Luka Doncic is the rookie of the year

Luka-Doncic
Copyrights: CBSSports.com

If you watch NBA then chances are very slim that you haven’t heard about this young man. The Slovenian is only 19 years old and he is already establishing himself as a household name. His story starts in Slovenia, where he was shining from a young age. When he was eight years old he joined Union Olimpija and within minutes of the first training session, his coach moved him to another group, to play against 11-year-olds. When he was only 13 he signed a five-year contract with one of the best teams in Europe, Real Madrid.
He played his first professional game with Real Madrid on April 30, 2015, against Unicaja. That season he only played 5 games. Next year he started to get more playing time and mature as a player. He played 39 games in the Spanish basketball league while averaging 4.5 points, 1.7 assists, and 2.6 rebounds. Another astonishing accomplishment by him was that he played his first game in Euroleague before turning 17-years-old.
The 2016-2017 was the season where he started getting the attention of many scouts around the continent. In this season he won two awards, the EuroLeague Rising Star and the ACB Best Young Player Award. He managed to double his stats, averaging 7.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3 assists on the Spanish League while in EuroLeague he had 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. The 2017-2018 proved that he was NBA material and can become the next great European player. He put even better numbers than the previous season. He averaged 12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game in the Spanish League while in the EuroLeague he won the EuroLeague MVP award.
Here comes the future regret of the Atlanta Hawks. Hawks initially drafted Doncic with the third pick, but they ended up trading him to Dallas Mavericks for the draft rights of their favorited player, Trae Young and a protected first round pick in 2019. When Dallas gave up the rights for Trae Young and took Luka Doncic many people were surprised because they thought that he wasn’t ready yet for NBA and that he lacks speed and athleticism to provide any real value to a team. When you add that to the fact that many teams have been disappointed by promising Europeans (Andrea Bargnani anyone?) and they thought that he would be yet another bust. Boy, were they wrong, even though only a third of the season is done but the performances of this young man have dazzled many people and even his most diehard critics had to swallow their words. The moment he started playing they saw that this kid would end up being special and has the basketball IQ of a veteran that has been playing for quite a long time in the league.
He is playing out of his mind, in the 23 games that he has played so far, he is not averaging rookie numbers. With an average of 18.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game, he is elevating the Mavericks in every single way. On his regular season debut, he put up 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Against the San Antonio Spurs on October 29, he scored 31 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. These are definitely numbers that you don’t expect from rookies nowadays, and even less from rookies that aren’t considered to be slashers and genuine scorers.
His best performance yet came against the Houston Rockets, he scored 11 straight points on the final minutes of the game. With less than 3 minutes left in the game and the Mavs trailing by 8 points, he scored 3 three-pointers and a beautiful floater to give the Mavericks the lead. These points helped the home team to get a much-needed win. Seeing him hit those clutch shots you would get the impression that he has been doing this for many years now. His coach was full of praise for the young Slovenian as he said that “he’s unafraid”. We have to agree with that statement, how many 19-year-olds do you see hitting 3 three-pointers in the last 2 minutes of the game while not even flinching.

Copyrights: Houston Chronicles
It’s the beginning of the season and he may face many hardships, just like other rookies do, but then again you can him managing to adapt to the league at a very fast pace. He is for sure performing wonderfully offensively, but his defense can’t be undermined, he knows where he has to be at all times, his positioning is impeccable and that is a major boost to his squad.
We don’t want to rush and say that he may be the best rookie we have seen in a long time and the game of DeAndre Ayton and Trae Young is looking solid thus far, but my vote goes to Luka Doncic, and unless his performances drop significantly I don’t believe that he will be losing the title of the Rookie of the year anytime soon.

Draymond Green is the heart of Golden State Warriors

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Copyrights: News.com.au

Draymond Green is the type of player that you want in your team. He hustles he gives his everything he has in order to give his team a better chance of winning the game, and most importantly he offers the Golden State what they need the most, a reliable defender that can guard 5 positions with great success. He has won three NBA titles with the Warriors and has been an all-star three times, while in 2017 he managed to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. He was the original part of the trio of the Curry-Thompson-Green that won an NBA title in the 2014-15 season and managed to have an incredible regular season with 73 wins and only 9 losses. If it weren’t for the miraculous comeback from the Cleveland Cavaliers, they would have won another title. In my opinion, they would have managed to win the next two titles with this team, without any additions. However, Kevin Durant chose the easy way out and joined the Warriors to win a title, something that he couldn’t do with Thunder many years now.
It turns out that Kevin Durant made a good choice for himself and managed to win the title for two years in a row. Kevin Durant will surely be among the best players to have ever played this game and you can put Stephen Curry on that list as well, but this wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible contributions of Draymond Green on both ends of the floor. Defensively he will be able to guard the 7 footers and the point guards and he has impeccable positioning defensively while getting steals left and right. In the 2016-17 season, he was averaging 2 steals per game. When we get back to his offensive contributions, he gives the reigning champs exactly what they need, a player who knows where he has to be and what to do. His point per game average isn’t that high, he has a career average of 9.3 points per game, but he knows how to space the floor and find the open guy that can shoot an easy three. In his past 3 seasons, he averaged more than 7 assists per game, and we can’t forget also his rebounding, he has been averaging 8.3 rebounds per game in the past 4 seasons, in other words, he makes everything easier for Curry, Durant, and Thompson. While he may not be a direct threat to score he will make sure that the right man has the ball at the right time.
This brings us to a very important point, the altercation that happened between him and Kevin Durant. It started when Draymond Green got the rebound with only 5 seconds left on the clock and the score was tied 106 – 106, instead of giving the ball to Kevin Durant he dribbled the ball and had it stolen on the last second of the regulation time. Warriors ended up losing the game and apparently, Kevin Durang was heated and the infamous altercation happened where Draymond Green has apparently told Kevin Durant that they don’t need him and that they have won even before he joined the team. This has caused a lot of headaches to the franchise and they suspended Green for one game and this has raised many questions since things got even worse for the Dubs, they were losing many games that they would normally not lose.
Winning has the effect of squashing beef among players, if Warriors win another NBA title this year, the Dubs dynasty will continue to reign over the rest of the league. However, if they lose this year, many changes can be expected to happen. Kevin Durant is on the last year of his contract and he has stated before that he won’t be taking any pay cuts in order to keep the team together and if you add that to the fact that Draymond Green has another year on his contract, things can get very messy for the Warriors.
Kevin Durant may force the organization to choose between him and Green, meaning that he would sign a new contract with the Warriors only if they trade Draymond Green, or it could be vice versa, Draymond Green would force the front office to choose between him and Durant. While this may not be the end of the Warriors dynasty even if one of them leaves the squad, they would definitely lose a very important piece of their team.

Copyrights: sportskeeda.com
When it comes to the million-dollar question of choosing between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, I know that many people would choose Kevin Durant without even thinking for longer than a fraction of a second. However, I wouldn’t choose him over Draymond Green, this may sound crazy to so many people, but what Green offers, no one else in the squad can offer, but what Kevin Durant offers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can offer. After all, Draymond Green was right, they won without Durant and they still can win without him, with a solid bench and some good role players, they don’t need him.
This may never come to happen since Warriors are back to their winning ways, at the moment they stand 1st on the Western Conference with 18 wins and 9 losses and are on a three-game winning streak. As I said earlier, winning tends to eliminate the inner problems of a team, but we may have to watch from up close to see how this drama will unfold.

The unpredictability of Western Conference

nba-western-conferenceIf you would have told someone before the beginning of the season the 1st ranked and the 14tha ranked on the Western Conference have a difference of 6 games, they would have laughed right at you. But here we are, with seeing teams that were not even in playoff contention last season, play like champion and teams that were close to winning it all last year, now trying their hardest just to qualify for playoffs. The Western Conference hasn’t been this interesting in quite a long time, with every team having the opportunity to qualify or risk not getting into playoffs. The best part is that you have some dark horse teams that have no superstars in their squads and yet they are playing like a contender.
We can start by talking about the Los Angeles Clippers, they have been a joy to watch this season. With great performances from Tobias Harris, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams etc. you can’t just rule them out from any game. It’s quite amazing when you think that in a very short period they lost DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul and yet they are playing like a team that has 3 all-stars. At the moment they sit 4th on the Western Conference, with a losing streak of two games, but they have one of the best records when playing at home, with 9 wins and 2 losses. The way things are going right now, we can definitely expect them to get into playoffs and do some real damage to the contenders.
Memphis Grizzlies have also been surprising people with their game. When you see them playing now, you are reminded of the grit & grind playstyle that has worked well for them in the past. It’s great to see a team doing what they do best instead of trying to imitate everyone, they are sticking with their own game and so far, I got to say that it has been working quite well for them. They are 6th with 15 wins and 10 losses. Simply put, they don’t have the identity to play run and gun while shooting threes every opportunity they get. Good defense is what separates them from the rest of the teams and through that, they are causing a lot of headache for many teams.

Copyrighted by: The Big Lead
If you haven’t been watching Luka Doncic this year, then I am afraid you are missing out on a kid that has been playing like a seasoned vet since the beginning of the season. I am sure that Atlanta Hawks are regretting their decision of drafting Trae Young instead of Doncic when they had the chance. His performance has had a huge impact on the way the Mavericks are playing. They are sitting 8th at the moment, but with these performances, I would definitely not rule them out of the playoff race.
Now it’s time to talk about the negative surprises. Let’s start with the Western Conference finalists of last year, the Houston Rockets. You can’t blame Carmelo Anthony for the Texan teams’ woes, he played in only 10 games and what happened after that is hard to believe. James Harden is nowhere near his MVP form, Chris Paul is playing like an average point guard and Eric Gordon stated that at the moment he is not enjoying the game due to the tough times that the team is going through.
San Antonio Spurs are in complete disarray, and not because of the Kawhi Leonard – DeMar DeRozan trade, it’s just that they can’t adapt to how the game is being played at the moment. The legendary coach, Greg Popovich has publicly stated that he doesn’t like how everything is based on 3pt shooting. However, this isn’t the only problem that Spurs are facing, the injuries are making things a lot harder for them. While they are sitting 12th ar the moment with 13 wins and 14 losses, they still have great chances to get into playoffs, since the season is still young.
New Orleans Pelicans have been a tough team to figure out this season, with 14 wins and 14 losses. At home, they have 10 wins and 4 losses while playing away they have 4 wins and 10 losses. Besides Anthony Davis playing like a machine, Julius Randle seems to have been a great signing for them. He is putting some solid numbers lately and I am sure that if they get into playoffs they will cause some serious damage to whoever they face.
With only a third of the games being played so far, only Phoenix Suns don’t have any realistic chances of getting into playoffs, while the other teams have every opportunity to qualify or fall from grace. Earlier on this season, we saw that even giants like the Golden State Warriors have their weaknesses and that LeBron James is a man that can lead a Western Conference squad into performing like a contender at times. While it is still not clear, who will qualify for the playoffs, one thing is for sure, the rest of the season will be fun to watch.

Will Los Angeles Lakers become the New Cleveland Cavaliers?

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You know the pedigree of LeBron James, an all-around player that will go down as one of the best players to have ever graced a basketball court, if not the best. 8 consecutive NBA Finals is something that even the most diehard LeBron skeptics will admit that doing that it takes special talent, skill, dedication, and hard work. While he may have had help in Miami, but when he came back to his hometown, his team wasn’t as talented, but yet again they managed to reach the Finals four times. If we go more into details, his last season with the Cavs, he singlehandedly dragged his team until they reached the Finals.
After getting disappointed 3 times out of the last 4 with the Cavs, he saw that it was time for a new adventure, and what place is better than sunny California. Los Angeles has one of the biggest markets in the world, especially for an NBA player that is looking to become a worldwide name, this was a wise move financially. However, basketball-wise, LeBron knew that he didn’t have the best players, especially with the Western Conference, being the jungle that it is now, having a bunch of young players that haven’t even reached playoffs yet, is quite the risk.
Despite this, LeBron is no fool, he saw that there is potential on this young squad, and the first year of his contract may not be a championship year for him, but the 2nd year, will definitely be a year where he will want more, from the Franchise, from the players and everyone involved. While it’s not completely hopeless. They brought some seasoned veterans in the team that can help the young core develop. The addition of Rajon Rondo at the beginning of the season was one of the smartest moves that the FO has made during this season.
The beginning of the season was very harsh for Lakers, they lost their first three games and they were looking lost out there. No team chemistry, it was just run and gun with some rare sparks of what the showtime 2.0 could look like, but the defensive end was horrible. In those first three games, they conceded 131 points per game, that’s a very high number for a team that wanted to get into playoffs. However, good things come to those who wait and of course to those who do smart trades. On November 6, they signed Tyson Chandler, a player that is not flash but does those small little things that win you games. He is not afraid to fight for any ball, he can box out players like his arms were made of steel. As soon as he joined the team, we started instantly to see the results. They have won 10 out of their last 13 games and at the moment they are on a four-game winning streak.

They have found a winning formula apparently, and I’m sure that the front office and the fans are more than happy, but it’s not that great if we scratch the surface. LeBron James has started to do what he did in Cleveland last year, whenever his team was slacking, he had to bring his A game and bring the bacon home. If we start looking more in depth at the roster, most of them have never played with a superstar in their team, let alone someone of LeBron’s caliber. Lonzo Ball is a sophomore who has underperformed or performed like a true point guard, depends who you ask. He compliments LeBron James perfectly, a defensive-minded player in a team that is offensive-minded is a valuable asset, while Kyle Kuzma has continued to be a solid player with a bright future. The problem with his game is that he’s quite profficient in offense, but in defense he struggles sometimes, especially in off-ball defense, he seems to be lost.
Josh Hart, has been a real spark in the bench, providing valuable minutes while allowing Luke Walton to rest the first unit. That leaves us to Brandon Ingram, who was probably even more hyped with LeBron joining the team, since LeBron isn’t a player that is only scoring-oriented. Surprisingly, ever since Lebron joined, he has been struggling a bit, he can’t find his rhythm, his points per game average has fallen from 16.1 ppg to 15.2 and his 3pt% was 39% last season and this season so far it’s only 32%.
There is still no room for panic, we’re only 24 games into the season and Lakers have been playing their basketball in years, they have a bright future and one of the best players of all time, add to that quite the cap freedom for next year to sign another superstar, and LeBron is proving himself even in the tough Western Conference. I would have to say that things aren’t looking that bad in LALA land.

What on earth is going on with Boston Celtics?

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The Boston Celtics of this year, have been underperforming, to say the least. After LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers last year to go and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, there was a sense of relief for teams from the Eastern Conference, since he had been into 8 straight NBA Finals, and he made all those appearances while wearing a jersey of an Eastern Conference team. Last year, during the regular season they had 55 wins and 27 losses, ranking them 2nd in the Conference. When the playoffs came they played like a 2nd seed should, in the 1st round they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 4 – 3 and in the Conference Semifinals, they annihilated the Philadelphia 76ers 4 – 1. They were facing LeBron James and his Cavaliers on the Conference Finals, without Gordon Hayward who had a gut-wrenching injury at the beginning of the season.

The funny thing about this series was that, they managed to get so far in the playoffs race without Hayward and they were leading 2 – 0, and then again 3 – 2, only to lose 4 – 3, behind the monstrous performances of LeBron James, whom singlehandedly put his team on the back and carried them, to yet another NBA Finals. From what has been said here so far, you can see that a squad without Gordon Hayward who was expected to flourish with the Celtics managed to almost to reach the NBA Finals, this season have a record of 13 wins and 10 losses. While as of this moment, they are on a three-game winning streak, it’s still only three games away from .500 record. They have the 6th best record in the Eastern Conference, behind teams like Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, teams that ironically, they defeated last year, without one of their best players, Gordon Hayward. So, what is the problem with the team that was touted to be the next Eastern Conference dynasty?

Well Terry Rozier, sort of gave an answer for this. While speaking with The Athletic’s Jay King, he said that it’s tough playing on a crowded roster this year; “it’s definitely tough. Some guys have more leeway than other, and that’s just what it is. That’s on a lot of teams.” In other words, he said that the organization has been picking sides, and when you have a player like Kyrie Irving on the team, of course, that you will remain his back-up. This may be one reason as to why the team is underperforming so far, but it is not the only reason.

When Gordon Hayward joined the famed franchise, the expectations were quite high from everyone, and rightfully so. He was the leader of Utah Jazz, a reliable scorer that had the talent and the skill to lead a team to new heights. When you add the pedigree of Kyrie Irving and the solid game of Al Horford, you have the instant recipe for success, but that’s not how it went down. After missing the first season with the Celtics due to a gruesome injury, the 2018-19 season was expected to be his time to shine again. He is playing an average of 26.8 minutes per game while scoring a career low of only 11.2 points per game, that’s including his rookie season. As a comparison, he averaged 21.9 points per game in his last season with the Utah Jazz, while shooting 47% from the field and almost 40% from the 3-point line, while this season he is only shooting 42% from the field and 32% from the 3-point line.

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Hayward has admitted this himself, on an interview that he did with the Boston Globe he said; “I think there are times I feel good out there on the court,”
He continued saying that there are also other times when he feels like he is “just floating out there.”
One of the best players of your squad is having problems readjusting, and he doesn’t have enough minutes to find back his form, because the emergence of Jayson Tatum last year, has made him a fan favorite and also, he has shown that he has what it takes to perform at a high level. He proved that last year when he wasn’t afraid to go toe to toe with the best. On the other hand, you also have players that are frustrated that they won’t get more minutes. That is a recipe for disaster. Brad Stevens is having plenty of headaches, finding the winning formula and also keeping his players happy. But not everything is doom and gloom, as I mentioned earlier, they are on a three-game winning streak and maybe that will translate into more confidence and they will regain the lost ground from last year, if they play like last year, and Gordon Hayward gets back on his level, they have the potential to dethrone the Golden State Warriors.

Clippers surprising everyone

LA Clippers This season, the Western Conference is a den of wolves fighting for every playoff spot. Teams that were fighting to for playoffs last season now are running the conference, while teams that were among the best last year now are left fighting for a playoff spot. This has caught so many analysts by surprise as they didn’t expect teams like Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz and Portland Trailblazers trying to fight for the 8th spot. San Antonio are ranked 14th in the conference, while that may look bad, it’s not that tragic, since they are only 5.5 games away from the 1st seeded LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets. So, you may have noticed that I wrote, the 1st seeded LA Clippers, that’s not a typo, they have been playing out of this world this season. You expect a team that has traded, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and has in their team players like, Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, Tobias Harris, to be at least fighting for playoffs and not leading the Western Conference.
It’s not that they have had an easy schedule so far, they’ve beaten the Rockets twice, Warriors and Nuggets once and a plethora of other teams. The thing is that they are just too damn good so far. Who knew that Doc Rivers would be playing better with a team that has no stars, than with a trio of Paul-Jordan-Griffin. Maybe it was the fact that as a team they weren’t playing with much pressure that was building up years ago due to the hype created in the regular season and then when playoffs came they would always fail spectacularly.
It also may be the fact that Tobias Harris has become the star that Clippers need out of necessity. He averages 35 minutes per game while scoring 21.6 points per game, he has the highest PPG average in the squad. He is also averaging 8.4 rebounds per game, again the highest average on the team. However, while he is playing great this year, he’s not the only player to do so. You have teams like Charlotte, where Kemba Walker is playing out of his mind, but he’s alone in that squad and you can see the results aren’t that pleasing. Danilo Gallinari has been doing what he does best and that is scoring. He’s averaging 19.2 points per game, while also adding 6 rebounds per game. However, the most important stat coming from him is that he has been shooting lights out from the 3-point line. He has been attempting 5.3 three-pointers per game, while hitting 2.5 of them, which gives him an average of 46% from three. That is some serious damage.
Lou Williams has been playing great as usual, with an average of 17.8 points per game and 4.4 assists per game.

Lou-Williams

The next player on this list is a player that in my opinion has a great chance of winning the most improved player of the year award. I’m talking about Montrezl Harrell, this man has managed to almost double his stats in just a year. Last year he was averaging 11 points per game, while this season that number has increased to 16.5 points per game, while shooting a team-high 65% from the floor. He was getting 4 rebounds per game last year, this season that number has gone up to 7.2 rebounds per game. He is also leading the team with 1.7 blocks per game and 1 steal per game. The best part about this, is that he is doing all of this incredible work in just 25.8 minutes per game. Doc Rivers has found a gem on his team of average players.
They are achieving so much by playing as a team and not relying on just one player. They are not over-reliant on just a couple of players. When they had Chris Paul on the team, everything had to go through him, while now everyone is a danger, you don’t know who is their most important player. Playing as a team has been their most important thing during this season. It’s hard to predict what they may do in the playoffs, after all these are the same Clippers that have impressed for quite some years now during the regular season, and once the playoffs came, they would disappoint everyone. Doc Rivers is definitely a happy man at the moment, seeing his team being 1st in the Conference. When you add the fact that the Western Conference has never been this competitive. Teams 1 to 14 have a chance of getting into playoffs, will be a thrill to watch. One thing is for sure, every team that will play against the Clippers now know that it is not an easy task to defeat them. They are hoping to continue with these performances and maybe even surprise teams in the playoffs.

The importance of Steph Curry to Warriors

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Golden State Warriors have been smashing the competition for the last 4 years. They have won 3 titles in the last 4 years and when you’re at the top of the mountain there is no more going up, it’s just going down, or at least you try to stay there as much as possible. For the most part they have stayed on top and that had many franchises across the league worried. They have not only managed to stay on top, but also dominate their way up to the NBA Finals. Many NBA fans remember the 73 – 9 season, which ironically is the only Finals they lost in the span of 4 years. A team that has Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, we’re talking about superstars, NBA MVPs, defensive and offensive monsters that can play like a well-oiled machine.
At least that was the story up until now, the 2018-2019 season. They started the season furiously, defeating teams with ease and it seemed like this season would be just like the last few seasons, but on November 9th Steph Curry got injured playing against the Milwaukee Bucks, a game which Golden State Warriors lost. Before that game they had a record of 10 wins and only 1 loss, with that loss coming from Denver Nuggets, which is turning out to be a great team this season. But after the injury of Steph Curry, everyone thought that the Warriors would be just fine. To the surprise of everyone, the opposite happened, in the next 12 games they would win only 5 games and lose 7. Yes, you read that correctly, it’s understandable that they lost the games also due to a Draymond Green injury, that has kept him sidelined since November 15. However, a team that has Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, Andre Igoudala, should win more than 5 games out of 12. Now they are ranked 4th in the Western Conference, with 16 wins and 9 losses.
It’s obvious that Draymond Green is important to the team because of his defense and hustle, but now let’s talk about the importance of Steph Curry. In the first 12 games with Steph on the team, time of possession has been 18.7 minutes (3rd) in the league and the last 11 games without him, it has been 20.1 minutes (16th). This comes as a direct result of Curry’s court vision and his ability to draw 2 and sometimes 3 defenders to him. So, he can initiate a fast break that can go in many ways, him driving to the basket and scoring a layup, passing to a free player or you can see him pulling up from the 3-point line, sometimes even further that and get quick points. Without his presence, the offense looks slow and many times it ends up with Kevin Durant bringing the ball to the half court line and they seem lost without the guidance of Steph. If you want to know just how good Steph is from the 3-point line, after he got injured he had 62, 3-pointers made, it took Kemba Walker 4 games and 10 days just to pass him.

The effect that Curry has on the team doesn’t come from the numbers that he puts up personally, it also comes from the fact that he makes his teammates better. This can be proven by looking at Kevin Durant’s 3-point shooting. When Stephen Curry is on the floor, KD makes 40% of his shots from three, but with him off the floor, he is shooting an abysmal 29% from three. While his impact on offense is definitely vital for the team, we can’t also forget his defensive play. People rarely notice his defense, he has very quick hands and can steal the ball while also he knows how to guard players regardless of their size. He can cover for his teammates and at the same time he understands spacing and also angles. His presence has been sorely missed and ever since he came back, Dubs have started playing more as a cohesive unit rather than a squad with no general on the floor. On his two games that he came back, Golden State lost the first game and won the 2nd game. The first loss came from Detroit Pistons, and still Curry had 27 points on his return, while against the Hawks he scored 30 points and shot 60% from 3-point line. The best thing is that the trio of Curry, Durant and Thompson had 85 points, if that doesn’t show you what he is capable of doing on the floor I don’t know what will. We can expect more performances like this in the near future. In conclusion, the entire franchise of Golden State Warriors need to pray that he doesn’t get injured again or they are doomed and headed to another losing streak or an early exit from playoff.Steph-Curry

Why is Dwight Howard the least liked star in the NBA?

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When Dwight Howard entered the league, everyone had high expectations for him. He chose to enter the 2004 NBA draft, and was the first draft pick. He was drafted by the Orlando Magic, and everyone was expecting that he would do great things. He chose the number 12 and was expected to become the leader of the team right away. The Orlando Magic had only won 21 games before drafting Howard, and in the first season with the team he averaged an incredible double-double consisting of 12 points and 10 rebounds. He broke many records during that season.
On his second season he gained 20 pounds of muscle and decided to polish his defense and also his post-up game. And he was straight up balling that season, he had games with more than 20 points and 20 rebounds. You can clearly see that he was getting better and better each year. He would lead this team to the playoffs first, and in the 2008-09 season he helped his team have an amazing regular season. They had a record of 59 wins and 23 losses. They won against the 76ers, and in the next round, when Magic failed to win game 5 against the Boston Celtics, he publicly criticized his coach Stan Van Gundy and his tactics, saying that he needed to have the ball more in his hands. This was the first sign that he tends to talk things that should be discussed privately. However, this problem was surpassed since the Magic managed to qualify for the NBA Finals, where they would play against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite a phenomenal showing by Howard, they ended up losing the finals 4 – 1. But this was a great year for Howard personally, he managed to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.
During the 2011-12 season, Howard started to make demands and complained that the Magic front office weren’t doing enough in building a team that can compete with the best teams in the NBA. He made a request to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks or New Jersey Nets, but he ended withdrawing that request, so he played another season for the Orlando Magic.
Come the 2012 season he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and a team consisting of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard was formed, that was expected to do great things. However, that team turned out to be a train wreck since there was no chemistry whatsoever between the players. Dwight Howard started acting more and more dramatic. He had criticized Kobe Bryant for shooting too much and when he was sidelined many times during the season, Bryant said that he should play through the pain, which didn’t sit well with Howard who said that he was “not a doctor, I’m not a doctor. That’s his opinion”. The season ended disastrously for him and the LA Lakers, since they only managed to only reach the 8th place and were swept on the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.
He became a free agent the next season and he had the chance to sign again with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he decided to join Houston Rockets, to form a duo with James Harden. While a new challenge with a new team might have been a part of the reason why he decided to join the Rockets, the other part of it is the bad blood that he and Kobe Bryant had. Howard has been known to be a positive goofy guy that loves to joke around, while Bryant was dead serious when it came to basketball.
Kobe Bryant said this about Howard, “I tried teaching Dwight, I tried showing him. But the reality is that when you have a perception of what it is to win a championship – and most perceptions of what it’s like to win are a very outgoing, very gregarious locker room where you pick each other up and you’re friends all the time. That’s the perception. And I think that’s what his perception was of what the idea is. But when he saw the reality of it, it made him uncomfortable. And it’s very tough to be able to fight through that, to deal with that challenge. And I don’t think he was willing to deal with that uncomfortable and combative nature.”

After joining the Rockets, he was expected to make a big impact on the team, but he left after two seasons, by declining the player option that he had, worth $23 million. His next destination, were the Atlanta Hawks, where he only managed to lead the team to a first round exit. His career started going south quickly, from being on the position to ask for a trade, he became a player that would be traded by the team.
His next adventure, was in Charlotte, where he would play for the Charlotte Hornets. This is what his former teammate in Atlanta, Dennis Schroder had to say about him, “he plays always great against his former team. Credit to him too, but that’s like four games each year, you know? Houston, L.A., us…”
His Charlotte experiment failed spectacularly, with him not being able to help the team get into the playoffs. According to Brendan Haywood, who used to be a teammate with Charlotte’s Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, “the locker room did not like Dwight Howard.”
So, he was then traded to the Brooklyn Nets, who waived him immediately after they acquired him. He signed with the Washington Wizards, and due to injuries, he hasn’t been able to contribute much. From what we have seen so far in his career, wherever he went, his behavior has made him a lot of enemies, and many teams have just given up on him.

Kemba Walker and the max contract

Kemba Walker started his career in the 2011-12 season as he got drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 9th overall pick. He has been an underrated player for much of his career, and there were many times that some NBA analysts have said that Hornets should just trade him and enter the rebuilding process. While in the first seasons of his career he may have needed 4 years to fully show what he’s made off, he definitely didn’t deserve to be traded in order to rebuild. Maybe if it was vice versa then it would be more understandable because he has been part of a squad where he had to carry the load almost all by himself and he would’ve definitely fared better on a team where he would have other teammates who would share the burden of leading the team.

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Let’s go back to his earlier years, from the 2011-12 season to the 2014-15 season where he would average around 17 points per game while on the rookie year he averaged only 12 points per game. The 2015-16 season was the breakout season for him, he managed to finally elevate his game a little bit more and get noticed by people. By averaging 20.9 points, 4.4 rebounds per game (which is a career high for him so far) and also 5.2 assists per game, he showed to the world that he is becoming a force to be reckoned with. But his best season so far came in 2016-17 where they made the playoffs and he also had a career high of points with 23.2 points per game, while shooting 44% from the floor and almost 40% from the 3-point line. After this season he became one of the best point guards in the league.

But despite these performances something was missing in Charlotte since they never managed to actually become a powerhouse. In 2016 the front office signed Nicolas Batum to a 5-year contract worth $120 million, but he didn’t live up to the expectations that the franchise had for him, so Kemba got a solid player in Batum to help him, but without another star, that would just mean that he would have to do everything on his own. The 2016-17 wasn’t a good season for Charlotte as Kemba had to yet again do everything on his own. While having a career high in scoring a good thing for his personal stats, but if we look at the bigger picture we can see that he had to take that responsibility, because the 15.1 points per game Batum and a bunch of role players weren’t going to help him get to the playoffs. So, understandably they ended the season as the 11th seed on the Eastern Conference with a record of 36 wins and 46 losses.
Surprise, surprise, the 2017-18 season was again expected to be a good season for Kemba and co. and they thought that by adding Dwight Howard things might actually get better, since Kemba would work perfectly well with Howard, by using a pick & roll they would demolish defenses, but stats show a different story. While Howard had 16.6 points per game and 12.5 rebounds per game, they failed to go to the playoffs again and they finished the season with the same record as the last season, 36 wins and 46 losses.
So, we come to the 2017-18 season where it seems that Kemba Walker was fed up with trying to rely on other players and has been putting up some monstrous numbers. As of this moment, Charlotte are 11-11 and Kemba is averaging 27.1 points per game, 6.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds.
A game that perfectly describes his season is the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at home, where he scored an amazing 60 points and they still lost the game, that only shows the fact that he scored more than 50% of his team’s points, they still lost. He scored in the 3rd quarter alone 16 points. But he had no help whatsoever from his team mates, so he has been doing the same thing for many years now, without complaining while also showing loyalty to the club, which is almost unseen nowadays on this league. And this wasn’t the only great performance that he has had this season, the next game he dropped 43 on the Boston Celtics. That is 103 points in just 2 games. As a matter of fact, he has had three 40+ performances this season, besides these two that we mentioned, he scored 41 points against the Milwaukee bucks on October 17th, 2018.

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So, to answer the question of Kemba Walker’s new contract, I would have to say that Charlotte Hornets owe him the max contract, for putting up great numbers night in and night out for many years and showing immense loyalty to this franchise.

The Carmelo Anthony Case

I have been an avid NBA fan for many years and remember when Carmelo Anthony was drafted by the Denver Nuggets as the 3rd overall pick. He was hyped as one of the best players of that generation and let’s not forget that we’re talking about the generation of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, just being put in the same sentence as these guys means a lot, let alone that he was touted as a franchise player that could carry the team on his back and maybe even win a couple of titles along the way.

And for a long time, he was a franchise player, ever since he stepped foot in Denver he was the main go-to-guy for their offense and he transformed the team from a lottery pick team to a playoff contender. The Nuggets went from a 17-65 season to a 43 – 39 season, and in the process they were placed 8th on the Western Conference. They were eliminated in the first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Denver didn’t care, because after a long time now they had someone that could possibly win them a championship.
Unfortunately for him and the Denver Nuggets it seemed that they were cursed, since they were getting eliminated every season on the first round. But in the 2008-09 season things changed for the Nuggets. After another great regular season, it was time for the playoffs, and this time they were ready. Carmelo Anthony helped his team reach the Western Conference Finals, this was all new for him because prior to this season he wasn’t able to win any playoff series. While he was playing like a true all-star, there was one big problem standing on his way to the NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Carmelo gave his all and managed to get 2 wins out of Lakers but still fell short and lost the series 4 – 2.
He decided to stay with the Nuggets for another season, yet again they fell short on the first round, and it seemed that was enough for Anthony and Denver Nuggets. He was traded to the New York Knicks. He was paired with Amar’e Stoudamire, a player who functioned wonderfully with Steve Nash in Phoenix, and was expected to perform at the same level in New York. The curse of the first-round exit would follow him even in the Big Apple. He stayed in New York until the 2017 offseason, and for the 7 seasons that he spent there, Knicks managed to qualify for the playoffs 3 times, and only one time reach the 2nd round of the playoffs.

During the 2017 offseason he had many conflicts with Phil Jackson, who was the team-president at that time for the New York Knicks, so he demanded a trade. He was traded to Oklahoma City Thunder for Doug McDermott, Enes Kanter and the second-round pick of 2018. OKC was planning an experiment, grouping Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Let’s just say that it was a failed experiment in the complete sense of the word. Anthony had the worst season of his career, scoring only 16.2 points per game, the lowest scoring season of his career, even lower than his rookie season. Oklahoma City Thunder lost in the first round of the playoffs from Utah Jazz, 2 – 4 in games.
OKC gave up on the Anthony experiment since it saw that adding 3 players that demand the ball all the time would never work, so they decided to trade him in a 3-team deal, where OKC would acquire Dennis Schroder from Atlanta Hawks and Cabarrot from 76ers. Anthony immediately accepted a buyout from Atlanta Hawks and thus he was a free agent.
Houston Rockets came in play and thought that Carmelo Anthony was the right piece needed to defeat the Golden State Warriors, as they had been embarrassed in game 7 of the Western Conference Finals last year, where they went 0/27 from three-point-line, so they thought adding a bone fide scorer like Carmelo Anthony would help them beat the Warriors at their own game, scoring. Anthony was desperate for a title shot and even accepted a veteran’s minimum contract worth $2.4 million. Boy oh boy were they wrong, Anthony was disastrous in the short tenure that he had with the Rockets. He played only 10 games and after that, the Rockets GM Daryl Morey said that they were “parting ways” with Carmelo Anthony, that was a diplomatic way of saying that we totally blew it and we shouldn’t have signed him. While it may have not been Anthony’s fault completely due to the fact that he is a player that plays a lot of ISO basketball, while the Rockets play basically run and gun, but his arrogance and laziness cost him his position on the team. At the beginning of the season he stated multiple times that he would not come off the bench and that he is definitely a starter. His laziness on defense, which is nothing new, opened a lot more cracks in the armor of the Rockets, imagine the result of having James Harden (one of the worst defenders in the league) and Carmelo Anthony (almost always lazy in defense) in the same squad.
At the moment Anthony has not said whether he will continue or retire from professional basketball, but many voices have come out saying that the best thing for him to do is to retire and not embarrass himself further.