Three Contract-Year Players from the 2015 NBA Draft That Have the Most Money on the Line this Season

It’s officially contract year for the class of 2015.  Time for your close up.  Players can forget about everything that happened in the past three years- the spotlight is on you this year.  Show up and perform at a high level in your contract year?  Let’s get you that brand new Bentley you dreamed of.  Get injured or disappoint?  Kiss your money goodbye.  Just look at what happened to Isaiah Thomas this past summer.  He went from “bring the Brink truck” to signing the Veteran’s minimum deal.

Let’s take a look at three players from the 2015 class that literally have millions of dollars on the line this year.


Terry Rozier

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Roziers playoff battle vs Eric Bledsoe was the most entertaining storyline of the first round last year.  Quick recap for those that didn’t follow:  Rozier “accidentally” called Eric Bledsoe “Drew Bledsoe” in a post-game conference when asked about Eric Bledsoe.  Yes, Drew Bledsoe, the former quarterback of the New England Patriots.  Drew Eric Bledsoe didn’t find it funny, and when asked about Roziers play in Game 1 the next day, he responded, “Who?  I don’t even know who the fuck that is.”  Rozier and the Celtics eventually took care of Bledsoe and the Bucks, but the petty war wasn’t over.  Rozier decided to show up to Game 1 of the Celtics second round playoff matchup against the 76ers rocking a Drew Bledsoe jersey.  What a fuckin troll.

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Oh the pettiness. You have to love the NBA.  Guess what?  That’s not even the BEST part of this beef.  The funniest part is that Jalen Rose compared Rozier to Eric Bledsoe at the 2015 NBA Draft!!!!  Are you not entertained?!?!?!

After Irving’s season ended last year, Rozier stepped into Kyrie’s shoes (literally) and emerged as a more than reliable starting point guard for the Celtics.  Prior to Irving’s injury, the third-year guard was averaging an impressive 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 25.8 minutes.  Post-Kyrie injury, his numbers increased significantly to 15.2 points, 6 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in 32 minutes without Irving.  In the playoffs Rozier averaged 16.5 points a game, 5.7 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game (WHOA!).    Rozier finished 19th in RPM wins last year for all point guards, finishing just a shade under Kyrie and higher than All-Stars Goran Dragic and John Wall.  The Celtics were also +21 with Rozier on the floor in the playoffs- the third best, only trailing Horford and Tatum.

Does Rozier deserve more playing time?  Probably,  but he’s not going to get the minutes he thinks he deserves on this loaded Celtics team.  Scary Terry (awesome nickname by the way) showed that he’s capable of handling the ball and running the offense for the Celtics last year.  Unfortunately, his opportunities will significantly decrease with the return of Irving and Hayward.  It’s hard to see Rozier having the same impact on the offensive end for the Celtics this year.  The Celtics will likely have two of either Irving, Hayward, Tatum, or Horford on the floor at all times and they will serve as the primary ball handlers/playmakers.  Rozier will have his spots, but he’ll have to take full advantage of those moments to maximize his value.  Rozier was an effective (44.9%) catch-and-shoot shooter from 3-point range in the playoffs so he can be an effective player for the Celtics even without the ball in his hands.

The Celtics will be in a tricky spot this summer with Rozier, especially after the extension of Marcus Smart last year.  The Celtics would obviously like to keep Rozier, but its unlikely they’ll be able to match the offers Rozier will field next summer.  Will Rozier have the opportunity this year to further prove that he can be a starting point guard in the league?  Probably not, but last year’s performance was enough for teams to offer Rozier a long-term contract next summer (hello Phoenix!!!!!!).  For Rozier, the most important thing is to stay healthy heading into free agency.  By the way, Terry Rozier is my starting PG on my All Dark Alley NBA team.


D’Angelo Russell

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Coming out of the draft, Russell was over-hyped as the next Manu Giobli/James Harden, but those comparisons tapered quickly.  Remember this?  I can’t believe Kobe agreed to this.  This might be worse than the “this is going to be fun” Dwight Howard/Steve Nash cover.

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I have to admit, Russell was handed an unfair deck during his time in Lakerland, most of which he brought upon himself.  The Snapchat debacle was an absolute train wreck.  We’ll never know what he was thinking, but he was never able to recover from that.  Guess what else?  If you think about it, Iggy Azalea is responsible for PG not signing with the Lakers (George and Russell share the same agent).  There were always concerns about his immaturity and Snapgate was the tipping point for the Lakers.

In his first move as president, Magic Johnson used  D’angelo Russell to get rid of Timofey Mozgov’s contract.  When asked about the Russell trade, Magic didn’t hold back either.  “D’Angelo is an excellent player, he has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better and also [somebody] that players want to play with.”  Geez, that’s probably something you don’t want to hear from the greatest point guard of all time.  Unfortunately for Russell,  Johnson wasn’t the only Laker to bash Russell.  Lakers former coach, Byron Scott, consistently spoke negatively about the young player.  Things this past summer didn’t get much better for him either.  He saw two of his best friends, KAT and Booker, get maxed by their respective teams.

Russell is a gifted scorer and he has the size/stroke to become an impact player in the league.  He’s demonstrated the ability to average 20 PPG in the league.  For a young point guard, he takes care of the basketball and he’s effective in the pick n roll.  Unfortunately for Russell, his lack of explosiveness makes it difficult for him to get to the rim and finish.  He also struggles often times on the defensive end, but that’s mainly due to his lack of effort.

By year three we usually know if a player has the POTENTIAL to become a special player.  Russell hasn’t showed us much, but I’m not ready to label him off yet.  What’s Russell’s ceiling?  Best case scenario, can he be the second best player on a championship team?  Ehhhhh maybe, but probably not. Or is he going to be a “bad team, good stats” guy his entire career?  It sure feels like he’s headed down that road, doesn’t it?  But guess what?  You can make the All Star team that way- just look at Stephon Marbury!  With Kenny Atkinson at the helm, Russell will all have the tools, resources, and opportunities to blossom and prove he can become a valuable piece for the Nets.

In year four, can D’Angelo show that he’s matured on and off the court?  Can he demonstrate the leadership ability at the point guard position that the Nets desperately need?  Can he stay healthy (he’s missed over 50 games the past two years)?  Is D’Angelo someone we will look back on in fifteen years and ask, “why wasn’t be better?” There’s so many questions, but he’s only 22 years old.  Unfortunately for the Nets, they’ll have to make a decision by next summer.  Time is ticking……


Kelly Oubre Jr.

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Kelly Oubre aka “Wave Papi” is entering the final year of his rookie contract.  “That’s my alter ego,” Oubre explained.  “Wave Papi is all about good vibes.  He’s about staying cool, calm, and collected.”  Doesn’t that sound like something you would hear come out of Swaggy P’s mouth?  Oubre has made a bigger name for himself through social media vs on court performance which is never a good sign.  UPDATE – Oubre just evolved into TSUNAMI PAPI.  Oh no Kelly, what are you doing?

The 6’8” small forward averaged 12 points and 4 rebounds for the Wizards in 28 minutes last year.  Oubre playing 28 minutes a night tells you all that you need to know about the Wizards roster.  Tsunami Papi has improved in each of his first three years in the league, but he hasn’t developed into the valuable 3 and D player the Wizards were hoping for when they selected him with the 15th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

This past summer, Oubre worked with Drew Hanlen who has become a go-to trainer for NBA players.  Oubre knows what is at stake this year.  His next contract can help him evolve into Megatsunami Papi or dry him up like Southern California.  To maximize his value, he’ll have to prove to teams he can defend and hit three pointers at a consistent rate.  Oubre will be counted on as one of the Wizards’ go-to players off the bench.  Whether he can answer or not will be the question.  If Oubre can stay consistent  this year, he’s looking at a nice pay raise this upcoming summer from a team in need of a 3 and D player.

Wet Like I’m Book

Drake’s prophetic shout out to Devin Booker on the track Sicko Mode seemingly put the league on notice this summer. Yes, he signed a max rookie extension this off-season, yes he won the three point shooting contest last year, but the combination of a hand injury and poor play from the Phoenix Suns lately may have casual NBA fans sleeping on Devin Booker and his potential All-Star campaign this year. Deductions made from opening night may seem hasty, but with Igor Kokoškov putting the ball in Devin Bookers hands during the last 5 minutes of the game, Booker caught fire and closed the 4th quarter scoring 19 points. Booker’s scoring has never been questioned it has been his intensity and defense. While the verdict is still out on Booker’s defense, his intensity and scoring cannot be questioned.

September 10th the Suns announced Booker needed hand surgery with an estimated recovery time of 6 weeks. September 10th seems like years ago based on Booker’s performance tonight. Devin Booker made a statement on the ESPN late game, on a night that was meant for Doncic vs Ayton (Ayton outplayed Doncic who needs a consistent three-point shot). For the first time in 4 years the Suns look poised to improve and have a leader in Igor who knows how to put his best players in positions to succeed. Coach Kokoškov has built an offense with screens at the top of the key, on the blocks and wheel motions allowing players like Josh Jackson to come down hill off hand-offs or screens and creating open shots for shooters like Trevor Ariza and Devin Booker with flares to the corner for threes. To put things in perspective the Suns have already eclipsed last years mark of three-pointers in a single game with 19. The Suns won’t win a championship any time soon, but they have an identity now that starts with Devin Booker controlling the keys to the offense and wings that can shoot and play defense.

Booker finished with 35 points and 7 assists, an impressive line for someone who had been limited in practice coming into the week. During the summer some argued that Devin Booker was a good stat on a bad team guy. Rationalizing that someone had to score on abysmal Suns teams; moreover, a 70-point outburst against the Celtics gave naysayers ammunition. His teammates were actively looking to get him points at the sacrifice of the Suns winning the game. The Suns haven’t been playing for much since Booker was drafted unless you count tanking for the lottery, with win totals hovering in the 20s: 2015-2016 23 wins, 2016-2017 24 wins and 2017-2018 21 wins. Things seem to be coming together for a Suns team: a new coach, a reliable center drafted with the number one pick and Devin Booker leading 3-point barrages.

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Booker finding space for a three pointer off a pick from Ayton in Igors offense consistently worked.

Booker made 6/10 from the three-point line and finished 12/19 from the field. He didn’t force threes and consistently found the open shooter, highlighted by his passes to Ariza and Josh Jackson late in the fourth quarter. A lineup featuring Booker at the point, Jackson at the two, Ariza, Warren and Ayton has the length and ability to switch in any situation as all the players are over 6’6”. With shooters flanking his sides and devastating finishing ability of DeAndre Ayton, Devin Booker has room to create his own shot, dish it to Ayton on the block or find the open shooter. This newfound freedom highlights Bookers 3-point shooting and displayed his play-making prowess. If TJ Warren has truly found his 3-point stroke and Josh Jackson can consistently hit jumpers, Bookers ability to be a play-maker should burgeon during the season.

Bookers night was not flawless as his got into foul trouble in the third quarter; however, this break may have been the reason for his 4th quarter scoring. A consistent effort on defense will be paramount for Devin Booker continued progression. Starting Isiah Canaan worked well tonight, but ideally the Suns can add a bigger more defensive minded guard in the future to help augment Devin Booker’s defensive shortfalls. Keep in mind Devin Booker is doing all of this at the age of 21.  For now we can enjoy the impressive shooting of Devin Booker.

One game into the NBA season makes it easy to scoff at Devin Booker’s performance against an undermanned and seemingly lackadaisical Mavericks team. But the Suns are above .500 for the first time since Nov. 23 2015.

Drake sported a Devin Booker high school jersey at a concert earlier this year.  Drake is aboard the Devin Booker hype train and you should be too.

Instant Reaction: Celtics and Sixers

Instant over-reactions from Celtics (105) – Sixers (87).

Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celtics with 23 points and nine rebounds, and the Celtics beat the 76ers 105-87.  The Celtics dominated the Sixers on opening night.  Embiid is right, it’s not a rivalry – the Celtics are way better than the Sixers.

A couple of quick notes:

Celtics:  The Celtics are going to lead the league in wins this year.  The Celtics are DEEP – they they have nine guys that can give them quality minutes.  They dominated last night’s game even with off nights from Kyrie and Hayward.  This team is going to be a ton of fun to watch this year.  My biggest question for them is who gets the ball in crunch time?  It’s going to be Kyrie.  He’s proven it on the biggest stage but are we sure it shouldn’t he Tatum?  Must be nice.

Sixers:  Who do the Sixers go to when they need a basket?  Embiid is obviously their guy but what about on nights he’s not feeling it?  Horford did an excellent job on Embiid last night (he always does).  They don’t have a single guy on that team, besides Embiid, that can create his own shot.  That worries me, especially come playoff time.  The Sixers bench is going to be awful this year (Reddick needs to start over Fultz).  Hopefully Wilson Chandler can provide some quality minutes when he returns from injury.

Markelle Fultz:  What the hell is wrong with him? It was painful to watch him out there last night.  It’s so obvious that he’s only comfortable shooting from one spot on the floor -the top of the key.  The Sixers can’t play Simmons and Fultz together; neither can shoot and it’s obvious the Sixers struggle with the two of them together on the court.  Fultz finished the night with a +/- of -16 last night, the worst on the team.  I’m officially worried about Markelle Fultz.

Kyrie Irving:  Kyrie finished with only 7 points last night, shooting 2-14 from the floor.  You can tell Kyrie was going through the motions last night.  We didn’t see his typical dribble – crossover finish at the cup once last night.  To be honest,  I didn’t even notice Kyrie out there last night.   I know that he’s played in big time games but its opening night.  He should be up for opening night, especially after a six month layoff.  It’s obviously an overreaction but Kyrie looked disinterested for most of the night.  Are we sure Kyrie is going to stay in Boston?

Jayson Tatum:  Mfer is a  superstar.  I’m going to say it, Tatum has a CHANCE to be a top three player in the league.

Jaylen Brown:  He didn’t dunk on Embiid – everyone calm down.

Basketball is Baaaaaaack

The NBA regular season is finally upon us. We made it.

Another exciting off-season comes to an end in dramatic fashion as four playoff teams meet tonight. Every team has hope. Some fans hope their team lose every game and get the first pick in the draft (R.J. Barrett whatup?) while other fans hope their team is a legit contender, how can an NBA fan not be happy today?

Opening night features two intriguing match-ups

First up is Philadelphia at Boston on TNT at 8 pm

This is a rematch from the second round playoff series that the 76ers improbably lost to the undermanned Celtics. A healthy Celtics team should strike fear in the heart of any Eastern Conference team. The 76ers stayed relatively pat this off-season and we will get to see if the new found confidence of Markelle Fultz translates to a live basketball game. Two things to watch for:

Will the Celtics be able to neutralize the elite passing ability of Ben Simmons like in the playoffs? 

Can Kyrie get everyone involved on a stacked Celtics roster? 

The Nightcap is Oklahoma City at Golden State on TNT at 1030pm 

The last time OKC took the court they were bounced by a less talented but more cohesive Jazz team. Golden State can’t be stopped unless they stop themselves. Until Roberson returns healthy, it will be hard for OKC to have the players to be an elite team in the West. The addition of Shroder is timely considering they will likely be without Russ on opening night. Golden State is favored in this early season match up, but don’t be surprised if these two team square off in the playoffs.                                                                   Two things to watch for:

Can Paul George keep this game close and go for his own triple double?

Will Golden State score 130 points tonight?

 

The first game is a better match-up on paper, but does anyone really care?

THE NBA IS BACK.

NBA Roundtable: 2019 Season Preview Edition

The NBA season is finally here!  Who will exceed expectations?  Who will fall short?  Who will win this years Finals?

Our “NBA experts” answer the big questions.

1. What are you looking forward to most this NBA season?

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Killian: Drama: Is drama not the best part to every NBA season? There is no team sport in which we believe we actually know the players more than the NBA. LeBron is in LA, Jimmy Butler is bullying his teammates, Golden State is trying to make a permanent stamp in history, and that is just surface level. The NBA has the greatest grasp on its fans, of course the NFL has more viewers but the engagement NBA twitter is second to none. It is the easiest to follow each storyline, with fans being the content generators.

Arnold: The trade deadline/blow it up teams.  Does Jimmy Butler make it to the trade deadline ( I hope so)?  Where does he end up?  Does Portland finally blow it up and break up their Lillard – CJ backcourt?  What about Washington?  Do they breakup their Wall – Beal backcourt?  Does Charlotte finally trade Kemba Walker?  Do the Lakers say “eff it” and trade their young pieces for a star at the deadline (Hello Lillard)?  What about Detroit?  They can’t ride with a Blake – Drummond duo right?  You know what’s fun?  A Blake Griffin for CJ or Lillard trade.  Or what about a Beal for Blake trade?  SO MANY FUN POSSIBILITIES.

Tom: This season will be dominated by the chaos in LA with Lebron and dynastic talks of Golden State, but what we all should be focusing on is the Eastern conference. The 76ers stayed pat this off-season while the Celtics got stronger with two starters from injury. The burgeoning rivalry in theEast between the Celtics and 76ers but sprinkling in the Raptors who just need to go all in and trade for another star. Will Kyrie stay with the Celtics? Did the 76ers mess up by not adding another star? Can Kawhi still play at an elite level?

Coach Red: Without question a Post LeBron Eastern Conference is what I can’t wait to see. There are so many grown men who have had their lives ruined or caveated due to LeBron and now that he is no longer in the Eastern Conference coaches like Dwane Casey, Brad Stevens and Tyron Lue have no excuse. Dwane Casey was for years stifled at the hands of LeBron led teams and while his situation has changed as he is no longer in Toronto there should be a quick turn around in the next few years up in Detroit. Brad Stevens now has the ability to out basketball opposing teams now that the best in the league is no longer impeding his path to the Finals. If the Celtics don’t make it to the Finals there will definitely be dissention in the Stevens fan boy section as to whether he is the chosen one who will bring balance to the league. And Lue, Lue like every other coach who started with LeBron James on his roster will have this year to prove whether or not he can actually be considered a good coach. Brown and Blatt failed miserably but Spoelstra proved he was legit and now it is time for Lue to do the same. Is he truly a savant with in game adjustments and X’s and O’s or was it all just a façade with LeBron doing all the work behind a little red curtain? We gon see!!


2. Which team will exceed expectations?

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Killian: I know I always sound like a homer, I will not say that they will make the playoffs but I believe the Cavs will beat their over/under by more games than  any team in the O/U range of 32-40. Not a smoking hot take in my opinion. They have experienced guys, that that experience winning. Of course, Bron not being there makes a massive difference (last time he left, they ended up with the #1 pick). I just believe that the shambles he left behind this time would kill the previous shambles.

Arnold: Toronto Raptors: Lebron is finally out of the Eastern Conference and no team is happier than the Raptors.  Toronto has won 50 plus games in three straight seasons and they just replaced Demar Derozan with Kawhi Leonard.  People  (including me) forget that Kawhi Leonard was a top-three player TWO years ago.  Toronto is DEEP, they have 10 guys that can give them quality minutes in the playoffs.  Most people are predicting a Sixers – Celtics ECF matchup.  I’m riding with the 6 and predicting a Celtics vs Raptors match-up  (Celtics in 7).  But don’t be surprised if you see Drake sitting court side at the 2019 NBA finals yelling at Kevin Durant.

Tom: The team most likely to exceed expectations will be the Washington Wiz… joking. The team will be the Thunder. Russ, PG13, Shroder, Roberson and Adams. OKC has the talent to play with anyone in the league. If Russ can keep himself from pounding the ball all game long OKC can make a jump. With a competent PG in Shroder playing beside him, Russ needs to play off of the ball. If Russ can control himself OKC can beat the Rockets and end the Golden State dynasty.

Coach Red: The Dallas Mavericks are going to be the team that catches everyone off guard. I think Vegas has them around 35 wins for the season and I think there is significant underestimation of their roster. Everyone is on board that the team will be fun to watch with Doncic and DSJ along with it being Dirk’s final year (most likely), but I believe with the versatility that we are going to be seeing from the way Carlisle uses Doncic at multiple positions to DSJ being used more off the ball as opposed to dribbling the leather off of it like last season they could easily finish in the top half of the Southwest.


3. Which team will fall short?

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Killian: Sixers: Health will always be a question with this group of guys. Who is Fultz? There are too many questions with this team. I think that the Sixers fans believe this to be a 60 win team, but with health concerns, the loss of free agents, and the lack of additions, I can see things being delayed ANOTHER year.

Arnold: Philadelphia 76ers:  I just don’t trust that medical team.  Three (if you count Fultz) of their best players have suffered season ending injuries.  Embiid, Simmons, and Fultz all sat out their rookie year due to injury/who knows what.  And guess what, they just added another player in Zahier Smith to that list.  I just don’t trust or see Embiid/Simmons staying healthy enough.  Injures suck, hopefully Embiid and Simmons can stay healthy this year because I am officially done trusting the process.

Tom: By mid-season the Lakers will be floating around 20-18 and this is when Lebron will start having back-issues. He didn’t come to the Lakers to compete this season, but to see which young players were worth keeping until the Lakers go all in next season. Lebron will return to help salvage the Lakers season, but they will get bounced in the first round by OKC or the Rockets.

Coach Red: When looking at who isn’t going to live up to expectations I am definitely going with the Bucks. I am not sold on Giannis having the offensive tools to be a true superstar this year as it is till pretty clear that he does not have a jumper. Budenholzer can make the offense as pretty and up tempo as he wants but that isn’t going to change the fact that The Greek Freak is not a threat outside the paint, this man couldn’t hit the side of a house if he was in the family room. It is not hard to gameplan for a team whose biggest offensive threat needs to be inside the paint to be effective. The front office has done a weak sauce attempt to surround him with a collective perimeter threat to compliment his deficiencies and we will have another year in the books where we are saying “once he gets a jumpshot he will be unstoppable”. This is the year that more people jump off the Giannis MVP train and get a ticket on the Giannis Is a Solid #2 train.


4. One bold prediction:

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Killian: Trae Young will be ROY. He by no means has the most talent in the class, and we can probably say that he has the lowest floor of anyone in the lottery. He will be able to shoot whatever he wants (this may end up being a weapon against his campaign) and he will be the primary ball-handler, so he will get all of the counting stats. I would imagine he will have low efficiency, but he will put up numbers

Arnold: This will be the last year of the Golden State Warriors dynasty.  More to come in a future column….

Tom: Deandre Ayton will easily be a top 5 center this year and the unanimous rookie of the year. Follow me here name 5 better centers…. Ill give you Embiid, Towns, Jokic.. who is next? (Davis is a PF) Ayton doesn’t even have to have a good game and he is consistently getting double-doubles. Booker and Ayton are already the best Guard/Center combo in the league.

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Deandre Ayton tearing up Pre-Season

Coach Red: This is a little far out on the calendar but I believe the Laker roster we see at the start of this season is going to be almost identical to the one we see at the start of next season. I think after a year in LA and making the playoffs as an 8th seed (best case scenario). LA falls short of many of the top free agents that they are hoping to sign in the offseason. LeBron is still the best player in the NBA but the appeal to play with him is a currency that has shown to be progressively diminishing. The guys around LeBron will get better over the course of the year but LeBron is going to find himself stuck in a legitimate rebuild as opposed to the “just wait till my homies get here” phase everyone believes them to be in.


5. You’re 2019 NBA Champions….

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Killian:  Golden State: Do I want it? No. Am I rooting for it? No. But there is no one that believes they are remotely knowledgeable on the workings of the NBA can make any other pick. There is a world in which someone else wins the title, but please lead me to the person that is willing to bet a significant amount of money so I can drag the clown to the poor house.

Arnold: Golden State Warriors.  I know, it’s a boring pick but does anyone expect anything else?  They’ll sleep walk through the regular season/first round, coast through the second round, and wake up for the WCF vs Lebron and the Lakers.  The Finals will be close between the Warriors and Celtics but the Warriors experience will be too much for the young Celtics.    I’m going with the Warriors in six.  If it wasn’t for Draymond’s technical in 2016 the Warriors would be shooting for a five-peat…….a five–peat.  What the hell.  I can’t even spell my name right five times in a row.

Tom: OKC will win it all this year. Add Roberson, subtract Melo and a competent guard (Shroder). OKC and Russ will find a way to down his usage, make open shots off the ball and improve those around him. The Golden State dynasty will end when Boogie messes up the Warriors juju and Durant will go to the New York Knicks.

Coach Red: Golden State without question is going to win this year, the only real question is will they do it in 16 games. The Warriors have cultivated a system within their system which involves getting stars of varying levels to join their roster to keep things fresh as they roll to another championship. Warriors players have said it themselves, they’ve been there before and the feeling (while great) isn’t the same level of excitement and euphoria as it was the first time they won the title. Now what gets them going and prevents them from having a year where they look to be dreading the regular season like they have in the past is by living vicariously through the ringless stars that join their team. This year it is Cousins and while he brings a scary presence in the paint he also oddly enough gives the Warriors something to work towards as they have won so much the only way they can stay locked in is through the possibility of watching someone on their team get their first ring.

Ayton vs Embiid

DeAndre Ayton, number one pick, and beacon of hope in Phoenix already has All-Star center Joel Embiid talking. On draft night Embiid tweeted “Don’t compare Ayton to me either… I play DEFENSE.”  And so begins the tale of two centers. Embiid is a dominant two-way center when he is on the floor. His dominant play elevated the 76ers into the playoffs. Ayton averaged a double double during his lone season in Tucson. Ayton is 19 and Embiid is 24, both were born outside the United States and started hooping in High School. The back and fourth has already begun this summer with pictures of Ayton dunking on Embiid, and Embiid feeling disrespected with Ayton comparisons on draft night. Embiid is already feeling threatened by Ayton.

Joel Embiid Kansas

G 28 PTS 11.2 TRB 8.1 AST 1.4 FG% 62.6 FG3% 20.0 FT% 68.5 eFG% 62.9 PER 28.2

DeAndre Ayton Arizona

G 35 PTS 20.1 TRB 11.6 AST 1.6 FG% 61.2 FG3% 34.3 FT% 73.3 eFG% 62.5 PER 32.6

Few TV talking heads appreciate the fact that Ayton was indeed playing out of position at Arizona where his defensive statistics were lackluster.  By guarding smaller players he learned how to play defense on the perimeter an imperative skill for big men in todays NBA.

Another Arizona Wildcat was questioned about their defense around draft time just a year ago, Lauri Markkanen. The Finnisher has surpassed expectations as an on ball defender with his foot speed and proved to be more than a capable defender(Kevin O’Conner gave Lauri an F+ draft grade) and while setting the rookie record for 3 pointers made. Ayton played in the same 4 position as Lauri on defense and hopes to see similiar success defending the perimeter at the next level.

Ayton was a dominant offensive force at Arizona, Embiid could be the best two-way center in the NBA. Both have big personalities and bigger smiles, but will Ayton rise to the level of Embiid?

Embiid played with the number one pick and was relegated to the block at kansas while Wiggins ran the show. Will Embiid every play a full NBA season? Centers in basketball are like quarterbacks in the NFL, a team really never knows what it is going to get until they step on the floor. Embiid improved drastically year to year in the NBA which cannot be discounted, but there is no reason to think Ayton can’t make a similar jump based on his newness to basketball.

The Suns and Sixers will play twice, the first meeting on the 19th of November and the second meeting will be in Phoenix on the 2nd of January, that will also be Deandre Ayton bobblehead night. It is the second game on a back to back for the 76ers, but for some reason I feel like Embiid will play.

First player to dunk on the other wins.

Anthony Davis to the Lakers is a Done Deal

Anthony Davis to the Lakers.  It’s a done deal.  If not next year, the year after.  It’s done.  He signed with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports. The same Klutch Sports ran by Lebron James that represents Lebron James.

Where and when can I get my Davis/Lakers jersey?

Lebron seems excited to welcome Anthony Davis to the family.  The family huh?  Does he mean the Lakers/Klutch family?

Davis signing with Klutch matters.  This stuff maters.  A player’s agent matters.  Just take a look at the Lakers.  The Lakers took care of KCP (Klutch Guy) last year by paying him $18 MILLION and $12 MILLION this year!!!! He wasn’t going to get that money anywhere else.  It wasn’t the reason they signed Lebron but it definitely helped. Lakers are a Klutch team now.

D’angelo Russell and Julius Randle?  Two guys the Lakers screwed.  Both repped by Aaron Mintz of CCA.  You know who else is repped by Aaron Mintz?  Paul George. This stuff matters.  The Lakers vs CCA thing is real (Lakers have ZERO CCA guys on their roster).  It’s a huge reason Paul George didn’t sign with the Lakers.  According to a source I spoke to, he described CCA’s role as “impactful” in the Paul George situation.

AD is eligible for the Super Max Deal.  A 5-year deal that is projected to be worth $230 million, which would be the largest contract in NBA history.  Why would AD switch agents if he was going to sign the Super Max Deal?  Why do you need a new agent to do that?

Let’s take a look at some of the quotes from AD on Media Day:

Davis said the move was aimed primarily at helping him become the “the most dominant player in the league.”

How do you become the most dominant player in the league by switching agents?  I’m kind of confused.  But I know you can’t become the most dominant player in the league playing in New Orleans.  You just can’t.  It doesn’t matter how good you are.  You don’t have enough nationally televised game for people to consider you the most dominant player in the league.  The Pelicans have 20 nationally  televised games this year.  The Lakers?  43!!!!  More than half their games are on National Television! #LebronEffect

“It was just for where I am right now in my career — what I’m trying to do — I thought the change was necessary,”

Remember Kevin Garnett in Minnesota?  He spent his first 12 seasons with the Timberwolves, only once advancing past the first round.  He wanted to win so BADLY in Minnesota he stayed five years longer than he should have.  After agreeing to a trade to the Celtics, he finally won a Championship.  According to Paul Pierce, Garnett’s only regret?

Do we want the same thing for Anthony Davis?  Do we want AD to waste his prime taking his team to the first round every year?  I know I don’t and I know Anthony Davis doesn’t.  Here’s a quote from AD to Rachel Nichols about comparing his situation to Garnett’s situation:

“When you hear that, it makes you think. Not gonna lie. It makes you think, because you’re wondering if you’re following in that same path. But then again, you’re like, oh, this year could be the year. You don’t know. So, you’ve just got to take it year-by-year and just see, see where the team is going, what direction they want to go to and just see where their head is.”

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..

Another SNEAKY reason why he’s leaving New Orleans for Los Angeles?  Try to think of who’s next in line for a shoe deal with Nike (after Giannis).  Every player wants their own shoe deal.  Why doesn’t Anthony Davis have his own shoe deal yet?  Is it because he’s in New Orleans?  Probably.  Does he get his own shoe if he’s in LA? 100% no question.  You know what guarantees AD a shoe deal with Nike?  Playing with Lebron in Los Angeles.  Oh and guess what else comes with that shoe deal?  A role in Space Jam 2.

We’ll hear the Anthony Davis to the Lakers talk throughout the NBA season.  Anthony Davis wants to go to the Lakers and he’ll eventually end up in Hollywood.  It’s not a question of if, but a question of when.  I’ll leave you with this clip from Jalen Rose.

Lebron James is a Laker

July 1, 2018.  I’ll never forget that day.  I was in my kitchen cooking dinner when I heard my phone go off.  *Ting* the classic iPhone notification sound.  I figured it was just another text.

But I was wrong.  It was the most important notification of my life.  It was a Twitter notification from Woj.  The ultimate WOJ BOMB:

 

I fuckin screamed, “WOOOOOOOOOOO LETS FUCKIN GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Loud enough to wave all the banners hanging at Staples Center.  I couldn’t believe it.  The greatest basketball player of all time just signed with the greatest basketball franchise.  Lebron fuckin James signed with the Lakers.  Lebron James.  Los Angeles Lakers.

It’s been over two months since Lebron signed with the Lakers and it still hasn’t hit me.  Lebron is a Laker?  Is this real life?  We have the greatest basketball player of all time?  My Twitter and Instagram feeds are flooded with pictures of Lebron from Media Day.  The Purple and Gold looks beautiful on him.

I know I speak for every Laker fan when I say this, it still feels unreal.  I’m not sure when it will hit me.  Maybe Game 1 vs the Blazers.   Maybe in the playoffs.  Maybe next year when we sign Kevin Durant.  Maybe when we win the NBA Finals next year.

Signing Lebron James was a dream.  Now it’s reality.  WOOOOO LETS FUCKIN GO!

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