Tag Archives: Andrew Wiggins

NBA Midseason Awards

 

Kevin Durant

Jesse D. Garrabrant- Getty Images

 

What has been an exhilarating start to the 2014-15 NBA season, there has been many captivating story lines of emerging NBA players that are going in the right direction of success in the association. As we approach the second half of the season, here are the front runners of our NBA Awards.

 

Brace Hemmelgarn- USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn- USA TODAY Sports

Rookie of the Year- Andrew Wiggins

     This year’s number one overall selection in Andrew Wiggins has so far been able to live up to expectations, making himself the runaway favorite for the Rookie of the Year award. Making the maximum of his efforts of playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he has been able to polish his talents with the opportunity given to him by head coach Flip Saunders, averaging 15.2 points per game shooting 43%. The ceiling is very high for Wiggins with the future ahead of him.

Gary Dineen- Getty Images

Gary Dineen- Getty Images

Most Improved Player- Jimmy Butler

     Shooting guard Jimmy Butler has evolved as one of the best two way players in the NBA. Entering his fourth season, putting himself into All-Star consideration for what he has done for the Chicago Bulls. Developing his offensive game, he has averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists this season to go with his stifling defense that has made him a go to option and a backcourt mate Derrick Rose has been missing majority of his career. Going forward deeper into the season, Chicago’s success could weigh heavily on what he can provide on both ends of the floor. It will also be interesting what teams have to offer Butler as he becomes a restricted free agent.

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Ned Dishman- Getty Images

 

Sixth Man of the Year- Isaiah Thomas

     Leaving his starting position in Sacramento, Isaiah Thomas had adapted well in his new role with the Phoenix Suns as the catalyst of the bench. Adding himself to a backcourt of guards featuring Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, Thomas has often found himself closing out games for head coach Jeff Hornacek has been a a recipe for success for the Suns. Hoping to hold on to a playoff seed in the Western Conference, Thomas will be a x-factor of how far they can go.

John E. Sokolowski- USA TODAY Sports

John E. Sokolowski- USA TODAY Sports

Coach of the Year- Mike Budenholzer

     There is no debate that Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer is the NBA’s Coach of the Year. Taking a page out of Greg Popovich’s head coaching book, Budenholzer has his team playing unselfish team basketball that results into open shots and great chances to score along with a top defense in the league. It is too soon to call them the Spurs, as they have their own identity with only 8 losses in the league, leading to the best record in the league.

John Amis- Associated Press

John Amis- Associated Press

Defensive Player of the Year- DeAndre Jordan
     What has been a successful year for DeAndre Jordan could earn him honors of being the defensive player of the year. His efforts and contributions has led him to be put in consideration to be an All-Star. Controlling the paint with a league leading 13.1 rebounds per game and 2.4 blocks per game, Jordan has become the defensive anchor for Doc Rivers wants for his team in order to win a championship.

Nathaniel S. Butler- Getty Images

Most Valuable Player- James Harden
     The Houston Rockets do not have the best record in the Western Conference. However, they do have the player who is most valuable to his team in James Harden. The one who is feared with the beard has taken his game to another level averaging career highs across the board including 2 steals per game on the defensive side that has been a struggle for him in the past. With running mate Dwight Howard absent from the lineup during the season, the challenge has been set for Harden where he has answered the bell leading the team in points and assists. To sustain the high level of success that has been obtained, Harden must stay healthy and on the attack for Houston to make the next step towards winning it all.

The time has come in March where the pressure of the words ‘win or go home’ rises to immense pressure. While this postseason’s bracket proposes upsets in multiple regions, the time has come for the premier players to elevate their talents as the cream of the crop. Before you decide to fill out your billion dollar bracket, let’s review the tournament before tip-off.

South Region

As the south region features the talents of Andrew Wiggins and Kyle Anderson, many believe it is the Florida Gators title to lose. Riding a 30 game winning streak, head coach Billy Donovan will have his senior led team prepared for his opponents best shot. However, many will be anticipating to see how Kansas Jayhawks freshman Andrew Wiggins performs on the biggest stage of his basketball career thus far. Jayhawks nation as well as  Bill Self hopes Wiggins can carry the load as the health status of Joel Embiid becomes unknown.

While we seek for upset alerts in the tournament, be aware of the No. 5 seed vs No. 12 seed matchup between the Virginia Commonwealth Rams and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks who are currently on a 28 game winning streak. Also, an intriguing game to see is the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Dayton Flyers. The inconsistent scoring of the Buckeyes may cause them to have a first round exit.

Midwest Region

The Wichita State Shockers reserve the right to be angry after the release of the Midwest region bracket. As a consolation prize for going undefeated through the regular season and conference tournament, the Shockers have drawn the likes of the Michigan Wolverines, Duke Blue Devils and defending champions Louisville Cardinals with the potential of drawing a second round matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats.

The spotlight of individual talent will be on display throughout the region headlined by Duke’s freshman phenom Jabari Parker who recently became the latest recipient of the Wayman Tisdale award that is given to the nation’s top freshman. The region also consists of talented players such as Russ Smith, Nik Stauskas, Julius Randle, Jahii Carson, Marcus Foster, and T.J. Warren.

West Region

With the No.1 seed being awarded to the battered Arizona Wildcats, they also may be the first 1 seed to be eliminated with the possibility of playing Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The bottom of the West region bracket contains talented teams that can advance far featuring the Wisconsin Badgers, Baylor Bears, and Creighton Bluejays led by senior and National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott. All eyes will shift on him as he is playing in a his final tournament.

 

Without a clear favorite, the opportunity to represent the west region in the NCAA Final Four becomes more interesting to watch. A dark horse team to watch is the underachieving No. 10 seed Oregon Ducks and No. 6 seed Baylor Bears led by the frontcourt of Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin.

East Region

Winning its regular season conference and tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers have earned its right as a 1 seed in the tournament. The ACC Champions would like to continues its success going into the tournament behind the coaching of Tony Bennett and the leadership of Joe Harris. However, the heavy favorites have became Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans as they would showcase their full strength becoming the Big Ten Conference Tournament Champions.

The Iowa State Cyclones have a great chance of becoming the last man standing of its region led by the talents of DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim. We can not ignore the other teams representing the East Region with the likes of the No.2 seed Villanova Wildcats, No. 6 seed North Carolina Tar Heels, and a potential Cinderella team in No. 11 seed Providence Friars led by point guard Bryce Cotton.

The month of March brings us enjoyment because our favorite players shine on the brightest stage of their careers and our favorite teams aspirations of becoming national champions. This also may be our last time watching some of our favorite gamer changers and future NBA players perform at the amateur level. Welcome to the tip off as the madness of March begins.

Top 10 2014 NBA Draft Prospects

     We live in a NBA state of mind where teams are preparing to set themselves up for the future. Whether it is acquiring draft picks in exchange for feature players, or teams “tanking” in order to position themselves for a potential lottery pick for this years upcoming draft.  With many talented prospects preparing for the 2014 NBA Draft, we take a look at the top 10 Draft Prospects.

10. Gary Harris- Michigan State

Gary Harris is a player who can play on both sides of the floor, which is not found in many college players transitioning into the league. He’s not a player who will excite you with athleticism, however, he can score the ball in various ways that will benefit a NBA team in the future. Harris might have been drafted higher a year ago, but he will have less expectations wherever he is drafted. Returning to school may have been the best decision because as he prefers to let his game speak volume.

9. Rodney Hood- Duke University

The transfer from Mississippi State has been an incredible acquisition to Duke this season. Rodney Hood can score the ball at an efficient rate, shooting 51% from the field. He is not the type of athlete who is willing to defend the best perimeter player, but has the opportunity to flourish at the next level with his size and ability on the offensive end.

8. Noah Vonleh- Indiana University

Noah Vonleh is an outstanding freshman who has a lot of promise to his game. While being a raw talent on offense, Vonleh’s athleticism combined with his length and versatility makes him a hot commodity providing defense and rebounding to his team. He will only get better as the season progresses and adjusts to the speed of college basketball.

Southern University v Arizona

7. Aaron Gordon University of Arizona

Aaron Gordon is arguably the most athletic prospect this season. Gordon draws many comparisons to All-Star forward Blake Griffin with his high motor on both ends of the court, posting 5 double doubles thus far. However, Gordon’s true position may be in question in the NBA being undersize as a power forward and perimeter play being a detriment to his game. He hardly handles the ball for Arizona, so the combine and private sessions with teams will determine where he will play.

6. Dante Exum- Australia

Dante Exum can play both guard positions while possessing the combination of athleticism and finesse skills. The Australian point guard is explosive as a scorer and ball handler that many rave about. His perimeter jump shot is still improving, being a huge weakness for Exum. It also helps that he is 6’6 adds an element to his game giving him the advantage to look over defenders at the point guard position.

5. Marcus Smart- Oklahoma State University

Marcus Smart has became the best combo guard in College Basketball. The 6’4″ sophomore guard has exceptional size and strength that will serve him as an asset at the next level. While needing to improve his court vision and jump shot, Smart is a crafty scorer who can also defend both guard positions very well.

4. Julius Randle- University of Kentucky

You can make the argument that Julius Randle may be the most ready to play in a NBA game today amongst these prospects. Having similarities to Zach Randolph, the dominant freshman can score and rebound the basketball with his athleticism and strength around the basket. Standing at 6’9″, Randle may be undersized to play the power forward position in the league. His athleticism, sheer strength, and bulldog demeanor will allow him to contend with the NBA’s big men.

3. Joel Embiid- Kansas University

Joel Embiid is the most coveted center in this season’s upcoming draft. While improving his offense, Embiid has shown flashes in the low post area that has became a lost art in today’s big men. He has also proven to be an anchor on the defensive end with his length, size, and potential drawing comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. He has a slight frame, but he is young. Working with NBA trainers will allow him to improve his strength and be able to withstand the rigors of an 82 game season.

2. Andrew Wiggins- Kansas University

Andrew Wiggins is the most coveted college player to enter the draft this season. Wiggins has the athleticism and length that has NBA scouts salivating. He is a great defender who can guard both wing positions. His offensive game is predicated on slashing to the rim, but he has also shown that he is able to knock down the three point shot. However, he will need to knock that shot down at a consistent rate to keep opposing players on their heels on defense.

1. Jabari Parker- Duke University

Parker is ready to play in the NBA right now. He is a high volume scorer while being a blue collar hard nosed player who leads by example. He goes through shooting slumps during games, but is never hesitant to rise to the big occasion. On the other end, Parker will not change the impact during the course of the game on the defensive end as he continues to improve as a player. Still, Jabari Parker is one of few players who can have an immediate impact on a NBA team today.

Class in Session: A Look ahead at College Basketball

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     We have come to a point in the sports calendar where a motion picture can not be scripted this well. Where NBA executives salivate over talent that is being showcased at the amateur level, almost to the point where tanking becomes an option to obtain the future franchise player. While over time, we find our cinderella that matches the lost glass slipper that fits perfect. Welcome, to the 2013-2014 Men’s College Basketball season.

     You can take a spin at the wheel for teams to watch this season that is headlined by an incredible freshman class featuring Andrew Wiggns of the Kansas Jayhawks, Jabari Parker representing Duke Blue Devils, and Julius Randle headlining the Kentucky Wildcats recruiting class that consists of 6 players ranked in the ESPN 100. The freshmen class of 2014 for Men’s College Basketball has fans and NBA GMs excited about what this season has in store.

However, the freshmen phenoms that are playing for their premier schools are facing the challenge of teams with veteran leadership of teams such as: the defending champions Louisville Cardinals, Michigan State, and Ohio State who primarily have backcourt leadership as an asset. In addition, the Creighton Blue Jays are being led by Preseason All -American Forward Doug McDermott. We have seen, late in the season, that talent is not equivalent to experience that takes place in clutch situations.

The hunted will be Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals as they will be led by Preseason All-American Guard Russ Smith as they look to repeat as back to back national champions. On the other hand, fans across the nation will take a look at the comeback of Guard Kevin Ware after the horrendous leg injury that left many appalled from what we witnessed.

All eyes will be on first year player and potentially one and done Andrew Wiggins as he is only the second freshman to become a preseason All-American selection. Wiggins is already looking forward to his last season in school, meanwhile people such as Marcus Smart do not believe in the hype. Wiggins, who is drawing comparisons to LeBron James, has not played against top tier competition in the early part of the season. He will get his chance to showcase his talents against another potential No. 1 overall pick in Jabari Parker and the Duke Blue Devils.

Tis the season to court storming upsets and incredible highlight plays from across the nation as NCAA Men’s Basketball as the season begins.