Kyrie are IN THE ZONE! If someone like Kevin Love, JR Smith, or even Tristan Thompson can get it going, it’ll be a relaxing flight back to Oakland for the Cavs.

Who Wins Game 7?

I think Cleveland wins Game 7, making a historic comeback down 3-1 in the series. I just do not see a way that Draymond can calm himself down and not put more pressure on Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Also, their Center Andrew Bogut is done for the series, so Green has to rebound the ball and be aggressive on the glass. I do not like the Warriors’ chances of winning this series.

The Offseason

LeBron fulfils his promise of crowning Cleveland ONCE, and goes back to Miami and fulfils his promise of winning even more, as he said on July 10th, 2010.

4 Takeaways From NFL Preseason Week 1

The NFL preseason kicked off on Thursday (Week 1 ended Sunday), and there were 4 biggest takeaways that will be what we should watch from now until the season starts.

  1. Tim Tebow is going to be a member of the Philadelphia Eagles

So, as of before Sunday, the starter in Philly was Sam Bradford, and the 2nd-string QB was Matt Barkley, and Tim Tebow looked like he wouldn’t even make the team, but that changed in the middle of the 3rd quarter of the Eagles preseason game yesterday afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts. Tebow looked like he was a Florida Gator again, cool as a cucumber, leading his team down the field, and scoring a huge rushing touchdown to cap it all off. Right now, I think Bradford is the starter, but Tebow is the #2 guy, and could also be a situational QB. 

  1. All the rookies proved themselves!

Every rookie that played this week proved that they were worthy of being part of an NFL team, especially the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. Both teams had on rookies scoring touchdowns. It was phenomenal watching the new and young talents, and it will be very hard for teams to get rid of their newcomers (every team must have 53 players or less by the time the NFL season starts).

  1. RGIII says he is ‘the best quarterback in the league’

Does RGIII have some kind of concussion or something, and we don’t know about it yet? This comment is just crazy. He has yet to prove in the NFL that he can be a good quarterback, and at the same time not get hit or injured multiple times, and the Redskins have won many games without him being the starter. Come on, RGIII!!! Come on!!! 

  1. Jay Cutler is gonna be a decent quarterback for the Chicago Bears

Now, I didn’t say he would be good, but I said decent. Cutler played well, going 4-7 for 42 yards passing, and during practices and this game against the Miami Dolphins, he has thrown just one interception, which was today.