Last year the Atlanta Hawks got off to a slow start to the season before rookie Trae Young and star power forward John Collins were able to push the team to a number of late season victories where the two players were exceptional.
Collins in his second season hit a great stride averaging 19.5 point and 9.8 rebounds per game along with a trip to the NBA’s slam dunk contest during All-Star weekend. The rookie back court pair of Trae Young and Kevin Huerter combined for 29 points and 11 rebounds per game, and many feel like Trae Young may be able to average that himself this upcoming season. Huerter will have competition for his starting spot with the addition of former Duke SG Cam Reddish through the draft last month.
Speaking of the draft, the Hawks also added Virginia F De’Andre Hunter who led the Cavaliers to the 2019 NCAA championship on addition to center Bruno Fernando who helped build a program at Maryland. If these three rookies can come in and make immediate impacts, I’m sure the Hawks can make a run in the weakened Eastern Conference.
The Hawks also added veteran wing presence Chandler Parsons to help out Vince Carter as he is set to enter what should be his final NBA season. It would have been great if they could have convinced Al Horford to come back to the squad but they still retain SG Kent Bazemore who was also one of the Hawks players back when they captured the number 1 seed in the East in 2015. Former Hawks Kyle Korver is still available in free agency and although many articles link him to the Lakers, the Hawks should take a long look at Korver and bring him back to help spread the floor with his top notch shooting ability.
After the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors to claim their first NBA title the celebration barely lasted. That’s because everyone was fixated on what would happen with free agents Kevin Durant, who had just torn his achilles in the finals, and Kawhi Leonard, who had just won finals MVP. Their decisions were set to shape the NBA for years to come as they’re two of best three players on the planet and reports of the two even becoming teammates were swirling around various headlines.
But before they could even make their announcements one of the Los Angeles franchises made a huge splash move.
The AD Trade
The Los Angeles Lakers have long been the NBA’s most cherished franchise and their move a season ago to get LeBron James bought a championship atmosphere that LA hadn’t felt since the departure of Kobe Bryant. Yet, the Lakers failed to make the playoffs in an injury-filled 2018 season and were looking to make a huge move in the offseason in order to have a chance at a chip. The Lakers then traded Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a slew of draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans in order to get Anthony Davis. Having AD paired with LeBron should surely restore the championship pedigree that the Lakers are uses to having. Even Las Vegas agreed, having the Lakers listed as the most likely 2019-20 champion following the trade. Will they bring in enough pieces in order to make the run that they want?
KD Moves To The East
Another move that shook up the Western Conference was the departure of Kevin Durant from the warriors. Actually, not only did he move on from the Warriors, he moved on from the Western Conference as a whole after inking a deal with the Brooklyn Nets in order to hoop with Kyrie Irving when he returns from the aforementioned achilles injury in the 2020-21 season. The move removes the NBA’s best scorer from the conference where his teams (Thunder/Warriors) were annually near the top and places him in the East, giving more balance to the West.
Thompson Out, Russell In?
KD wasn’t the only Warrior who suffered an injury during the NBA Finals. Klay Thompson tore his ACL in the last round and left a bit of uncertainty for the Warriors heading into next season, especially after they lost Durant. GM Bob Meyers went out and found another ball-handling guard who moved well without the ball in his hands and could create his own shot: D’Angelo Russell. The Warriors were at their best when they played within the team and had a ton of ball movement involved in the offense and now they can bring that back with the addition of Russell. The only question is where does that leave Klay when he comes back? Do they move him to the three or do the Warriors trade Russell if the one year rental doesn’t prove to live up to his all-star status?
Clippers Go All In
The Los Angeles Clippers made the biggest chess moves of the entire summer. They took a page out of the Raptors 2018 formula and went all in on star forward Kawhi Leonard and why not? He just lead the Raptors to their first championship by bringing his skill set to a team that was deep on the bench and played great defense. Now he’s joing a clippers team that has a deep bench and plays great defense, how ironic. The icing on the cake for the whole deal? Paul George. Kawhi reportedly told the Clipper to get Paul George in order for him to sign to the team, and they did just that while giving up a bunch of future draft picks in the process.
The 2019 NBA Draft Lottery was a very anxious one for many NBA fans across the world. There were many ups and downs for teams all over. NBA fans and analysts believed that teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, and the Cleveland Cavaliers would be amongst the top 4 picks in this year’s NBA Draft Lottery. Although those three teams were very close, neither of them actually made it into the top 4. With surprises and downers all over, we give you a run down on all fourteen picks that were chosen.
#1 New Orleans Pelicans
No. 1 Odds – 6.0%
Top-3 Odds – 19%
#2 Memphis Grizzlies
No. 1 Odds – 6.0%
Top-3 Odds – 19%
#3 New York Knicks
No. 1 Odds – 14.0%
Top-3 Odds – 40.2%
#4 Los Angeles lakers
No. 1 Odds – 2.0%
Top-3 Odds – 6.7%
#5 Cleveland Cavaliers
No.1 Odds – 14%
Top-3 Odds – 40.2%
#6 Phoenix Suns
No. 1 Odds – 14.0%
Top-3 Odds – 40.2%
#7 Chicago Bulls
No. 1 Odds – 12.5%
Top-3 Odds – 36.6%
#8 Atlanta Hawks
No. 1 Odds – 10.5%
Top-3 Odds – 31.6%
#9 Washington Wizards
No. 1 Odds – 9.0%
Top-3 Odds – 27.6%
#10 Atlanta Hawks (Via Dallas Mavericks)
#11 Minnesota Timberwolves
No. 1 Odds – 3.0%
Top-3 Odds – 9.9%
#12 Charlotte Hornets
No. 1 Odds – 1.0%
Top-3 Odds – 3.4%
#13 Miami Heat
No. 1 Odds – 1.0%
Top-3 Odds – 3.4%
#14 Boston Celtics (Via Sacramento Kings)
Ah Boston, what happened?
The blockbuster trade for Kyrie Irving prior to the 2017 bought a new swagger to the Boston Celtics, who had also acquired Gordon Hayward via free agency. That new swagger was placed on hold after the first game of the 2017-2018 season when Hayward went down with injury and left Irving as the lone superstar amongst a young roster. After all that is what Irving wanted right? He asked for a trade out of Cleveland because he didn’t want to play second fiddle to LeBron James in Cleveland although the Cavaliers appeared in three straight finals.
Kyrie then went down with his own season-ending injury that seemed to shake the Celtics season. However the young Celtics team were able to rally behind veteran Al Horford and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals where they were one game away from defeating LeBron James and setting themselves up with a date with the Golden State Warriors. But this year was supposed to be different because the C’s were getting their leader back in Irving.
Kyrie’s lone full season as the starting point guard for the Celtics was marred with a handful of ups and downs. At the beginning of the season, Boston was playing good basketball, racking up 30 wins in 48 games. Then they sort of hit a wall and dropped to fourth in the conference after being second last season without Irving for the full season. So what happened? Well, Irving’s lack of leadership showed multiple times as he attempted to either play hero ball a bunch or he would alienate his teammates during and after games.
Nikola Jokic had been on his way to becoming one of the best centers in the entire league for some time now. With the dominance of other big men such as Demarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid making such huge names for themselves. But there’s one thing that each one of these players lack: Playoff success.
Jokic, in just his fourth NBA season had never participated the NBA playoffs until this season following an exceptional regular season from his Nuggets squad that finished second in the conference. The Serbian center was then able to will his team to a game seven victory over the San Antonio Spurs to give the Nuggets their first playoff series win since the 2009 when Carmelo Anthony was their superstar.
Last night ‘The Joker’ notched 37 points along with nine rebounds in a game one victory over the Portland Trailblazers. It was a well needed victory for a franchise that’s turned it’s past misfortunes into a buzzing championship contender with a flurry of unselfish players to match their team-first style of play. Jokic is the focal point of all of this as he’s the engine that gets the team going along with third year guard Jamal Murray who chipped in 23 points in their win.
The Boston Celtics just swept the Indiana Pacers handily in a series the Pacers were overmatched in from the start. Indiana was missing star guard Victor Oladipo throughout the series as he’s battling back from a ruptured tendon which he suffered in January. The loss loomed large as the Pacers were forced to turn to Bojan Bogdanovic to provide a spark on offense throughout the series.
The Celtics pushed any chatter of an early playoff exit out of the door as their core of Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford along with their deep bench are all peaking at the right time. It’s been a long road for this Boston team that entered the season with expectations higher than almost any team in the NBA. Remember now, this is the same Celtics team that was a Game 7 victory away from knocking off LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals a year ago.. without Irving or Gordon Hayward. Now LeBron’s in the Western conference
Former Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh watched on as the Heat officially retired his jersey during their loss to the Orlando Magic. Bosh was 1/3 of the “Big Three” for the Heat that lasted for four seasons when the franchise had LeBron James and longtime staple Dwyane Wade help them reach four straight NBA finals’.
Bosh’s contributions should never go unnoticed by NBA fans. In his 14 year career he was an 11 time all-star, two-time NBA champion along with being named to a couple of all-NBA teams. By his third NBA season Bosh was averaging over 22 points per game and by his fourth he was averaging a double-double. When Bosh played for the Raptors he was the lone star on a squad that was never able to make it past the first round of the playoffs, which they only qualified for twice in Bosh’s seven seasons there. The transition to the Heat was a favorable one for the big man in terms of playoff success as he enjoyed the ride to four straight NBA finals appearances with the team on South Beach.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo posted a double-double in tonight’s win over the Houston Rockets to help his MVP candidacy.
The “Greek Freek” helped his team by posting 19 points and 14 rebounds while dishing out four assists to contribute towards the Bucks’ 108-94 victory. Does the showing cement Giannis as the MVP? His team has the best record in the league, he’s averaging a triple double and he’s also number five in terms of points per game on the season. Those are strong numbers for a player who is carrying a franchise that hasn’t seen real success since the early 2000’s.
The Sweet Sixteen is here and this year’s matchups figure to be some of the best in the past few years. Big matchups such as Kentucky-Houston and Duke-Virginia Tech highlight this year’s round of games but don’t sleep on the other games.. or the teams that are featured in them.
Let’s take a look at the underdogs with the best chances to pull of upsets come Thursday and Friday:
1. Auburn Tigers
The Auburn Tigers have proved to be one of toughest squads to beat all year with two impressive victories over Tennessee who is also in the Sweet Sixteen along with their most recent victory, a 14 point win over Kansas. Can the resilient bunch put it together once again and will they way to victory against Roy Williams and his #1 seeded North Carolina squad? We’ll see.
2. Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies have a great chance at defeating Duke for two reasons. For one, they beat the Blue Devils before (yea Zion Williamson was out but a win is a win) and for two, Duke was a missed put back away from losing against UCF. The Hokies of Virginia Tech must capitalize on the Blue Devil’s vulnerability if they want to win this matchup.
3. Florida State Seminoles
Let me be honest.. Florida State shouldn’t be listed as an underdog. Although they’ve endured seven losses on the season they’ve managed huge wins against LSU, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Virginia, all whom are also in the Sweet Sixteen with the Seminoles. The fact that Gonzaga is a #1 seed helped to categorize the Seminoles as an underdog for their matchup, however don’t be surprised if Mfiondu Kabengele and company are able to beat the Bulldogs.
Zion Williamson is arguably the best player in college basketball. Not many are going to argue against that fact as Williamson returned to the court today from a knee injury to deliver a masterpiece of a game. The Freshman sensation notched 29 points (13/13 FG, 100%) and 14 rebounds en route to leading Duke to victory over Syracuse.
The game will surely be a signature point of Zion’s freshman’s season when it’s all set and done. His injury against North Carolina on Feb. 20 was a huge blow to Duke at the moment as they lost that game and then went on to lose to the Tar Heels again on March 9th. With Duke/UNC III for the season coming up on Friday there’s way more at stake than just annual bragging rights. The #1 seed in the NCAA tournament is hanging in the balance and Zion’s presence in this game will surely be felt in this one. He’s been on the court against North Carolina for all of 30 seconds all season so they don’t really have a plan to minimize him.